Putting Society on the Couch: On the psychic structure of society


Invitation and Call for Abstracts

2nd International Erich Fromm Research Conference
International Psychoanalytic University (IPU), Berlin, June 21 – 23, 2018

The conference (in English) is organized by the Erich Fromm Study Center at the IPU, Berlin, and conducted by Dr. Rainer Funk, Tübingen, and Prof. Dr. Thomas Kühn, Berlin.

The Research Conference 2018 aims at bringing together international researchers engaged with the work of Erich Fromm, examining the actuality of Fromm’s social-analytical approach, as well as exploring the potential for further development of this approach with regard to contemporary social developments.

Erich Fromm’s concept of the social character provides an important approach for the analysis of social megatrends and their effects on psychic structures. Furthermore, Fromm constantly focused on social pathologies within seemingly normal, inasmuch as, hegemonic social constellations. This opened up for an innovative and critical perspective within social sciences. Building on this, in the conference, we will pursue the following question: What implications can be drawn from Fromm’s conceptions for research on contemporary processes of internalization of social structures and which methods are appropriate to examine these practices?

Accordingly, we request contributions referring to the following core themes:

  • The Sphere of Work between Alienation and Creativity
    Fromm connects his normative concept of psychic productivity and work with a social critique of the organization of work. Alienation thereby is described as the process to satisfy basic human needs in a way directly or indirectly harmful for both, individuals and society. Which forms of alienation can be identified in contemporary contexts of work? What characterizes them? Which concrete practices (of resistance) are there? Simultaneously, we want to look for ways to make Fromm’s contribution fruitful for a discourse on how human vitality and creativity can contribute for a restructuring of the sphere of work and organizations. Which emancipatory approaches already exist? How can we rethink work and leadership by putting humans in the center?
  • Contemporary Tendencies of Objectification in Society and Social Sciences – Discussing the Relevance of Fromm’s Concept of Necrophilia for Today’s World
    With the depiction of a necrophilic social character, Fromm described tendencies of an objectifycation of the world, where everything vital is being devalued or destroyed. In which ways can this tendency be seen as a megatrend of our times? Contemporary phenomena like digitalization, automation, quantification, not at least in the social sciences with its focus on quantitative research methods, shall be evaluated in the light of Fromm’s concept of necrophilia. What implications does this have for the mental life?
  • Fromm’s Understanding of Psychoanalysis and its Implication for the Therapeutic Practice
    In Fromm’s therapeutic setting, the analysis of dominant social character orientations and the evaluation of the social and professional situation of the individual are of great importance. This becomes especially visible in the importance Fromm assigned to dreams within the therapeutic setting. What influence do Fromm’s concepts have for contemporary psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic treatment? How have these concepts subsequently been used and developed within clinical practice?
  • Towards a Humanistic Society
    Fromm advocated a socialist humanism, dedicated to promote the development of human potentials and satisfaction of human basic needs along concepts of reason, work and love. In a Frommian understanding, a discussion of ways towards a ‘sane society’ could span, among others, around concepts like basic income, working time reduction, participation or solidarity. How relevant is a humanistic concept in the tradition of Erich Fromm in our times? What difficulties and potentials lie in contemporary social designs like post-growth, transnational ethics or concepts of global social justice?

Call for Abstracts

We kindly ask to submit applications to participate at the conference as a speaker of a 20 to 30 minutes lecture until August 30, 2017. Please forward applications as PDF documents to Thomas Kühn (mail{at}kuehn-thomas.de) and Rainer Funk (frommfunk{at}gmail.com).

Furthermore, it is possible to apply for a short input of 10 minutes maximum or a poster presentation, to present ongoing qualification work or running research projects with reference to the work of Erich Fromm. These can be, but do not have to be related to the assigned core themes. Applications for this format shall also be submitted until August 30, 2017 to the addresses mentioned above.

The application paper for both options should contain the preferred format (lecture/ short presentation), the title of the input, information on the author, as well as, a short abstract on the content of one page maximum.
Subsequent to the conference, we intend to publish a volume of the conference papers.

Travel Allowance

Accepted speakers will receive a travel allowance of up to 500€ for overseas travelling or up to 200€ for arrivals from within Europe (by presenting receipts). Lodging for up to three nights will also be provided.
For a limited number of participants, giving a short input or a poster presentation, there is scope also to receive travel allowance of the same amount as the speakers. Lodging, though, cannot be provided. If applying for a short input or a poster presentation, please mention in your application if you are applying for travel allowance as well.

Participating without Input

The conference is also open to people who are not presenting, but advance notice is requested. Please contact Rainer Funk (frommfunk{at}gmail.com) if you are interested in participating. A conference fee will not be charged. We are looking forward to your participation!

Prof. Dr. Thomas Kühn
IPU Berlin; Stromstr. 3b – Raum 1.03
D-10555 Berlin /Germany
Phone: +49 30 300 117-752; Fax:+49 30 300 117-509
E-Mail: thomas.kuehn{at}ipu-berlin.de

Dr. Rainer Funk
Erich Fromm Institute Tuebingen
Ursrainer Ring 24
D-72076 Tuebingen / Germany
Phone: +49 7071 600004; Fax: + 49 7071 600049
E-Mail: frommfunk{at}gmail.com