Thinking with Whitehead

November 30th, 2-4pm, Room EB.1.105, Docklands Campus, UEL


Exploring social media with Whitehead

Darren Ellis, Psychosocial Studies, UEL

In this paper, notions of ‘personal information’ and ‘affect’ related expressions related to social media use are considered. Concepts from Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy (1929), namely ‘prehension’, ‘concrescence’ and ‘actual occasions/entities’ are drawn upon to facilitate an analysis of interview data concerned with every-day social media use. Through the use of ‘a process philosophy attitude’, it is argued that personal information is ironically often prehended as impersonal due, in part, to its marketisation, whilst emoticons may be prehended as more personal, they tend to be used to strip away affect related dynamics of everyday social activity. These processes are related to the multiple desires associated with social media, to simplify complexity and qualify actual occasions.

Darren Ellis (BA, PhD) is a senior lecturer and programme leader of Psychosocial Studies at UEL. His research is concerned with theorizing emotion and affect in a number of contexts. These include theorizing reasonable suspicion within police stop and search practices, critiquing models the emotional disclosure paradigm, analyzing trust and the affective atmospheres of surveillance, and more recently exploring social media and affective activity.

Understanding Events: The Seamstresses’ ‘little brochure’

Maria Tamboukou, Centre for Narrative Research, UEL

In this paper I look at how I deployed concepts from Whitehead’s process philosophy in my archival research for the book Sewing, Fighting and Writing: Radical Pracices in Work, Politics and Culture. I particularly consider the notion of the event as a way of understanding ‘ephemeral’ political events, such as the publication of the first autonomous feminist newspaper in France written, edited and published by the revolutionary seamstresses who were involved in the romantic socialist movements of nineteenth century Europe. In doing this I also consider epistemological questions around the trace in the archive and point to the importance of studying the life of documents in narrative research.

Maria Tamboukou (BA, MA, PhD) is Professor of Feminist Studies and co-director of CNR at UEL. Her research activity develops in the areas of critical feminisms, auto/biographical narratives and studies in neo-materialism. Writing feminist genealogies is the central focus of her work.

The event is followed by the launch of two books by CNR members:

Maria’s new book, Sewing, Fighting and Writing: The Book Archive by  Rowman and Littlefield

(To celebrate the launch the publishers Rowman and Littlefield are offering a generous 30% discount on Maria’s book citing the code: RLI067)


and Darren Ellis and Ian Tucker: Social psychology of emotion, by Sage




Published by corinnesquire

Corinne Squire is Professor of Social Sciences and Co-Director, Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London

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