outline drafts

Third draft. August 2011

Engaging Tactics is a two-day symposium with presented papers and practical workshops being held by Goldsmiths Department of Sociology in Spring 2012.

The event builds on the previous successful New-Scholar Symposia staged by the department with (Re)Creating: Methodologies, Concepts, Practices in 2005, Exploding Methods in 2007 and Exploding Objects in 2009.

The aim of this year’s symposium is to explore social sciences’ ways of engaging with the social world. The event seeks to explore how to (re)imagine the ‘tactics’ for producing and sharing social knowledge, focusing on the construction and upholding of meaningful and confiding relationships with both research participants and ‘emerging publics’.

In the light of wholesale changes to the UK’s higher education system Engaging Tactics asks what we understand the place of sociology and inter-related disciplines to be. Social sciences must (yet again) think about their multifaceted, diverse and (to a great extent) ambiguous engagement with the world. The removal of funding and political support brings into question the critical social sciences’ ability to operate as spaces of intellectual exploration and poses the question of how we can establish alternative value systems for the production of knowledge outside a commodity driven market logic. To find answers to this question, we suggest, it requires engaging audiences in ways that challenge the conventional generation and measurement of ‘impact’. Diverse and inventive tactics might be needed in order to rethink and recast the relationships social sciences build with their participants, users and beneficiaries of research; with policy makers, funders, interested publics and colleagues from other disciplines.

Further, in engaging with the world around us, what tactics and methods are suitable to respond to the pulse of contemporary life? Researchers increasingly make use of sensory or relational methods in the process of doing research. What tactics of  engagement do we have at our command to deal with lived experience? And might these how do these show us ways for sociology to remain of relevance?

The symposium invites post-graduates and early career researchers to explore engaging tactics under the light of the three topics: Space, Collaboration and Experiment. Papers and any other forms of presentations will be organised into practical workshops, which will encourage constructive criticism through joint exploration. As the conference aims to question the engagement with the public, special care will be taken to establish innovative forms of dialogue across and outside established university spaces. The symposium thus seeks to explore spaces, collaborations and experiments neighbouring the college premises, such as: London New Cross and Deptford. Furthermore, the symposium intends to foster connections across the postgraduate community.

  1. Spatial tactics: Under this heading we invite participants to address the ‘socio-spatial dialectic’ within which knowledge is produced and shared through engagement with the world. It seeks to explore those engaging tactics that challenge the ‘openness’ of social, institutional and physical space and that reflect on the intersection of space, knowledge, and power.
  2. Collaborative tactics: This session seeks to encourage a broad and interdisciplinary dialogue regarding the art of crossing boundaries between you and me, us and them. It invites participants to explore tactics of engagement under the light of trust, respect and the ‘art of listening.’
  3. Experimental tactics: This third strand of discussion encourages the formulation, performance and critique of research/dissemination settings that place actors and topics in processual, path-dependent and outcome-open relationships. Participants are invited to explore those engaging tactics that make public matters – objects and issues – matter for what is coming next.

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Second draft. February 2011

Engaging Tactics: Sociology and the Public is a two-day symposium with presented papers, performed interventions and practical workshops. It is organised by post-graduates for peers and early career researchers throughout the college and the wider UK university landscape who will be encouraged to submit proposals via an open call for participation. Engaging Tactics will be held in September 2011 under the umbrella and with the support of the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths. The event builds on the previous successful series of New-Scholar Symposia staged by the department with (Re)Creating in 2005, Exploding Methods in 2007 and Exploding Objects in 2009.

The conference aims to question the engagement of critical social sciences with the public. It encourages participants to imagine/re-imagine the production and sharing of knowledge within, across and beyond disciplines, with ‘new’ and ‘unexpected’ audiences.

In the wake of the wholesale changes proposed to the UK’s higher education system Engaging tactics questions the multifaceted, diverse and (to a great extent) ambiguous engagement of critical social sciences with the world.  The withdrawal of political support brings into question critical social sciences’ ability to operate as spaces of intellectual exploration and forces us to think how alternative value systems for the production of knowledge outside a commodity-driven market logic can be established. Challenging this de-valuing of knowledge production requires engaging audiences beyond the academy, be they political allies, private funders, ‘research beneficiaries’ or interested publics; it requires diverse yet collaborative tactics.

Exploring these engaging tactics, the symposium/workshop will emphasise innovative forms of dialogue across and outside established university spaces. It invites participants to engage both in virtual and physical space and fosters direct contact with the local community in and around New Cross. The proposed conference spaces will range from on-line conference set-ups to open spaces throughout Goldsmiths College as well as, for example, cafés and self-service laundries on New Cross Road and Deptford High Street. By providing an event and platform both in and outside academia, it seeks to challenge the divide between the two and to open up a joint opportunity for sharing knowledge: thus the conference itself aims to step up to its topic: Engaging tactics.

The symposium invites post-graduates and early career researchers to explore engaging tactics under the light of the three topics: Space, Collaboration and Experiment. Papers, performances, video-streams, etc… will be organised into practical workshops and group sessions, which will encourage constructive criticism through joint exploration. In addition, the symposium will invite keynote speakers and leading academics to present papers, lead and take part in activities, interventions and workshops, thus providing opportunities for younger scholars to practically engage with more established researchers.

The symposium will benefit Goldsmiths by ensuring its active position at the forefront of responding to the current challenges posed by the transforming university landscape in the UK.  Furthermore, it will foster innovative connections and collaborations among young researchers, new audiences, and, particularly, between Goldsmiths College and its immediate local community in New Cross.

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First draft. January 2011

Engaging Tactics: Sociology and the Public is a two-day event with presented papers and practical workshops being held by Goldsmiths Department of Sociology in September 2011. The event builds on the previous successful series of New-Scholar Symposia staged by the department with (Re)Creating: Methodologies, Concepts, Practices in 2005, Exploding Methods in 2007 and Exploding Objects in 2009.

The aim of this year’s symposium is to explore social sciences’ relationship with the public, the relationship between ‘researcher’ and ‘researched’. Under the name of “engaging tactics”, the symposium seeks to explore what a postgraduate and early career researcher community’s work contributes to imagining and re-imagining the production and sharing of knowledge within, across and beyond disciplines.

Engaging Tactics: Sociology and the Public asks what we now understand the place of sociology and inter-related disciplines to be in the wake of the wholesale changes proposed to the UK’s higher education system. In the shadow of a transforming university landscape, the social sciences must think about their multifaceted, diverse and (to a great extent) ambiguous engagement with the world.

The removal of funding and political support brings into question the critical social sciences’ ability to operate as spaces of intellectual exploration and poses the question of how we can establish alternative value systems for the production of knowledge outside a commodity driven market logic. Challenging this de-valuing of knowledge production requires engaging audiences beyond the academy, be they political allies, private funders, or interested publics; it requires diverse yet collaborative tactics.

Further, in engaging with the world around us, what tactics and methods are suitable to respond to the pulse of contemporary life? Researchers increasingly make use of sensory or relational methods in the process of doing research. What tactics for engaging with lived experience do we have at our command and might they show us ways for sociology to remain of relevance?

The symposium invites post-graduates and early career researchers to explore engaging tactics under the light of the three topics Space, Collaboration and Experiment. Papers and other forms of participation will be organised into practical workshops and paper sessions, which will encourage constructive criticism through joint exploration. As the conference aims to question the engagement with the public special care will be taken to establish innovative forms of dialogue across and outside established university spaces. Furthermore, the symposium intends to foster connections across the postgraduate community.

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