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Conference venue:

University of Warsaw Library
Dobra 56/66
00-312 Warszawa
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Welcome to the conference!

Organising committee
Marta Bucholc (University of Warsaw)
Stephen Mennell (University College Dublin)
Jason Hughes University of Leicester)
Katie Liston (Ulster University)
Valerie Dahl (Universität Münster)
Marta Gospodarczyk (University of Warsaw)

This conference is concerned with one of the most important and urgent practical questions of our time: is it becoming more difficult to uphold calm and realistic understanding of the society in which we live? Or are we being submerged under a tidal wave of emotionally-driven fantasy? Do rising dangers and related fears foster more uncurbed fantasy?
Fantasy plays an essential part in human society, but more in some fields than others: it is most curbed in the natural sciences, rather less in the social sciences, still less in politics and religion, least in the areas of cultural creativity.
Today, in politics, can we take for granted the effectiveness of social controls over standards of evidence and truth in debates, be it over military aggression parading as self-defence or unfulfillable campaign promises ending in disasters? Even natural scientific expertise is challenged, as witness the denial of climate change and the strength of ‘anti-vax’ fantasies. The emotional appeal of fundamentalist religions seems able to override mere ‘facts’.
In all this, the new social media have apparently played a decisive part. At first seen as a possible step towards greater democratisation of knowledge, they also appear to have fostered an extreme individualistic belief that ‘anything goes’.
Why? Norbert Elias’s idea of the fantasy–reality continuum helps in finding answers to these questions.

University of Warsaw
The Faculty of Sociology
Norbert Elias Foundation



Organising Committe

Professor Marta Bucholc

Marta Bucholc is Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Sociology, University of Warsaw and Chercheuse Associée at the Centre de recherche en science politique at Saint-Louis University in Brussels. She leads an ERC Consolidator project ABORTION FIGURATIONS at the University of Warsaw and the Polish team of the Volkswagen Foundation project Towards Illiberal Constitutionalism. From 2015 to 2020, she worked as a research professor at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg "Recht als Kultur" at the University of Bonn. She has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Saint-Louis Brussels and Graz, a visiting bye-fellow at Selwyn College of the University of Cambridge, a fellow of the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna and the Imre Kertesz Kolleg in Jena, and a dinstinguished fellow of the Universalism and Particularism Project at the University of Munich. She is a Fellow of the Norbert Elias Foundation and a member of Academia.net. The Portal to Excellent Women Academics as well as a member of the International Sociological Association, the European Sociological Association, the Polish Sociological Society and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie.

Professor Stephen Mennell

Stephen MENNELL MA LittD(Cantab.), DrSocSc (Amsterdam), FRHistS, has been Professor of Sociology at University College Dublin since 1993. With his wife Barbara, he founded UCD Press (www.ucdpress.ie) as a collaborative initiative with the university in 1995; he served as chairman of its Editorial Committee from 1995 to 2006, and is still actively involved as a member of both the Editorial and Management Committees. In 1998-9 he led the team that secured Irish government and private funding to build the Institute for the Study of Social Change (now the Geary Institute - http://geary.ucd.ie), and from 1999 to 2002 was its founder Director. Previously, he held posts at the University of Exeter, UK (1967-90) and was then head of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Monash University, Australia (1990-3). He was a member of the newly founded Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (www.irchss.ie) 2000-2.Born in 1944, he was educated in local authority grammar schools in Yorkshire.

Professor Jason Hughes

I am a Professor of Sociology, elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Science, and appointed Member of the European Academy, Academia Europaea. My research interests centre on problematised consumption (e.g. substance use) and production (e.g. work). I've been awarded prizes for excellence in teaching (e.g. Distinguished Teaching Award, 2005), and I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (since 2018). I am also interested in (developing, applying and teaching) sociological theory and methods. My published work has won various prizes and awards, including the Sage Innovation prize (2017); Emerald Literati Prize (2013); and Norbert Elias Prize (2006).

Dr Katie Liston

Dr Katie Liston has worked in the Irish and UK Universities sector since 1998. She completed her PhD in sociology at University College Dublin and was the first academic to examine the experiences of elite sportswomen on the island. She joined Ulster University in 2008 as part of the teaching and research team in the social sciences of sport. Dr Liston is a senior researcher in the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, core member of the Centre for Sport in Society and she specialises in the analysis of the links between sport and identity, including pain and injury, national identity, gender and Irish-British relations

Dr Liston is a former elite athlete whose sporting background includes national and international honours in team sports (Gaelic football, rugby union and football/soccer) and wide-ranging administrative, management and coaching experience. She is also Director of Inspire Education and a regular media contributor to various print and radio outlets on the island of Ireland.

Dr Valerie Dahl

Valerie Dahl is a postdoc researcher at the Institute of Sociology (University of Münster, Germany). Her research areas are sociology of work and organisations as well as (gender and diversity sensitive) higher education research. In her recently published PhD thesis, she analysed Established-Outsider dynamics between male and female physicists with a specific focus on gendered discrimination its bystanders.

Marta Gospodarczyk

Marta Gospodarczyk is a doctoral student at the Doctoral School of Social Sciences/Faculty of Sociology at the University of Warsaw. Her research areas are rural sociology, gender studies and people’s history of Poland. Her PhD thesis will concentrate on gendered coping strategies in Polish farming households affected by drought.

Conference Programme