Moderation and its Discontents: religion, rights and social justice

Organiser: Dr Alexander Smith Department of Sociology, University of Warwick

Monday, 23 June - Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Keynote speakers Professor Bob Antonio (Sociology, University of Kansas) Professor Danielle Allen (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) Professor John Holmwood (Sociology, University of Nottingham) Dr Rowan Williams (ex-Archbishop of Canterbury)

Workshop With the rise of neoliberal globalisation in the early 21st Century, the world is undergoing complex and rapid economic and political transformations. The apparent arrival of a 'post-secular' moment in the West, in which religion has re-entered the public square in multicultural liberal democracies like Britain and further unsettled debates about rights, secularism and 'truth', further signals a world 'in flux'. The threat of both 'home-grown' terrorism and racist violence, as witnessed last year with the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich and Pavlo Lapshyn's attempted bombings of mosques in the West Midlands, intensifies again these anxieties and uncertainties. This has prompted some now to argue for a project of moderation to mitigate the effects of crisis and indeterminacy associated with market-based policies and the so-called 'culture wars' they have provoked. Indeed, moderation has been fiercely argued in relation to combating Islamic extremism and finding an enduring peace in the Middle East. It has also been the subject of US debate in relation to issues of electoral polarisation and Church-State separation.

But what does 'moderation' actually mean? And what might a reasoned project of moderation look like - intellectually, politically and in practice? This interdisciplinary workshop builds on the arguments of Alex Smith and John Holmwood in their edited volume Sociologies of Moderation: problems of democracy, expertise and the media (2013, Wiley Blackwell) to suggest that moderation is better understood as a disciplined engagement with divided publics rather than a doctrine devoid of intellectual commitment or moral courage. Papers are therefore invited from scholars working in any field of the arts, humanities and social sciences on issues relating to the conference theme. Working with an expanded definition of moderation, contributions on the following topics would be particularly welcome:

  • Democracy, multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue
  • Citizenship, human rights and social justice
  • Education, expertise and the media
  • Publics versus markets
  • Pragmatism and social theory
  • Religion, secularism and science

Please send abstracts to Dr Alexander Smith at no later than 17.00 on Friday, 7 February 2014. Those selected to give papers will be informed by the end of February. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should be attached as a Word document with your institutional affiliation and position.