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Utopia

SOCIAL JUSTICE AND THE UNIVERSITY

The Dept. of Sociology and the CSSJ at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will be hosting a conference on Social Justice and the University, April 29-April 30 at the Baker Center.

Details at: http://web.utk.edu/~utsocdep/sjuconf/index.html

The Conference will use the idea of social justice to explore the challenges universities face in meeting the economic, social, and global pressures of the 21st century. With faculty, student, staff, and community participants, the Conference is designed to begin an ongoing discussion of how social justice can inform the responsibilities of higher education. The participants come from a variety of academic disciplines, including Education, Modern Foreign Languages & Literature, Law, Philosophy, Sociology, and Social Work, in addition to various community workers. Conference topics include Foundations and Variations on Social Justice, Social Justice and Globalization, Teaching Social Justice, and University and Communities.

The keynote speakers are:

John Gaventa, Professor and Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies in England. He is a member of the Participation, Power and Social Change team and Director of the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability. He has written widely on issues of power, participatory development and governance, civil society and social change.

Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center. Dr. Piven is an expert in urban politics, voting rights, and the development of the welfare state. Dr. Piven is one of the foremost political sociologists in the country, having written influential work on protest, the welfare state, and voting. Dr. Piven is also a past-president of the American Sociological Association. She is cofounder of Human SERVE (Service Employees Registration and Voter Education), an organization that worked to increase voter registration among underrepresented and low-income populations.

Erik Olin Wright, Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Wright is the President Elect of the American Sociological Association and series editor of the Real Utopias Project. The Real Utopias Project focuses on egalitarian change through the fundamental redesign of basic social and economic institutions.

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‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

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Ben Linus

TAKING CONTROL

SOAS, University of London, 12th March 2011

This conference is concerned with control.  On what it means today – under globalised late capitalism – to take or be in control of institutions, whether political, economic, or academic.  We are concerned with theorising how to take control, and on what to do when we take it.  We want to focus not on the dangers of control – since the corrupting effects of power have been amply theorized – but rather on what it means to take responsibility and effect change, and what this change could be.

That is, how can a vision for society be enacted in practical terms? What is the role of democratic participation in this process of mastering social change?  And how do we remain accountable as we take control.  Does taking control mean working against, within or beside the existing institutional structure?

This question remains under-theorised in contemporary critical political theory – which often remains limited to the critique of the status quo. Without the impulse to take responsibility and take control, this critique becomes meaningless – it results in a de facto acceptance.  Where projects like the ‘Idea of Communism’ stop, this conference seeks to take the next step.  It must be situated along work such as the Turbulence Collective’s ‘What it means to win’ volume and Erik Olin-Wright’s ‘Envisioning Utopias’.

We are clear that the idea of communism remains important and a project to be fought for.  However in the strategic question we are at an impasse, how to take control and implement a new communism? The vanguard model seems discredited, but the model of the multitude seems non-committal, a mere waiting for things to gradually come together, resulting in a de facto withdrawal from the social. Even more than this impasse, in times of late capitalism the very meaning of what being in control entails is no longer clear.  We want to move from thinking about the idea of communism to implementing it.

We invite 300 word abstracts for 20-minute papers dealing with these and other issues concerning control. 

Please send abstracts, along with your name and institutional affiliation, to BOTH Alexej Ulbricht (a.ulbricht@soas.ac.uk) and Luke Evans (cu701le@gold.ac.uk) by 23rd December 2010.

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Jacob

ENVISIONING REAL UTOPIAS

NEW TITLE FROM VERSO:

ENVISIONING REAL UTOPIAS

By ERIK OLIN WRIGHT

Published 10th September 2010

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PRAISE FOR ENVISIONING REAL UTOPIAS:

“A benchmark contribution to necessary radical thinking.” Goran Therborn

“Hugely rich and stimulating.” Adam Swift, Balliol College, Oxford

“Encyclopedic in its breadth, daunting in its ambition, this is the culmination of Erik Olin Wright’s revamping of Marxism … Only a thinker of Wright’s genius could sustain such a badly needed political imagination without losing analytical clarity and precision.” Michael Burawoy, UC Berkeley

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As the economic and environmental crises compete to usher in the apocalypse, the perils of unfettered capitalism are increasingly thrown into sharp relief. Big oil, big money, endless war, and rising inequalities of income and power all make the search for alternatives more urgent than ever.

Many argue that the Left is adept at rehashing critiques of capitalism, yet unable to suggest concrete, viable alternatives. Inured to the new globalised neoliberal paradigm, analysts are quick to dismiss as utopian any attempts at a solution. As Fredric Jameson poignantly remarked, it is now easier for us to imagine the end of the world than an alternative to capitalism.

Renowned sociologist Erik Olin Wright fills the vacuum with a call for an emancipatory social science. After decades of examining the changing modes of class relations, Wright now turns his attention to the critique and diagnosis of capitalism—and in turn, its alternatives and possible transformations. Instead of yet another idealized blueprint, his transitional program is more like a compass, oriented to the goal of putting the ‘social’ back in socialism.

Wright’s vision is one of radical democratic egalitarianism; a society that is mutualist, communitarian, and liberates social power from its state and market counterparts. From worker owned cooperatives and Wikipedia to basic income and participatory city budgeting, his comprehensive case studies present inspiring examples of real utopias and emancipatory alternatives that are tangibly changing the world.

Erik Olin Wright has been elected President of the American Sociological Association from 2011-2012. He will choose the theme for the 2012 ASA symposium.

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A special website has been set up for the book at www.realutopias.org. Along with collections of Wright’s articles, book extracts and video lectures, the site contains a section detailing the other six books in the Real Utopias project, all of which are available from Verso. A set of supplementary materials discussing the development of the Real Utopias project and the process of writing the book will also be made available via the website shortly. 

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ERIK OLIN WRIGHT is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. He is the editor of the REAL UTOPIAS series, which includes his DEEPENING DEMOCRACY (cowritten with Archon Fung), and is the author of many other books, including CLASS COUNTS, INTERROGATING INEQUALITY, THE DEBATE ON CLASSES AND CLASSES.

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ISBN: 978 1 84467 617 0 / $26.95 / £16.99 / CAN$33.50 / Paperback / 412 pages

ISBN: 978 1 84467 618 7 / $95.00 / £60.00 / CAN$118.50 / Hardback / 412 pages

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For more information visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/tuvwxyz/w-titles/wright_e_envisioning_real_utopias.shtml

To buy the book in the UK: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781844676170/Envisioning-Real-Utopias

or

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Envisioning-Real-Utopias-Erik-Wright/dp/184467617X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282556436&sr=8-1-spell

To buy the book in the US: http://www.amazon.com/Envisioning-Real-Utopias-Erik-Wright/dp/184467617X/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282556478&sr=8-10

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