Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Urban Sociology

Morbidity and Malais (with Dr. Roy Coleman)

  • When Jan 21, 2019 from 06:00 to 08:00
  • Where Universitätsstraße 3b; 10117 Berlin; R002
  • Attendees Roy Coleman Talja Blokland
  • iCal

Dr. Roy Coleman, University of Liverpool

Morbidity and Malaise: Gramsci, Durkheim and the mummification of life and change

According to Durkheim, “morbid fevers” can be identified in societies when force and coercion have normalized to such an extent that creativity and spontaneity are stifled and “negative solidarity” predominates. Similarly, Gramsci wrote about the appearance of morbid symptoms identifiable in times of politico-economic crisis, particularly when the cultural authority of the state was in doubt and forms of “mummified culture” predominate. In their different ways, Gramsci and Durkheim identified and worked against social maladies: what the former located in “fossilised politics” and the latter “absolute uniformity”. Exploring these ideas, I argue that contemporary maladies are indicative of over-rationalized politics and the fabrication of collective emotion. Both are tied to a crisis in state leadership the old is dying but the new cannot be born. We can talk about Trump and Brexit as examples of morbidity and malaise but also include the contemporary forced cultivation of charisma around the entrepreneur, the entrepreneurial city and entrepreneurial state. Revisiting Gramsci and Durkheim is useful because they remind us of the importance of creativity, emotion and ‘spontaneity’ as the foundations for just forms of social change.

This talk is free and open to anyone interested in Urban Studies. No prior registration required. Check our website for more information: