Congress Sessions Update

Dear cluster members and visitors,

Some changes have been brought to the lineup of conferences help by the cluster at Congress in Calgary, on May 31rst. Since there have been some cancellations, we regrouped all our presenters into two sessions, which are still held on the same day as previously announced, with the cluster meeting still held during lunch break. Please scroll down below to view the final program.


New Durkheimian Analyses of Contemporary Social Phenomena

Tuesday May 31 10:45 am to 12:15 pm
Science A-109Session Code: CDRC_3
Session Format: Regular (presentations and discussion)
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Canadian Network Of Durkheimian Studies
Session Categories: Social Theory

In recent decades, Durkheimian sociology and social theory have been the sites of new debates, dialogue and controversy, informed and inspired by new research on a wide range of contemporary social phenomena. In line with a history reaching back to Durkheim himself (and his équipe), these developments treat theory-building and substantive research as inseparable and intertwined at every stage. This session will showcase contemporary research into social life and its transformations which also meaningfully engages with Durkheimian, neo-Durkheimian or post-Durkheimian theory (e.g. work by any of Mauss, Hubert, Halbwachs, Hertz, Davy, Caillois, Bataille, Parsons, Bellah, Steiner, Lévi-Strauss, Lukes, Bourdieu, Badiou, Althusser, Foucault, Taylor, Joas, etc.).

Organizer: William Ramp, University of Lethbridge; Chair: William Ramp, University of Lethbridge


James Cosgrave, Trent University Durham

Durkheim Plays the Lottery

This paper considers the widespread presence of legal gambling and lotteries from a Durkheimian theoretical perspective, drawing also from the work of Mauss, Caillois, and Bataille. Particular attention will be paid to lotteries. Lotteries are the most popular form of gambling worldwide since legalization and expansion began in the 1960s and 70s. Lottery jackpots have increased significantly in national lotteries in the last twenty years, and large lottery jackpots stimulate greater ticket purchases. The discussion locates contemporary state lotteries in relation to economic structures and ideologies in which the state itself participates, providing justification for the lottery form. The symbolic, circulatory, and redistributive aspects of contemporary legal gambling/lotteries will prompt consideration of their collective representationality.

Bernard Bertrand, Université du Québec à Montréal

L’impact du numérique sur les nouvelles formes de la solidarité: une analyse néodurkheimienne des communautés internet

À la lumière de la révolution numérique et ses implications sur les formes de sociabilité (création de nouveaux espaces d’échange, réseaux sociaux, sites de rencontre, blogs, etc.), le visage de l’univers social peut paraitre modifié. Ainsi, partant des concepts de solidarité organique et solidarité mécanique tel que théoriser par Émile Durkheim, la prochaine conférence tentera de comprendre comment ce nouvel espace numérique vient modifier les différents rapports dans la société et, par le fait même, vient modifier le lien social.

Katy Maloney, Université du Québec à Montréal

Sociology or social psychology? Comparative analysis of Durkheim and Serge Moscovici’s theories of collective/social representations€‚

This presentation will draw upon theories of social/collective representations in social psychology, through the works of Serge Moscovici, and in sociology, through the works of Emile Durkheim, in an attempt to form a comprenhensive interdisciplinary understanding of symbolic representations of the social. For Moscovici, drawing upon the social psychological approach of Gabriel Tarde, a thinker Durkheim was heavily in dialogue with, social representations stem from individuals. Therefore, Moscovici’s interest for non-hegemonical, minority social representations and their subversive potential seems in stark contrast with Durkheim’s more holistic conception of collective representations as distinct from, though in relation with, individual representations. Both thinkers adress the problem of socio-symbolic processes from radically different angles, one from a macro-sociological standpoint, the other at a more micro, individual scale. Our idea is to consider both theories, and to try and establish an interdisciplinary concept of social representations, one that addresses the micro-macro link and attempts to overcome the mutual critiques and perceived limitations of both approaches. To Durkheim, both disciplines were, although comparable, « relatively independent » sciences : but do we have to pick sides between sociology and social psychology? Can they otherwise be « partners in crime », to forge a more comprehensive understanding of social and individual symbolization processes?

Steven Cole, Bishop’s University

Cultural Order Amidst Online Over-Commodification

One of Durkheim’s lasting legacies lies in understanding the socio-cultural creation and maintenance of order. While Durkheim’s most vivid work examined the maintenance of the sacred order, a host of less “spectacular” practices also maintain order via cultural schema. For example, Kopytoff examines group practices that counter/balance the homogenized world of mass produced commodities by instilling objects with singularity and uniqueness. My research uses Kopytoff to investigate how online communities re-establish uniqueness and singularity amidst a wash of commodification. Using an inductive approach, I examine the ways actors “use use-value’ to differentiate themselves from mere consumers and re-establish order and balance within online groups that foster a culture of consumption via the continual discussion and display of musical instruments.


Canadian Network of Durkheimian Studies Cluster Meeting

The bilingual Canadian Network of Durkheimian Studies/Réseau canadien d’études durkheimienne (CNDS/RCED) was formed in 2012, becoming a CSA Research Cluster in 2013. Its approach to Durkheimian sociology is ecumenical: session and paper topics at Congress since 2014 have combined empirical, theoretical, historical, and textual research with considerations of political and religious practice. Its activities are closely tied with those of the Laboratoire d’études durkheimiennes de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (LED-UQAM). CNDS/RCED is officially affiliated with the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, University of Oxford; the Brazilian Centre of Durkheimian Studies, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, at Porto Alegre, Brazil, and la Société Française d’Études Durkheimiennes, Paris.

CNDS/RCED welcomes student and faculty participation in all cluster activities.

At our 2016 meeting, we will –

– Review accomplishments over the past year

– Discuss preparations for 2017-2018 meetings

– Discuss communications and research priorities, funding opportunities, and activities, including a publication project for the 100th anniversary of Durkheim’s death

– Discuss collaboration with other research clusters and contributions to the wider CSA community

– Elect and/or reaffirm executive committee members and populate task groups for 2016-7

– Update membership and contact lists


Durkheim Studies – Historical and Contemporary Conceptual Analysis

Tuesday May 31 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm
Science A-109Session Code: CDRC_2
Session Format: Regular (presentations and discussion)
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Canadian Network Of Durkheimian Studies
Session Categories: Social Theory

This collaborative session will be an occasion to explore durkheimian sociology through analysis of the classical corpus, as well as through analyses of the various contemporary forms of appropriation of that corpus. Through a study of the intellectual, political, cultural and institutional contexts of classical as well as contemporary sociology, this session will explore different manners of articulating key durkheimian concepts, both by Durkheim himself and by his contemporary readers and critics. We will explore how those new (and not so new) ways to read Durkheim are able (or unable) to explain contemporary forms of solidarity, while reflecting on the necessity to think these solidarities in order to study energized, “effervescent” communities.

Organizers: Bernard Bertrand, Université du Québec à Montréal, Katy Maloney, Université du Québec à Montréal; Chairs: Bernard Bertrand, Université du Québec à Montréal, Katy Maloney, Université du Québec à Montréal


Peter Mallory, St. Francis Xavier University; Patricia Cormack, St. Francis Xavier University

Where’s Durkheim? Searching for Contemporary Durkheim in Sociology Textbooks

As undergraduate teachers and Durkheim scholars we have puzzled for years about the disjuncture between the Durkheim we encounter in contemporary scholarship and the Durkheim found in introductory textbooks. For the past 20 years (at least) in Canada and elsewhere, Durkheim has been widely read as a cultural sociologist with emphasis on the importance of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life . Nonetheless, a narrow, out-dated interpretation of Durkheim as a functionalist and positivist persists in textbooks. To study this gap between discipline and textbook we collected the 10 most popular introductory sociology textbooks from large, middling, and small universities in Canada (26 English-instruction universities) and examined them for their characterization of Durkheim’s thought. Our aim is to theorize – with Durkheim’s help – the reason for the ongoing misrepresentation of his work. Why is “information” within textbooks updated, while theoretical shifts around the classic texts seem frozen in time? Addressing this question opens up broader problems such as how disciplines represent themselves to insiders, to the public, and to students, and the role of classical writers as sources of authority in the construction of these representations.

Robin Willey, University of Alberta

Baby Oil and Bachelor Parties: Collective Effervescence and the Reification of Hypermasculinity

Bachelor parties exemplify both the best and worst aspects of masculinity. On the one hand, they exist as a relic of an archaic form of masculinity that stands to separate men and woman as dichotomous social-beings. On the other hand, the ritualistic and liminal aspects of these parties cement friendships amongst men and allow for a celebration of these friendships—rituals that are all too rare for many men. This presentation explores the relationship between moments of “collective effervescence” and “liminality,” and the reification of hypermasculinity. Prominent masculinities scholar Michael Kimmel uses the concept of “Guyland” to describe the spaces and times where “guys” (usually between the ages of sixteen and twenty-six) can obsess over sports and cars, perpetually putting off adulthood, and understand women solely as the objects of male satisfaction. Guyland is a liminal time and space where the gains of feminism are put on hold, and hypermasculinity is rampant. The author argues that we can extend the concept of Guyland to men and women over the age of twenty-six. In short, the author argues that, although Guyland primarily effects those aged sixteen to twenty-six, we ritually summon Guyland back into existence in specific times and places to renew the vows we made with it in the past. In addition, the author makes use of a particular personal experience on a bachelor party in Reno, Nevada to further explicate his argument.

William Ramp, University of Lethbridge

Love and the sacred self: religion, affect and social media

In 1914, Durkheim speculated that new, more universalistic religious forms in Europe would arise from the same social location as new forms of solidarity: namely the working class. However, in the First World War, solidarity was focused on the nation rather than class. In the century since, hopes for social solidarity have been pinned on a number of different social and cultural formations, including populist coalitions such the Trump and Sanders campaigns in the United States. But there is a markedly individualistic tone to both these campaigns; their leaders personify less a collective than a type of person; a subject. Aside from these partisan exercises, social media messages — memes in particular — often feature appeals to a kind of human universality which individuals represent by identifying with and loving each other. This paper will inquire into the extent to which individualistic appeals to such a universalistic love could be called religious in a Durkheimian sense, and whether Durkheim is still useful for parsing the political consequences of a seemingly post-solidarity universalism.

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