UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


The Right to Apathy?

02 November 2023, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

Young people at a protest holding a megaphone

Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to cancel this Director’s Seminar. Our guest speaker, Professor Renata Salecl (Birkbeck, University of London and University of Ljubljana) has agreed to visit the IGP on another occasion. We acknowledge the late notice and the inconvenience this may have caused.

Event Information

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UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

About this event

With the rise of authoritarianism worldwide, the increased devastation related to climate change and multiple zones of armed conflict, apathy is rising among the people. Apathy, however, is not only linked to the feeling of powerlessness amid tectonic changes that we can observe around us but to the modus operandi of the neoliberal ideology. The lecture will question what is the logic of apathy today. First, it will ask how individualism, together with the glorification of success, contributes to today's apathy and whether one observes a difference in apathy in post-socialist countries (for example, Russia) and the "old" capitalist ones. Second, the lecture will examine how the internet and social media influence the attitude of »whatever« many people have regarding what is happening worldwide. Third, it will analyze the ideas about the »right to apathy«, which were fashionable in the mid-20th century among some American political theorists and which are becoming reinterpreted in our neo-liberal times. In conclusion, the lecture will address the new types of psychological suffering people are experiencing today - from disaffection to burnout and compassion fatigue.

About the speakers

Prof Renata Salecl is a philosopher, sociologist and legal theorist. She is Professor at the School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London and senior researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her book Tyranny of Choice has been published in 15 languages. Her last book is A Passion for Ignorance: What We Choose Not to Know and Why (Princeton UP, 2020).


An access guide to Medical Sciences, A V Hill Lecture Theatre 131 can be found on AccessAble.

About this event series

Cultural Spaces for Democratic Participation, Political Expression and Shared Prosperity

This Director’s Seminars and Soundbites series explores how citizens mobilize new physical and digital channels of political participation, and what can be done to create and adapt these cultural spaces so as they make positive impact on democratic life in the 21st Century.

The Director's Seminars are an opportunity for audiences to get an in-depth theoretical perspective on sustainable and inclusive prosperity. These Seminars are given by academics who are pushing for new ways of thinking and new ways of researching society's grand challenges.

For more events in this series visit the series page ►