Institution and Passivity: Rethinking Embodiment and Social Practices in the Contemporary Debate

Deadline for submissions: 1th of December 2021

This issue aims at exploring the interrelation between institution and passivity, i.e., the interaction between the social and its embodiment in the individual through perceptual schemes, dispositions and sedimentations embedded both in the individual body and in collective experience. On a philosophical level, this relation has been explored by the phenomenological tradition, whose conceptual tools and analyses have been employed—by means of critique or further elaboration—by other theoretical discourses (law, sociology, anthropology etc.) with an aim to explain both the formation and the functioning of the social field. By referring to Merleau-Ponty’s course notes on Institution and Passivity (1954-55), we wish to offer an analysis of the complexity of institutions from an interdisciplinary perspective: the contribution of French sociology (see for instance Bourdieu’s notion of habitus) shows, starting from the vocabulary, the influence of the phenomenological lesson.

The constellation of problems related to the nexus institution-passivity has given way to further theorization in the contemporary debate, both on the philosophical and the interdisciplinary level: since passivity is inextricably intertwined with institutions, and it is therefore as open to the future as it is grounded in the past (for it is the locus of primordial temporalization (i.e., historicity) as well as of the habitus), it is embedded in all discourses that aim at providing an explanation of the social dimension—from a legal as well as a sociological and anthropological perspective.

Within this general conceptual frame, we invite contributions focused on the following aspects/topics:


  • The relation between institution and passivity on the level of tacit knowledge / common sense theory and its possible application to the socialized field of technology.
  • The relation between institution and passivity from the perspective of the unconscious and its displacement within a theory of culture.
  • The relationship between institutions and life (human sciences and sciences of life etc.).
  • Critique and institutions. How sociology can rethink the concept of institutions.
  • The relationship between institutions and laws, contractual forms and political foundations (political philosophy and legal theory etc.)
Contributions must be original and not under review elsewhere. All papers will be subject to double-anonymous peer-review.
Manuscripts should be submitted online through Humana.Mente Editorial Manager:
Please follow the Author Guidelines: