Re-Theorising ‘Behaviour Change’ (15th and 16th December 2014: 14:00 on the 15th to 13:00 on the 16th)

Department of Geography, Durham University

Speakers: David Bissell, Lisa Baraitser, Lisa Blackman, Des Fitzgerald and Felicity Callard, Graham Harman

Panelists/Discussants: Ben Anderson, James Ash, Maria Fannin, Paul Harrison, Jenny Laws, Joe Painter, Jessica Pykett, Rob Shaw, Mark Whitehead

The debate on behaviour change has been dominated by the paradigms of behavioural economics on the one hand, and neurological science on the other. This seminar will explore alternative ways of conceptualising and explaining behaviour change and related forms of psychological governance, with a particular focus on the possibilities and pitfalls of materialist accounts of human and more-than-human action. What alternatives are emerging for understanding the relations between brain, mind, behaviour and self? What new vocabularies might disrupt those now settled starting points (‘self’ etc) and provide new ways of understanding how change happens in and through the psychological?

The seminar will bring into dialogue a set of partially connected approaches that think differently about how change happens in a complex world, a world in which what counts as the ‘psychological’ is always entangled with multiple objects and forces. These approaches include: object-oriented ontology; non-representational theories concerned with the dynamics of embodied practice; experimental entanglements between social sciences and neurosciences; and non-foundational social psychology.

Instead of closing discussion of psychological governance around behaviourism and neurology, we want to open up the field to consider how our understanding of what it means to govern psychologically might be challenged and re-formed by a critical engagement with these approaches, among others.

  • How do new alternative approaches expand the agencies of change to include objects, practices, habits, entanglements, and so on?
  • How do such approaches understand persistence or endurance, or, put differently, that which does not or does not appear to change?
  • How do such approaches understand different forms/processes of change; disruption, interruption, suspension, transformation, loss, damage, transition and so on?
  • How do such approaches understand the future, including perhaps the openness and indeterminacy of the future and its relation to the complexity of past and present?
  • How do such approaches challenge our understanding of the concept of behaviour? What do they tell us about the relationship between ‘behaviour’ and other terms relating to human action (practice, action, deeds, performance, conduct etc) ?
  • What are the implications of such approaches for attempts to change or influence human action?

 Seminar Schedule

Day One: 15th December

13.45-14.00 Introductory Comments: Dr Ben Anderson and Prof. Joe Painter


14.00-15.15: Prof. Graham Harman

Gestalt, Object, and Action

Dr James Ash (Newcastle University)


15.30-16.30: Prof. Lisa Blackman (Goldsmiths)

Future-Psychology and the turn to Affect: Weird Science and Archives of the Future

Discussion: Dr Maria Fannin (Bristol University)


16.30-17.30: Dr Des Fitzgerald (Kings College) and Dr Felicity Callard (Durham University)

Experimental Entanglements: Re-thinking Collaboration with Psychology and Neuroscience

Discussion: Dr Paul Harrison (Durham University)


Day Two: 16th December

9.15 – 10.15: Dr David Bissell (Australian National University)

Moving cities, changing times: re-theorising behaviour change for urban transport

Discussion: Prof. Mark Whitehead (Aberystwyth)


10.15-11.15: Dr Lisa Baraitser (Birkbeck)

Obdurate Change: On Mothers Who Hoard

Discussion: Dr Ben Anderson (Durham University)

11.45-13.00: Panel: Dr Jenny Laws (Durham University), Prof Joe Painter (Durham University), Dr Jessica Pykett (Birmingham University), Dr Rob Shaw (Durham University)


2 thoughts on “Durham

  1. I’d love to know more – will you add an email notification service to the project website, so that anyone interested can register and receive notification about this seminar and subsequent ones when further details are available?

    • Dear Sarah,
      thanks for your interest in the seminars – I have now added a follow button so you can get updates from this blog.

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