Rationality and Nationality

 

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We are continuing to upload slides of the amazing talks we had at the fourth workshop with Gerhard Schnyder‘s slides. Based on their joint work with Julien Etienne, Gerhard presents a synthetic review of historical institutionalism, goal framing theory and varities of capitalism approach for making sense of agency and rationality within the historical accounts of institutions. Through the case of Swiss bankers making a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ not to sell Swiss shares to foreign investors in 1960’s, he demonstrates that even bankers do not necessarily always act upon their individual interests. Their interpretation of national identity mattered in this case at least as much as their ‘rationality’, if we were to  define rationality in a very limited sense around pecuniary gains.

You can find Gerhard’s slides below. Please let us know what you think.

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The image by Fabio Rose used above is made available with the courtesy of https://unsplash.com/
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Normative Implications of Complexity

visionThe fourth Constructed Complexities workshop hosted excellent presentations and very interesting discussions. We started from ontology of complexity and ended up with new approaches to institutions, covering a long theoretical distance one step at a time. We will be posting slides or notes of presentations here in the project blog. Whether you were one of the workshop participants or not, please feel free to share your thoughts on these materials.

We are starting with the slides of Mark Olssen, who gave a very rich and inspiring lecture on complexity. He started by explaining that Newtonian mechanics posited closed systems where time was ‘reversible’, thus presuming an atemporal view of the universe. Complexity view on the other hand emphasises chance, contingency, uncertainty, bifurcation and indeterminacy. Mark also criticised, however, the neo-positivist take of complexity in some agent-based models where the focus is exclusively on bottom-up emergence of phenomena without representing entities with political authority.

You can find Mark’s slides at the link below. Let us know what you think.

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The image by Bjorn Simon used above is made available with the courtesy of https://unsplash.com/

Historical Institutionalism, Thatcherite Legacy and Crime

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Stephen Farrall’s presentation at the fourth workshop will use historical institutionalism to investigate development of Thatcherite ideas and how they continued to affect social and political construction of criminal justice policy even after Thatcher’s time in office. By outlining main element of 1982-98 criminal justice legislation, popular attitudes towards crime and crime data, Stephen explains that key institutions, ideas and social actors all helped shaping imprisonment in England and Wales.

You can find Stephen’s paper co-authored with Emily Gray, Will Jennings and Colin Hay at this link.

If you want to attend the workshop, write a short email to Ozge Dilaver (o.dilaver@surrey.ac.uk) or Amy Woodward (a.woodward@surrey.ac.uk) explaining your research interests and how you can benefit from the workshop. The workshop is free of charge and there are (limited) travel support you can apply for. There are limited places in the workshop and they will be allocated on first come first served basis among scholars with relevant research interests. Early career researchers will be prioritised for travel support. 

Constructed Complexities? Just Add Water.

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Mike Agar’s lecture at the fourth workshop will investigate socially constructed complexity with a thematic focus on water. Below are his preliminary notes on the lecture.

Is the best way to understand the phrase “socially constructed complexity,” or SCC for short, to map it onto prior social theoretic discourses of “institution” and “organization” and “governance?” This presentation will focus on the semantics of the original phrase to think about that question. Perhaps the phrase best lends itself to a theory of social emergence and decomposition, or to a theory of social change in the context of practice theories more generally. At any rate, the talk will begin with a grounded sense of a nonlinear process examined over time involving but not restricted to human agency.

A second general question: Can SCC do a good job of transcending the theory/practice distinction and create a common discourse accessible and meaningful to academic researchers, practitioners and citizens at the same time? In the case of the water example to come, could it at the same time contribute to critical theories of the “hydrosocial cycle,” be of use to water managers, and clarify an issue for voters in an election?

With these questions in mind, a detailed case of water governance in New Mexico will be described. The general question for the case analysis will be, does the SCC concept enlighten us as to how to describe and explain the dynamics of its history and its current dysfunctional state?

If you want to attend the workshop, write a short email to Ozge Dilaver (o.dilaver@surrey.ac.uk) or Amy Woodward (a.woodward@surrey.ac.uk) explaining your research interests and how you can benefit from the workshop. The workshop is free of charge and there are (limited) travel support you can apply for. There are limited places in the workshop and they will be allocated on first come first served basis among scholars with relevant research interests. Early career researchers will be prioritised for travel support. The image above is taken from http://www.gratisography.com.

Social complexity, institutions and power.. Join us in the fourth Constructed Complexities Workshop !

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In the fourth workshop of the series, we will spend time on exploring complexity in-depth, finding our way around different strands of institutionalism, try to position agency in and around institutions and discuss what they all mean for understanding power in socially constructed complexity.

The workshop speakers include Mike Agar (Maryland), Tony Lawson (Cambridge), Mark Olssen (Surrey), Frances Cleaver (King’s College), Stephen Farrall (Sheffield), Gerhard Schnyder (King’s College), Andrew Cumbers (Glasgow) Frank Schiller (Surrey) and Jakob Rozema (East Anglia). While trying to understand different ways of approaching emergence, self-organisation, agency, institutions and power, we will also touch upon a broad range of complex and theoretically interesting issues such as common resource management and climate change, political ideas and agency, spatial organisation of polities and social and political construction of criminal justice policies.

If you want to join us in the workshop on 26-27 November 2014 at Barnett Hill, Guildford, write a short email to Ozge Dilaver (o.dilaver@surrey.ac.uk) or Amy Woodward (a.woodward@surrey.ac.uk) explaining your research interests and how you can benefit from the workshop. The workshop is free of charge and there are (limited) travel support you can apply for. There are limited places in the workshop and they will be allocated on first come first served basis among scholars with relevant research interests. Early career researchers will be prioritised for travel support.

Can you be suffering from Dorothy complex?

If you find yourself utterly confused in the middle of the night, thinking deeply about social constructionist understanding of reality, you too may be suffering from Dorothy complex. If you want to learn more, have a look at the slides of Constructed Complexities seminar that took place on 12 February 2014.

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The core idea of social construction may imply alternative constructions of social reality could be possible. While this is an empowering possibility for constructing a better world, it doesn’t necessarily mean social phenomena can simply be wished away as in Wizard of Oz. Institutions, as shared habits of thought, rules, routines and organisations are as real for individuals living in a social environment as mountains and trees, and yellow brick roads.

Didem Buhari-Gulmez gave a seminar at Surrey Sociology Departmental Seminar series addressing this important issue that lies at the centre of methodological debates about social constructionism. On her talk titled ‘Reading John W. Meyer from an IR perspective: Beyond the ‘Dorothy Complex‘, Didem approached the issue from an international relations point of view. She suggested reading John W. Meyer as a remedy to the ‘Dorothy complex’ in IR, and provided a critical review of the World Polity School with a special emphasis on its contributions to major debates in European studies.

Here are the slides from her talk: DidemsSeminar

Followers of Constructed Complexities blog may find this BIAA lecture interesting. The lecture by Leyla Welkin on gender-based violence covers institutions and structures that reproduce phenomena like ‘child brides’ focusing on the case of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, where emergent features of the social environment such as trust, security and order has collapsed.

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