Conf/CfA - Social Cohesion in Times of Uncertainty, 24-25 September 2017, Cumberland Lodge, UK

Publish Date: Apr 12, 2017

Deadline: Jun 09, 2017

The annual Cumberland Colloquium stimulates discussion on areas of pressing social and ethical importance.This year’s theme is‘Social Cohesion in Times of Uncertainty’.

Societies throughout Europe, North America and across the world are experiencing overlapping and interlinked political, social and economic crises that are pulling us unevenly in every direction: pressing strangers together and pulling neighbours apart, creating new forms of hate and new forms of kinship.

The effects of the 2008 financial crisis can still be felt in households worldwide, whilst the political events of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of right wing populism across Europe simultaneously create intense uncertainty whilst promising security and familiarity.  What do these crises, and governments’ and communities’ responses to them, mean for participation and integration? Does social cohesion have the answers to these problems? How can we make our communities and societies more cohesive?

These are amongst the pressing questions that will be tackled at the 2017 Cumberland Colloquium. Drawing upon the expertise and experience of academics, the policy community and the third sector, the event will:

  • Bring together academics, particularly postgraduate researchers and early career academics, from multiple fields in the social sciences, humanities, and human sciences.

  • Encourage dialogue between the academic community, policy stakeholders and researchers working at the forefront of policy development and analysis.

  • Contribute to, and increase the visibility of, public debate on social cohesion in times of uncertainty.

  • Develop meaningful and productive collaboration between academics and the policy community, resulting in expanded networks and cutting-edge research.

Reflecting its broad and multidisciplinary nature, the colloquium asks five central questions, each drawing upon different disciplines and policy areas: 

  • What should social cohesion look like, and how should we build it? 

    Contributors are asked to (re)define social cohesion, and/or to suggest how we can improve the cohesiveness of our communities and societies in a time of uncertainty, in relation to, for example: community relations; apathy, participation and protest;structural and socio-economic inequalities.
  • How can we understand and bridge the many gaps in our society?

    Contributors are asked to address the causes of gaps,such as prejudice or lack of opportunity/support; impact of diversity or contact;relevant theories and practical interventions. 

  • How might we re-examine the complex relation between cultural works and social cohesion? 

    Contributors are asked to re-evaluate representations of cohesion/fragmentation in literature and film. From I,Daniel Blake to Bleak House, what makes for effective political/activist art that can respond to crises of cohesion?
  • How do businesses enhance or hinder social cohesion? 

    Contributors are asked to consider changing expectations, roles and responsibilities of businesses in addressing social problems, including rights struggles, and as sites and ‘spaces’ of identity and cohesion.
  • How does the politics of (in)security affect cohesion?

    Contributors are asked to consider terrorism, counter-terrorism and their effects on communities and cohesion; impacts of the refugee crisis;white supremacist violence after the assassination of Jo Cox MP; and the state of/and multiculturalism today.

How to Apply

Please send proposals / abstracts of no more than 300 words for presentations,roundtable discussions, film screenings or other events to The deadline for proposals is 9 June 2017. Other enquiries should be sent to Dr Matt Donoghue (

The 2017 Cumberland Colloquium Organising Committee

  • Matt Donoghue (University of Oxford),
  • Kerstin Frie (University of Oxford) Samentha Goethals (Independent Researcher),
  • Sadek Kessous (Newcastle University),
  • BenWhitham (De Montfort University)


Cumberland Lodge offers bursaries to help students with limited means attend our conferences and join visiting university groups for study retreats. Find out more on the official website.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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