GW4 Community: Concrete Utopias: Critical Theory and New Practices for a World in Crisis

Project: Other

Project Details


Concrete Utopias proposes to build a research community to address the social, cultural, political and economic challenges we face today, oriented toward the possibility of a radically improved future. The community will bring together existing strengths in critical theory across a range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities to coalesce into a key area of thematic strength, making a timely intervention into the most acute problems posed by today’s world, and enabling new practices for a world in crisis. The network approaches these problems by way of the growing interdisciplinary work currently undertaken by critical theorists. Critical theory, for us, is not simply a set of ideas that can be applied to understand reality, but an active theorizing process that enables reflection on current social practices to generate improved understandings and thus contribute to beneficial change.

There is growing interest in contemporary critical theory and its renewal within the GW4. However, because initiatives are based in discrete disciplines and institutions, there has been little opportunity for collaboration or systematic exchange. We intend to address this by creating a platform for collaboration across our four institutions through workshops and online resources. The network will also draw on existing links with non-HEI partners and stakeholders (e.g. museums, social enterprises, community organisations, creative industries) to explore innovative ways in which this renewed critical expertise might be used. The network speaks primarily to the GW4 Grand Challenge 6, ‘Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies’, as it seeks to explore the contribution critical theory can make to innovation within and beyond the practices, organisations and institutions of our worlds. Furthermore, by theorizing the changing social function of digital technologies, including their effects on work and the capitalist economy, our bid also speaks to Grand Challenge’ 8, ‘Living in a digital world’.

Layman's description

Concrete Utopias proposes to contribute to the creation of a four for the discussion of new ideas from a range of disciplines of the social sciences that can help to inform, address and contribute to the social, cultural, political and economic challenges the world faces today, thus informing and enabling new good practices for a world crisis. The network approaches these problems by way of the growing interdisciplinary work currently undertaken by sociologists interested in progressive change of our societies.
Short title19,862
AcronymGW4 - CU
StatusNot started


  • critical theory
  • GW4
  • concrete utopia
  • world crisis
  • alternatives

RCUK Research Areas

  • Sociology
  • Philosophy
  • Political science and international studies