Deciding on Sustainable Futures: A case for workplace democracy in the Anthropocene

The Management and Marketing Group at the Essex Business School warmly invite you to join Dr Kate Seymour as she explores sustainable futures in the age of the Anthropocene.

  • Wed 2 Jun 21

    13:00 - 14:00

  • Online

    join this seminar

  • Event speaker

    Dr Kate Seymour, Essex Business School, University of Essex

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Management and Marketing Group Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Atika Kemal

This research seminar from the Management and Marketing group at the Essex Business School aims to explore the Anthropocene and how certain human activities leave us no choice but to adapt to the situations ahead of us. Dr Kate Seymour will be discussing her observations and insights on the topic.

Seminar abstract

We have entered the Anthropocene: the age where human activity – or, more accurately, the activities of certain humans – has become a decisive force in the Earth system.

After 12,000 years of relative stability, the Anthropocene will be significantly more unstable, with the capacity for catastrophic ‘state shifts’ in the character of the whole system.

In the years ahead, we will have no choice but to adapt all aspects of life to the conditions of the Anthropocene. Yet recognising and responding to this now is particularly urgent if we wish to protect ourselves, future generations and non-human life – especially the most vulnerable – from the most catastrophic effects, for which we are still currently on course. This will require taking decisions which fundamentally change the ways we organise, understand and imagine our lives in common.

This paper that will be presented, started from the observation there is a pronounced difference between two different vocabularies to describe desirable decision-making processes for creating more sustainable futures in two different societal spheres: the realm of politics and the realm of work.

This disparity may not seem puzzling since it reflects two commonly held beliefs: firstly, that democracy is an inappropriate form of governance in what is a private sector; and secondly, scepticism that democratic processes are capable of delivering urgent change – which has only increased following the rise of climate-sceptical, right-wing populism. In this paper, Dr Seymour challenges both of these assumptions. Firstly, she uses a growing political philosophical literature on workplace democracy to argue that the realm of work is properly political and public, not private.

Following Ferreras (2017), Dr Seymour suggests we need to think a ‘political theory of the firm,’ even within the current capitalist political economy. Secondly, she examines how a concept of ‘ecological democracy’, developed within political theory, can enable us to imagine a deliberative democratic response to the climate emergency within the context of the new, unstable conditions of the Anthropocene.

Focusing on Dryzek and Pickering’s (2019) emphasis on ‘ecological reflexivity’, she considers how this could help overcome ‘pathological path dependencies’ which limit our abilities to act effectively and address the unpredictabilities of our new geological epoch.

Dr Seymour concludes by combining these insights to suggest the need for an interdisciplinary project to develop an eco-political theory of the firm, and tentatively sketch an initial outline of a ‘workplace democracy for the Anthropocene’.



This seminar is free to attend with no need to book in advance.

Please join this seminar online on Wednesday 2 June 2021 at 1pm.


Speaker bio

Dr Kate Seymour was awarded a PhD in Philosophy in 2019 for an interdisciplinary project examining democratic praxis and the contestation of invisibilities in worker, indigenous and environmental struggles. Theoretically, the project thought ‘between’ Rancière’s concept of dissensus and Frankfurt School theories of deliberation and recognition.

Her current work focuses on two overlapping areas;

  1. educational and (particularly democratic) participatory strategies within and between organisations which attempt to address the climate emergency.
  2. exploring invisibilities, particularly forms of gendered invisible work, and examine how these overlap with precarity.

She is also interested in the ways in which these invisibilities are contested, particularly though not only through dissensual political acts.

Since 2014, she has taught widely across the Social Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Essex and is currently a Fixed Term Teacher in the Management and Marketing Group at Essex Business School.


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