Jeff Goldfarb chats with Peter Berger, Oct. 30, 2014 © Zachary Sunderman
FeatureMulti MediaTheory & PracticeVideo

Peter Berger’s Last Visit to The New School for Social Research

Revisiting The Social Construction of Reality

Although circumstances did not permit Peter Berger to attend in person The New School’s conference commemorating the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Social Construction of Reality, it was wonderful to have him with us via Skype (nicely captured with me in the accompanying surreal photo). It was also great to have Thomas Luckmann in a video message, and a group of distinguished scholars who have been informed and provoked by Berger and Luckmann’s masterwork: Alan Sica, Eviatar Zerubavel, Asia Friedman, Steve Hoffman and Silke Steets. …

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Illustration of Hannah Arendt "Hannah-Arendt3" ©  Ben Northern | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionTheory & Practice

Hannah and Me: Understanding Politics in Dark Times

Contrary to the suggestion of my informal title, I did not study with Hannah Arendt, nor were we ever colleagues, although I missed both experiences only by a bit. I was a graduate student in the early 1970s in one of the universities where she last taught, the University of Chicago, and my first and only long term position, at the New School for Social Research, was her primary American academic home.

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MOOC poster explores the meaning of "Massive Open Online Courses" © Mathieu Plourde | Flickr
CapitalismEssaysSex & GenderTheory & Practice

OOPS versus MOOCs

I first thought of writing this post over a year ago as a follow up to my piece “Against the Educational Uncertainty Principle.” I was struck by the way that recent interventions to address the various dimensions of higher educational crisis have made matters worse. MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, are a particular case in point. As I wrote then:

“I worry about magical solutions: MOOCs, substituting television for face to face inquiry, even though using the web to strengthen educational practices makes sense to me. …

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A mosaic by Louis Delsarte in Harlem, the former epicenter of Black jazz © Wally Gobetz | Flickr
EssaysRaceTheory & Practice

The Social Condition and the Ghetto

Jeffrey Goldfarb and Iddo Tavory (recently joined additionally by Tim Rosenkranz) have been trading pieces in this forum toward sketching the outlines of an existential sociology based on a concept they call “the social condition.” The social condition, if I understand them correctly, is the intrinsic potential for our lives and our projects to come up against impasses. Borne from the complexity of our existences as social beings, it is the impossibility of overarching, unproblematic narratives. It is the inevitably of indeterminacy and irreconcilability. …

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Feminine deconstruction © ga3lle | Flickr
EssaysIn DepthSex & GenderTheory & Practice

Neoliberalism and the Feminine Subject*

Foucault’s radical intervention in feminist theory, and more generally in the philosophy of the body, has been the crucial claim that any analysis of embodiment must recognise: how power relations are constitutive of the embodied subjects involved in them. His studies of disciplinary technologies, for example, show how individuals are constructed through mundane, everyday habits and techniques as certain kinds of subjects. Similarly, feminist appropriations of Foucault’s thought have demonstrated how feminine subjects are constructed through patriarchal, disciplinary practices. In the first section of this paper, I will illustrate this process by discussing Sandra Bartky’s influential account of how the docile feminine body is constructed through disciplinary practices of beauty. …

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Front cover of the special issue of Social Research "German Perspectives on the Social Sciences" © Social Research | The New School
EssaysIn DepthTheory & Practice

A Continuing Conversation: From the Archiv to Social Research

The Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research was founded in 1933 by Alvin Johnson, the president of the New School, who created there the “University in Exile” to provide a safe haven for scholars who were endangered by totalitarian regimes.[1] The University in Exile became necessary after the new National Socialist government in Germany immediately promulgated a “law” on April 7, 1933, the Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums (Restoration of Civil Service Act), which was used as an instrument to dismiss civil servants either for racial or political reasons. …

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Book cover of On the Cult of Fetish Gods by Charles De Brosses © Kessinger Publishing | amazon.co.uk
EssaysThe PsycheTheory & Practice

Alan Baas | Philosophy Talk Series | @NSSR

A reading of On the Cult of Fetish Gods

Since Marx’ and Freud’s influential usage of the term, we became accustomed to talk about fetishism as a topic for psychology and social theory. It is rarely remembered that the topic was originally a topic in theology and ethnology. Why has fetishism assumed such a wide meaning? Why do theorists of fetishism, from Marx to Freud and passing by Comte, always begin with applying it to a specific topic but then ending up generalizing it? These are some of the questions that Alan Bass tackles in his talk delivered as part of the Philosophy Thursday Nights Series. This talk is part of Alan Bass’s ongoing project, which aims at examining the implications of Freud’s generalization of fetishism at the end of his life in relation to the history of discourse on the subject. …

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