This chapter lays the groundwork for a realist analysis of the disappearance or ‘death’ of social forms, which is particularly relevant in societies experiencing intensified social transformation. Whilst the notion of morphogenesis can account both for the acceleration of change and for the multiplication of coexisting social forms, it does not allow us, on its own, to theorise their disappearance. Addressing this gap in the theory of morphogenesis opens interesting avenues for the philosophical study of society.
Our contribution is organised around three related questions. Firstly, how should we conceptualise the disappearance of social forms and can this conceptualisation draw from the biological conception of death? Secondly, how do concept-dependence and reflexivity differentiate social death from biological death? Thirdly, how can we observe and interpret the agonies that accompany the death of social forms?
We conclude by providing an illustration of how the theory might be applied to a case with significant current socio-economic ramifications: the disappearance of life-long employment in developed capitalist economies.
Agonism Decline of life-long employment Disappearance of social forms Morphonecrosis Social and biological death
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