Beyond Autonomy: Understanding How New Social, Scientific and Technological Influences are Shaping the Future of Freedom

In today’s world, the modern concept of individual autonomy is increasingly at risk from a number of external factors including extremism, surveillance, big data and climate change.  Yet a sense that we have been freed from past oppressions through the evolution of a government system in which law-abiding citizens are afforded a degree of freedom remains fundamental in shaping our individual and collective sense of who we are and what we wish to become, and to the collective identify of modern Western societies. As a result of these external pressures, we need to reconsider how we think about freedom.

To address this issue, researchers will bring together a cross-disciplinary group from the arts, humanities, social and economic sciences. The group will draw on expertise and knowledge from the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub, Global Terrorism Research Centre and Monash SoDa Labs, as well as from the Warwick Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts, and Centre of Cultural & Media Policy Studies. The project is the first of its kind to address philosophically the unprecedented and interconnected social, scientific and technological factors that have created the contemporary crisis of freedom, and to develop new understandings of freedom better adapted to the contemporary world.

The project will host two interdisciplinary workshops and involve the development of a new framework that will understand how expectations of liberation shape experiences of, and attitudes to, freedom across interrelated social, technological and scientific domains. They will also develop a new account of freedom that will be better adjusted to the complex environmental, technological and social realities that increasingly characterise twenty-first century Western society. These workshops aim to provide a rare opportunity for a broad range of scholars to discuss a question that cannot be contained within any single disciplinary framework.

Principle applicants

Chris Watkin

Dr Chris Watkin

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University

Oliver Davis

Dr Oliver Davis

Reader, Faculty of Arts, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Warwick

Co-applicants

Associate Professor, Simon Angus, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University

Professor Jeremy Ahearne, Faculty of Arts, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Warwick

Dr Ali Alizadeh, Faculty of Arts, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University

Professor Nick Hewlett, Faculty of Arts, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Warwick

Dr Felicity Chaplin, Scholarly Teaching Fellow, French Studies, Monash University

Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly, Reader in Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick