Ecological Social Theory

VIPRE sits at the cutting edge of conceptual social science. Specifically, our approach to understanding the conditions of possibility underlying violence draws on a combination of pragmatist sociology, cosmopolitical social theory, posthumanist philosophy, and assemblage theory. Broadly speaking, and to simplify, we refer to our combination of these approaches as producing an ‘ecological’ conceptual understanding of social action. These theoretical approaches are drawn on across VIPRE’s work in order to understand 1) the micro-sociological and/or ‘practical’ contours through which specific violent acts are locally enacted, 2) the ways in which those little local moments of violence are globally structured through their enmeshing in broader networks, ecologies, or fields of practice, and 3) the extra-human (material, technological, etc.) factors that increase the possibility of violence in particular settings. Our work in this area allows us to re-consider political violence beyond legal, ideational, or institutional understandings by focusing on how violence often emerges ‘non-purposefully’ due to a turbulent and emergent set of social conditions, human emotional and affective reactions, material-technological infrastructures, and aesthetic factors.