Undisciplining: Conversations from the Edges

The Sociological Review aims to foster collaborations and dialogues across disciplines and beyond academia in order to shape the nature and scope of the sociological. Undisciplining challenges the presumed mainstream of sociological thought, its geographical assumptions and disciplinary hierarchies. Our manifesto argues that, ‘to renew the critical and creative appeal of sociology, we need to be responsive to what can be opened up, conceptually as much as practically … about what could be thought differently, and how that creates more possibilities for what could and should be done next, both in the academy and outside of it’.

This event signals our renewed commitment to providing a platform for these interventions and to making the sociological matter. It builds on The Sociological Review’s rich history and future ambitions to bring the conversations at the edges into the centre, to unsettle comfortable and convenient understandings of the social world, and to recognise that the potential of sociological thought and understanding exists through debates that extend beyond disciplines and the university. This is reflected in our selection of venue and plans for the format of the conference. The conference also marks our relationship with SAGE, our new publishers, and the new editorial team. We hope you can join us.

Confirmed Speakers

Professor Amita Baviskar (Delhi University), Dr Michaela Benson (Goldsmiths, University of London), Professor Ben Carrington (University of Southern California), Dr Ayona Datta (Kings College London), Dr Lisa Dikomitis (Keele University), Professor Rosalind Edwards (University of Southampton), Professor Val Gillies (University of Westminster), Dr Nicola Horsley (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), Dr Meritxell Ramirez-i-Ollé (University of Keele), Dr Deana Jovanovic (Keele University), Professor Alice Larkin (Manchester University), Professor Joanna Latimer (University of York), Professor Jenna Loyd (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Professor Anoop Nayak (Newcastle University), Professor Rachel Pain (Newcastle University), Professor Virgílio Borges Pereira (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto), Dr João Pedro Luís Queirós (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto), Dr Ruth Raynor (Newcastle University), Professor Jenny Reardon (University of California, Santa Cruz), Dr Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths University), Professor Bev Skeggs (LSE), Dr Tom Slater (University of Edinburgh), Dr Robin Smith (Cardiff University), Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Newcastle University), Professor Imogen Tyler (Lancaster University), Professor Satnam Virdee (University of Glasgow)

Sociological Walks

Professor Maggie O'Neill (University of York), Dr Stephen Crossley (Northumbria University), Professor Roger Burrows (Newcastle University), Professor Stephen Graham (Newcastle University).

Our keynotes will be given by

Professor Jenny Reardon (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Dr Ayona Datta (Kings College London)

The conference will include our Annual Lecture 2018:

Professor Satnam Virdee (University of Glasgow)
Unthinking Sociology and Overcoming its History Deficit

Over the past three decades or so, sociology has been increasingly dehistoricised, and accompanying its growing obsession with presentism has been a certain ‘narrowing of its vision’ (Back 2014). Given this accelerating ‘retreat into the present’ (Elias 1987), now seems like an appropriate moment to take stock and consider the possible returns that might accrue from a more thorough-going engagement with Immanuel Wallerstein’s call to ‘unthink sociology’ of this present-oriented kind in favour of that which is more historically-inflected.

First, I will seek to demonstrate how a stronger historical consciousness can help to stretch the postcolonial project of ‘reconstructing modernity’s past’ (Bhambra 2007), and particularly the place of racism within it. In correctly drawing attention to Sociology’s pervasive eurocentrism and the constitutive part played by colonialism and racism in the making of modernity, postcolonial accounts have at the same time, a disposition to homogenise the West. The consequences of this are that it leaves no analytic room to identify and make sense of racisms within the European interior (e.g. antisemitism). How can an approach more attentive to history help us understand the production of racism within the European exterior and the interior simultaneously? Second, I will consider the rise of reactionary populism, particularly within the US and UK.

Many sociologists have been left flat-footed, unable to think race and class together when making sense of Brexit or Trump. I will demonstrate how such social processes are better understood over the longue durée, arguing that capital, both historically and contemporaneously, has maximised its returns through the social production of racial difference. My suggestion here is that to some extent these contemporary manifestations of populism are path dependent, which of course is why history matters.

Back to events