Symposium in Honour of Peter Dickens, Brighton, 3 Jul 2013

Changing our Environment, Changing Ourselves:
A Festschrift Symposium in Honour of Peter Dickens
Checkland E513, Falmer Campus, University of Brighton
Wednesday 3rd July, 10am-5pm.

In an academic career spanning five decades, Peter Dickens has established a reputation as an
exceptionally accessible and passionate writer whose work nonetheless retains remarkable intellectual breadth and depth. His major books include: Housing, States and Localities (1985), One Nation? (1988), Urban Sociology (1990), Property, Bureaucracy and Culture (1992), Society and Nature (1992 & 2004), Reconstructing Nature (1996), Social Darwinism (2000), and Cosmic Society (2007). These wide-ranging texts have in common a central concern with the relationship captured in the title of this symposium (also the subtitle of his award-winning book Society and Nature). This is the way in which human subjectivity, health and psychological well-being are changed as we work on our environment, and how these changes in turn affect how we understand and interact with the environments we shape. These relationships of course depend on the social structures within which they take place. Dickens’ focus has continually shifted to grapple with contemporary social issues as they have appeared on the horizon, from the privatisation of public housing, to genetic engineering, to the commodification of space resources. His path through these issues has been guided by a critical realist philosophy, Red-Green politics, and psychoanalytic theory.
This symposium includes papers by academics whose work has inspired Peter Dickens, and which engages with themes central to his own work. These themes include: The distinction between ‘construing’ and socially constructing the environment; the uses and abuses of metaphors between the natural and social worlds; the concept of ‘latent’ biology and the critique of biological or sociological reductionism; the critique of essentialist notions of human nature as either individualistic or mutualistic; the effects of the mental—manual division of labour on internal and external nature; the alienation of humans from nature; the third contradiction of capitalism (between capital and internal nature); the relationship between unconscious mechanisms and social and spatial divisions; the significance of production, consumption and identity in ‘escape attempts’ and pre-figurative utopias.

Confirmed speakers include: Peter Dickens, Ted Benton, Kate Soper, Kathryn Dean, Graham Sharp and 
James Ormrod

This symposium is free to attend, and lunch and refreshments will be provided, but registration is essential. Please visit: http://shop.brighton.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&catid=31&prodid=208

Dr. James S. Ormrod, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Applied Social Science,University of Brighton, Mayfield House,FalmerBN1 9PH, UK.
Tel: +44(0)1273 643488