Habitus, War and Civilisation

Department of Sociology, University of Graz.

Graz, Austria,  25–27 April 2013

Call for papers

This conference is to honour Helmut Kuzmics on the occasion of his retirement from his chair at Graz in May 2103. Over the last decade, Helmut’s work has centred especially on matters relating to war, but over the course of his career he has written on a wide range of topics, including national habitus, the arts, mass media and culture, and sociological theory. We shall welcome papers, or proposals for conference sessions, on the whole range of his work. In the area specifically of war and the bellicose side of social life, we already envisage several sessions.

Proposed sessions centred on war 

Today, interstate wars merely disappeared or transformed into terrorism or into violent inner-states antagonisms of far remotes ‘failed states’. However, this does not mean that war (and the potential of it) has lost its significance for modern societies. Twenty years after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, more states than ever are acquiring nuclear weapons, a new kind of arms race with conventional weapons can be observed in parts of the world, and popular culture is still obsessed with war (as in movies and computer games).

Merely 30 years after Elias’s Humana Conditio it seems that sociology itself has not changed fundamentally. Following Saint Simon, sociology is still concerned with the paradigm of modern society as a peaceful place. Thus, the aim of the conference is to confront sociological thinking with war and its social consequences. The conference is open for proposals for plenary sessions. The following sessions are proposed by the organisers.

1          War and its effect on societies in a very long-term perspective

What are the effects of war on historical civilisations as well as on the modern world? In order to explain societies better, are there war-orientated points of view in sociology that are able successfully to rival functionalism or economic-centred paradigms?

2.         Nuclear deterrence: Making unsafe places safer or even more insecure?

Political science has much to say about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, what is the sociological perspective? How are aggressive impulses and hate towards others regulated differently in the nuclear age? Is such a kind of weaponry constitutive for modern societies?

3.         War, emotions and ‘habitus’

In order to understand war crimes and atrocities, a micro-level perspective on the battlefield uncovers the fundamental importance of emotions like fear, comradeship etc.  Emotions are also central to understand public opinion and its judgement about a ‘just’ war. In this session, the interconnection of war, emotions and ‘habitus’ will be discussed.

4.         War, the economic system and financial markets

What are the relations between capitalism, tighter nets of economic interdependencies and war? Does the current world economic crisis lead towards situations that will make war between great powers more likely? Or is it true that the conditions are very different from the word of the 1930s?

5.         Rituals of civilizing interstate violence

The mass media focus on sport, the Eurovision Song Contest, beauty contests, the Nobel prizes, film prizes and many other cultural contests as rivalries between nations. Does modern civilisation develop certain sets of rituals helping to constrain violent impulses on the international arena? Does IR (International Relations) neglect these contests as important institutions?

The conference will consist of plenary sessions with speakers and panels of discussants.

The deadline for establishing further plenary sessions is 31 October 2012.

The deadline for registering for the conference, and for submitting abstracts of papers, is 31 January 2013.

To register, please send an abstract to following email address: dieter.reicher@uni-graz.at



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