Civil Sphere Theory: An Interdisciplinary Debate

Thursday, 19 October 2017

14-16:00, Macrobert 613

Debates on Jeffrey Alexander’s magnum opus The Civil Sphere (2006) have been conducted mainly in his discipline of sociology, even though he makes reference to philosophy, legal theory and other disciplines. In this seminar, we will take advantage of Alexander’s visit to the University to engage with him from our own disciplines.

Our discussion will focus on three short readings from Peter Kivisto and Giuseppe Sciortino’s volume Solidarity, Justice, and Incorporation: Thinking through The Civil Sphere (available electronically and in print via Primo).

  1. Chapter 1: Short summary of Alexander’s arguments in the section  “The Main Arguments of The Civil Sphere” (14-20) of Kivisto and Sciortino’s “Introduction”.
  2. Chapter 2: Robert Bellah’s essay “Religion and the Civil Sphere” in the same volume.
  3. Chapter 7: Jeffrey Alexander response “Nine Theses on the Civil Sphere” (especially the section in which he responds to Bellah: p. 5-7 of the PDF or p. 176-8 of the print version)

We expect the discussion to range widely, but the choice of Bellah’s chapter reflects one of the topics that specifically interests us – the relation between religion and civil spheres.

The debate will begin with short responses from Professor Phil Ziegler, Dr Michael Laffin and Professor Michael Brown, before opening the floor for questions and comments.

This is one of 4 events to take place during Professor Alexander’s visit. Information on the other events is available at https://cisrul.wordpress.com/cst2017/visit-of-professor-jeffrey-alexander-yale/

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