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The end of civilisation as we know it?

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Professor Alex Law, Professor of Sociology at Abertay’s School of Social and Health Sciences, will deliver his Inaugural Lecture tomorrow night (Wednesday 16th May at 6pm) ‘The end of civilisation as we know it? Symbolic violence and the de-civilising process’.

Professor Law will discuss the societal impact of such crises as the Eurozone, public sector austerity and the effects of nationalism and devolution.  Professor Law said: “When, as now, society becomes more unequal and the standard of living declines, the security necessary for a tolerably civilised existence is placed in danger. This gives rise to a reversal of what the sociologist Norbert Elias called the ‘civilising process’. As we know from the history of the past century de-civilising reversals can have barbaric consequences.

“De-civilising processes do not unfold in a uniform manner across time and space. The experience of social, economic and political crisis is conditioned in each particular case by the long, uneven historical development of nations, states and classes. In Europe some societies have already witnessed mass physical violence. Others have been relatively peaceful.”

Professor Law will give an account of some de-civilising strains in Scotland, focussing on the changing form of the devolved state, the tensions of nationalism, and the role played by symbolic violence, as opposed to physical violence, in giving vent to class-based resentment.

 “I’ll be discussing the squeeze on the professional middle classes, the effect of anxiety, fear, and the build up of pressures on this group.  Civilisation is more fragile than we might think.”

The lecture will be held on Wednesday 16th May at 6pm in the Main Lecture Theatre in the University’s Kydd Building on Bell Street, Dundee.  Drinks and canapés will be served after the event.  The lecture is open to the public and free of charge, to confirm attendance please e-mail
For further information please contact Vicki White on 01382 308935 or 07972172158 or e-mail 

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