Recommended event – Social Morphogenesis: Five Years of Inquiring Into Social Change – 30 May 2017


Postmodernity. Second modernity. Network Society. Late modernity. Liquid modernity. Such concepts have dominated social thought in recent decades, with a bewildering array of claims about social change and its implications. But what do we mean by ‘social change’? How do we establish that such change is taking place? What does it mean to say that it is intensifying? These are some of the questions which the Social Morphogenesis project has sought to answer in the last five years, through an inquiry orientated around the speculative notion of ‘morphogenic society’.

In this launch event, contributors to the project discuss their work over the last five years and the questions it gas addressed concerning social change. The day begins with an introductory lecture by the convenor of the project, Margaret S. Archer, before a series of thematic panels presenting different stands of the project. It concludes with a closing session in which participants share three issues the project raised for them, as well as a general discussion.

At the end of the day, there will be a wine reception to which all participants are invited. There will also be an opportunity to purchase discounted copies of the books from Springer.

Ismael Al-Amoudi
Margaret S. Archer
Mark Carrigan
Pierpaolo Donati
Emmanuel Lazega
Andrea M. Maccarini
Jamie Morgan
Graham Scambler (Chair)

More speakers to be confirmed.
DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM BST

LOCATION: The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB

Conference on Validation of Non Formal and Informal Learning: A Report by Nam Peri

Lifelong Learning, validation of non formal skills, migrant integration into education and labour markets, stakeholder dilemmas, funding and mechanisms to monitor employability: all these topics came together at a conference organized by CEDEFOP the European centre for vocational education and training, in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on 28-29 November, 2016. With a wet, cold weather as a backdrop, over 200 delegates from over 30 countries discussed and debated the imperatives of non formal education pathways under the theme of “how to make learning visible”?

The conference stood out in two ways. The diversity of thought and anecdotes that seem to emerge through the working groups juxtaposed with individual country contexts and their limitations of funding and mechanisms; and secondly, the voices of policymakers, varied in their pace and extent of credentialising non formal learning outcomes, yet positioning the effort of validation as a desired direction across the EU. In short multiple contradictions jostling to move in a single direction.

At the Sessions

The opening sessions by Mara Brugia, Deputy Director of CEDEFOP emphasized the competencies, skills and knowledge becoming the currency of employment, and a re-engineered role of existing institutions that can play a role in validation of non formal skills. Mara also underlined the individual being put in the centre of the conversation, particularly when the formal systems are not completely equipped to absorb or interpret indigenous or tacit knowledge. This becomes problematic from multiple stakeholders’ viewpoint and requires a prioritization and convergence, the very idea for this kind of conference.

Ana Carla Pereira of the European Commission refreshed the European Council recommendations on Non-Formal and Informal Learning of 2012 and signposted the way forward for meeting the deadline of 2018, by which EU member states should have validated experience into qualifications. She posed 4 questions under the banner WHY should we make learning more visible?

  • Reaching the same or equivalent standards of qualifications for non formal learning, as obtained through formal education
  • An increased awareness through information and guidance available to individuals as well as organisations
  • Providing a currency value on the labour market for skills acquired through non formal means
  • A “focus” on disadvantaged groups and individuals, through skill audits that might expose mechanisms to improve, include and strengthen.

CEDEFOP’s research teams presented the two-decade history of validation in Europe, with an update on the 2016 European inventory of non formal and informal skills. The snapshot of the presentation shows the lag in the efforts required across almost all parameters seen in the pale pink bar graphs: Arrangements, Information and guidance, link to NQF, Standards equivalence, Quality Assurance, Professional Development, Credits and Skill Audits.


You can find the guidelines and inventory here.

Four Parallel sessions engaged participants through a workshop mode, on validation of key user groups. For over three hours, two key questions from each individual bubbled up through discussions into several themes.


On the second day, a non-European perspective on validation was presented by Canada and New Zealand. The latter highlighted the assimilation of indigenous learning mechanisms and a co-existence of such learning ecosystems with formal efforts. A panel representing stakeholder groups from policy, civil society and UNESCO’s Institute of Lifelong Learning, responded to categorized questions from groups of participants.

From the Sessions

There are, from my perspective, two key takeaways from the sessions. The first is an understanding of the international contours of Non Formal Education in the discourses of contemporary education. Secondly, from my current work in the vocational and non formal education, I raised the questions repeatedly in the discussions that gave me some clues, not answers. How much of the non formal mechanisms that have stayed strong in indigenous environments, should we validate or credentialise? Is a full credentialisation the only path to offering a respectful livelihood existence to practitioners who may not be current beneficiaries of the skill regimes? Are these “south skills”?

Beyond the Sessions

Thessaloniki: A city that is steeped in history, all the way to the years of Aristotle. The Philosopher lived not far from here, and was mentor to, amongst others, Alexander the Great. The city with its seafront promenade would have been great on a good-weather day. But alas, it was not to be! The 4degrees was just a tad better than Bristol! So much for the Greek sunshine.


A colleague at the conference and I braved the rain in the evening to go look for an Indian dinner. The only restaurant, in the vicinity of the Hagia Sofia (yes, there is one in Thessaloniki too) took us on a journey of strangering – the art of asking directions from passing strangers. But we soon gave up and reluctantly allowed google maps to come to our rescue. The colourful restaurant tucked away deep in an alley off the main street did not disappoint on the gastronomic scale. It was named Nargis, after a famous actress of yesteryears’ Bollywood.


Thessaloniki at night, with its iconic Tower seen on the far left.

Editor’s note: Narasimham (Nam) Peri is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, where he is researching frameworks relating to knowledge production in traditional industries, work-based and workplace learning, TVET and livelihood alternatives to post-compulsory education. Email:

Call for Contributions: ‘Utopia at the Border’ – September 2016

The fourth symposium of the Imaginaries of the Future Research Network

University of Regensburg, 20-22nd September 2016

‘There was a wall. It did not look important…’ – Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed

‘[We seek]…a world without borders, where no one is prevented from moving because of where you were born, or because of race, class or economic resources…’ – No Borders UK

‘We resolve…to strengthen control over our territories and to not permit the entry of any government functionary nor of a single transnational corporation.’ – The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador

Borders are a key feature of our present. Whether national, regional, physical, electronic, cognitive, performative or cultural, they unevenly regulate the movement of bodies, ideas, objects, capital and bytes. Geopolitical borders are frequently sites of domination, but they may also provide solace for oppressed groups, some of whom actively call for or construct borders so they might protect their ways of living and advance their struggles. Conceptual borders allow us to grasp a complex world, but may inhibit understanding, communication and change. Temporal borders, meanwhile, seek to fix history into discrete categories of past, present and future.

Yet borders are not permanent. They remain a key site of contestation and struggle; and must continually be remade through technology, performance and often violence. And border crossings transform subjects, the space-times they leave, and the space-times they enter; as well as borders themselves. This means that utopianism – praxis that seeks to transform space and time – has much to offer contemporary ways of relating to borders. It can educate our desire for alternatives, and by showing us these alternatives – in fiction, theory or practice – estrange us from borders as they currently exist. The need for utopian rethinking and contestation of borders strikes us as particularly urgent given the current refugee crisis in Europe, and the continued role of borders in neocolonial dispossession around the world. Yet whilst a utopian lens may have much to offer the thinking and practice of borders this does not mean that the utopian is without borders of its own. Indeed, despite a turn to ‘the horizon’ and process in recent utopian theory, borders play a key role in many fictional utopias and dystopias; in ‘real world’ utopian communities; and in definitions of utopia itself.

Utopia at the Border aims to consider the relationship between borders and the utopian. Borders are to be critically examined even as participants question their own relationships to borders through their work and travel. We would also like to think through what is gained and lost by extending the notion of borders beyond the geopolitical. We welcome papers of up to 20 minutes and are open to artistic or activist contributions; as well as to interventions that fall between or go beyond such boundaries. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this informally before submitting a proposal, or if you would like to take up more than 20 minutes.  A special issue of the Open Library of the Humanities journal will be produced drawing on presentations from the symposium. This will form part of the Imaginaries of the Future publication series.

Papers may engage with one or more of the following aspects of borders, although this is by no means an exhaustive list:

The borders of utopia and dystopia

  • Borders in utopian and dystopian texts
  • The borders of utopian communities
  • Anti-borders utopianism in theory, fiction and practice

Colonialism, Indigeneity and borders

  • Colonial border construction and praxis
  • Reservations
  • Indigenous borders
  • New and future borders: Antarctica, under the sea, extraterrestrial?

(Anti-)border technologies and practices

  • Passports
  • Walls, fences, barricades
  • Raids, detention and deportation
  • Metrics and biometrics
  • Anti-borders activism

(Refusing) temporal borders

  • The division of time into past, present and future
  • Spatial borders as temporal borders
  • Spatial history
  • The ‘not-yet’, the immanent, the prefigurative

Borders, identity and the body

  • Borders, race and racialization
  • Non-conforming bodies at the border
  • Affect at the border
  • Mestiza and cross-border identities

Public space, the commons and enclosure

  • Borders and the commons
  • Gated communities
  • Border technologies in urban space
  • Vertical borders

Cross border (non-) communication

  • Online borders
  • Disciplinary and conceptual borders
  • Censorship and gate-keeping
  • Communication technologies and border activism

More-than-human/non-human borders

  • Non-humans at the border
  • Finance, goods and trade
  • Wilderness, nature and ecology
  • Chemical, biological and physical borders/boundaries

Art of the border; art at the border; art against the border

  • The architecture and aesthetics of (former) border crossings
  • Artistic performance and representation of/at borders, their crossings and their refusals
  • Passport design

 Beyond borders

  • Non-state space; the state of exception
  • Necropolitics and the border
  • Exile and statelessness
  • International waters

Struggles with and against borders

  • Fortress Europe and the migrant crisis
  • Border struggles and crossings in history, religion and myth
  • Smuggling

Borders and labour

  • Freedom of movement and ‘the career’
  • Borders and divisions of labour
  • University staff as border agents

The Network

Questions about the future are usually either goal-oriented, presupposing specific outcomes; or presume that the future is impenetrable, rendering thinking about it as irrelevant or fanciful. Confronted with these modes of thinking, the Leverhulme Trust funded Imaginaries of the Future Network investigates questions about the nature of futural knowledge; and seeks to understand how different disciplines conceptualise the future in order to enact change. Organised around a succession of internationaltransdisciplinary encounters between leading and emerging scholars, artists, activists and others, the Network intervenes in current disciplinary methods and approaches to questions about the future.

Cost & Bursaries

There is no fee to attend the symposium. Lunches and refreshments will be provided during the conference. Five bursaries – two of up to £1000, and three of up to £350 – will be awarded through open competition to individuals who wish to contribute to the symposium. These can be used to cover food, travel and accommodation costs, but can only be reclaimed after the symposium upon production of receipts. The larger bursaries are intended for applicants traveling a significant distance to attend the symposium. We welcome submissions from all academic career stages, as well as from non academics. Bursary recipients will be expected to contribute a piece of writing and/or embedded media to the Network blog.


Please send proposals (up to 300 words) to and Please indicate in your email if you would be interested in contributing to the special journal issue, which would have a deadline in spring 2017. The deadline for proposals is midnight (BST) on Sunday June 12th.

 If you have any questions about this call please email


2nd International Conference on CPE – 25 and 26 August 2016 @GSoE University of Bristol

This is a reminder about the approaching abstract submission deadline for the Second International Conference on Cultural Political Economy (CPE)which will be held on 25 and 26 August 2016 in Bristol, UK.

This year’s theme is Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy

The conference will be hosted by the Centre for Globalisation, Education & Social FuturesGraduate School of Education, University of Bristol.

It builds on the highly successful event held at the University of Lancaster in 2015 hosted by Bob Jessop and Ngai-Ling Sum in partnership with Lancaster’s Cultural Political Economy Research Centre (CPERC). The conference is an important part of the ongoing development of a theoretical and empirical engagement with Cultural Political Economy. Continue reading

Lunchtime Workshop with Isabella Bakker – 26 April

Lunchtime Workshop with Isabella Bakker

Tuesday, 26 April 2016, 12-2pm

35 Berkeley Square, Helen Wodehouse Building, Room 3.18

Isabella Bakker is Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University and a York Research Chair on Global Economic Governance, Gender and Human Rights. She is a leading authority in the fields of political economy, public finance, gender and development. She has held visiting professorships at a number of institutions including the European University Institute, New York University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has also held consultancies with the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Canadian government as well as with numerous advocacy groups dedicated to advancing economic and social justice. Her most recent book (with Brigitte Young and Diane Elson) is Questioning Financial Governance from a Feminist Perspective (Routledge).

The Gender and Global Political Economy Research Groups are delighted to host Professor Bakker and we have organised an informal lunchtime session with her, open to all. She will be making a brief presentation about her work with an interactive session afterwards for participants to discuss our shared research interests.

Please sign up for a place here to arrange catering:


Özlem Onaran – Wage-led growth and the political aspects of wage-led recovery – 19 April

Global Political Economy Seminar

Professor Özlem Onaran
University of Greenwich
Tuesday, 19 April, 16:00-17:30
Room G.15, 15-19 Tyndalls Park Road.
Wage-led growth and the political aspects of wage-led recovery
This paper presents the empirical evidence about the impact of the simultaneous race to the bottom in labour’s share on growth after taking global interactions into account based on the Post-Kaleckian theoretical framework. The world economy and large economic areas are likely to be wage-led; and parameter shifts in different periods are unlikely to make a difference in this finding. The effects that can come from a wage-led recovery on growth and hence employment are positive, however they are also modest in magnitude. We then present an alternative scenario based on a policy mix of wage increases and public investment. A coordinated mix of polices in the G20 targeted to increase the share of wages in GDP by 1%-5% in the next 5 years and to raise public investment in social and physical infrastructure by 1% of GDP in each country can create up to 5.84% more growth in G20 countries. The final section addresses policy proposals and the political aspects and barriers to a wage-led recovery.
The two papers for the talk:
Özlem Onaran is Professor of Economics at the University of Greenwich and the director of the Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre. She has done extensive research on issues of inequality, wage-led growth, employment, globalization, gender, and crises. She has directed research projects for the International Labour Organisation, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the Foundation of European Progressive Studies, the Vienna Chamber of Labour, the Austrian Science Foundation, and Unions21. She is member of the Scientific Committee of the Foundation of European Progressive Studies, Scientific Advisory Board of Hans Boeckler Foundation, and the Policy Advisory Group of the Women’s Budget Group. She has more than seventy articles in books and peer reviewed journals such as Cambridge Journal of Economics, World Development, Environment and Planning A, Public Choice, Economic Inquiry, European Journal of Industrial Relations, International Review of Applied Economics, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Eastern European Economics, and Review of Political Economy.


In pictures: GESF at CIES 2016

Congratulation to GESF Members: Professor Roger Dale, Que Anh Dang and Janja Komljenovic on their compelling contributions to the 60th Annual Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) in Vancouver earlier this week. They have presented a series of papers on regionalism and market-making, as well as convening panels on the significance of ‘civilisation’ in comparative education research, and on markets and trade in education. Here are a few imagines from their sessions.

For more information about their contributions to this year’s CIES conference, please visit:


GESF Members at CIES 2016


We are pleased to announce that the Centre for Globalisation Education & Social Futures is sending a strong contingent to next month’s 60th Annual Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) in Vancouver. During the 5-day event from the 7th – 11th March, 2016, GESF members will present a series of individual papers on regionalism and market-making, as well as convening panels on the significance of ‘civilisation’ in comparative education research, and on markets and trade in education.

IMG_0946 Continue reading

“Dimensions of acceptability: England in the OECD TALIS programme” by Tore Bernt Sorensen

Monday, 29 February 2016, 16:00-17:00,

Room 3.13, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol.

The slides used by Tore in his presentation can be accessed here.


This paper discusses the role of state authorities and teacher unions in the global educational policy field, focusing on the case of England and the OECD programme Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). TALIS is one of the most ambitious efforts so far to launch a global debate on the role of school teachers and leaders in knowledge societies. TALIS is coordinated by the OECD and engages a variety of policy actors with overlapping horizons of action. England participated in the second round, TALIS 2013. Continue reading

SEMINAR: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: is this a first step towards a sino-centric regional order? – Silvia Menegazzi

24 February 2016, 1-3pm, 34 Tyndalls Park Road, Bristol, Room G0.2

The presentation intends to analyse the strategy that led China to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and its likely consequences for the regional and global economic order. The creation of the AIIB embodies a considerable shift for the Chinese approach to regional and global governance, constituted by an increasing will to promote a transition from a ‘Western-led governance’ to a more inclusive ‘East-West co -governance’. Is the AIIB initiative just an instrument created to sustain China’s economic prosperity and Xi Jinping’s call for a ‘Chinese Dream’? Is it a consequence of China’s growing frustration with the Bretton Woods’ architecture? Or, is it rather a first stepping stone towards a new China-centered financial and economic order? Does this entail a relevant threat to the world’s economic order and its institutions? Or is it more simply a symptom of the increasing normative and institutional plurality of the current international order? In this light, the seminar will scrutinize Beijing’s new multilateral project taking into account China’s growing regional role, and in particular, its renewed centrality in the East Asian region. In the course of the seminar, particular attention will be devoted to the analysis of the challenges and priorities as discussed by Chinese scholars, policy analysts and think tanks’ experts.

About the speaker:

Silvia Menegazzi, PhD, is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science at LUISS Guido Carli University and Visiting Academic Fellow at Warwick University. Before being awarded a PhD in Political Theory at LUISS University, she completed a MSc in International Politics (2009-2011) at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a MA in Languages and Culture of East Asia at Rome University La Sapienza (2001-2007). While enrolled at La Sapienza she received one -year scholarship from the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs to spend a year in China (2006-2007) studying Chinese Language and History at Renmin University in Beijing. She has been PhD Visiting Student at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing in 2013 and awarded of the Confucius Institute Scholarship to study at the East China Normal University in Shanghai in 2012. Her general research interests include Western and Chinese international relations theory, Chinese foreign policy and civil society and East Asian politics.

For more information about the event, please contact: