News & events



19 February 2020
12:30 - 14:00

An HSRC priority initiative

Date:  19 February 2020
Time:  12h30-14h00
Venues:  Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town Livestream via Vidyo

Speaker: Professor Judith Bessant RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Discussant: Prof Aslam Fataar, Education Policy Studies, Stellenbosch University

Chair: Dr Adam Cooper, Senior Research Specialist, Education and Skills Development

While there is general agreement we are embarking on a far-reaching social and economic transformation implicating new technologies, there is little agreement about how to understand it and what it means for young people. Does work have a future? How do we educate for it, and for what? Does the capitalist order as we know it have a future? How do we build a world, especially for young people, in which all can thrive?

In this seminar, Professor Judith Bessant, author of The Great Transformation: History for a Techno-Human Future (Routledge, 2018), uses a socio-historical approach, sensitive to time and inequalities of wealth, status and symbolic knowledge, to talk about human consciousness and technology and how they develop together. In particular she will address the history of financialisation, how the rise of the ‘gig economy’ highlights capitalism’s capacity to reinvent itself without changing too much, and the evolution of ‘surveillance capital’ and how it is transforming traditional labour-capital relations. She argues that we are entering a ‘Techno-Axial Age’ marked by new relations that encourage radical and novel practices. She also draws on Roberto Unger’s account of ‘deep freedom’ to remember that our social world is both imagined and made by us, and thus capable of being reclaimed, especially if we are committed to the critical inquiry and thoughtful action needed to build a world in which all can thrive.

Judith Bessant is a youth studies expert and Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Other recent publications include The Precarious Generation: A Political Economy of Young People (2017) and Young People Re-Generating Politics in Times of Crises (2018). She is a recipient of the ‘Order of Australia’ award for her service to education as a social scientist and advocate. Globally active in youth studies spaces, she visits the HSRC as an advisor on The Imprint of Education study funded by the Mastercard Foundation.

Kindly RSVP by 18 February 2020

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference Room, 1st Floor HSRC Library, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria.
Contact Arlene Grossberg  | T: (012) 302 2811  | E:
Cape Town: HSRC Video Conference Room, Merchant House 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town.
Contact Shouneez Khan| T: (021) 466 7948 | E:
Durban: HSRC Video Conference Room, The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001.
Contact Ridhwaan Khan  | T: (031) 242 5400  | C: 083 788 2786  | E: or Wiseman Mbambo E:

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please also note that this seminar may be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel.