Civic Action in the Civil Sphere ~ Conference and Book Project

Civic Action in the Civil Sphere ~ Conference and Book Project

Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26, 2024.

Humanities Quadrangle, Room 107 ~  Yale University ~ New Haven, CT

For several decades, sociologists have been re-energizing inquiry into the conditions for social self-organization and solidarity. This question speaks both to the founding concerns of sociology and pressing contemporary concerns about the future of inclusive, equitable, and sustainable democracies around the world. Two cultural approaches share this passionate world of intellectual inquiry. One is Civil Sphere Theory (CST), the other is Civic Action Theory (CAT). While each has been plying its own research program, they share broadly similar normative horizons. CST examines the discursive and institutional structures that orient a democracy from a more macro-societal standpoint. CAT examines styles of coordinating action that actors engage to solve social problems – a core component of democracy – from the standpoint of interaction.

What if our research and theory encompassed both the “big” discursive-institutional structures and the meaningful patterns of civic interaction?  

We are organizing our project to explore just this possibility. We are convinced that each line of work offers irreducible insights. Combining them promises a fuller picture of the cultural and institutional conditions for civic engagement and civil solidarity. We need that picture at a time when even the very aspiration to inclusive, democratic self-organization and governance is imperiled.

Co-Organizers: Jeffrey Alexander, Yale University & Paul Lichterman, University of Southern California

Commentator: Lynette Spillman, University of Notre Dame

Generously supported by: The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, The John Templeton Foundation, and the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University.

Special thanks to CCS Junior Fellow Nicolás Rudas for his assistance with this event.

Photo credits: All photos from 

•View of the huge crowd from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, during the March on Washington]” Original black and white negative by Warren K. Leffler. Taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
•People walking on street during daytime. Brussels, Belgium. Photographer: Jeet Dhanoa.
•Man in black long sleeve shirt holding red and white ball. Extinction Rebellion September 2020 Protests for the launch of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE Bill) Across The City of London. Photographer: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona.
•Woman holding microphone. A Celebration of Woman’s Day, Seattle Region, Bellevue, Washington, USA. Photographer: Wonderlane.
•A group of people standing next to each other. Iranian refugee camp in Samawah, Iraq. Photographer: Jonathan Ramalho