Sally Haslanger (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) wird die diesjährigen Benjamin-Lectures des Centre for Social Critique halten. In ihren öffentlichen Vorträgen wird sie am 14., 15. und 16. Juni in Berlin zum Thema „Agents of Possibility“ sprechen und dabei insbesondere auf die Komplexität sozialen Wandels und die entscheidende Rolle sozialer Bewegungen eingehen. […]
Societies are not planned and implemented by anyone. They are complex dynamic systems, as are hearts, ant hills, economies, and ecosystems. Although legislatures and policy makers undertake to construct and intervene in social systems – and what they do matters – they are not in control. Well-informed and morally motivated interventions can have unpredictable and often inimical effects. The society, so to speak, has a life of its own, and much of what happens is not designed or intended by anyone.
Moreover, agents in a social system are shaped by it – we come to “fit” niches in the structure by internalizing the relevant norms for the positions we occupy – and coordination on available terms is imperative. This can make it difficult to even imagine escaping the system or intervening in a way that substantially transforms it. So one might worry that it is hard to see beyond our current circumstances and undertake substantial change, and even when we try, the impact of our efforts is far from being under our control. What can we actually do to promote a better, more just, world?
The lectures will consider how a social theory sensitive to dynamic systems can help us understand social stability and radical social change. One of the most significant features of contemporary societies is their longstanding patterns of injustice, oppression, and harm. And yet, there are times when change seems to happen remarkably quickly, e.g., the movement for marriage equality in the US. How should we understand the systematic interaction between broad structures of race, gender, and class? What methods are promising for promoting positive social change? On what basis do we intervene in social systems that enable coordination – especially if disruption may make things worse before they get better?