Now hiring: Five Posts in Sociology — University of Amsterdam

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology currently has  openings for

Five Assistant /Associate Professors in Sociology

For 38,0 hours per week (1.0 fte).

The new assistant /associate professors are currently expected to spend 60 percent of their time on teaching and 40 percent of their time on research. Both activities include administrative tasks.

One post will be in cultural sociology, another in urban sociology.

Further information

For more information about this position, please contact Prof. Dr. Jan Rath, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, tel. +31-20-525-2505, email, or go to any of these websites:

website UvA

website AISSR

website Center for Urban Studies

website Amsterdam Centre for Inequality Studies

website Global Health

website Graduate School

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CfP: ‘Civilising Bodies’ – University of Exeter 25-26 April 2013

CALL FOR PAPERS – Civilising Bodies: Literature, rhetoric, and image, 1700 to the present day

25th-26th April 2012 Exeter University

The Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter is holding an interdisciplinary conference open to postgraduates and academics at any level, taking place on the 25th and 26th April 2013.

Contact: Jessica Monaghan and Sarah Jones:

The narratives, discourses, and imagery of bodies and their relationship with civilisation have affected a diverse range of media, from novels, poetry, and political tracts to art and film, and we are eager for submissions examining a wide a range of sources from 1700 to the present day.

We welcome abstracts that examine issues surrounding the themes of bodies and civilisation and their relationship to literature and the arts from researchers of any discipline, including History, Art History, Film Studies, Cultural Studies and Literature.

Topics and themes may include:

· Discourses of progress

· Concepts of savagery and barbarism

· The science of race

· Ailments of civilisation

· Medicine and modernity

· Mental health

· Sexuality and the body

· Issues of class and gender

· The politics of medical language

· Theoretical or speculative pieces

Guest Speakers: Dr Lesley Hall (Wellcome Library), Professor Mark Jackson (University of Exeter)

We invite applicants to submit abstracts of up to 300 words for 20 minute papers (previously unpublished), sent by 14th January 2012 with the “subject” of the email as ‘Civilising Bodies abstract’.

Once the deadline has passed a panel will review the abstracts anonymously and applicants will receive a decision and feedback on their submissions. If your paper is not selected we very much hope you will still be able to attend the conference and participate in the discussion.

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Graz session on national habitus: call from Dieter Reicher

The conference on “Habitus, War and Civilization” (Graz, 25-27 April 2013) now includes a session on “national habitus”.
If you are interested in giving a paper on national habitus next April, please send Dieter Reicher  an abstract. There is also the plan to publish a reader on national habitus if a certain number of valuable articles is available. Perhaps we can discuss this matter in Graz in April 2013.
Deadline for submission of abstract is: 1 November 2012
(please send the abstracts to:
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Pieter Spierenburg, Violence and Punishment

Pieter Spierenburg’s new book, Violence and Punishment, has been published by Polity Press.

Pieter has written a short article, “Are we living in a punitive age?”, on the Polity blog. See:


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Summing up: Should the “figurati” become “public intellectuals”?

[I asked John Lever and Matt Clement to sum up the recent discussion about whether the “figurati” should become “public intellectuals”. Ryan Powell also chipped into the summary below.]

To some extent, the debate about the engagement of “figurati” in current affairs appears to be a generational problem between a more established group of academics following a pure reading of Elias’s work and a younger generation of scholars/ researchers writing about contemporary issues problems. Whilst many of the younger generation would no doubt agree with Artur Bogner’s claims about the significance of the pluralism of values, the problem of making normative judgments, and by the fact that any such engagement is unlikely to be successful, this should not deter sociologists from attempting to have influence. As Ryan Powell and others suggest, one can – whether we agree with the process or not – take a long-term detached perspective whilst engaging with contemporary concerns.   Moreover, to see figurational sociologists as detached from their world, at rest rather than a part of changing reality, misses the active way in which they both shape and are themselves shaped in the process of civilisation.  John Rodgers maintains ‘The Civilizing Process has often appeared to be a theory exclusively about the socially integrative aspects of modernity … what Eliasian process-sociology needed to preserve its currency was a coherent theory of the de-civilising processes inherent in neo-liberalism’.1 The UK riots, and Eurozone anomie in Athens, Dublin and Madrid, are surely of paramount interest to students of human figurations.  Weimar sociologists saw their time as one of ‘world crisis’ – Elias was one of many who talked of riding the storm of social contention that blew Germany to its nemesis, intervening in the public sphere as he implored trade union leaders to resist the Nazis and acted as ‘cleaner’ to protect the Frankfurt School sociologists and their families.2 For him, involvement was unavoidable.

New levels of involvement and detachment are now possible in the virtual world and new social media can help us to many of the concerns expressed, if – as Robert van Krieken suggests – we can get people contributing to any new media/ forum on a regular basis. To be successful it is also important for sites/blogs to be innovative and fresh and do something new – and to also send out emails/updates to members. Having debates between figurationalists around the world in a virtual realm would be a good starting start point, as would tweeting these debates to the wider world. As anyone who has used twitter knows only to well, it does no take very long if you are commenting on current affairs and issues – even if it is only by posting links to relevant papers at an appropriate time – to get the attention of politicians, lay people, scholars and, of course, absolute lunatics; but that is the nature of the beast, and of course, an opportunity. There are a number of sociology websites and blogs that tweet about contemporary issues and concerns on a regular basis, whilst of course maintaining a balance between involvement and detachment. Adopting such an approach would allow the “figurati” per se, rather than individuals within it, to become a public intellectual.

1 Rodger, J. (2012) ‘Wacquant and Elias, Advanced Marginality and the Theoryof the De-civilising Process’, in Squires, P. and Lea, J. (eds.) Criminalisation and Advanced Marginality (BristolPolicy, 2012),  p. 1.

2 Elias describes these events in Reflections on a Life (Cambridge: Polity, 1994) and The Germans: Power Struggles and the Development of Habitus in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Cambridge: Polity, 1996), p. 221.

[At the moment, discussion on the blog is handicapped by the fact that although subscribers  receive email notification of new posts, but not about new comments on the posts. We hope to fix this soon. In the meantime, the discussion  summarised here can be found by clicking on “Comments”. – SJM]


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Sociology and International Relations: Human Figurations 2


The second issue of Human Figurations, on “Sociology and International Relations” has just been published online at:


Andrew Linklater, Editor’s Introduction: Sociology and International Relations: The Future?

Godfried van Benthem van der Bergh, Norbert Elias and the human condition

Reinhard Blomert, The taming of economic aristocracies

Brett Bowden, Politics in a world of civilizations: long-term perspectives on relations between peoples

Shogo Suzuki, Viewing the Development of Human Society from Asia

John M. Hobson, Reconfiguring Elias: historical Sociology, the English School, and the challenge of International Relations

Aurélie Lacassagne, Cultures of anarchy as figurations: reflections on Wendt, Elias and the English School

Bernd Bücher, Figurational sociology and the democratic peace – holy allies and liberal threats

Florence Delmotte, About post-national integration in Norbert Elias’s Work: towards a socio-historical approach

Stephen Mennell, Realism and reality congruence: Sociology and International Relations

Book Reviews

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New and enlarged edition of What is Sociology?

Just published!

Norbert Elias, What is Sociology?, translated by Grace Morrissey, Stephen Mennell and Edmund Jephcott, edited by Artur Bogner, Katie Liston and Stephen Mennell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2012 [Collected Works, vol. 5]). xviii + 236 pp. ISBN: 978-1-906359-05-8. €60.00

The new edition includes a ‘missing chapter’ on Marx and another shorter text on ‘The sociogenesis of the concept of “society” as the subject matter of sociology’ never previously published in English, both translated for this edition by Edmund Jephcott. The translation of the original book made by Grace Morrissey and Stephen Mennell in the early 1970s (the first translation into English of Elias’s major works) has been substantially revised in the light of later translations – especially by Edmund Jephcott – of other works.

Buy online: Copies of any of the volumes of the Collected Works may be purchased online at a 20 per cent discount (postage €6 for a single volume), directly from the publishers, at

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Should the “figurati” become “public intellectuals”?

In the general discussion at the end of the Amsterdam conference (22-23 June), there seemed to be general agreement that Eliasians, figurationists or (to use Jason Hughes’s term) “figurati” ought to become a little readier to speak out on current affairs.

We have often seemed inhibited by our own reputation for pursuing relatively “detached” sociology and long-term perspectives, rather than the short-term policy-orientated research that is bread and butter for much of mainstream sociology. Yet there is little doubt that we often have relevant things to say. A longer-term perspective can often help to avoid mistakes arising from short-term perspectives. And politicians very often speak in ways that seem to us overly psychologistic, too reminiscent of homo clausus, and too little aware of wider interdependences.

There are certainly precedents for figurationists speaking out on public affairs. Abram de Swaan has long been a columnist for the leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad (in one of his fairly recent columns he coined the term “marketism” in response to the “Washington consensus” that led to the Western world’s economic collapse). Pieter Spierenburg has long been involved in discussions about historical trends in violence that are relevant to political debate in many countries. In Britain, Matt Clement and John Lever write on policy-related issues, as does Steve Quilley on broadly environmental questions. I myself have dipped my toe in the water in two recent (as yet unpublished) papers responding to the crises in recent years in international relations and in finance, as well as in the somewhat critical tone of the later parts of The American Civilizing Process. There are many other examples.

But few of us have set out to systematically to have any impact on public opinion. Should we now do so?

It was proposed in Amsterdam that we should at least explore the possibility of setting up some sort of online forum to promote engagement in current affairs. But how might that be done?

One model, way beyond our scope and scale at the moment I am sure, is the American History News Network ( based at George Mason University, in which historians keep up a steady flow of short articles related to current news topics, and which appears to be widely consulted by the American media.  At the Amsterdam conference, Flip Schrameijer also suggested we look at a geosciences network,

Maybe all that is necessary is that we get this existing blog going for the first time as an effective discussion forum – but it wouldn’t reach politicians and the media.

Does anyone have any practical suggestions? If so, please reply with comments submitted direct to the blog – not, preferably, emails to me personally. Stephen Mennell

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Extended deadline for XIV SIPC, Brazil, November

The Coordination Committee of the XIV SIPC (International Symposium on Civilising Processes), Dourados, Brazil, 19–24 November 2012, has announced that the deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended until 23 July 2012. More information on the website:



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Revised title for Graz Conference

A small change has been made to the title of the conference planned for Graz in April 2013. In order to make clear that contributions will be welcome on a wide range of topics, not just on war, the title of the conference has been changed to “Habitus, War and Civilisation”. The following paragraph has been added  at the beginning of the call for papers:

“This conference is to honour Helmut Kuzmics on the occasion of his retirement from his chair at Graz. 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.”

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