The recently departed sociologist Zygmunt Bauman forged a concept that’s more relevant than ever: liquid modernity. All the traditional pillars of society (religious, military, professional, familial) have started to crumble, placing the individual as king of a liquid universe of permanent change that he must absorb as much as cherish. We all have that desire to change course frequently. But engagement requires time.


It’s this paradoxical relationship between Time and “Pouvoir-Faire” (Power-to-do) that brings us to the theme of Arles 2017: How can one still commit today, and toward what results?


The Simplicity (Arles 2016) of new technologies, in appearance at least, plays in favor of Engagement: In just a couple of clicks and at any given moment, one can engage money, time, goods, or join a cause. Politics has followed the same path, where the enrollments to Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche in the French presidential elections have exceeded those of traditional parties in just a few months. For companies, engagement is key: Whether it be that of their clients, stakeholders or employees, companies deploy many tools to reinforce their engagement, without any guarantee of automatic success. Because in a world where the horizontal dimension has superseded vertical relationships, engagement is no longer imposed or forced upon people. The considerations for a brand, or for any enterprise, depends more on its value of engagement than on its value of use. Engagement, in 2017, springs from a stronger foundation and broader support. How is this managed by those aiming to carry a community along with them? How does one combat the planned obsolescence of engagement and strive instead for its sustainable development? Those are some of the questions we look forward to discussing and debating in Arles, July 19-22: Mark the date and engage yourself to being there!


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