Public Programs And Events

A Talk by Gianpaolo Baiocchi, "Seeing like a Real Utopian: Popular Sovereignty and Critical Social Science"

A Talk by Gianpaolo Baiocchi, "Seeing like a Real Utopian: Popular Sovereignty and Critical Social Science"

Room A407, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall
General Public 

The Department of Sociology welcomes Gianpaolo Baiocchi (NYU). This talk explores “methodological utopianism” -- the idea of assessing the social world for what it could be -- and some of its potential and limits for the critical social sciences.

In addition to exploring some of the various intellectual traditions that have engaged in this approach, from the Black radical tradition to Latin American Marxism and even US-based pragmatism, it discusses at some length recent work in this vein, including the Real Utopias project associated with the late Erik Olin Wright.  It then discusses some of the blindspots of methodological utopianism before addressing the centrality of openness and reflexivity for such a social scientific research program.

Gianpaolo Baiocchi is a sociologist and an ethnographer interested in questions of politics and culture, critical social theory, and cities.  His most recent work is We, The Sovereign, a book that makes a case for the utopia of self-rule.  He has written extensively about actually existing instance of participatory democracy, including  Popular Democracy: The Paradox of Participation (Stanford University Press, 2016), which he co-authored with Ernesto Ganuza,  Bootstrapping Democracy: Experiments in Urban Governance in Brazil (Stanford University Press, 2011)co-authored with Marcelo K. Silva and Patrick Heller, and Militants and Citizens: Local Democracy on a Global Stage in Porto Alegre (Stanford University Press, 2005). 

He has also written about actually existing civic life, including The Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life (co-authored with Elizabeth Bennett, Alissa Cordner, Stephanie Savell, and Peter Klein; Paradigm Publishers, 2014)  and participatory democracy.  An engaged scholar, Baiocchi continues to work with groups like like Right To The City and regularly writes for outlets like Boston Review and NACLA.  At NYU, he directs the Urban Democracy Lab, which was launched in 2014 and which provides a space for scholars and practitioners to collaborate and exchange ideas for cultivating just, sustainable, and creative urban futures.

Presented by the Sociology Department at The New School for Social Research

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