Public sociology event series: Cultures of resistance and the city
A three-part public sociology series that aims to connect the work undertaken at the University of Glasgow with the wider communities and social movements of the city will be hosted in Kinning Park Complex and the University of Glasgow between the 4th of December and the 16th of January.
While sociology, and social theory more generally, are directly concerned with analysing social problems and contributing to ideas about resolving them, they are frequently detached from the communities and environments that they research.
There are many reasons for this: for example, as neoliberalism has worsened social inequalities, the sphere of academia has become increasingly inaccessible to the majority of the population. At the same time, the neoliberal turn of higher education has meant that academics experience pressures such as precarity and being overworked, limiting their capacity to engage in activities outside of academia. Another reason can be found in the wider retrenchment of social movements from public life; important academics such as Chomsky, Angela Davis, Marcuse, Walter Rodney, or Foucault were in constant dialogue with the social movements of their time. In a sense, social movements inspired these academics, and in turn, their ideas informed the imaginations of emerging social movements. This was possible precisely because they were writing at a time of free education and high militancy. More recently, the work of the late Neil Davidson, who was based in Glasgow, is a powerful example of the contribution that academics can make when they engage with social struggles and wider society.
The current situation in the UK presents a completely different picture. As the desert of neoliberal precarity has eroded solidarities between people and restricted almost all social behaviour to measurable units, there seems to be no time or reason to read, explore, and develop critical thought. As academics engage less with the wider public, so the wider public engages less with academic work. However, given sociology’s importance in developing our knowledge around social classes, inequalities, identities, and resistances, this distance between sociology and wider society is paradoxical. Sociology has an important contribution to make in understanding, and resisting, the conditions that dominate our lives. I also believe that it has a duty to do so.
The core concept of this three-part sociology series is to foster dialogue between academics and the wider communities of the city, touching upon topics that are relevant to everyone’s daily lives. Under the overarching theme of Cultures of Resistance and the City, we will cover themes such as regeneration, gentrification, migration, workers’ resistance, and culture. The invited academics will present their research to the audience for around 15 minutes each, after which there will be ample time for questions and for open discussions. The aim is to forge connections that will last beyond these three events. The entire community of Glasgow is warmly invited to join us.