CfP: Failure Regimes: Economization, Creolization and Moralization of Failing6-7 May 2024, Warsaw

Venue: University of Warsaw

Organizers: Failure Lab (University of Warsaw) & Economic Sociology Section (Polish Sociological Association)


Critical failure studies have made a major breakthrough when it comes to the theoretical framing and methodological imaginary of failure. This entails first and foremost switching from an individual to a more social and institutional perspective. Talking about failure regimes, contexts, and cultures is now meant to underline that failures are not individual blunders and lost opportunities that are self-evident. But stories about failure emerge and are acknowledged as such according to institutional rules, cultural expectations and capacities to hope and aspire which establish what counts as failure, and what does not. Educational failures, architectural failures, market failures, public health failures – for instance – are not occurrences that can be localized at micro and individual levels, and then aggregated to a global outcome. But are institutional and cultural manifestations embedded in failure regimes where both organizations and expectations play a crucial role.

The workshop opens a space for discussing theoretical approaches and methodological experiences with the research of failure regimes. We aim, for instance, to bridge existent intuitions about the influence of economization and digitalization of modern forms of failure with proliferating intellectual engagements with creolization processes and effects of moralization. We further ask the question about the diversity and variety of failure regimes. Aiming to challenge the strong identification of failure regimes with the neoliberal systems of failing, and to extend the thinking about alternative regimes beyond critical manifestations such as queer art of failure. Showing how global and creolized processes allow the unraveling of failure regimes in much more complex and distinct manifestations and materializations.

Beyond the cultural and spatial distinct externalizations of failure regimes, we are also interested in how failure is linked with categories of people and places. As well as how the contemporary meaning of failure entails issues related to inequality, injustice, and asymmetrical power relations. Failure regimes are not just about efficiency and proficiency in achieving aims and goals. But also about the effects of policies in terms of systemic vulnerability and reproduction of inequalities. About how technology and other domains advance new economies of innovation and failure imaginaries. We will discuss how this is a dynamic that on the one hand is much warranted as it increases emancipation. On the other, it also furthers vulnerability because it allows for political instrumentalization and exploitation of crises and failures towards urgent policy interventions that are not well calibrated and which exploit emotions and anxieties. Interventions aimed to govern the pandemic, reproductive rights and education access all known and dramatic examples in this regard.

The workshop serves as an occasion for failure scholars from various disciplines, and social theorists to come together to explore points of compatibility, complementarity and difference in the way in which they theorize failure regimes and imaginaries.

We also plan on this occasion to organize a new episode of F*** Up Tales in Science. We will invite participants to open up through stories of failure. To analyze organizational and institutional paths of reacting to scientific error and lack of conventional success. To challenge contemporary forms of failure disclosure and failure support in academia and science.



Catherine Alexander is a Professor of Social Anthropology at Durham University, UK, having turned to Anthropology after a first career working with over 15 Government Ministries in the UK and Turkey. She retains an interest in state bureaucracies alongside other interests in wastes, failure, changing property regimes, the built environment and austerity / thrift etc. drawing on fieldwork in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Britain and Tanzania. She is the author and editor of several books and essay collections, the most recent of which is After Failure: Temporalities and Traces (2023). She is currently working on a monograph: Forms and Fears of Failure.


Costica Bradatan is a Professor of Humanities in the Honors College at Texas Tech University, USA, and an Honorary Research Professor of Philosophy at University of Queensland, Australia. Bradatan is the author and editor of more than a dozen books, among which Dying for Ideas. The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers (2015, 2018) and In Praise of Failure. Four Lessons in Humility (2023). He is currently at work on two new book projects: Against Conformity (Princeton University Press) and The Prince and the Hermit (Penguin). His work has been translated into more than twenty languages, including Polish, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Farsi. 


Deadlines: Please submit your abstract (1800 signs) by January 15, 2024 to a.mica[at]

Conference fee: 100 EUR (by March 1), 120 EUR (by April 15 the latest)