Senior Professor in Sociology, Social and Political Thought, and Communication and Culture at York University, Toronto, Alan Blum is the founding director of the Culture of Cities Centre. Blum’s inquiries focus upon the place of subjectivity in social life and its relation to diverse problems, exploring with his method the ethical and aesthetic collisions between individuals and groups that come to view in interpretive conflicts over values. Blum's research is informed by his work developed over the years on the analysis of social forms, most recently in studies on the city, materialism, and idealism in everyday life, on institutions such as law, medicine, and the university, on the emotions, and particularly disease and suffering, and on voice, humour, aesthetics and ethics as resources for inquiry.
Professor Blum’s recent work on birth, death and dying, the city, and mental disease and illness researches such topics as if they disclose in telling ways the underlying values that commonplace contents of social life can be made to reveal. Blum’s research on the city has expanded the idea of an urban heritage to incorporate the intangible influences of the culture of a place and the ways such influences are transmitted in urban scenes of innovation. Currently, Professor Blum is completing a work on the affective terrain of The Material City, and an ethnography of the aged and their attempts to maintain use value in the face of their declining exchange value in everyday life. Blum’s research on how the celebration of market value in urban life and its emphases on productivity and networking effect the self worth of subjects intends to lay grounds for a sociological approach to desperation under the shadow of capitalist euphoria.