German Historical Institute London

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Dynamics of Social Change and Perceptions of Threat


29 September - 1 October 2014

Organised in collaboration with SFB Tübingen, Bedrohte Ordnungen / Threatened Orders
Venue: German Historical Institute London


The conference will inquire into the possibilities and the processes of political and social change in situations in which societies or parts of society perceive substantial threats – uprisings and revolts, disasters, accelerating phases in otherwise lengthy transformation processes or violent encounters between rival models of order, each claiming validity for society as a whole.

Drawing on examples spanning from Antiquity to the present, from several parts of the world and different fields of research (history, philology, political science, anthropology), the conference asks under what conditions and in what manner threats may lead to a reconfiguration of values, structures of authority, responsibilities and resources. Under which circumstances and in which way will an initially short-term reconfiguration of values, competencies and resources cause in wake of a perceived threat accelerate social change – or: under what conditions and in which manner will the old order be re-affirmed and restored, assuming that this is possible? Here we are thinking change in a broad sense. It may refer, for instance, to changes in basic social orders as well as to changes in sub-orders.

This will open up the possibility of correlating reciprocities between changes or continuities of order on a multiplicity of levels, and this will afford, in turn, a differentiated insight into the processes at work.


Conference programme (PDF file)