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TEDxUCL - Titus Hjelm - Why we need a sociology of the dark side

Titus Hjelm is Lecturer in Finnish Society and Culture at UCL. His main areas of expertise are the sociology of religion, social problems, social theory, media and popular culture. He has published work on the relationship between Religion and social problems, the presentation of Islam in European news media and a special issue of 'Popular Music History' on heavy metal music. He is also the co-editor of the Journal of Religion in Europe and the founding chair of the American Academy of Religion's Sociology of Religion Group. Talk: Why we need a sociology of the dark side 'Every version of an "other", wherever found, is also the construction of a "self", wrote anthropologist James Clifford in 1986. Although he was speaking of the practice of ethnographic writing, the same 'axiom' could—and should—be applied to society in general. I want to argue that our need to identify what is bad in people and society helps us better identify what 'we' are. But there is no absolute scale against which to measure good and evil in modern times, so evil becomes a contest of definitions. What is, however, common to most definitions of evil in our time is the focus on the individual—the monster—instead of society. The task of a 'sociology of the dark side' is to interrogate our definitions of evil and to discuss whether these definitions are a help or a hindrance in understanding the human world. About TEDx In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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