Recent events at SSC

Tuesday 30th January

Money, Wealth and a Society of Abundance with Mike Neary

In this talk, based on Karl Marx’s theory of Capital, Mike Neary explored the social life of money and how it has come to establish itself as the predominant social force. A part of this exploration is to reveal its real nature: as capitalist money, through an account of the significance of labour for capitalist society. Mike suggested another from of society where money and labour are not dominant, grounded in the satisfaction of needs and capacities: a society of abundance.

Reading:
http://www.grundrisse.net/english-articles/Read_Capital_The_First_Sentence.htm

 

Tuesday 13th February

What is neoliberalism, and why does it matter? with Bradley Allsop

Neoliberalism- we’ve all heard it used, often with contempt, but what does it actually mean? How is it different to that other often-used, rarely-understood word: liberalism? And why does it matter, anyway?

We talked about the neoliberal project, how, from the 70’s onwards, it has radically changed society, economics and politics, with its full-frontal assault on the ideas of collectivism, social solidarity and state provision, what this means for our own lived experiences and what we can do about it. Issues raised included mental health, schools and education, and democracy.

This Tuesday at SSC

The Problems of Economic Growth – Prof Nigel Curry

Free public lecture, Mint Lane Involve Centre, 7pm

Development polices throughout the world have economic growth as their cornerstone. Many benefits are claimed for such growth, but it can be shown that growth is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for the achievement of these benefits. Economic growth, rather, can be seen to increase inequalities in both income and wealth, reduce collective marginal utilities (which some economists now call ‘happiness’) and have devastating consequences for the environment. Much of this preoccupation with growth can be seen to serve the ends of political power rather than human welfare.

Public Lecture

Tuesday 5th December, 7pm Involve Centre, Mint Lane

Distress in a city: racism, fundamentalism and a psychosocial imagination

Professor Linden West, Canterbury Christ Church University

The lecture draws on my recent book to explore the diverse problems of a post-industrial city – Stoke, where I was born – taken as representative of many similar communities across the Western world (West, 2016). Using auto/biographical narrative research, I have chronicled the diverse stories people tell, in different ethnic communities, including the stories of those attracted to racist organisations and religious fundamentalism, and even to Jihad. There is also widespread resentment among the white working class at the failures and judgementalism of political, economic and cultural elites, which found expression in support for the BNP, EDL, UKIP, and the vote for Brexit.

The rise of racism in white working class communities, and of Islamophobia, is mirrored by pockets of Islamic fundamentalism in predominantly Muslim communities. Processes of social, cultural and intergenerational fragmentation, and the crisis of multiculturalism, connect with rapid economic decline, a malfunctioning representative democracy, an epidemic of mental illness and the decline of public space, all located within a more individualised, social Darwinist culture. To understand these dynamics requires, I suggest, an interdisciplinary psychosocial imagination, reaching back to the Chicago School of Sociology and forward to a more holistic appreciation of the importance of recognition in human well-being, encompassing intimate, psychological and socio-cultural worlds, and drawing on the insights of psychoanalysis and critical theory.
I will also refer to historical as well as contemporary research (West, 2017) to illuminate where resources of hope lie, which includes the past and potential role of universities in building a more democratised, inclusive and cooperative learning culture.

Readings
West L (2016) Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and democratic education.
London: Trentham
West, L. (2017) Resisting the enormous condescension of posterity: Richard Henry Tawney, Raymond Williams and the long struggle for a democratic education. International Journal of Lifelong Education. Special issue, The Learning Adult. 36, 1 &2, 129-144.

Other references
Honneth, A. (2009) Pathologies of reason: on the legacy of critical theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rose, J. (2010) The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. 2nd Edn. New York: Yale University Press.

Professor Linden West works at Canterbury Christ Church University, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is the author of many books and articles, derived from auto/biographical narrative enquiry, and using an interdisciplinary psychosocial theoretical framing. The books include Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education; Doctors on the edge: healing and learning in the inner city; and Beyond Fragments, adults, motivation and higher education, a biographical analysis. He co-authored Using biographical methods in social research with Barbara Merrill and co-edited Psychoanalysis and Education, Minding a Gap, with Alan Bainbridge. He jointly co-ordinates a European Life History and Biography Research Network and is a registered psychoanalytical psychotherapist.

Notes from introductory class: Lincoln and the Built Environment, 17th Oct

Venue: Mint Lane

Present: Laura S, Melanie, Sarah, David,  Laura W, Jade, Merideth, Philip, Rob, Lucy and Mike

Apologies: Bradley


The seminar started with an introduction to the Social Science Centre, including its aims and purposes. We looked at the series of events planned for this term.There was a wide ranging discussion about what people hoped to get out of attending this and other seminars, and what they could contribute to forthcoming sessions.

As the topic for this year is Lincoln and the Built Environment people spoke about their own relationship to the city and its surrounding area, particularly Gainsborough and the St Giles estate, an area of social housing and urban planning based on the Garden Cities movement, inspired by among others Ebenezer Howard. Lincoln was seen as a city with plenty of social and cultural as well as intellectual resources. However, Lincoln has many social and economic problems that were not always apparent or discussed. It was agreed that these social and economic issues were significant and should be considered at forthcoming seminars on the built environment.

Suggestions for contributions to the sessions in the new year are:

The anthropology of violence and war

 Newly formed communities in dystopian places

 Seven Generation Planning

Sustainable environmental planning

 Settler communities, migration and indigenous knowledge