Frank Furedi - Authority and Society: A perpetual dilemma - 28th May 2014

About the speaker

Frank Furedi is a sociologist and social commentator. He was formerly Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. 

Furedi’s research is oriented towards the study of the workings of precautionary culture and risk aversion in Western societies. In his books he has explored controversies and panics over issues such as health, children, food, new technology and terrorism. At present he is completing a book on the rise of the Fear Market in contemporary society. The book, provisionally title Scaremongering, studies the role of competing groups – politicians, the media, advocacy organisations, business – in the controversies that surround health, food, technology, terrorism and disasters.

Furedi’s books and articles offer an authoritative yet lively account of key developments in contemporary cultural life. Using his insights as a professional sociologist, Furedi has produced a series of agenda-setting books that have been widely discussed in the media. His books have been translated into 11 languages.

Furedi regularly comments on radio and television. He has appeared on Newsnight, Sky and BBC News, Radio Four’s Today programme, and a variety of other radio television shows. Internationally, Furedi has been interviewed by the media in Australia, Canada, the United States, Poland, Holland, Belgium, Brazil, and Germany. His articles have been published in the New Scientist, The Guardian, The Independent, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Express, The Daily Mail, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent on Sunday, India Today, L’Espresso, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, Toronto Globe and Mail, The Christian Science Monitor, The Times Higher Education Supplement, Spiked-online, The Times Literary Supplement, Harvard Business Review, Die Welt and Die Zeit, among others.

About the lecture

Concern with authority is as old as human history itself. Eve's sin was to challenge the authority of God by disobeying his rule. Frank Furedi explores how authority was contested in ancient Greece and given a powerful meaning in Imperial Rome. Debates about religious and secular authority dominated Europe through the Middle Ages and the Reformation. The modern world attempted to develop new foundations for authority - democratic consent, public opinion, science - yet Furedi shows that this problem has remained unresolved, arguing that today the authority of authority is questioned. This historical sociology of authority seeks to explain how the contemporary problems of mistrust and the loss of legitimacy of many institutions are informed by the previous attempts to solve the problem of authority. It argues that the key pioneers of the social sciences (Marx, Durkheim, Simmel, Tonnies and especially Weber) regarded this question as one of the principal challenges facing society.


When? Wednesday the 28th of May 2014, 18.00 - 19.30PM (followed by a reception)
Where? Stadscampus, aula M.001, St-Jacobstraat 2 2000 Antwerp
Registration: this event is free of charge, but online registration is mandatory