Conceptualising Event: Some theoretical reflections on the foundations for a critical approach to event studies


  • Ian R Lamond Leeds Beckett University


As the field of events management begins to develop a more theoretically conscious trajectory, evolving to be more than its operationally orientated origins, there is a growing interest in the study and analysis of events. However, the concept of event, despite its appearance, often below the radar, in many fields of academic and intellectual inquiry, is rarely addressed. In this short presentation some of the ideas that have contributed to a history of the philosophy of event will be considered.

Event has been a significant contributor to the history of ideas from Plato to the present; it has formed an undercurrent in much post-structuralist thought, from Derrida onwards. However, in Events Management and contemporary Event Studies, a discussion of how we can conceptualise event is missing. In this presentation I will argue for a tentative definition of event as disruption. Such a construal builds on classical Greek philosophy as well as, more recently, ideas rooted in those of Zigmunt Bauman and Slavoj Zizek.

Significantly, conceptualising event, within Event Studies, as disruption, not only has an important bearing on that field, it also impacts how the concept can be used as an analytic lens across other areas of intellectual inquiry, particularly within the wider humanities and social sciences.

In conclusion, this presentation will suggest there is a close connection between a conceptualisation of event as disruption and critical approaches to the analysis and study of discourse. That closeness, which marks a critical turn within the study of events, also requires a re-thinking of how the study of events orientates itself to its parent field of events management, resulting in the need to formulate a truly critical event studies.