General information

Ambiguity of Action: Ethnographic and Theoretical Perspectives

Symposium organized by Vulnerable Lives – research project led by Prof. Marja Liisa Honkasalo, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki

June 10-11.6.2014 – Location: Siltavuorenpenger 3a, Auditorium 107

Keynote speakers:Marja-Liisa Honkasalo, Mustafa Emirbayer (US), Robert Fairbanks (US)

Please let us know if you are attending so we can organize to have have enough coffee for everyone during the breaks: e-mail Nelli Tiainen by 30.5. (

You are most welcome to attend single keynote lectures, sections of the symposium or the entire symposium.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Nelli Tiainen, Anna Leppo or Kaisa Ketokivi (

This two-day symposium invites social scientists to ponder on the ambiguity of action from ethnographic and theoretical perspectives. The starting point to the symposium arises from ethnographic research in which we have apprehended precarious modes of action that deserve more social scientific attention. But how to ask theoretical questions without simplifying the messiness and ambivalence of the fabrics of life we study? With the burden of social scientific theorizing of action, how to approach modes of agency which are passive, small scale or ambiguous? Presentations and lectures engage with ambiguities of action and the ways in which action is intertwined with various social bonds and relations, as well as, material aspects, including the body and technology. We invite you to come to think and have a conversation with us about this pressing theme of empirical scholars interested in large, theoretical questions.

MAP of the symposium venue and the lunch restaurant: