Concerning Relations: Sociologies of Conduct, Care and Affect Symposium

Presenting a paper next week based on material from my new book (forthcoming) at this excellent two day workshop at the University of Exeter… The paper is called The Rhythmic Brain: Attention Deficit and the Care of Youth.

Workshop blurb

Concerning Relations: Sociologies of Conduct, Care and Affect Symposium

An Exeter Medical School
Date 2829 November 2014
Time Event spans several days
Place University of Exeter

The aim of this exciting international workshop is to bring together leading researchers, practitioners and scholars from care studies, sociology of health and illness, science and technology studies, humanities and philosophy to rethink care. We also plan to publish the results of the workshop.

This interdisciplinary symposium, funded by Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (FSHI) and University of Exeter aims to interrogate the implications of shifting the focus of health care away from ‘delivery’ towards care as an ongoing everyday accomplishment. The situatedness of care relations and how situated care relations are practiced and experienced are vital to understanding the impacts care has upon patients, families and healthcare staff. This shift represents a contrasting view on care, from one that is predicated upon a discourse of absence (of care) or lack (of dignity) to the affective interactional relations between social actors. Such shifts of focus are of prime concern as care may be viewed less as a commodity which can be lost, saved, traded or withheld, but as a relation that is deeply embedded within institutional contexts, of individuals and the social worlds they inhabit.

This symposium examines spaces of collisions, elisions or alignments of social worlds, within which the affective dimension of social life in healthcare may be fruitfully examined. Drawing upon relational concerns as a distinct and distinctive mode of sociological inquiry, the symposium seeks to develop an understanding of care and its consequences that help us get beyond the economics of care as a commodified and managed form of engagement with the ‘other’.  Making this shift has huge potential for addressing long-standing, global concerns around ‘cultures of poor care’ or ‘care as absence’, the seemingly intractable problems that are not readily amenable to a quick or even a slow fix.

The symposium examines how the fix, the cure, remains an issue of perspective. Central questions include

  • what if the ‘problem’ of caring in health care settings was viewed differently, how would the issues be seen through an affective, situated relational perspective, how would an affective orientation resolve or heighten long standing and seemingly intractable problems of institutional care?
  • Is the demand for a cure (the fix) a manifestation of a broader political economy at work, is it a question of the mundane interaction order where contemporary modes of conduct reinforces distance, or is the organizational ‘cure’ simply a manifestation of organizational disease?
  • Can materials, economies, institutional practices and modes of accounting contribute to poor clinical and managerial conduct and do such devices legitimate a focus away from the patient?

Rather than provide a critique with no visible solution, or provide a simplification of institutional mores, a more cogent question may be what or who is now being cared for. Once such questions of central importance to a relational sociology have been attended to, the case for re-imagining the organization of care as a situated accomplishment can be made, a case based upon sound sociological reasoning. This symposium challenges what it means to care.

About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. He has a PhD in social-cultural-digital contagion theory from the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. He is a former art student who re-entered higher education in the UK as a mature student in the mid-1990s after a long stint as a gigging musician. His career in education has moved through various disciplines and departments, including a maths and computing faculty, sociology department and school of digital media and design His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018) and The Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media (due 2020 with Polity Press). Tony is the organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK (see archive on this blog). As a co-founder and co-director of the public engagement initiatives, Club Critical Theory (CCT) and the Cultural Engine Research Group (CERG), Tony has been project lead on a number of funded projects that bring impactful critical theories into the community and local political sphere to approach. These activities have included large conferences, symposia and informal lectures/workshops in pubs and community centres, co-organized with community groups and local authorities. Tony occasionally blogs at: Full academic profile:
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