Figures and Perspectives on the Mass and the Individual in Capitalist Modernity (19th-21st century)

Today - Tomorrow
Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin

Friedrichstraße 191
Berlin 10117

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  • Laboratoire Métaphysique allemande et philosophie pratique (Université de Poitiers)
  • Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

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This Junges Forum Conference proposes to explore the relevance and appropriateness of literary, political and conceptual figures that oppose “mass” and individual. The aim of this event is to gather young researchers especially in the areas of sociology, literature, history, philosophy, psychology and politics in order to discuss this issue from multiple perspectives.


At least since the Arab Spring (2011), the figures of the mass, the multitude or even the “people” have acquired a new relevance. Either through popular gatherings and rallies on the streets, or via protests using social media, we are attending a multiplicity of instances in which the political fate of a country or region is seriously influenced by a great number of people. On the one hand, the concept of the mass implies, from its emergence at the beginnings of capitalist modernity, a reactionary conception of collective action, where individual rationality is eclipsed by an irrational behaviour. On the other, the mass has also sustained the hope of revolutionary struggles, especially throughout the 20th century.

How is it possible then to use this notion without making it collapse into a complete condemnation of collective action or into an acritical celebration of the crowd? From there on, the relationship between mass and individual can be addressed in many fashions: Are there any specific ways for the mass to organize itself as a political subject? What are means whereby artworks represent and transform the linkage between  mass and individual? What are the mutations undergone by the mass qua object of the social sciences? How does capitalist modernity affect the moral and psychic autonomy of individuals?


  • Yasmin Afshar (Humboldt-Universität/Centre Marc Bloch),
  • Nicolas Lema (Université Paris 1),
  • Sara Minelli (Universität Kiel/Centre Marc Bloch),
  • Ernesto Ruiz-Eldredge (Université de Poitiers/Goethe-Universität Frankfurt).

Scientific committee

  • Paula Diehl (CAU Universität Kiel),
  • Irina Feldman (Middlebury College),
  • Katia Genel (Université Paris 1/Centre Marc Bloch),
  • Christoph Menke (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt).

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Custom tags:

#Mass, #Individual, #Society, #Capitalism, #Modernity, #Politics, #Art, #Psychology, #Social history, #Political and social movements