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Each year, I participate in Congress, an event in Canada where on a different Canadian University campus each year the annual conferences of various societies in the humanities and social sciences take place.  I have always attended a number of conferences during Congress, though over the years my main commitment has been to the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA).  I regularly organize a Session entitled Digital Media and Society.  I always like to present at the Sessions I am organizing.

My abstracts for the last year I attended (2015) are as follows.  I was also an Organizer for both of these sessions:

Session:  Digital Media and Society
The Social Conditions of Social Media: The Role of the City

Social media can be defined as a mode of managing social interactions that exploits digital technology to make possible sociable multi-tasking. The key social condition of social media is the simultaneity of sociability and unsociability in multiple ongoing social relations. The need to handle this complexity of social life with strategies of self presentation and the desire to take advantage of the connections afforded by weak ties with large numbers of acquaintances is a legacy of the rise of modern cities. In particular, I discuss Tarde’s distinction between crowds and publics and his concept of innovation as imitation as a framework for an enriched understanding of social media as a tool of social networks.

Session:  Social Theory: Dimensions of Realism

Realisms of Different Scales and Intensities

The classic debate between Durkheim and Tarde has been construed by some as ending in a victory for Durkheim’s social realist position. I argue this is a gross misunderstanding of the debate, which was not helped by Durkheim’s misrepresentation of Tarde’s position in Suicide, nor by Durkheim’s denigration of American pragmatism in which realism becomes a code for French patriotism and Tarde becomes guilty by association with Bergson and the latter’s dalliance with William James. The alternative of real or not real is a false one, and never, in fact, represented the true stakes of the debate. Rather what is at stake is the recognition of different scales and intensities of the social that require distinct theoretical problematiques in order to lend themselves to the concept of reality. Rejecting Durkheim’s misrepresentations of Tarde, I attempt to outline a constructive rapprochement between these two thinkers by putting forward some ideas for a theory of realisms of different scales and intensities.

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