Will there be an Urryism? The dialectic of a plural thinker in singular times



Publication Details

Birtchnell, T. (2019). Will there be an Urryism? The dialectic of a plural thinker in singular times. In O. B. Jensen, S. Kesselring & M. Sheller (Eds.), Mobilities and Complexities (pp. 13-18). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


In a world long on 'isms' the notion of an Urryism finding favour in the future - that is, a group inspired by John Urry's canon - is problematized by the sheer breadth of his intellectual pursuits and his habitual rejection of monist thinking. While Urry's effort at issuing in a 2010 paper, somewhat tongue-in-cheek presumably, 'ten commandments' on climate change could be interpreted as legacy building, the call to arms on that particular issue fell short in capturing his raison d'être as a scholar in the same fashion as Marx's Communist Manifesto forged Marxism. John Urry thrived on pluralizing topics in order to uncover the novelty of the concepts he broached. In this brief appraisal, I consider five examples: society to societies, mobility to mobilities, nature to natures, climate to climates, and ultimately the future to futures. John Urry had many sides to many people; however, he was erudite at also finding many sides to a theory. The depth that could be given to apparently planar subjects stimulated his productivity and will perhaps be his legacy. His signature was to generate theories through the inspiration of others' ideas, rather than to inspire others to adopt his own.

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