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International Social Theory Consortium 18-19 June 2015

Posted on by Stephen Mennell

This conference may be of interest to subscribers. The theme of “Reconstruction” is welcome. It begins to look as though “social theorists”  are rediscovering the real world after some decades of what Ernest Gellner called “the tidal wave of cheap relativism that threatens to swamp the coming fin de millénaire‘ (and did swamp it). Some figurational contributions would thus be timely. Abstracts have to be submitted by 15 March.

Stephen Mennell

14th Annual Conference of the International Social Theory Consortium

Cambridge, UK, 18-19 June, 2015



With regard to developments in social theory, the past 30 years can be characterized as an Age of Deconstruction. Inspired by post-structuralism, post-modernism, critical theory, and science studies, as well as combinations of related approaches, theorists have endeavoured to shatter historical meta-narratives and struggled to include previously excluded standpoints in social thought. This important trend no doubt has informed our understanding of the role of discourse, difference and expertise in determining relations of power and inequality.

The central theme of the 2015 annual meeting of the International Social Theory Consortium (ISTC) will be “Reconstruction”, dedicated to taking account of and interrogating the possibility of picking up the pieces. Are there limits to the deconstruction project, and have these limits been reached? What are the possibilities for the ‘reconstruction’ of narratives of long-term historical change?  Is it possible to include and integrate the insights and contribution of various critiques of knowledge, while at the same time developing new forms of knowledge?  Can we submit the project of deconstruction itself to deconstruction?

Essential to such a project of “deconstructing deconstruction” would be a return to history—acknowledging its continuing importance as a social-theoretical category and frame, considering its persistent utility after decades of sobering realizations, and accepting the fact that, by most accounts, history has not reached its end. How would social science disciplines – e.g. economics – benefit from new perspectives on understanding long-term change?  What might, could and should a new philosophy of history – subsequent to so many ‘turns’ – look like?  What are the possibilities for practice in addressing social justice and democracy, with the benefit or in the absence of long-term historical consciousness?

While conference continues the ISTC’s tradition of encouraging…

Submission of abstract proposals on the entire range of topics under the general heading of social theory
…and we especially look forward to receiving submissions that…

  •   Frame contributions in terms of Reconstruction
  •   Relate existing research agendas and projects to Reconstruction
  •   Directly address the theme of Reconstruction

> Philosophy of History in an Age of Deconstruction
> Reconstructing Theories of the State and Politics
> The Limits, Horizons and Possibilities of Critique
> Knowledge, Authority and Expertise
> Historicizing Social Theory
> Reconstructing the (His)Story of Modern Societies
> Social Theory as the Link between the Past and the Future
> Social Theory after/beyond the Human
Please email abstracts to no later than 15 March 2015.
Eric R. Lybeck, Department of Sociology, Cambridge University
Harry F. Dahms, Department of Sociology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Please feel free to address any questions or concerns to Eric Lybeck ( or Harry Dahms (