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Conference and Seminar Papers


I will be giving a paper ‘Boundaries of Emergence?’ in person at the International Association for Critical Realism (IACR) annual conference at the University of Warwick, UK, 31 July – 2 August, 2024.

And previewing some of it at the online Critical Realism Discussion Group on Wednesay 3 July, 4pm UK time (BST). You’ll find contact details for the organisers here.


‘Does the theory of contextual emergence undermine critical realist understandings of emergence’, online Critical Social Ontology Workshop, Saturday 6 April, 2024. More details of the workshop here.

‘What’s it worth? The sociology of everyday valuation’, Annual Sociology lecture, Loughborough University, Monday 4th March, 2024.

Dave presenting

‘Inventing Financial Value: Developing a critical realist theory’, Cambridge Realist Workshop (online), Monday 22nd January, 2024.

‘Building the conceptual architecture of your research project’, Education and Childhood Research Group workshop, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK, Thursday 2 November, 2023.

‘Critical realism, social construction, and the role of norms’, online presentation to the critical realist Crime Security and Justice Network, 25 September, 2023. Video recording available.

‘Inventing Financial Value: Developing a critical realist theory’, plenary paper at IACR Annual conference, online presentation to a hybrid format conference in Manila, Philippines, 9-11 August, 2023.

‘Introducing Inventing Value: The Social Construction of Monetary Worth‘, an online launch for the book Inventing Value, hosted by the ISRF. Thursday 17 November, 2022. Video recording available.

‘Should we talk about two parts of reality instead of three?’, IACR annual conference, Den Haag (online presentation), Friday 12 August 2022.

‘Critical realism, modal realism and modal actualism’. Critical Social Ontology Workshop, online, Saturday 5 March 2022.

‘Ethics and emancipation in action: concrete utopias’. Opening keynote at IACR Annual conference, online, Wednesday 22 September 2021. For details see

‘Gift and commodity in the digital economy and beyond’. Sheffield University Management School BRISTT research seminar, online, Wednesday 21 October 2020.

‘Pragmatism, critical realism and the study of value’. SASE Annual Conference, online, Tuesday 21 July 2020, and IACR Annual Conference, online, Thursday 15 October 2020.

‘No price without value’, Intersections of Finance and Society Conference, City University of London, Friday 13 December 2019.

‘The nature of value and price’, Cambridge Realist Workshop, Newnham College, Cambridge, 8pm, Monday 18th November 2019.

[With Ito Jimenez] ‘Explanatory Generalisation in Critical Realist Research’, International Association for Critical Realism annual conference, Southampton, UK, 2 August, 2019.

[C80] ‘Valuing Unicorns’, SASE Annual Conference, New York, USA, 27 June 2019.

[C79] ‘Critical realism and the causal explanation of human action’, University of Plymouth, UK, 3 April 2019.

[C78] ‘Agency and structure in a critical realist ontology’, Workshop on ‘Foundations in Social Science – Mechanisms, Actions, Functions’, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, 24-25 January, 2019.

[C77] ‘Where Do Financial Trading Profits Come from?’, Futures of Finance and Society Conference, Edinburgh, UK, 7 December 2018.

[C76] ‘Critical realism, causal powers and social science’, Department of Infomatics seminar, University of Oslo, Norway, 13 September 2018.

[C75] ‘Where Do Financial Trading Profits Come from?’, SASE Annual Conference, Kyoto, Japan, 25 June 2018.

[C74] ‘Attributing Value to Cryptocurrencies’, SASE Annual Conference, Kyoto, Japan, 23 June 2018.

[C73] ‘From modes of production to complexes of appropriative practices’, The Dynamics of Capitalism: Inquiries to Marx on the Occasion of His 200th Birthday; Conference jointly organized by the MPIfG and the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, Hamburg, Germany, 5 May, 2018 (video).

[C72] ‘Norm circles, discourse and politics’, Sociology department seminar, University of Bath, UK, 17 April, 2018.

[C71] ‘Realism, values and critique’, Beyond Positivism conference, Montreal, 8-10 August 2017.

[C70] ‘Realism and social science after assemblage theory’ (with Tim Rutzou), International Association for Critical Realism annual conference, Torino, Italy, 19-21 July 2017.

[C69] ‘Theories of financial value’, International Association for Critical Realism annual conference, Torino, Italy, 19-21 July 2017.

[C68] ‘Political economy for a diverse economy‘, Bausteine des Kapitalismus II, Hamburg Institute for Social Research, 4 July 2017.

[C67] Response to ‘Author meets critics’ discussion about my book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy at the SASE Annual Conference in Lyon, France, on Friday 30th June 2017.

[C66] ‘Materialising social ontology’, Critical Issues in Social Ontology 2, Cambridge and Berkeley Social Ontology Groups, Cambridge, 15-17 May 2017.

[C65] ‘Political economy for the 21st century’, Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Political and Social Theory Seminar, London, 2 May 2017.

[C64] ‘How – and why – to be both realist and constructionist about gender’, Gender and Realism Thinkspace, Loughborough University London, 28 April 2017.

[C63] ‘Towards a new political economy: A realist contribution’, London Realist Workshop, SOAS, 5.30pm, Friday 9th December 2016

[C62] ‘How to change economics: learning from the economy beyond the marketplace’, Cambridge Realist Workshop, Clare College, Cambridge, 8pm, Monday 31st October 2016.

[C61] ‘Causal powers, the social and the material’, International Association for Critical Realism annual conference, Cardiff, 20-22 July 2016 (video).

[C60] ‘Prospects for a humanised digital economy’, International Association for Critical Realism annual conference, Cardiff, 20-22 July 2016.

[C59] ‘An economy of practices’, 40 Years of the Cambridge Journal of Economics Conference, St Catherine’s College, University of Cambridge, 13 July 2016.

[C58] ‘Lifeworld and systems in the digital economy’, SASE Annual Conference, University of California Berkeley, 24-26 June 2016.

[C57] ‘Causality, method and imagination’, Kings College London, 6 May 2016.

[C56] ‘Critical realism, causal powers and social science’, University of Essex, Critical Realism and Accounting Research Workshop, 6 April 2016.

[C55] ‘How can social structures have causal powers?’, Yale University, Causal Powers Conference, March 3-6, 2016.

[C54] ‘Norm Circles: a Realist Perspective on Culture, Categories and Classes’, University of Amsterdam, 27 January 2016.

[C53] ‘Norm Circles: a Realist Solution to the Problem of Social Structure and Agency?’, Wageningen University, 26 January 2016.

[C52] ‘Critical realism and the micro-macro relation’, Conference on the micro-macro link, Stockholm, Sweden, 10-11 September 2015.

[C51] ‘New digital economy? New political economy!’ ESA Annual Conference, (RN18), Prague, 25-28 August 2015.

[C50] ‘Instruments of the collective?’, Social Complexes 2 conference on social ontology, Gothenburg, Sweden, 8-10 June 2015.

[C49] ‘Beyond Prosumption’, BSA Annual Conference, Glasgow, 16 April 2015.

[C48] ‘Causal powers, norms and culture’, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, 25 March 2015.

[C47] ‘Free web search: neither gift nor commodity?’, CulCom/CAMARG Seminar series, Loughborough University, 26 February 2015.

[C46] ‘Prosumption, appropriation and the ontology of economic form’, Centre for Social Ontology, Warwick, 27 January 2015 (podcast).

[C45] ‘Re-theorising the concept of mode of production in diverse economies’ ISA World Congress of Sociology (RC02), Yokohama, Japan, 13-19 July 2014.

[C44] ‘Defining the gift’ ISA World Congress of Sociology (RC35), Yokohama, Japan, 13-19 July 2014.

[C43] ‘Collective intentionality and causal powers’, Critical Issues in Social Ontology workshop, Cambridge and Berkeley Social Ontology Groups, Cambridge, 19 May 2014.

[C42] ‘Re-theorising the concept of mode of production in diverse economies’ BSA Annual Conference, Leeds, 23 April 2014.

[C41] ‘What is real and what is social in social construction?’. My contribution to an interdisciplinary debate in Helsinki, February 2014 (video).

[C40] ‘Beyond Collective Intentionality’, 3rd European Network on Social Ontology conference, University of Helsinki, 23-25 October 2013.

[C39] ‘Disassembling Actor-Network Theory’, BSA Realism Study Group seminar, London, 6 September 2013

[C38] ‘Giving and social transformation’, International Association for Critical Realism annual conference, Nottingham, 29-31 July 2013.

[C37] ‘The moral economy of digital gifts’, Department of Sociology seminar, University of York, 5 June 2013.

[C36] ‘Kinds of giving’, British Sociological Association Annual Conference, London, 3 April 2013.

[C35] ‘The concept of a cultural community’, CulCom seminar, Loughborough University, 6 March 2013 and 9 October 2013.

[C34] ‘The moral economy of digital gifts’, Seminar on Ethics and Social Theory: The Work of Andrew Sayer, Newport, Wales, 22 February 2013.

[C33] ‘Critical realism and the causal power of social structures’, Kritische Soziologie meets Critical Realism Conference, Jena, 3 February 2013.

[C32] ‘Social entities and the basis of their powers’, Workshop on Individualism, Holism, Explanation and Emergence, University of Copenhagen, November 2012.

[C31]’A Taxonomy of Gifting’, ISA/ESA/ASA economic sociology networks conference ‘Embeddedness & Beyond’, Moscow, October 2012.

[C30] ‘Towards a realist social constructionism’, International Doctoral Lectures Cycle, Instituto Universitario de Lisboa, Portugal, 11 May 2012.

[C29] ‘The social structure of money’, BSA Annual Conference, Leeds, 12 April 2012.

[C28] ‘Seven ways to be a realist about language’, International Association of Critical Realism (IACR) Annual Conference, Oslo, Norway, September 2011.

[C27] ‘How are (social) structural dynamics produced by constellations?’ Workshop on ‘Aggregation Dynamics in Multi-Level Actor Constellations’ at Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany, 2-3 June 2011.

[C26] ‘Beyond the Practice Turn’, Theory stream plenary at the BSA Annual Conference, London School of Economics, 7 April 2011.

[C25] ‘Realism, emergence, and culture’, Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research seminar, University of Bath, 1 December 2010.

[C24] ‘Norm Circles and the Myth of Cultural Integration’, Symposium in honour of Margaret Archer, University of Warwick, 16 November 2010.

[C23] ‘Realism, emergence, and normative social institutions’, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research seminar series, University of Kent, 4 November 2010; also Department of Social Sciences seminar series, Loughborough University, 24 November 2010; and Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany, 26 April 2011.

[C21] ‘An emergentist theory of action’, Emergence in Sociology, Santiago, Chile, September 2010.

[C21] ‘The social construction of cultural boundaries’, IACR Annual Conference, Padua, Italy, July 2010.

[C20] ‘Can constructed subjects be reflexive?’, ISA World Congress of Sociology (RC16). Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010.

[C19] ‘Rules and the construction of social reality’, BSA Annual Conference. Glasgow, April 2010.

[C18] ‘Towards a social ontology of market systems’, CRESI seminar series, University of Essex, November 2009; also Cambridge Realist Workshop, 30 January 2012.

[C17] ‘Towards a social ontology of knowledge’, BSA Theory Study Group Conference. Warwick, September 2009.

[C16] ‘The causal power of discourse?’, BSA Annual Conference. Cardiff, April 2009; also School of Applied Social Sciences Workshop on ‘Theoretical Dialogue’, Durham University, 8 September 2011.

[C15] ‘Emergence, normativity and the social ontology of organizations’, Cambridge Realist Workshop, November 2008. Also presented to Critical Realism in Action Group, Nottingham, June 2009.

[C14] ‘Realist critique without ethical naturalism and moral realism’, IACR Annual Conference, London, July 2008.

[C13] ‘From speech community to intersecting linguistic circles’, SocioLinguist Essex, Colchester, June 2008.

[C12] ‘From ‘society’ to intersecting normative circles’, BSA Annual Conference, Warwick, March 2008.

[C11] ‘Searching for structure in actor network theory’, ESA Conference, Glasgow, September 2007.

[C10] Emergence panel, IACR Annual Conference, Philadelphia, August 2007.

[C9] ‘Process, emergence and social structure’, BSA Annual Conference. London, April 2007.

[C8] ‘Searching for realism, structure and agency in actor network theory’, BSA Realism Study Group. London, January 2007.

[C7] ‘A Method for Social Ontology’, IACR Annual Conference. Tromso, August 2006. Also presented to Cambridge Realist Workshop, November 2006 and Centre for Critical Realism Seminar, London, March 2007 .

[C6] ‘Emergence and functionalism: friends or foes?’ ISA World Congress of Sociology (RC51). Durban, July 2006.

[C5] ‘Reconciling Archer and Bourdieu in an emergentist theory of action’, ISA World Congress of Sociology (RC16). Durban, July 2006.

[C4]’Integrating institutional, relational, and embodied structure: an emergentist perspective’, BSA Annual Conference. Harrogate, April 2006.

[C3] ‘Towards an inter-disciplinary theory of emergence’, Complexity Science and Society. Liverpool, September 2005.

[C2] ‘The emergence of social structure and the question of naturalism’, BSA Annual Conference. York, March 2005.

[C1] ‘Re-examining Bhaskar’s three ontological domains: the lessons from emergence’, IACR Annual Conference. Cambridge, August 2004.