Conference: Weber / Simmel antagonisms, Staged dialogues

A conference organized by the Max Weber Group of the British Sociological Association & Edinburgh Sociology
10th Dec 2015 13:30 – 11th Dec 2015 19:00, University of Edinburgh

Much has been said about the strong oppositions between Simmel and Weber as founding fathers of sociology – as well as about their shared concerns. Capitalism and culture, ‘worlds’ and their tensions, rationalization and objectivation, the city, music, the methodology of the social sciences and ideal types, equally exercised their thought and yielded very different creatures.

But rather than merely intellectual or methodological quarrels, the antagonisms between Simmel and Weber engaged their whole way of being and acting in the world – the constantly renewed aspiration yet impossibility of reconciliation with oneself and the world, for Simmel; agonic tension, struggle with oneself and the world, for Weber. This is perhaps the reason why Weber/Simmel antagonisms have had continuity in social theory and shaped some of its major currents of thought. More importantly perhaps they spur us to be and act in the world in very different ways: hence this conference, which does not only explore these differences, but stages them.

The format of the conference is inspired after the staging of the Tarde/Durkheim debate by Latour/Karsenti, but rather than recreating a real debate with prominent actors, we invite outlines for short ‘imagined dialogues’ between Weber and Simmel on topics which were addressed by both. The topics chosen should not be of merely scholarly interest but rather capture problematics mattering today.

Keynote dialogues:

Nigel Dodd (LSE) – Simmel’
Geoff Ingham (Cambridge) – ‘Weber’

Capitalism (TBC)
Scott Lash (Goldsmiths) – ‘Simmel’
Uta Gerhardt (Heidelberg) – ‘Weber’

Verstehen and writing
Rosalie Dion (Montréal) – ‘Simmel’
Barbara Thériault (Montréal) – ‘Weber’

Thomas Kemple (UBC) – ‘Simmel’
Austin Harrington (Leeds) – ‘Weber’

Philosophical & political stance
Olli Pyyhtinen (Tampere) – ‘Simmel’
Carlos Frade (Salford) – ‘Weber’

Submission Information:

Outlines can be submitted by pairs or by individual academics and students. PhD students are particularly encouraged to take part. Selected pairs will be asked to play their dialogues at the conference. If you are an individual with a dialogue but without a partner, we can supply one from our Edinburgh team!

Outlines should include:
The theme chosen for their dialogue
The key texts serving as a basis for the dialogue;
A starting imagined dialogue between Weber and Simmel, of about 500 words.

Deadline for submission: 12 June 2015

Send to: webersimmel@ed.ac.uk

Any questions? Isabelle.Darmon@ed.ac.uk

The selected applicants will then be invited to submit their fully written dialogues in advance of the conference. This will allow the Conference committee to make suggestions and above all to plan the staging of the dialogues. The dialogues will be read/acted at the Conference, and will be recorded and put on line.

We are aiming to put together a special issue of Classical Sociology featuring some of the best dialogues.

BSA members: £50
Non BSA members: £60
Concessionary rate (students): £30

We are currently seeking to arrange travel/accommodation grants for about 10 participants from the UK and Europe (or a contribution towards costs for travel from further afield). These are meant to encourage participation from students and early careers researchers without a permanent University contract. If you are in such case and would like to be considered for a grant please let us know when you submit your outline.

The final programme for the conference will be ready in July.


Call for Papers available here

Conference Flyer available here

More Information

Von Max Weber Stiftung

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, focused on the areas of social sciences, cultural studies and the humanities. Our research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries across the globe with different and independent fields of focus. Through our globally operating institutes, we are able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and our host countries or regions. By promoting academic dialogue and merging academic and non-academic employees from several countries with different cultural backgrounds, the Max Weber Foundation is able to strengthen the internationalization of research.

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