Legitimation of Newness and EU Agenda for Change Conference

June 15-17, 2023
Aalborg University Copenhagen


We live in ‘liquid’ times (Bauman 2007) that raise challenges, liquid states, never encountered before. This is exemplified in the UN Sustainable Development Goals ‘which are an urgent call for action’ to the challenges of a volatile world. We witness—and unfortunately often ‘turn a blind eye’ on—interrelated, mutually reinforcing ‘liquid states’, in:

  • Politics: Brexit; Protectionism; Anti-globalism, De-globalization and late globalization (Turcan 2016; Turcan et al. 2020); Slowbalization (The Economist, 2019); Populism (Turcan and Reilly, 2020);
  • Science and technology: Genetically modified crops; Nuclear energy; Fracking; Global warming; AI; Big Data; Block Chain; G6; IoT;
  • Health: Eating disorders; Immunization and anti-vaccine;
  • Social: Mass migration; Extremism; Terrorism; Nationalism; Chauvinism; Sovereignty;
  • Ethics: Astroturfing (Lee, 2010); Fake news; Post truth politics; Science denial; Higher Education internationalization (Turcan et al., 2021).

What these ‘liquid’ states have in common is a high degree of (i) newness, (ii) innovative power, and (iii) negative social impact. Individually or collectively, they singularly affect the ‘free will’. Newness brings with it: uncertainty, defined as “any lack of sure knowledge about the course of past, present, future, or hypothetical events” (Downs 1957, p. 77); ignorance, that is socially constructed (Smithson 1985) and manifests in the absence of true knowledge and/or when the latter is distorted (Moore and Tumin 1949); and fear, “…a sense of impotence that we are no longer in control, whether singly, severally or collectively” (Bauman 2007:26) and, reinforced by ignorance, a sense that we have limited freedom to choose.

The problem this conference aim to address is defined by the paradox of newness under uncertainty in various contexts. On one side, newness under uncertainty has a high potential – and usually it does - for high innovative power. On the other, newness has a high potential – and usually it does – for a negative social impact. During such liquid times and states, an alternative legitimation is urgently needed (Bauman, 2007) to understand how new and uncertain reality is socially constructed, de-constructed, and re-constructed at all levels: micro, meso, macro, and meta.

Hence the central thesis this conference adopts to mitigate the paradox of newness is that (the emergence of) newness shall be underpinned by legitimacy building or legitimation of newness alongside other enabling factors and actions at all levels: micro, meso, macro, and meta.

We invite submissions for five research themes:

Doctoral Consortium

Doctoral researchers will also have the opportunity to take part in the Doctoral Consortium that will take place before the conference on June 12-14, 2023. Details here.