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The pseudo-normalisation of flying

Posted By Mark Carrigan

Most people I know travel frequently. I realised on an intellectual level that there are various factors which mean my friends, family and acquaintances probably travel more than average. But I didn’t realise quite how much more. This Guardian article cites a government report that makes clear what a small proportion of the UK’s population fly regularly:

Over half the UK population doesn’t fly even once a year. A very small minority flies three or more times per year, just 15% of UK residents, and that group accounts for seven out of 10 of all flights taken.


It’s somewhat jarring to realise that the overwhelming majority of people I know are members of that 15%. It would be interesting to see national comparisons for these figures. Is this stratification a common pattern? Is it even more pronounced elsewhere? It’s frequently argued in the UK that low cost airlines have democratised travel, implying that opposition to low-cost flying represents an elitist attempt to return international travel to the restricted few. But it looks prima facie like the reduction of costs in flying have led a minority to travel much more frequently, rather than making international travel a regular part of life for the majority.

I was struck recently by the discovery that to travel from the West Midlands to Edinburgh cost less than half the price of a train ticket (£90 to £240 if I recall correctly) and took a quarter of the time. The costs are structured in a way that almost seems as if it was designed to incentivise domestic flying. I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve flown to Edinburgh twice since then. I dislike the idea of domestic flying but I dislike paying twice the cost of a flight for a ten hour round trip on the train even more. As Andrew Simms points out in that article, aviation is “hugely subsidised and compared to other economic sectors enjoys multibillion-pound tax breaks, from its fuel to its VAT-free tickets and duty-free emporia”.

This regulatory environment doesn’t emerge naturally. It’s something that’s sought and brought about through lobbying and campaigning. To what extent has its success been founded on creating an impression that flying has been normalised as a fact of life for the majority of the British population?


Is the @TimesHigherEd “exam howlers” competition driven by metrics?

Posted By Mark Carrigan

In the section of my book on ‘effective communication online’, I’ve been writing about the informal space of interaction between academics and students that social media opens up. This is an issue which is only going to become more complex with time and I don’t try to offer any rules for negotiating the challenges it poses, apart from perhaps being aware that students might stumble across, or even deliberately seek out, things you post online. It’s in these terms that I’ve found myself writing about the Times Higher Education ‘exam howlers’ competition:

Due to the annual event’s popularity, we have extended the deadline for this year’s entries until 12 July at 5pm.

For your chance to be crowned the winner of this competition – which comes with a magnum of champagne – please send examples of hilarious typos, unfortunate spoonerisms and daft misunderstandings to john.elmes@tsleducation.com.

I love the Times Higher Education. I really do. But this is just fucking unpleasant. It obviously raises the question of why they continue to do it every year, in spite of the outcry it provokes. The only answer I can come up with is metrics. I bet this is the most shared content they have on the website each year. What do other people think?

Muslims “Quietly condone Terrorism”—a Desperate Lie

Posted By Sadia Habib

by Ghulam Esposito Haydar

While Muslims around the world have been fasting during the holy month of Ramaḍān, both terrorists and politicians alike have continued in their respective destructive crusades which currently show no sign of abating.

Last Friday saw the deadly destruction of a mosque in Kuwait, the decapitation of a man at a gas plant near Grenoble in France and the mass killings at a tourist beach hotel in Sousse, Tunisia. These are the latest atrocities which have shocked people of faith and no faith to the core. According to statements on Twitter, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait. (It was interesting to note the language used to describe these attacks differed somewhat to the Charleston and Chapel Hill massacres respectively.[1][2]. Both of these crimes Stateside were proven to be driven by a far-right ideology where the perpetrators hate for Black and Muslim citizens led to a devastating terror attack, yet, the term “terrorism” was seldom used nor was there such a public outcry).

How do we stop such atrocities from taking place? Our Prime Minister David Cameron believes it solely boils down to taking on a poisonous ideology. According to the radicalisation hypothesis, it is an extremist interpretation of Islām known as Islamism which is exclusively responsible for terrorism around the world.

Just last week, Cameron addressed an audience in Bratislava where he said:

“The cause is ideological. It is an Islamist extremist ideology: one that says the West is bad and democracy is wrong, that women are inferior and homosexuality is evil. It says religious doctrine trumps the rule of law and Caliphate trumps nation state, and it justifies violence in asserting itself and achieving its aims. The question is: how do people arrive at this world view? I am clear that one of the reasons is that there are people who hold some of these views who don’t go as far as advocating violence, but do buy into some of these prejudices – giving the extreme Islamist narrative weight and telling fellow Muslims ‘you are part of this’. This paves the way for young people to turn simmering prejudice into murderous intent. To go from listening to firebrand preachers online to boarding a plane to Istanbul and travelling onward to join the jihadis. We’ve always had angry young men and women buying into supposedly revolutionary causes. This one is evil, is it contradictory, it is futile but it is particularly potent today. I think part of the reason it’s so potent is that it has been given this credence. So if you’re a troubled boy who is angry at the world or a girl looking for an identity, for something to believe in, and there’s something that is quietly condoned online or perhaps even in parts of your local community then it’s less of a leap to go from a British teenager to an Isil fighter or an Isil wife than it would be for someone who hasn’t been exposed to these things.”[3]

This is not the first time Cameron has taken to foreign lands to address concerns regarding Muslims. Many have found it deeply concerning that Cameron felt the need to address the subject of national security from foreign shores. If he wanted to attack British Muslims by accusing them of “quietly condoning” terrorism, he should have had the decency to do it on British soil rather than in front of a foreign audience of arms dealers at a security conference in Slovakia.

Charles Farr, director general of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), commenting on Cameron’s address said there was a “risk” of oversimplification given around 2.7 million Muslims live in Britain but just a few hundred had joined ISIS in the Middle East. The comments contrast with Cameron’s keynote speech on radicalisation where he toughened his rhetoric on the responsibilities Muslim leaders had to stamp out extremism. Speaking at a Jewish News conference on Israel, Farr warned of the dangers of playing up the numbers of Britons who have headed to the Middle East to join ISIS: “It’s not to say the challenges they pose are not significant, they are. But, the more we overstate them the more, frankly, we risk labelling Muslim communities as somehow intrinsically extremist, which actually despite an unprecedented wealth of social media propaganda, they have proved not to be. So I think we need to be cautious with our metaphors and with our numbers.” [4]

Just as David Cameron did with his Munich address in 2011 which paved the way for the “revised” Prevent strategy, [5] his address in Bratislava was simply a precursor to the implementation of the new Counter Terrorism and Security Bill and the intention to draw up a new “Counter Extremism” bill where he and his neoconservative allies are preparing the ground for the government’s next onslaught. The target will not be terrorism, but “non-violent extremism”. The new Counter-Terrorism measures will legally require nursery schools, teachers, health care service professionals and universities to monitor students and patients for any sign of “extremism” or “radicalisation”. The new powers represent a level of embedded state security surveillance in public life unprecedented in modern times. We already know from the government’s Prevent programme the chilling impact of such mass spying on schools, where Muslim pupils have been reported for speaking out in favour of Palestinian rights or against the role of British troops in Afghanistan. The “counter-extremism” bill announced in the Queen’s Speech [6] is about to take the anti-Muslim clampdown a whole stage further. The plans include banning orders for non-violent individuals and organisations whose politics are considered unacceptable; physical restriction orders for non-violent individuals and groups deemed “harmful”; powers to close mosques; and vetting controls on broadcasters accused of airing extremist material.

In an address on BBC Radio 4, David Cameron called for a “full spectrum” response to the Tunisia attack, crushing the “appalling death-cult of IS in Iraq and Syria but also fighting extremist’s “poisonous narrative” elsewhere in the world: “Frankly, we cannot hide from this thinking if you step back you become less of a target. They are attacking our way of life and what we stand for, and so we have to stand united with those that share our values. We need to recognise that we’re not just fighting terrorism here, we’re also fighting extremism. There are many extremists who fall short of actually condoning terrorism, but they buy into a lot of the narrative of the terrorists [e.g.] they support [belief in a] Caliphate. We have to say in our country, those views while they fall short of condoning terrorism, they’re not acceptable either. We need to do more to help integrate people into our country. There are some organisations and some people. To those people we have got to say, that is not an acceptable view, and we’re not going to engage with people who believe that their ought to be a Caliphate.” [7]

According to the Prevent strategy [8], non-violent extremism consists of a belief system which opposes ‘British Values’ which has been defined as; democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs [8]. This ideology is the precursor to violent extremism and subsequently terrorism. The theory that was engineered in the right ring neoconservative offices of the Henry Jackson Society (formerly known as the Centre for Social Cohesion) and Policy Exchange (who’s founding Chairman was none other than Michael Gove, the former Education Minister at the heart of last year’s false Trojan Horse allegations and now the current Secretary of State for Justice) is known as the ‘Conveyor Belt’ theory [10] [11]. The theory has already been challenged by many leading academics and practitioners alike who not only cite the total lack of empirical evidence for this theory, but also provide us with a more comprehensive and holistic alternative which references a plethora of driving factors which often leads to an individual turning to violent extremism and terrorism. Earlier this year, Professor Arun Kundnani published an account on how the rhetoric of radicalisation has created “a decade lost”.[12] In it, Kundnani summarises the flimsy empirical basis on which the connection between radical theology and terrorism has been built and the extent to which the burgeoning radicalisation industry, especially in academia, is linked by a revolving door to conservative political lobbyists keen to blame conservative Islam for terrorism.[13]

For any meaningful discussion on “Islamic Extremism”, the government needed to attain a genuinely nuanced understanding of Islam and the make-up of the many different Muslim communities that reside Britain, but in 2013, the government-proposed measures to tackle “Islamic Extremism” failed to engage in any meaningful way with the plethora of voices within the Muslim community [14]. It failed miserably in defining “Islamic extremism”, conflating it with religious conservatism. The report made Muslims feel like a suspect community, further alienated them and caused a great deal of mistrust in the process. This method of disengagement is likely to backfire and cause many Muslims to become even more disenfranchised, disempowered and resent the government. To the majority, it does seem that the government officials in Whitehall are only keen to listen to the opinions which agree with their ideas about Islam and Muslims. Some of the selected (and funded) think tanks researching the causes and threat of terror were specifically set up as “Counter Terrorism” or “Counter Extremism” to receive government funding in the first place. This alone should raise suspicion since these organisations solely rely on government funding for their continual existence and thus are likely to doctor up or exaggerate their findings in order to a create climate of fear.

It does not come at any surprise that proponents of the ‘Conveyor Belt’ theory, the Quilliam Foundation are happy to support characters who re-enforce their narrative [15]. Earlier last week, the fiery foreign cleric Tahir ul-Qadri who is a self-proclaimed supporter of the blasphemy law in Pakistan launched what he referred to as the first Islamic curriculum on Peace and Counter-Terrorism in the world. During an interview with BBC Radio 4 [16], he explained the purpose of this curriculum and the target demographic. When asked why many people are being radicalised he responded: “I have heard the Prime Minister’s speech and I agree that some Muslim communities are silently condoning extremism and it opens the door to justify acts of terrorism. This problem of radicalisation has not been tackled properly. The government have been dividing extremism into two different categories; violent extremism and non-violent extremism. By defining extremism into two different categories they have allowed extremism to grow into terrorism. Extremism is extremism, so non-violent extremism will become violent ultimately because it will convert into terrorism. Lessons against extremism should be taught at state schools as part of the curriculum. De-radicalisation and counter-terrorism studies should be taught as subjects. It should be made compulsory for Muslim children and optional for non-Muslim children”.

It is interesting to note that even Charles Farr disagrees with such a simplistic narrative bereft of a wider context. Farr revealed the kinds of people who are drawn to the likes of ISIS often have “personal problems” and can be seeking excitement. He said, “The background of broken families, lack of integration into what we might call mainstream society, some level of criminality, sometimes family conflict, are all more than normally apparent. People join terrorist organisations in this country and in others because they get something out of them beyond merely satisfaction of an ideological commitment. Sometimes it’s about resolution of personal problems, sometimes it’s about certainty in an environment which has deprived them of it, sometimes it’s about excitement and esteem, and we should not omit the last two factors. This is the reality in Syria and Iraq but also many other contexts we’ve worked on over the past five or 10 years.” [4]

Barring the exclusion to mention the role of foreign policy, Farr’s own conclusion is not much different to what the academic researchers, practitioners and activists on the ground have been saying for years. Those behind nearly every violent attack or terror plot have cited western intervention in the Muslim world as their motivation. In reality, it should not be difficult to understand why a small section of young alienated Muslims are attracted to fight in Syria and Iraq with ISIS and to blame it solely on ideology without focussing on the factors which lead to it is being wilfully negligent. After all, the pseudo-jihadi “ideology” has been around for a long time, but there were no terror attacks in Britain before US and British forces invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and nor was there such a pull to travel abroad and fight with some of these groups. The government’s admission that violence is driven by injustices and grievance of its own policies in occupying and destabilising of Muslim states, engaging in and supporting torture and state kidnapping on a global scale, and support for dictatorships across the Arab and Muslim world which contradict the apparent ‘British Values’ it stands for would be an admission of their role in creating terrorism here at home and abroad.

As the journalist Owen Jones mentioned, a History student would be graded a D- if they simply reduced the rise of Nazism to “evil”. In no way would understanding these factors behind Nazism be regarded as somehow legitimising or apologising for it [17]. A fringe ideology does exist but as responsible human beings, we must not fall into the danger of exaggerating the numbers attracted to it nor should we shy away from the reasons why a small but significant number are becoming increasingly attracted towards it. A whole range of factors are involved in radicalisation. It may be different from one individual to another. As Giles Fraser recently put it, it would be facile to reduce it to one thing or the other but to solely focus on an extremist ideology is about as convincing as arguing that the murderous bits of the Bible were solely responsible for the brutality of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The language of terrorism may borrow its vocabulary from Islamic theology, it’s a useful marker of shared identity, but root motivation is as it always is: politics. [13] In the overwhelming majority of the cases, those who have been persuaded to go and take the law into their own hands by committing acts of terror here in the UK or abroad have not had any real meaningful engagement in the coherent study of Islam. Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could actually be regarded as religious novices. Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households, and there is a higher proportion of religious novices who’s lack of Islamic upbringing has made them susceptible to political manipulation coaxed in religious language. MI5 says there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation [18]. If terrorism in the name of Islam is really all about politics, then we must acknowledge that the long history of disastrous western interventions in the Middle East is a part of the cause of the horror that continues to unfold both here in the UK and abroad. We have to face up to our responsibility.

Social and personal factors play a significant role in the pathway to radicalisation. Ideology does need challenging but this only gains traction through grievances. We need services which provide safe places to allow the discussion of grievances without the fear of reporting to Prevent. Under legislation that came into force this week schools are obliged to have“due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. A teacher’s position depends on trust as well as respect. Both could be undermined if teachers are transformed into de facto adjuncts of the police.[19]. We must not shut down means for people to implement change using legitimate political avenues and subsequently accuse them of ‘entryism’ but rather educate and empower young Muslims to use legitimate avenues of British polity to do something meaningful about their current situation. We must explore and find solutions to factors such as social deprivation, inequalities and personal vulnerabilities which increase the likelihood of a person becoming disenfranchised or disillusioned with life in the UK. We must also explore the role of relentless media hostility, rampant Islamophobia, undue state surveillance and harassment of Muslim communities and the evidence of an increasing level of anti-Muslim attacks. Islamophobia now outstrips hostility to any religion or ethnic group in the UK and this cannot be good when it comes to preventing radicalisation.[20]


[1] www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-33179019
[2] www://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Chapel_Hill_shooting
[3] www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-at-2015-global-security-forum
[4] www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/11692385/Top-security-chief-warns-against-portraying-Muslims-as-intrinsically-extremist.html
[5] www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-speech-at-munich-security-conference
[6] www.gov.uk/government/publications/queens-speech-2015-what-it-means-for-you/queens-speech-2015-what-it-means-for-you
[8] www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/97976/prevent-strategy-review.pdf
[9] www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2015/05/13/theresa-may-s-plans-are-a-threat-to-british-values
[10] www.spinwatch.org/index.php/issues/more/item/5661-michael-gove-and-the-subversives
[11] www.spinwatch.org/images/Reports/HJS_spinwatch%20report_web_2015.pdf
[12] www.claystone.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Claystone-rethinking-radicalisation.pdf
[13] www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2015/jun/27/its-not-the-religion-that-creates-terrorists-its-the-politics
[14] www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-extremism-in-the-uk-report-by-the-extremism-taskforce
[15] www.quilliamfoundation.org/press/quilliam-alert-quilliam-welcomes-the-minhaj-ul-quran-initiative-to-prevent-islamist-radicalisation/
[16] www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vb95h
[17] www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/19/david-cameron-islamic-extremists-british-muslims?
[18] www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/aug/20/uksecurity.terrorism1
[20] www.yougov.co.uk/news/2015/01/09/britains-cautious-attitude-criticising-islam/

This article is an updated version of one originally published earlier this week on Islam21C.com.

Ghulam Esposito Haydar is a Muslim community activist in Manchester.  He is one of the Founding Members of the Myriad Foundation, a voluntary organisation that sets up and runs inter-faith initiatives in a range of areas – blood donation, feeding the homeless, hospice buddy support, and mosque collections distributed to Manchester food banks and shelters.  He also volunteers with Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND).

Ukraine’s Crowdfunded Military Drone

Posted By Sociological Imagination

CfP: ‘Who are the ruling class and how do they rule?’

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Critique Special Issue, ‘Who are the ruling class and how do they rule?’

Call for Papers

This special issue calls for papers from authors able to address key
questions about the global capitalist class.

The material and ideological basis for a global capitalist class to
sustain its’ rule are somewhat at odds. On the one hand, capital has
never been centralized in so fewer hands. The volume and intensity of
capital never more concentrated within a relatively few global
political, financial and economic organizations, head-quartered in
global cityscapes, such as London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong,
Beijing, whose power dwarfs that of the national economies they reside
in. On the other hand, the global population has never been so aware
they are the ‘99%’ looking back with a mixture of anger, fear and
resentment at the audacious scales of social economic and political
inequalities this centralization and concentration of wealth and power
brings forth. Indeed, against the backdrop of a concentrated and
centralized material basis for rule, the myth of the free market has
long been exposed, along with the ideological veneer of ‘globalization’,
leaving the capitalist class with a fragile political basis for rule
driven by a coherent ideology.

So who are the ruling class and how do they manage to sustain and
organize their rule globally? Is the ruling class best understood as
finance capital or transnational capital and what relationship does the
ruling class, so defined, have with productive capital? Is the global
ruling class aware that they are engaged in a global class struggle and
if so how does this awareness manifest? How consciously does the ruling
class act in administrating the flow of global accumulation and indeed
the contours of recession?

Moreover, how has the ruling class maintained control over the
inter-national state in order to develop their global interests? What
specific mechanisms, institutions and networks have become instruments
of the global ruling class to maintaining its rule, politically,
materially and ideologically? To what extent are they able to resist
sub-global interests and divisions and maintain global unity of purpose?
Does the ruling class have a long-term view of its prospects or have
collective horizons become myopic, motivated more by small pragmatic
advances than grand visions of future longer run accumulation

The deadline for submissions is February 30th 2016. The submission of
papers and any queries pertaining to this special issue should be
addressed to:

Peter Kennedy, organizing editor of the special issue, ‘Who are the
ruling class and how do they rule’, p.k.kennedy AT gcal.ac.uk

Independent Scholar Research Fellowship

Posted By Sociological Imagination

A really welcome initiative that funds independent researchers. See here for full details:

The Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) wishes to support independent-minded researchers to do interdisciplinary work which is unlikely to be funded by existing funding bodies. It is interested in original research ideas which take new approaches, and suggest new solutions, to real world social problems.

The Foundation intends to award on a competitive basis, to candidates of sufficient merit, up to two Independent Scholar Fellowship grants to support original interdisciplinary research, across the range of the social sciences, to be held from a start date no later than the end of December 2016.


A feminist leaves the neoliberal university

Posted By Mark Carrigan

A moving and important post by Liz Moorish. I think it’s a response to a colleague’s letter of resignation but I’m not certain:

I was very sorry to read your letter of resignation. I was, though, delighted that you decided to circulate it among colleagues at NeoLiberal U, along with an article, rapidly becoming a classic, if my Twitter feed is any predictor, by Mountz et al in the Great Lakes Feminist Geography Collective, offering a manifesto for a slower pace of academic life. This is what you have not found at NLU, and you weren’t prepared to go on sacrificing the possibility of intellectual creativity, family life and personal space forever. Sometimes principles have to be lived by, because that’s the right thing to do. NLU doesn’t seem to have any other principle than to ‘maximize the staffing resource and leverage the maximum from the academic contract’ (I paraphrase).

It has been a long time since we sat down and discussed all this. That is just your point, though. In the speeded up university, with its distorted constructions of academic ‘productivity’, schedules are crafted to eliminate the necessary practices of caretaking. In my field of work, this is known as ‘relational practice’, and in its most benign form, it is attributed to women. I haven’t been doing much relational practice recently, and have been contemplating this neglect during a period of sabbatical. There is a tendency at work to hole up in offices, and scurry past colleagues you know to be in need of support. It is emails like yours that make me aware of how many of us inhabit the same private hell of alienation, shame, stress and guilt.


Read it in full here. There are obviously similarities between the ideas discussed here and those addressed in the Accelerated Academy. There are also differences though. One is that we’re very interested in exploring the pleasures of acceleration: why do people embrace this way of working? What satisfactions can we derive from this? Reading the post by Liz Moorish makes me realise that it’s important we discuss this in gendered terms.

The History of New Public Management in UK Universities

Posted By Sociological Imagination

This report makes for fascinating (though dry) reading:

he origins of performance management in UK HEIs has been associated in general with the advent of New Public Management (NPM) and, in particular, to the changes proposed by the Jarratt Committee in the management of universities

The NPM movement, which emerged in the 1980s and remains influential today, aims to improve the performance of public

services in terms of their efficiency and their effectiveness. NPM is based on economic rationalism and promotes practices that are typically used in for-profit sector organisations, such as external audits, results-based management, quantitative performance measures, performance targets and individual performance appraisals. NPM defines itself as fundamentally different from old public management characterised by professionalism, self-management, implicit standards and mostly qualitative performance indicators. NPM promotes the view that management and managers are essential and desirable for the appropriate administration of public sector institutions NPM emphasises the idea of accountability and the need for increased transparency and availability of information. The NPM movement has led to an increased focus on performance and performance management at all levels in public services.
In line with the NPM movement, in the mid 1980s a committee of vice-chancellors and principals known as the Jarratt Committee was established to review the efficiency and effectiveness of UK HEIs. The recommendations of this committee introduced significant changes in the management of HEIs. Among other actions, the committee proposed that institutions use performance management practices such as quantitative performance indicators and staff performance appraisals. It also suggested that HEIs be less dependent on public funding and more cost conscious when managing their resource.

Congrats, you have an all male panel!

Posted By Sociological Imagination

The Sociology of the Arts Study Group Launch Event: Unpacking Art

Posted By Sociological Imagination

The Sociology of the Arts Study Group Presents:



On Friday 11 September 2015, from 1.30pm-4.30pm
The London College of Fashion, UAL, 272 High Holborn Room 302

In recent years there has been growing sociological interest in the consumption and production of art. This afternoon event launches the BSA Sociology of the Arts Study Group, and in bringing together academics from across the social sciences explores the factors which motivate our consumption of visual arts and asks ‘What can the sociology of art and culture learn from other disciplines?’

Registration: £5 BSA Members, £10 Non-BSA Members.
To register please visit: http://portal.britsoc.co.uk/public/event/eventBooking.aspx?id=EVT10438

Registration will start at 1.30pm. Refreshments will be provided.

The programme:
The afternoon will be divided in to two parts. The first, led by Professor Tak Wing Chan, University of Warwick, focuses on the consumption of the arts and specifically the concept of cultural omnivorousness. Tak Wing Chan questions explanations which center on social mobility and instead stresses the importance of education in increasing individuals’ consumption of visual arts.

The second part focuses more closely on the production of art, and involves a panel discussion which brings together academics working outside the discipline of sociology, in the areas of art history, psychology, geography and visual culture. The panel highlights the interdisciplinary nature of research exploring cultural production and consumption and asks, ‘What can the sociology of art and culture learn from other disciplines?’

Keynote Speaker: Professor Tak Wing Chan  
Professor Tak Wing Chan is Chair of Sociology and Quantitative Methods at Warwick University, and has extensively researched social stratification and consumption of the arts. His paper ‘Where do cultural omnivores come from?’ uses data from a large-scale and nationally representative UK survey to investigate and critique the association between social mobility and cultural omnivorousness.

Panel Speakers:
Dr. Allan Watson is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the Department of Geography at Staffordshire University. His research centres on the economic geographies of the creative and media industries, and the cultural economy of cities, with a particular focus on the music and film industries.
Dr. Richard Clay is Senior Lecture in History of Art at the University of Birmingham. Richard’s research considers aspects of late eighteenth-and-early nineteenth-century French and, to a lesser extent, British visual cultures.
Dr. Rachel Souhami is a museum consultant and exhibition maker. Rachel has over fifteen years of experience working with museums and design companies and has previously taught Museum Studies at Imperial College, London. Rachel advises on vision, strategy and planning for exhibition projects, and encourages creative and innovative approaches to content and design development. ​
Dr. Victoria Tischler is a Chartered Psychologist whose key interests are art/science collaboration and public engagement activities. Her research focuses on the use of creativity and creative outputs to improve health and well-being in people with mental health problems

A single train station makes £439,651.30 a year from their toilets

Posted By Mark Carrigan

Thanks to @lucyhbmort for flagging up this fascinating finding. I’d often wondered about this and use the train station in question very frequently. Here’s the source – this might seem like an interesting bit of ephemera but I think it could be argued that this trend quite closely tracks broader socio-economic trends in all sorts of direct and indirect ways.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 07.51.12

CfP: The Role of Quantified Self for Personal Healthcare

Posted By Sociological Imagination

######### QSPH’15, Washington D.C., USA, November, 2015 ###########

Second International Workshop on The Role of Quantified Self for Personal Healthcare (QSPH’15)

Workshop held in conjunction with IEEE BIBM 2015 in Washington D.C., USA



The aims of the workshop are to engage researchers from both Healthcare and Quantified Self communities to discuss key issues, opportunities and obstacles for personal health data research. These include challenges of capturing, summarizing, presenting and retrieving relevant information from heterogeneous sources to support a new vision of pervasive personal healthcare.


We invite submission of papers reporting relevant research in the area of self-tracking for healthcare. We welcome submissions across a broad scope, addressing any of the following guideline topics but not excluding others, relevant to the workshop goals.

– Personal Health Informatics
– Quantified Self for Healthcare
– Activity Monitors and Devices
– Self-Tracking
– Gamification
– Healthcare Knowledge Representation & Reasoning
– Health Data acquisition, analysis and mining
– Healthcare Information Systems
– Biomedical Signal/Image Analysis
– Validity, reliability, usability, and effectiveness of Self-Tracking devices
– Design of Experiments
– Social and Psychological investigation into Self-Tracking practices
– Health Monitoring in clinical and lifestyle environments
– Sensors and actuators for Wellness, Fitness and Rehabilitation
– Innovative Algorithms for assessment of long-term physiological and behavioural data
– Models for interpreting medical sensor data
– Lifelogging, lifecaching, lifestreaming
– Biometric data
– Medical Self-diagnostics


All manuscripts must be written in English and formatted following the IEEE 2-column format. We accept full papers (up to 8 pages) and short papers (up to 4 pages). Papers should be submitted using the online submission system available at: https://wi-lab.com/cyberchair/2015/bibm15/scripts/ws_submit.php


Full/Short Papers Due: September 10th, 2015
Notification to Authors: September 30th, 2015
Camera-Ready: October 17th, 2015
Workshop: November, 2015 (exact date tbd)


Frank Hopfgartner, University of Glasgow, UK
Na Li, Dublin City University, IE
Till Plumbaum, TU Berlin, DE
Heather J. Ruskin, Dublin City University, IE
Huiru (Jane) Zheng, Ulster University, UK


The Relational Subject

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Many social theorists now call themselves ‘relational sociologists’, but mean entirely different things by it. The majority endorse a ‘flat ontology’, dealing exclusively with dyadic relations. Consequently, they cannot explain the context in which relationships occur or their consequences, except as resultants of endless ‘transactions’.

This book adopts a different approach which regards ‘the relation’ itself as an emergent property, with internal causal effects upon its participants and external ones on others. The authors argue that most ‘relationists’ seem unaware that analytical philosophers, such as Searle, Gilbert and Tuomela, have spent years trying to conceptualize the ‘We’ as dependent upon shared intentionality.

Donati and Archer change the focus away from ‘We thinking’ and argue that ‘We-ness’ derives from subjects’ reflexive orientations towards the emergent relational ‘goods’ and ‘evils’ they themselves generate. Their approach could be called ‘relational realism’, though they suggest that realists, too, have failed to explore the ‘relational subject’.

The Relational Subject is  published by Cambridge University Press. See here for publisher details or here for Amazon.

Congrats, you did not cite any feminist work!

Posted By Sociological Imagination

HT Sara Ahmed for this interesting Tumblr blog. It only has one entry at present but it seems likely to grow:

Congrats, you did not cite any feminist work!

Congrats, you did not cite any feminist work

The Reality of LinkedIn

Posted By Sociological Imagination


CfP: Bio-power(ful) Cloud-Bodies

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Bio-power(ful) Cloud-Bodies

Host: Foucault Madness Collective

Date: Saturday, September 26th, 2015.

Location: The Historic Thibodo House (1150 Lupine Hills Drive, Vista, CA)

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jack Halberstam

The Foucault Madness Conference is back for a second year! This year’s theme brings into critical light how current norms of cyber-based speech-acts create new technologies of selfhood.  Many early, and utopian, post-structural theorists of cyberspace, such as Donna Haraway (“A Cyborg Manifesto”), surmised that digital disembodiment might mean greater liberation from the categorizing limits of race, class, and gender.

However, recent events indicate that pure dis-embodiment has not been realized. In fact, the embodied world has been in a dialectical relationship with cyberspace.  This relationship is being manifested through varying and widespread occurrences: Gamergate, doxxing threats, the new men’s rights movements, thinspiration. As such, we understand that new forms of gendered aggression and violence are an interplay between both realms of the physical and cyber. In a Foucaultian sense, what are the effects of routing our increasingly post-biological identities into entirely observed data-spaces?

This conference seeks to understand which embodied notions of selfhood have been further re-inscribed through the uncritical participation in cloud-based, “big data” technologies; and, conversely, what are the possibilities for resistance in using these technologies to challenge hegemonic forms of embodiment? Thus, the conference theme recognizes the way that cyberspace is not about pure disembodiment at this point; cyberspace produces new regimes of truth, a third site, that directly affects “real life” corporeality.

The conference solicits a wide range of papers that address the current ways internet technologies (such as social media, mmorgs, cyber communities, communication boards, etc.) directly inform: feminism, gendered norms, activism, trans and queer politics, heteronormativity, post biological colonialism, body politics, community justice, personal relationships, fields of affect, etc.

We are seeking papers from Professors or experts in the field, graduate students, and advanced undergrads. Academic disciplines and methodologies across the humanities and social sciences may be used. Research questions may include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the role of rape speech and/or doxxing as a method of constructing the internet as an exclusively male controlled space (Anita Sarkeesian, for example)?
  • What are the real possibilities for the subaltern to speak in this new public space, given the “digital divide” and the normative, neoliberal design of the internet?
  • What are the legal implications of the collapse between the private and public into a merged space?
  • What are the modern norms of surveillance that may be going unnoticed online, and who benefits?
  • Does turning the surveillance on the perpetrator engender positive change or reinforce surveillance as hegemony and/or Truth?
  • What are the potentials of hactivism and cyber-anarchy (for example, Anonymous)?
  • How has the internet affected activism, particularly in regards to race, class, and gender?
  • How has web-based social networking affected the goals and practices of feminism and trans politics?
  • How is the human body as political site altered by social networking, including “safe spaces” of reprieve (pro-ana, thinspiration, self-branding)?
  • What are the effects of the New Men’s Rights Movement, including pick-up artist, and misogynist communities?
  • How does cyberspace reconfigure the problem of alienation and anomie?
  • How are new cloud body norms, such as neoteny, kawaii, and cuteness reinforced or subverted through cyber representations, photographic angles, the use of “cutsie” avatars and design, etc.?
  • How do male gamer communities reinforce paranoid/neurotic masculinities based around the fear of women (Zoe Quinn, for example)?
  • What role do internet White Knights play in the re-creation of traditional norms of masculinity, where women require protection?
  • How is the policing and norming of marginalized bodies represented in MMORGs and internet spaces?
  • How does the cloud affect our relationship to death, heroism, and significance (cosplay, LARPing)?

Submissions: Please submit a 250 word abstract to foucault.madness@gmail.com by July 31st, 2015.

Please NOTE: The emphasis of this conference, apart from the conference theme and quality scholarship, is the role of mentorship and networking. As such, the panels will consist of a similar theme addressed by three speakers: (1) Professor, (2) Grad Student, and (3) Undergrad.

In the email body, please include your name, institutional affiliation, category for submission (professor, grad student, or undergrad) and email address.

The Future of Social Critique

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Videos of the talks from this seminar at Loughborough:


Do professional associations compete to make their conference the most inaccessible to ECRs?

Posted By Mark Carrigan

If so then it seems the British Sociological Association win. This interesting and provocative post about the British International Studies Association (BISA) conference bemoans its exclusionary price:

If you were to ask a handful of early career scholars for their impressions of the recent British International Studies Association (BISA) conference in London they would probably say: “I wasn’t there”. The reason for the dearth in young attendees is that the conference (like all conferences) was prohibitively priced. Its four days costs a whopping £120 for early birds and £150 otherwise. For undergrads and postgrads the fee is £100 (early bird) and £130 (late). Membership to BISA is compulsory, which costs another £30 a year. It’s a hell of an entry fee into the Ivory Tower.


This seems remarkably cheap to me. The Royal Geographical Society is somewhat more expensive at £155 (members) and £175 (non-members) for those who are low income or without funding. The Social Policy Association is more expensive still at £350 (members) and £450 (non-members).This is comparable to the British Sociological Association’s charge a couple of years ago of £310 (members) and £450 (non-members).

It doesn’t follow from this that BISA are good, only that the SPA and BSA are very bad. I promised myself that I’d stop blogging about these issues after what felt like a very public meltdown a couple of years ago. But it still pisses me off immensely. Perhaps even more so as I gain ever more experience of organising events and increasingly feel confident in my view that these costs are completely unnecessary. If you do not believe they are unnecessary then publish a full breakdown of costs for the conference and engage in a dialogue with your membership about them.

If many of your members cannot afford to attend your conference then the nature of that conference must change to make it affordable. This seems so axiomatic to me that I can barely believe it needs saying. Professional associations are contributing to the disenfranchisement of the constituencies they are supposed to serve. I left my professional association for this reason and I haven’t regretted it for a single moment. I encourage other early career researchers to do the same thing. We can find our own ways of contributing to our disciplines. We don’t need these short-sighted and self serving organisations. Ultimately, I do accept they are necessary but I don’t see how they will change while we continue to give them money and free labour en masse and without protest.

Edit to add: I’ll expand on this post and do a systematic comparison of conference fees & costs once my current deadlines are out of the way. Perhaps this could be a regular exercise that other people help me in? It would be interesting to compare national associations.

I don’t think we should ‘steal this conference‘. We just shouldn’t go.


1st Conference of the European Labour History Network – Worker’s Writing in Europe

Posted By Sociological Imagination

14 – 16 December 2015, Torino/Turin (Italy)

Workshop : Worker’s Writing in Europe (19th-20th centuries)

A contribution to the cultural history of the worlds of work

Within the framework of constructing a  cultural history of the worlds of work “seen from below”, this workshop suggests studying workers’ writings on the European level.

By “workers’ writings”, we mean the body of texts produced by working men and women: those writings produced in the heat of political and/or trade union action such as leaflets, weapons for action which reflect (often, though not always) the appropriation of political or union cultures, but which are also cries of revolt against “the factory order” and/or the political regime, as well as texts written in retrospect, such as autobiographies, memoirs, personal diaries and factory journals, literary and poetic texts.  These are so many “memories of work” made up of gestures, places and practices of solidarity, but also the desirefor liberation or at least an empowerment which is not only collective but also individual.

Through diverse case studies, we propose three axes of reflection for discussion:

•          Studying workers’ writings as responses to a range of discourses employed by the powerful about workers, most often of a degoratory nature or aiming to stigmatise their alleged behaviour.  Worker writers who have read or heard these judgments reject these discourses in various ways, even in an implicit fashion.  In this way, these writings may also constitute “political acts” in themselves and means of empowerment.

•          Understanding the reasons and conditions for working men and women to engage in writing.  In other words, it will be important to consider how these individuals, carriers (or not) of a workers’ culture transmitted by their social and familial world, armed (or not) with an ideological and “romantic” baggage typical of political and trade union  requirements, and with ideas “poached” from more personal reading, moved from a political/trade-union workers’ culture to a “literary” workers’ culture.  How did they move from writing pamphlets and speeches to other forms of writing? What books and authors who can be considered as “models” or points of reference? Can we identify any “cultural smugglers”?

•          Taking account also of writings by working men and women who did not engage with or support political parties or trade unions.  What do these texts suggest about the limits of the reach and appeal of the organised labour movement?  What experiences and values were shared between militant, “engaged” workers and their non-militant, “apolitical” fellows, and what differentiated them?  What role did writing play in the lives of the latter group?
•          Starting from thematic and formal analyses of workers’ writings, to proceed to comparisons on a European level.  We can pose the question whether the European labour movement has built a common universe of militant workers’ writings.  We can also examine the autonomy of the writings of skilled workers of the generation of 1968 in relation to the labor movement: is the emergence of the emancipatory ‘I’ limited to these years, and is it a widespread process in all workers’ communities in Europe?

These approaches also allow discussion of the effects of these experiences of writing on individuals and therefore on the evolution of worker and/or militant identities at the European level (in the 19th and 20th centuries)
Workshop languages: English and French

We invite you to send an abstract of your contribution (200 words maximum) to the organisers:

Timothy Ashplant, Centre for Life-Writing Research, King’s College London, t.g.ashplant@kcl.ac.uk

Nathalie Ponsard, Université Blaise Pascal de Clermont-Ferrand, nat.ponsard@wanadoo.fr

Deadline: 30 June 2015

Toilet Talks: A Speaker Event on Bodies, Identities & Design

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Toilet Talks: A Speaker Event on Bodies, Identities & Design
Monday 29th June, 1:00 – 5:30pm
Lecture Theatre 1, Brooks Building, Birley Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University

Speakers include:

Barbara Penner (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
‘Redesigning for the User: Alexander Kira and the Ergonomic Bathroom’

Leo Care (School of Architecture and Co-Direct of Live Works, Sheffield University)
‘Around the Toilet: From Social Mess to Architectural Touchstone’

Jo-Anne Bichard (Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design)
‘Extending Architectural Affordance or How to Spend a Penny’

Morag Rose (Sheffield University and Co-Founder of the Loiterers Resistance Movement)
‘Are you Engaged? The Secret World of Manchester’s Toilets’

Clara Greed (Emerita Professor of Urban Planning, University of the West of England)
Discussant and closing remarks

Tickets are FREE and available via our Eventbrite page:

For more information on the event or the project, please take a look at the website: https://aroundthetoilet.wordpress.com/

Vacancy for a Post-doctoral researcher in Sociology / longitudinal ethnographic research

Posted By Mark Carrigan

Part of the reason I’m reposting this is because I value longitudinal qualitative research. But I’m also intrigued that part of the job description is to “raise additional funds” – how much of academic life is coming to be dominated by fund-raising?

Vacancy for a Post-doctoral researcher in Sociology / longitudinal ethnographic research
The closing date is July 5.

The Postdoctoral researcher will prepare and conduct research and raise additional funds for a longitudinal ethnographic cohort study with varied families in Amsterdam with the aim of understanding emerging patterns of physical activity and eating in the first 4 years of life, possibly extending to later years. The ethnographic study is embedded within a large multi-disciplinary cohort study on bodily-weight set-up by the newly found Sarphati Institute. The research group actively seeks to give a public role to fundamental research.
The Postdoctoral researcher will closely collaborate with sociologists, anthropologists, epidemiologists, health care professionals and policy makers in Amsterdam. The present  appointment is for 2 years, but there is a strong commitment to prolong the position. The research is preferably combined with teaching in the sociology program.



By Alicia Gaudi [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Margaret Archer on her relationship with Pierre Bourdieu and his work

Posted By Sociological Imagination

From this interview in in disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory:

DC: How might you characterize the connection, if any, between your theoretical work and that of Pierre Bourdieu?

MA: Sadly, because he was a good friend. He was very good to me, indeed. This was a not a common experience, for important French professors to be kind to little foreign visiting post-docs. It really wasn’t. So, he was an exception in that sense, and I kind of like put it on record. Therefore, it hurt me, as it hurt many of his research team – people like Luc Boltanski and later Laurent Thévenot, when we came to the parting of the ways. You see, Bourdieu thought, he maintained until he died—and we were good friends, he used to come and stay at my place in London in the 70s and early 80s—he thought that he was putting forward a general theory; general in the sense that it worked everywhere. I wrote an article, which you can check out if you like, in the European Journal of Sociology in 1982, called “Process without System.”

Fundamentally, he was very acute in analyzing the processes of French education, but then he wrongly universalized this by saying that that process was the same anywhere, regardless of the structure of that system. I said, no, I can’t agree. I think the kind of standardization he was talking about was something that a centralized structure monumentally reinforced, whereas in a decentralized structure you could have all sorts of people who didn’t like it, for one reason or another but they could do something about it. Plenty didn’t like it in France either, but could do nothing. Particularly the French industrialists who were coming on the educational scene in the latter part of the 19th century and were finding a very intellectualized syllabus that didn’t help them produce engineers.

Conversely, in England, if you wanted to found what was the beginning of our polytechnics and if you had the money, you just founded one. It could be a school for auto manufacturing or refrigeration. The area where I was brought up, it was manufacturing cement. Well, let’s have a part of the curriculum that is about the chemistry of cement making, then how to make reinforced concrete, so on and so forth. That was why the parting of the ways came. It came over the sociology of education, but more generally it was over the effect of structure on agency.

Featured Image By Alicia Gaudi [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Social theory is something you can’t get away from

Posted By Sociological Imagination

From an interview with Margaret Archer in disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory:

Well, social theory is something you can’t get away from. It’s indispensible. People in the street are social theorists. They don’t know it, they wouldn’t appropriate the label, but what they’re doing is social theorizing. They do that every time they say things like, “Well, there wouldn’t be any benefits from doing that, would there?” Or, “That’s just how you would expect the bankers to behave, isn’t it?” It’s social theorizing. It may be crude. Quite often you can find that sociologists, really well established names, are saying very much the same thing. It’s just that their language is more technical or sometimes it’s just more
pretentious than lay or folk social theorizing. We should respect lay social theory, not just because we are respecting the people who voice it, which we should do, but because this is what prompts their action. So, whether they’re right or wrong
in what they say, that’s why, that’s their motive for acting. It’s usually a lot more interesting than the alternative. Namely, because we can’t get away from talking about human motives, we, the investigators, impose our own interpretations on
them; our beliefs about why they’re doing what they’re doing, and these can be wildly wrong

Decolonizing Knowledge: Invitation to participate in workshop

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Decolonizing Knowledge
Invitation to participate in workshop
November 2-3, 2015

For at least two centuries, the only knowledge which has been accorded the status “respectable”, whether the site of its production is in the “West” (understood as a region, or as the origin of modernity) or elsewhere, is the knowledge created within the modern human and natural sciences; sciences associated with the European Enlightenment and its attendant site of production and dissemination – the modern university. The cultural and historical specificity, as well as the assumed truth and universality, of this knowledge are rarely questioned. Skills, crafts, popular knowledges, tacit, non-systematic, embodied, and gendered knowledges, whether indigenous or not, hold little claim in the face of the ‘expert’ knowledges produced in the university as well as other privileged sites such as think tanks, governmental agencies, media outlets, and corporations – expertises that are subsequently exported through systems of commerce, trade, development and aid to the rest of the world. More than this, even if other forms of knowledge are recognized, invariably they are domesticated as ‘content’ to be studied and ‘explained’.

The Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Goldsmiths, together with the Linnaeus Centre for Concurrences, Linnaeus University, is proposing a workshop and a special issue of the journal Postcolonial Studies which seek to enquire into the epistemological superiority accorded to modern, Western knowledge, asking whether this is warranted, and what effects it has. To this end, we welcome participants who are engaging in their own work with this theme, either by addressing this knowledge in general, or any of the particular disciplinary manifestations of it, eg, sociology, anthropology, international relations, history and so on. The workshop will be a mix of presentations and of discussion, so rather than ask for abstracts, we ask those interested in participating to send, by September 1, an outline of their research, of 1000-1500 words, and how it speaks to the theme of the workshop. These outlines will be pre-circulated but because space is limited and also because we wish to keep this workshop intimate, so that sustained conversation is possible, only a small number of those who respond to this call will be asked to present a paper, or provide specific commentary. Participation will be confirmed by September 30.

Topics include, but are not limited to:
–          connections between the global distribution of modern western knowledge and a global, economic, geographic, and medialized dominance of the “West”
–          whether and how different knowledge traditions can relate to one another and with what consequences
–          the entanglement between different and rival knowledge traditions
–          indigenous knowledge traditions

The workshop is hosted by Linnaeus University Centre: Concurrences and held at Teleborg Castle in Växjö, Sweden, on November 2-3, 2015. Participants are expected to pay their own travel costs, while the Centre covers accommodation and other workshop costs.

Call for Abstracts: Unlocking the Black Box

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Call for Abstracts: Unlocking the Black Box

Saturday, August 15, 2015 – 12:00pm
Yale Law School See map

127 Wall Street

New Haven, CT 06520

Unlocking the Black Box

The Promise and Limits of Algorithmic Accountability in the Professions

The Yale Law School Information Society Project is seeking abstracts of papers for a conference on big data and algorithmic accountability to be held on April 1-2, 2016. The best papers will be considered for inclusion in a special issue of the Yale Journal of Law and Technology (YJoLT (link sends e-mail)).

The increasing power of big data and algorithmic decision-making—in commercial, government, and even non-profit contexts—has raised concerns among academics, activists, journalists and legal experts. Three characteristics of algorithmic ordering have made the problem particularly difficult to address. The data used may be inaccurate or inappropriate. Algorithmic modeling may be biased or limited. And the uses of algorithms are still opaque in many critical sectors.

No single academic field can address all the new problems created by algorithmic decision-making. Collaboration among experts in different fields is starting to yield important responses. For example, digital ethicists have offered new frameworks for assessing algorithmic manipulation of content and persons, grounding their interventions in empirical social science—and, in turn, influencing regulation of firms and governments deploying algorithms. Empiricists may be frustrated by the “black box” nature of algorithmic decision making; they can work with legal scholars and activists to open up certain aspects of it (via FOIA and fair data practices laws). Journalists, too, have been teaming up with computer programmers and social scientists to expose new privacy-violating technologies of data collection, analysis, and use—and to push regulators to crack down on the worst offenders.

Researchers are going beyond the analysis of extant data, and joining coalitions of watchdogs, archivists, open data activists, and public interest attorneys, to assure a more balanced set of “raw materials” for analysis, synthesis, and critique. As an ongoing, intergenerational project, social science must commit to assuring the representativeness and relevance of what is documented—lest the most powerful “pull the strings” in comfortable obscurity, while scholars’ agendas are dictated by the information that, by happenstance or design, is readily available. What would similar directions for legal scholars and journalists look like? This conference will aim to answer that question, setting forth algorithmic accountability as a paradigm of what Kenneth Gergen has called “future-forming” research.

Algorithmic accountability calls for the development of a legal-academic community, developed inter-disciplinarily among theorists and empiricists, practitioners and scholars, journalists and activists. This conference will explore early achievements among those working for algorithmic accountability, and will help chart the future development of an academic community devoted to accountability as a principle of research, investigation, and action.

The conference seeks abstracts on topics including:

  • The law and ethics of artificial intelligence
  • Algorithmic accountability in medicine, finance, journalism, law, and education
  • Algorithms and transparency
  • How can law enable “innovative” journalism and research?
  • The effect of socio-technological environment on professional practices and norms
  • What are the black boxes lawyers and policymakers most want exposed?

500-700 word abstracts may be submitted by August 15 to Heather Branch at heather.branch@yale.edu (link sends e-mail). Notifications of selection will be made by September 10. Full first draft papers are expected on December 15, 2015. The best papers will be considered for inclusion in a special issue of the Yale Journal of Law and Technology (YJoLT) to be published in Spring 2016.

Conference Organizers

Frank Pasquale (Professor of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law), Caitlin Petre (Resident Fellow, Yale Information Society Project), and Valerie Belair-Gagnon (Executive Director and Research Scholar, Yale Information Society Project)

– See more at: http://isp.yale.edu/event/call-abstracts-unlocking-black-box?#sthash.vCGNnb4g.dpuf

The Groomers and the Question of Race


The Groomers and the Question of Race

Posted By Sadia Habib

by Shamim Miah

The last decade has witnessed a number of prominent police‐led operations relating to child sexual exploitation (CSE) in England. Whilst much of the public discourse related to Operation Yewtree, Operation Fernbridge, and others has focused on the criminal nature of CSE, race has been absent from that discourse; conversely, the public debates relating to grooming cases by men of Pakistani heritage have been marked by the presence of race. By critically evaluating the above cases this article aims to put forward three related arguments. First, it aims to highlight and explain contrasting ways in which CSE is debated vis‐á‐vis the category of racialised politics. Second, it demonstrates how racialised discourse of CSE, initially considered to be a feature of far‐right rhetoric, has taken centre ground. Finally, drawing upon analysis of various reports it aims to question the links between race and CSE to show how racialised discourse of CSE helps undermine its victims.

For more on this paper: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/24223/1/115.pdf