As a tribute to Johan Goudsblom’s work, an international conference will be held in Amsterdam 17-19 March 2022, which will deal with basic problems concerning the explanation and understanding of long-term social processes. Papers may deal with the life and work of Goudsblom (to be discussed on the first day) or with a topic related to the conference theme.
The approach will be theoretical, aiming at generalisations and explanations, rather than descriptive. Yet we prefer contributions in which the theorizing is firmly grounded in empirical data.
Basic questions to be dealt with are:
• What kind of regularities in human history can be assessed? What kind of variations? What kind of recurrent mechanisms may explain regularities and variations? What kind of theoretical approaches are most fruitful to address these issues? To what extent, and how, for example, are the principles of Darwinian evolutionary theory applicable to long-term sociocultural processes?
• To what extent, and how, is it possible to make predictions about the future on the basis of theories about long-term social developments? What makes, on the other hand, human social life irregular and unpredictable? In other words, how are regularities and irregularities in social processes to be conceived and understood?
Possible topics for paper presentations include:
• Civilising processes and their counterparts (decivilising and dyscivilising processes).
• Accumulation and distribution of power resources between and within human societies: a long-term view.
• Before and after the Industrial Era: ecological and technological ‘revolutions’ in human history.
• Biological and cultural Darwinism.
• Network theory, complexity, and social evolution.
• Matter, energy, and information.
• What about progress? Long-term trends in human well-being.
• The evolution of knowledge and the social sciences.
• The expanding anthroposphere: changing interdependencies between humans and their ‘natural’ environment.
A selection of papers will be published in a special journal issue, which is planned to appear at the end of 2022.
Participants will be asked to pay a modest fee, which will be specified later.
The conference will start in the afternoon of 17 March, the second anniversary of Johan Goudsblom’s death. This first part of the conference will be devoted to Goudsblom’s life and work. Stephen Mennell will give the opening address, to be followed by other contributions. On the next two days, Friday 18 and Saturday 19 March, various topics related to the conference theme will be discussed, both in plenary and in parallel sessions.
The conference will be held in the Trippenhuis, home of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), in the centre of Amsterdam. Although the conference will be held in person, in special cases we have the possibility to make presentations via Zoom.
To register and to present your abstract please click here.