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Made Up People

'Made Up People': An Interdisciplinary Approach to Labelling and the Construction of People in Post-War History

Organised by Jennifer Crane and Claire Sewell, in conjunction with Dr. Mathew Thomson

25th October 2013, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Warwick


The overarching aim of this conference was to situate labelling theory, as conceptualised by philosopher of science Ian Hacking, in the study of post-war history. In his article 'Making Up People' (1986), Hacking states:

The claim of dynamic nominalism is not that there was a kind of person who came increasingly to be recognised by bureaucrats or by students of human nature, but rather that a kind of person came into being at the same time as the kind itself was being invented. In some cases, that is, our classifications and our classes conspire to emerge hand in hand, each egging the other on.

The post-war period witnessed the emergence of numerous new categories and classifications of people, through the development of labels including 'schizophrenic', 'gambler', 'paedophile', and 'adolescent'. The work of Ian Hacking suggests that the application and usage of these categories fundamentally changed how such groups were understood, how they behaved, and how they lived.

This conference drew together speakers and delegates from a range of disciplines in order to raise a set of questions about these 'made up people'. The conference aimed to facilitate a workshop-style atmosphere, with a key note speech by Professor Ian Hacking, several panel sessions, and a roundtable discussion. There was also a conference wine reception on the 24th October.

If you attended the conference, please do provide feedback on the organisation, papers, and structure of the day via the following form.

Podcasts of the presentations from the day can be found here.

It is the hope of the organisers to set up a research network facilitating discussion and the sharing of ideas around 'Made Up People'. If you did not manage to attend the conference but would like to be added to the mailing list please email either Jennifer Crane or Claire Sewell (j.m.crane@warwick.ac.uk/c.s.l.sewell@warwick.ac.uk).