Organized in partnership with the British Academy, the debate brings together philosophers, political scientists and sociologists to examine the place of conflict in contemporary democratic practices and institutions. The speakers will discuss the conflicts that structure our societies, new political identities, and forms of contestation, and reflect on the institutions, space and practices needed to address these conflicts and struggles.

Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances, Professor Saskia Sassen is unable to participate in this event. Professor Richard Sennett will be taking her place on the panel. 

Chair: Colin Crouch (University of Warwick)
Speakers: Srecko Horvat (DiEM25), Tariq Modood (Bristol University), Richard Sennett (New York University and LSE), Paulina Tambakaki (University of Westminster).

We look to democratic institutions to enable us both to express conflict and minimize the escalation of its divisions into violent confrontations, or severe social polarisation.  How well do our current democratic practices achieve this?  Are our institutions ‘wearing out’? Are they organized around old conflicts that are no longer important, and failing to contain new ones?

How can we conceive of new forms, that would allow public disagreements – some of them irreconcilable – to be legitimately expressed and confronted? How can we conceive of new discursive styles and registers that would allow extending the participation to public disagreements to new actors? How in today’s society can conflicts best be transformed into a productive force towards social justice?  And if we were to re-politicize our democratic lives, what normative bases should we agree upon? And finally, what kind of conflicts, conflict shaping and resolution practices do matter to contemporary political practices and social movements?

Wednesday 8 November 2017 / 18h30 – 20h00
British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

The event is sold out. 

As this event is free, not everyone who registers for tickets attends. To make sure we have a full house we allocate more tickets than there are seats. We do our best to get the numbers right, but unfortunately we occasionally have to disappoint people. Admission is on a first come, first served basis, so please arrive in good time for the start of the event.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Anne Davidian:

Colin Crouch
University of Warwick, UK

Colin Crouch is a sociologist and political scientist, professor emeritus of the University of Warwick and external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies at Cologne. He has been vice-president for social sciences of the British Academy (2012-16). He has published within the fields of comparative European sociology and industrial relations, economic sociology, neoliberalism and contemporary capitalism.  He is currently working on general social comparisons among European countries, and on problematic relations between democracy and economic inequality in post-modern societies.

Prof. Crouch has coined the term “post-democracy” in his book Coping with Post-Democracy (2000). Defining a running evolution within democracies during the 21st century, the term designates states that are conducted by fully operating democratic systems (elections are being held, governments fall and there is freedom of speech), but whose application is progressively limited. A small elite is taking the tough decisions and co-opts the democratic institutions.

Recent publications include: Society and Social Change in 21st Century Europe, 2016; Governing Social Risks in Post-Crisis Europe, 2015

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Srećko Horvat
DiEM25, EU

Srećko Horvat is a philosopher and political activist from Croatia without stable address or academic affiliation, described by Der Freitag as “one of the most exciting voices of his generation”. He published more than 10 books translated into more than 15 languages, most recently Subversion! (Zero books, 2017), The Radicality of Love (Polity, 2015) and together with Slavoj Žižek What Does Europe Want? (Columbia University Press, 2014). His articles are regularly published by The Guardian, New York Times, Spiegel, Al Jazeera and other leading newspaper. In 2016 he was the presenter of Al Jazeera’s documentary. He is one of the founders and figureheads of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025.

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Tariq Modood
University of Bristol, UK

Tariq Modood is Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy and the founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship at the University of Bristol and the co-founder of the international journal, Ethnicities. He has held over 40 grants and consultancies, has over 35 (co-)authored and (co-)edited books and reports and over 200 articles and chapters. He was a Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute for part of 2013-15, a ‘Thinker in Residence’ at the Royal Academy of Flanders, Brussels in 2017 and currently is a Visiting Fellow, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor (2017-2020).

He is highly committed to public engagement. His work is frequently cited by policy-makers and practitoners and on several occasions has influenced policy. His impact case study, ‘Influencing law, policy and public discourse on the accommodation of Muslims in Britain’ was one of three which collectively were ranked as 3rd in the UK by the Sociology 2013 REF.

He was awarded a MBE for services to social sciences and ethnic relations in 2001, was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2004 and elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2017. He served on the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, the National Equality Panel, and the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life.

His latest books include Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea (2nd ed; 2013); and as co-editor Multiculturalism Rethought (2015), Multiculturalism and Interculturalism: Debating the Dividing Lines (2016) and The Problem of Religious Diversity: European Problems, Asian Challenges (2017).

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Richard Sennett
New York University, USA and London School of Economics, UK

Richard Sennett writes about cities, labor, and culture. He teaches sociology at New York University and at the London School of Economics.

Richard Sennett has explored how individuals and groups make social and cultural sense of material facts — about the cities in which they live and about the labour they do. He focuses on how people can become competent interpreters of their own experience, despite the obstacles society may put in their way. His research entails ethnography, history, and social theory.  As a social analyst, Mr. Sennett continues the pragmatist tradition begun by William James and John Dewey.

His first book, The Uses of Disorder, [1970] looked at how personal identity takes form in the modern city. He then studied how working-class identities are shaped in modern society, in The Hidden Injuries of Class, written with Jonathan Cobb. [1972] A study of the public realm of cities, The Fall of Public Man, appeared in 1977; at the end of this decade of writing, Mr. Sennett sought to account the philosophic implications of this work in Authority [1980].

At this point he took a break from sociology, composing three novels: The Frog who Dared to Croak [1982], An Evening of Brahms [1984] and Palais Royal [1987]. He then returned to urban studies with two books, The Conscience of the Eye, [1990], a work focusing on urban design, and Flesh and Stone [1992], a general historical study of how bodily experience has been shaped by the evolution of cities.

In the mid 1990s, as the work-world of modern capitalism began to alter quickly and radically, Mr. Sennett began a project charting its personal consequences for workers, a project which has carried him up to the present day. The first of these studies, The Corrosion of Character, [1998] is an ethnographic account of how middle-level employees make sense of the “new economy.” The second in the series, Respect in a World of Inequality, [2002} charts the effects of new ways of working on the welfare state; a third, The Culture of the New Capitalism, [2006] provides an over-view of change. Most recently, Mr. Sennett has explored more positive aspects of labor in The Craftsman [2008], and in Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation [2012]. The third volume in this trilogy, Building and Dwelling, will appear in 2018.

Among other awards, Richard Sennett has received the Hegel and Spinoza Prizes and an honorary degree from the University of Cambridge.

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Paulina Tambakaki
University of Westminster, UK

Paulina Tambakaki is a Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster. She is co-editor of the Routledge book series Advances in Democratic Theory and she works in the areas of agonism, radical democracy, representation and citizenship. Her publications include a monograph entitled Human Rights, Or Citizenship? published with Birkbeck Law Press in 2011 and articles in various academic journals.

Paulina is currently working on her second monograph that focuses on processes of political change, with a particular focus on the relation between democracy, idealisation and memory.

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