Scott Schaffer has had a lifelong concern with social ethics, inclusion and exclusion, social theory of most stripes, forms of social justice and change, and death and social futures. His book Resisting Ethics (Palgrave, 2004) explored the relations between and tensions conceptions of ethics within revolutionary social movements in Algeria and Mexico, and was one of the only works in English to utilize unpublished manuscripts from Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1964 lectures in Rome and at Cornell University in the development of its ethical framework. Schaffer also pursued early research into social theory produced outside North America and Western Europe, particularly into the ways in which colonial ties tended to dictate traditions of thought.
Schaffer is currently the Co-Chief Specialty Editor of the Sociological Theory section of Frontiers in Sociology, and was the founder of the early-2000s online public intellectual journal The Journal of Mundane Behavior. He is also affiliated with the Centre for Research on Social Inequality, the Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction and the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at UWO.
More recently, Schaffer has taken up the models of Pierre Bourdieu and Theodor Adorno to contribute to more theoretically-driven sociological research projects. He has recently done work with colleagues in sociology on data ontology and linked administrative databases with Michael Haan (Sociology), and is exploring the ways in which social ethics, artificial intelligence, and big data reproduce unfair social orders.
Currently, Schaffer is studying, with Michael Haan and Anders Holm, discipline-wide gaps in conceptualizations of cultural capital and their relationship to class and social mobility through Bourdieu’s foundational lectures at the Collège de France. He is also rethinking the foundations of an embodied cognitive science with Michael Anderson and Varun Ravikumar (Philosophy/Rotman).
Schaffer is keenly interested in studying the exclusionary impacts of forms of social stratification on individuals and groups in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the collective future being developed. Borrowing from work done by Mexican philosophers and social theorists on the presence of the necro in everyday life, as well as postcolonial theorists such as Achille Mbembe and Ann Laura Stoler, Schaffer is developing the idea of the necroethical, the unexamined ethical assumptions that make possible and to a certain extent acceptable death-dealing, be it by dictatorships, police departments, narcocriminals, or the positioning of groups occupying the lowest strata of society as “essential workers” and “heroes” while exposing them to Covid-19 on a constant basis.
- Yoko Yoshida, Michael Haan, and Scott Schaffer, “Administrative Data Linkage in Canada: Implications for Sociological Research,” Canadian Review of Sociology/Révue canadien de la sociologie.
- Scott Schaffer, “Necroethics in a time of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter.” In J. Michael Ryan (ed.), COVID-19: Global Pandemic, Societal Responses, Ideological Solutions.” London: Routledge.
- 2018. Scott Schaffer, “Kairos and an Ethics of Space: Toward reconceptualising conversations and their loci.” In Ananta Kumar Giri (ed.), Pathways of Creative Research: Toward a Festival of Dialogues. London: Palgrave.
- 2017. Scott Schaffer, “Cosmopolitanism and an Ethics of Sacrifice.” In Ananta Kumar Giri (ed.), Cosmopolitanism and Beyond: Toward a Multiverse of Transformations. New Delhi: Primus Books.
- Scott Schaffer, “The Past as Product in the Present: Disney and the Imagineering of Histories.” In Doug Brode (ed.), Debating Disney. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Scott Schaffer, “L’Ouverture des bouches: The Social and Intellectual Bases for Engaged and Public Social Theory.” In Christopher Schneider and Ariane Hanemaayer (eds.), Public Sociology and Ethics. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
- Scott Schaffer, “Cosmopolitanising Cosmopolitanism? Cosmopolitan Claims-Making, Interculturalism, and the Bouchard-Taylor Report.” In Will Kymlicka and Kathryn Walker (eds.), Rooted Cosmopolitanism: Canada and the World. Vancouver: UBC Press.
- Scott Schaffer, Resisting Ethics. New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan.