AccueilThinking the present with Max Weber

Thinking the present with Max Weber

Weber study group of the British Sociological Association

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Publié le mercredi 24 octobre 2012 par Elsa Zotian

Résumé

The recent publication in English of Weber’s complete writings (and speeches) on universities has thrown new light on his involvement in university politics and his concern with the "type of scholar" that universities were producing: Weber imagines a university system in which researchers are becoming workers "separated from their means of production", and academics "people of the trade".  Inspired by Weber’s observations, this seminar-workshop will reflect on the current state of the university and its attendant practices: what is the meaning of scholarly work when the scholar is faced by a series of sometimes contradictory conditions and imperatives? What is the meaning of the new regime under which universities are put to work, with its "quality" indicators and debt-incurring devices, in terms of the pedagogy practised, the kinds of reason relied on, as well as the type of human being presupposed by such regime and resulting from its implementation? What kind of scholar, what kind of student, what type of human being, is produced by these practices?   

Annonce

A series of seminar-workshops to be organised by the Max Weber Study Group of the British Sociological Association 

2012-2013 season co-organised with the University of Salford and the University of Manchester

Presentation

The purpose of the series of seminar-workshops is to re-examine and engage with well-known and less well-known texts by Max Weber on issues which demand new thinking and taking a stance today. 

We are starting this series with seminar-workshops in three areas which can be seen as exhibiting different, though in each case quite extreme, features of the shaping of the human being in contemporary capitalism, a most Weberian theme – the university, the print media and the financial markets. Not only does Weber’s work have "implications for" our understanding of each of these fields, not only may his approach be "applied to" them, but he wrote about them directly: while his statements about the scholarly vocation are known to all, his pungent interventions on the state of the university and especially his voluminous writings on the stock exchange are less familiar to the English speaking world, while his proposals for a sociology of the press, though published in English more than 20 years ago, have rarely been taken up in a systematic way in the English speaking social sciences world. 

Thinking the present conditions and predicament in each of these three areas with Max Weber means examining the external and internal conditions of each of these human activities, and the way in which these conditions foster and shape certain sorts of human being: the academic (or the scholar/teacher) and the student; the journalist and the reader; as well as, finally, the financial trader, the investor, and the consumer of financial products.

Each seminar-workshop is a one-day event. Papers are by invitation only, but attendance and participation are open and free. 

The two seminars organised in 2012-2013 are the one on the University (7 December 2012, University of Salford) and the one on the press (3 May 2013, University of Manchester). The seminar on financial markets will take place some time in 2013-2014.

Program

Seminar-workshop 1: The University, the Scholar and the Student

7 December 2012 – University of Salford (Manchester)

(Co-organised with the University of Salford and UCU Salford)

The recent publication in English of Weber’s complete writings (and speeches) on universities has thrown new light on his involvement in university politics and his concern with the ‘type of scholar’ that universities were producing: Weber imagines a university system in which researchers are becoming workers ‘separated from their means of production’, and academics ‘people of the trade’.  Inspired by Weber’s observations, this seminar-workshop will reflect on the current state of the university and its attendant practices:  what is the meaning of scholarly work when the scholar is faced by a series of sometimes contradictory conditions and imperatives (output targets in research, ‘the student experience’ in teaching coupled with compulsory debt-financing (huge fees) for students, the tension between instrumentalism and knowledge for its own sake, between a public and a market-driven university ethos, between a collegial institution and a hierarchical organisation).  What is the meaning of the new regime under which universities are put to work, with its ‘quality’ indicators and debt-incurring devices, in terms of the pedagogy practised, the kinds of reason relied on, as well as the type of human being presupposed by such regime and resulting from its implementation? More generally, what kind of scholar, what kind of student, what type of human being, is being produced by these practices? 

  • 10 – 10:15  Introduction to the seminar: posing some Weberian questions (Carlos Frade, University of Salford)
  • 10:15 – 11 Science as a Vocation: Context and Genesis (Keith Tribe, University of Sussex)
  • 11 – 11:45  Markets, expertise and democracy: rethinking the academic vocation under a neo-liberal knowledge regime (John Holmwood, University of Nottingham)
  • 11:45 – 12:30 Indebted servitude – the work of 'the calling' in the new feudal professions (Sarah Amsler, University of Lincoln)

12:30 – 1:15   Lunch

  • 1:15 – 2  The external and internal conditions of academic vocation, revisited (Sam Whimster, Käte Hamburger Kolleg ‘Recht als Kultur’, Universität Bonn)
  • 2 – 2:45 University reform as state-making: the Research Excellence Framework, the Bologna Process, and the 'Althoff system’ (Eric R Lybeck, University of Cambridge)
  • 2:45 – 3:30  The Government’s Higher Education Reforms: Downgrading the Professional University and Upgrading the Entrepreneurial University (Peter Scott, Institute of Education, University of London)

3:30 – 3:45  Coffee break

  • 3:45 – 4:30 Theme TBC (Joyce Canaan, Birmingham City University)
  • 4:30 – 5:15 Goal-Rationality, the Scholar's Vocation and New Public Management (Erik J Boström & Sharon Rider, Uppsala Universitet)

Venue: Whitworth Clifford Conference Room (50 metres from Salford Crescent train station).

Contact: Carlos Frade, University of Salford, c.frade@salford.ac.uk

Seminar-workshop 2: The press, journalism and public opinion

3 May 2013 (10:30 – 16:30) – The University of Manchester

Weber’s proposal for a wide-ranging and expensive study of the press never bore the fruit that it might have; nor have the terms in which he set it out always shaped the scholarly work on the media in the 20th century – but the terms he proposed for studying the press one century ago strike a very contemporary chord.  The ‘preliminary report on a proposed survey for a sociology of the press’, delivered at the first meeting of the German Sociological Association in 1910, was part of Weber’s exploration of the organisation of the contemporary domains of culture, the inner motivation and external conditions of those working in their midst, and the moulding of the subjectivity of contemporary men and women. The press firm, an essential cultural moulder, had first of all to be analysed as capitalist undertaking, whose dynamic of intricately woven rationality and irrationality shapes the orientation of the newspaper, the place of journalists and ultimately the framing of areas of interest and modes of apprehension of reality by readers. With Weber, this seminar-workshop will thus interrogate the effects of the structure of media ownership; and of the internal dynamics of rationality and irrationality characteristic of managerialism in contemporary capitalist organisations, including press firms; on the professional ‘fate’ and ‘life chances’ of the journalist and the possibility of ‘responsible journalistic accomplishments’; as well as on the framing of public opinion.

Programme

10:30 – 10:45  Introduction (Isabelle Darmon, University of Manchester)

10:45 – 11:45  Max Weber and the Disenchantment of the Media World – His Universal Press Project, its Fate and its Legacy (Siegfried Weischenberg, University of Hamburg)

11:45 – 12:45  Hacking and Leveson as the Outcomes of Modern Rationalised Journalism (Aeron Davis, Goldsmiths College)

12:45 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 14:30 The Pariah's Paradox : towards a Weberian understanding of modern journalism (Gilles Bastin, Sciences Po Grenoble)

14:30 – 15:30  Weber’s sociology of the press and journalism: continuities in contemporary sociologies of journalists (Roger Dickinson, University of Leicester)

15:30 – 16:30  Roundtable: the press as site of contemporary capitalism

  • Venue: Board Room, 2nd Floor. Arthur Lewis building, nr 36 on the campus map, http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=6507.
  • Contact: Isabelle Darmon, University of Manchester, Isabelle.Darmon@manchester.ac.uk

References:

  • Weber, M. [1910] 2001. ‘Extract – Weber’s speech to the German Sociological Association’ in Hardt, H.  Social Theories of the Press: Early German and American Perspectives. Boston: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 193-198.
  • ---- [1910] 1998. ‘Preliminary Report on a Proposed Survey for a Sociology of the Press’, History of the Human Sciences Vol.11, No.2: 111-120.
  • ---- [1919] 1994. ‘The profession and Vocation of Politics’ in Political Writings. Edited by Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs, Cambridge texts in the history of political thought. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 309-369.

Seminar-workshop 3.  The financial markets, the trader, the entrepreneur, the worker

(to be announced later in 2013)

The 1890s saw the collapse of several European banks, suspension of payment on sovereign debt bonds issued by the governments of Argentina, Portugal and Greece, and speculative activity in the stock exchanges, with calls for a moralisation of finance in the name of the ‘thrifty average people’, sometimes coming from very interested parties (the Prussian landowner class). Max Weber became actively engaged in the debate on the regulation of the exchanges and published two pamphlets intended for a general audience, which looked at the stock and commodity exchanges as ‘institutions’. This prompted him to take a close look at the futures market (especially in grain) and the practice of short selling, the ensuing great ‘extension’ of the market, and the corresponding ‘imperceptible shift’ from regulation through operations based on the ‘judgment’ of professional traders knowing the commodities they speculate with, towards a mechanism of insurance through the anonymity and mass-character of transactions. The topicality of these themes is clear, and so we propose a re-examination of Weber’s writings on the stock exchange, and of their relevance for current analyses of the financialisation of the economy and of everyday life.   

Session topics: 

1. Weber on the stock exchange;

2. De-personalisation and disembedding of the economy; traders and heroes;

3. The financialisation of the public;

4. The emergence and social position of financial elites; the investor as a human type.

References

  • Weber, 2008. Max Weber’s Complete Writings on Academic and Political Vocations, edited by John Dreijmanis, trans. Gordon Wells.  Algora Publishing.
  • [1894] 2000. ‘Stock and Commodity Exchanges (Die Borse)’, Theory and Society Vol. 29, No. 3: 305-338.
  • 2000.  ‘Commerce on the Stock and Commodity Exchanges’, Theory and Society Vol. 29, No. 3: 339-371.
  • [1910] 2001. ‘Extract – Weber’s speech to the German Sociological Association’ in Hardt, H.  Social Theories of the Press: Early German and American Perspectives. Boston: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 193-198.
  • [1910] 1998. ‘Preliminary Report on a Proposed Survey for a Sociology of the Press’, History of the Human Sciences Vol.11, No.2: 111-120.
  • [1919] 1994. ‘The profession and Vocation of Politics’ in Political Writings. Edited by Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs, Cambridge texts in the history of political thought. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 309369.

Catégories

Lieux

  • University of Manchester, Arthur Lewis building, Board Room, 2nd Floor
    Manchester, Grande-Bretagne
  • Whitworth Clifford library, University of Salford, Conference room
    Salford, Grande-Bretagne

Dates

  • vendredi 07 décembre 2012
  • vendredi 03 mai 2013

Mots-clés

  • University, Weber, debt-financing

Contacts

  • Carlos Frade
    courriel : c [dot] frade [at] salford [dot] ac [dot] uk

Source de l'information

  • Carlos Frade
    courriel : c [dot] frade [at] salford [dot] ac [dot] uk

Pour citer cette annonce

« Thinking the present with Max Weber », Séminaire, Calenda, Publié le mercredi 24 octobre 2012, http://calenda.org/225148