What is at stake in Europe? Reflections on the current crisis

Friday room members may be interested in this academic  seminar by the Cultural Communities, Cosmopolitanism and Citizenship (CulCom) research group on the affect  of austerity in Europe, responses and how this might affect future development of Europe.

Wed 23rd October, 1-2pm

Room U122 (Brockington)

All Welcome

Professor Dennis Smith

Emeritus professor of sociology at Loughborough University

Title: What is at stake in Europe? Reflections on the current crisis.

The recent Red Cross report entitled Think Differently: Humanitarian impacts of the economic crisis in Europe (published 10 October 2013), provides evidence of the social effects of the recent imposition of austerity. I will argue that the character of the political communities and political cultures in different member states is shaping the responses of Europeans to those humanitarian impacts and more generally to the question of how Europe might develop in future.

This paper is based on reflections stimulated by visits to a number of European countries (eg Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Poland, Norway) over the past few months. Its frame of analysis is both socio-historical and comparative.

I narrate the ‘European story’ as two sequences: one of fifty years (1939-89), culminating in a seizing up of the machinery, and a slowing down of the engine by the late 1980s; and a second sequence (since 1989) shorter in length, so far, and culminating in a series of jolts that have loosened up the machinery, making its constituent parts, which had been locked closely together, more visible as if in an exploded diagram.

I will briefly analyze the ‘exploded diagram’ of the EU in crisis, identifying some of the axes of cooperation, frontiers of struggle and chasms of alienation that have emerged or become pronounced within Europe in the period since 2008. I will also consider possible futures for the EU beyond the current crisis.

Dennis Smith is the author of several books including The Rise of Historical Sociology, Norbert Elias and Modern Social Theory, The Chicago School. A Liberal Critique of Capitalism, Globalization. The Hidden Agenda, Zygmunt Bauman. Prophet of Postmodernity, Norbert Elias and Modern Social Theory, Barrington Moore. Violence, Morality and Political Change, Conflict and Compromise. Class Formation in English Society 1830-1914, and Capitalist Democracy on Trial. He also co-edited Whose Europe? The Turn Towards Democracy. He has been co-editor of Sociological Review and editor of Current Sociology. He is emeritus professor of sociology at Loughborough University.

For more information about CulCom see: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/research/groups/culturalcommunitiescosmopolitanismandcitizenship/

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