Keynote Speakers

Professor Ted Benton (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Essex)

What on Earth should be done?

Environmental and economic crises, exploitation, the division of labour and alienation between people, animal species and the natural environment: What on Earth should be Done? This is the big question that sociologist and naturalist Professor Ted Benton has dedicated his academic career to addressing. With a career background in teaching natural science, Benton currently lectures at the Department of Sociology at The University of Essex. He has authored and edited a number of books that explore relations between society and nature. Key titles include: Natural Relations: Ecology, Animal Rights and Social Justice, Social Theory and the Global Environment, The Greening of Marxism and Nature, Social Relations and Human Needs. Benton is also a key member of the Red-Green Study Group: an ‘ecosocialist’ political movement dedicated to thinking through the  possibilities for new futures. His talk will outline a set of fundamental debates and proposed red-green principles that go beyond a reoccurring loop of social and economic criticism. It will raise and address issues such as naturalism, human needs, equality, liberty, solidarity and democracy, with the aim of improving ecological conditions and the status of our collective well-being.

Professor Donatella della Porta (European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies)

Eventful protests: how social movements change relations

Throughout history social movements have been at the forefront of transformative social change, challenging regressive politics, political corruption and state violence. But what is at the heart of these movements, who is involved in them, what impact does involvement in social movements have on those who participate, and how do they organize themselves? Are they able to influence policy and society or are they merely a symptom of a powerless public? One of the world’s most distinguished political sociologists, Professor Donatella della Porta, has dedicated her career to addressing these questions from a truly international perspective. She is currently research professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (EUI). Prior to this, she spent a little over a decade as Professor of Sociology in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at EUI, directing the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos). Her most recent publications are: Can Democracy be Saved? (2013), Clandestine Political Violence (2013), the Blackwell Encyclopaedia on Political and Social Movements (2013) (with D. Snow, Bert Klandermans, and Doug McAdam), Mobilizing on the Extreme Right (2012), Meeting Democracy (2012), The Hidden Order of Corruption (2012), Social Movements and Europeanization,(2009), Democracy in Social Movements, (2009) and Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences (2008). Her talk will explore the question of agency in democratization processes.

Professor Emeritus Goran Therborn (Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences, University of Cambridge)

The global socio-political landscape after the North Atlantic financial crisis: responses, outcomes and new factors and forces

What is the nature of the modern world? In modernity, how does class structure intersect with the state? How does ideology form within the individual? How might Marxism and Radical theory be used to answer these questions, and what is the future of these intellectual traditions? These are just a few of the questions that Göran Therborn has tackled in over four decades of scholarly enquiry. A truly global social scientist, with Swedish roots, Therborn has written some of the most important social scientific works of recent times. These include, to give a short list: Science, Class and Society (1976), What Does the Ruling Class Do When It Rules? (1978), The Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology (1980), Between Sex and Power (2004), and From Marxism to Post-Marxism (2008). In his most recent book, The Killing Fields of Inequality (2013), Therborn turns his singular perspective to perhaps the most pressing of contemporary social issues, and confirms his reputation not only as one of the most important and profound social scientists of his generation, but also as one of its most committed of civic intellectuals: a supporter of anti-imperialist and egalitarian social movements, and champion of universal freedom and equality. The theme of his talk is the global socio-political landscape after the North Atlantic financial crisis. How are we to assess the responses to the financial meltdown? What have been the outcomes of the 2011 movements? And what new factors and forces have emerged in the global political arena?

Professor Greg Philo (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow)

Wealth or wealthier: distribution within the context of demands for regional autonomy

How does the news limit and structure audience beliefs? What are the social and political consequences of the structuring of knowledge and opinion? And how might we address the imbalance in news coverage and media ownership? As director of the Glasgow Media Group, Professor Greg Philo has spent three decades spearheading the UK’s most penetrating and influential research into these fundamental questions. To date, the range of topics has included industrial disputes and trade unionism, the Falklands War and Northern Ireland, political advertising, images of health and illness, migration, ‘race’, and food scares. Among the key titles that Philo has authored or edited are Glasgow Media Group Reader Volume 1: News Content, Language, Visuals (1995), Glasgow University Media Group Reader Volume II: Industry, Economy, War and Politics (1995), Media and Mental Distress (1996), Message Received (1999), Market Killing (2000), and More Bad News From Israel (2011). The theme of his talk is the increasing concentration of wealth into the hands of a small minority, a defining characteristic of our time. Will this continue and how will it be affected by the increasing demands for regional autonomy? Will the demands for liberation and freedom in Scotland be employed to make sure the rich stay that way?

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