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Social Media and Ambient Intimacy

Posted By Mark Carrigan

There’s an extremely important idea expressed in this video if you can get past the irritating presenter:

I’ve written more about this idea here. It needs to be treated carefully but this formulation shouldn’t be dismissed.

Are you a dandelion or a mammal?

Posted By Sociological Imagination

This is a question Cory Doctorow introduces in his book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free:

When my daughter was born, I became keenly aware of how much stock we mammals put into the copies we make of ourselves (yes, a child isn’t a “copy” exactly, but go with it for a moment). Mammalian reproduction is a major event, especially for us primates, and we want to be sure that every “copy” we make grows up healthy, strong and successful.

But here are other life forms for whom copying is a lot more casual. Dandelions produce two thousand seeds every spring, and when a good, stiff breeze comes around, those seeds are blown into the air, going every which way. The dandelion’s strategy is to maximise the number of blind chances it has for continuing its genetic line – not to carefully plot every germination. It works: every summer, every crack in every side walk has a dandelion growing out of it.

Next question: are you a hedgehog or a fox?

What it’s like for your pet on fireworks night

Posted By Sociological Imagination

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Columbusing: White People Claiming “Discoveries”

Posted By Sadia Habib


The Offending Article on www.bustle.com:

Kendall Jenner is known for showing off her toned model bod and long legs, but she kept the paparazzi on their toes with her latest bold style trend. According to Refinery29, Kendall Jenner wore a dress over pants (OK, fine, it was technically a tunic, but still) while wandering the streets of LA, adding yet another trend to her resumé of style pioneering. The all-white wonder was a nice change from her normal crop top and mini-skirt ensembles, but she still managed to look as effortlessly chic as always.


The outraged POC Responses on Facebook:


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Further Reading:



Book Review: Youth, Multiculturalism and Community Cohesion

Posted By Sadia Habib

Youth, Multiculturalism and Community Cohesion by Paul Thomas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
(Palgrave Politics of Identity & Citizenship Series)

paul thomas

Thomas’ book is an engaging and well-written account of the dilemmas of contemporary society in dealing with youth identity and multiculturalism, particularly since 2001 when new ways of approaching multicultural youth work came to the forefront because of government concerns about the failure of multiculturalism. Riots in 2001 in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford, and the events of 9/11 and 7/7 led to the introduction of new models of dealing with the youth of ethnically diverse towns and cities based upon ideas about community cohesion. The principal strategy discussed in this book is employment of community cohesion policies and practices: Thomas highlights what these policies on community cohesion, that have been increasingly been recommended by government, mean on the ground for those working with young people in diverse ethnic communities like Oldham and Rochdale, and he attempts to take a positive approach to the current debates on the implications of community cohesion policies.

“All public bodies in Britain now have a duty to promote community cohesion…” (p1).

What is community cohesion? Community cohesion refers to an emphasis on commonalities rather than differences. Thomas’ perspective on community cohesion is that it is a “re-balancing of multiculturalism towards a more overt and proactive commitment to liberal citizenship for all citizens, of whatever ethnic background” (p189).
Rather than simply dismissing community cohesion as an assimilationist project or as the death of multiculturalism, Thomas uses empirical evidence to argue that these aforementioned ways of understanding community cohesion are inadequate for in his view “community cohesion represents a helpful and necessary reorientation of multiculturalism’s priorities and approaches in order to positively engage with modern complexity, and that it is certainly not a retreat to assimilationism” (p4).

The empirical data is drawn from “the most marginalised” (p6) young people and their youth workers in Greater Manchester – Oldham and Rochdale – where the communities experience high levels of economic and social deprivation. Thomas highlights how “issues of ethnicity and youth are highly relevant to wider discussions of poverty, inequality and life chances in areas like Oldham and Rochdale” (p6), and there is a chapter discussing gender dynamics as well as the territorialisation elements to belonging to the locale, but in general the book does not sufficiently cover the significance of structural inequalities in the lives of young people inhabiting multicultural urban spaces in Britain. I would have liked to have learned more about material disadvantages faced by these ethnically diverse youth that might contribute to tensions and troubles in their everyday lives in multicultural communities.

The main arguments employed by Thomas are that community cohesion policies (though critiqued by some academics) are utilised successfully by youth workers in their work with young people – where safe spaces are created to encourage direct contact between otherwise segregated youth:

“…cohesion in practice is working with and respecting existing ethnic and other identities, augmenting them, rather than replacing in an assimilationist sense, with an overarching focus on common identities and experiences” (p10).

The strengths of this book are that Thomas rightly emphasises the significance of exploring the lives of young people in marginalised and deprived areas of the UK, for as he points out these youth are central to the future of multi-ethnic Britain. Moreover, he argues that there is a lack of empirical evidence in academic writings on community cohesion, and thus he has significantly addressed this current failing by including the ideas and identities of young people and their lived experiences of the impact of community cohesion policies on their local areas. Thomas has aimed to relay to the reader the practice of community cohesion policies – how local and national government officials have implemented notions regarding cohesion in diverse communities like Oldham and Rochdale.

The empirical research in the book gives the reader a sense of optimism about how governmental policies can be engaged with in meaningful ways on the ground (even if, like me, you might be sceptical about the government’s focus on cohesion rather than inequality and austerity). One of the most impactful chapters focuses importantly on Muslim youth and their relationship to national identity and belonging to Britain, challenging the negative scaremongering that is prevalent in mainstream media. We learn that, contrary to media and political rhetoric, young Muslims are able to express a strong faith identity alongside their British identity. In a different chapter, we are also guided through a critique of the much maligned Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) policies and programmes, and shown how examples of local organisations using PVE resources resiliently to do good work with young people. Another well-written and significant chapter discusses white working-class youth identity and the importance of bringing social class to the debates on belonging, identity and multiculturalism, whilst remaining sensitive to the anti-racist project.

At the time of publication, perhaps there was not more known about the failure of Prevent, as though it has been mentioned, I would have liked to have seen more critique about how Prevent was implemented in local communities by key local players. One very off-putting point that arises again and again in the book is reference to Trevor Phillips who is quoted regarding his skewed views on multiculturalism. Yet Trevor Phillips is not well respected by many academics writing about multicultural belonging to Britain, and thus citing his views takes away something from this otherwise admirable book. This book’s focus is northwest England, particularly Oldham and Rochdale, but it would be interesting to learn more about community cohesion polices in practice in other parts of Britain.

Online Misogyny and Sexual Harassment Event

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Online Misogyny and Sexual Harassment

Gender & Sexualities Research Forum (GSRF) at City University London

Wednesday 17 June 5-7pm

Rooms A107 and A108, College Building

St John Street

Online spaces such as blogs, forums and Twitter are invaluable resources for feminist communities. However, due to its nature, the Internet also expands the space available for misogynistic discourses to spread and be heard and – as the cases of Caroline Criado-Perez and Mary Beard demonstrate – provides an outlet for ‘trolls’ to enact vitriolic attacks on women who publicly voice their opinions. Whilst encouraging progress has been made in increasing public and corporate awareness, we still have much to learn about this problem and about how we can start to tackle it. This seminar will discuss new research into the online harassment of women and explore how academic work can start to answer some of these questions. Topics up for discussion include: what methods can we use to track harassment on large social media platforms? What is the role of the law in addressing cyber-hate against women? What would a more ethical Internet look like and how might this be achieved?


Marianne Franklin (Goldsmiths, University of London): Title TBC

Marianne Franklin is Professor of Global Media and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is a member of the Centre for Feminist Research. Active in research and advocacy on human rights issues and the internet, she has served as co-Chair of the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition at the UN Internet Governance Forum and is currently chair of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet). Her latest book is Digital Dilemmas; Power, Resistance and the Internet (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Olga Jurasz (Open University):  “Online Misogyny and Social Media: A Challenge for (Legal) Regulation”

Olga Jurasz is a lecturer in law at the Open University Law School. Her main research interests are public international law, human rights and legal regulation of gender-based violence. She has been recently working on a collaborative project addressing gender, cyberviolence and law.

Carl Miller (Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, Demos): “Researching Misogyny on Twitter”

Carl Miller is the Research Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos. It is the first British think tank unit dedicated to researching and understanding the digital world.  He develops new ways of understanding social media as a new part of social and political life. He wrote a weekly column on digital politics for The Sunday Times and is a social media commentator for Sky.  He is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, London.

Chair: Laura Thompson

** Talks and discussion followed by refreshments at 7pm **

For more information or to join the GSRF mailing list, contact Laura García-Favaro on: genderforum.city@gmail.com

Hello Kitty and International Relations Workshop

Posted By Sociological Imagination

12th June 2015
Wolfson Research Exchange (Room 1 & 2)
University of Warwick


Shocking news was revealed about Hello Kitty on her 40th birthday in summer 2014: ‘Hello kitty is not a cat – she’s a British girl’ named Kitty White and lives with her sister and parents in suburban London. But this has hardly affected the global popularity of this character created by the Japanese company Sanrio in the 1970s. Her fandom has a large following around the world. She can be seen in Tokyo, New York, or Rio de Janeiro. 25,000 fans flocked to her convention in Los Angeles last year. The world’s first Hello Kitty theme park opened in China.

Illuminating on the intersection of popular culture and international relations (IR), the Hello Kitty and International Relations workshop aims to explore deeper, more nuanced understandings of IR through an interdisciplinary dialogue on the Hello Kitty phenomenon. International relations is not defined here as a narrow subfield in politics, but an interconnecting constellation with cultural, social, economic, and linguistic implications. It is the production of ‘relations international’ (Christine Sylvester) that incorporates questions of gender, relations among ethnic/racial groups and bridges between local and regional communities.

In the spirit of the aesthetic turn in IR (Roland Bleiker), this workshop recognises Hello Kitty’s potential to invite us to challenge granted dogmas in everyday life, interrogate in new ways global issues that affect our life-worlds, and reinvigorate silenced or marginalised debates. Above all, despite her commodification, she is an artistic expression that reifies and epitomises hope in and for the everyday. As the Japanese-American conductor Kent Nagano claims, the main purpose of art is to plant the seed of hope, through impassioning our innermost feelings.

This ubiquity of Hello Kitty is a result of her ‘emptiness’, or what Roland Barthes calls ‘the empty sign’ that embodies ‘an empty point-of-affluence of all its occupations and its pleasure’. Christine Yano’s recent monograph on Hello Kitty concurs: Hello Kitty ‘inhabits the “thingness” of the “thing” in the physical properties of cuteness she brings to meaning making’. Hello Kitty is then a ‘liminal space’ to posit academic conjectures on the everyday and the international.

This workshop welcomes contributions from a variety of approaches that discover Hello Kitty’s relevance in the contemporary world, especially in consideration to the three following sub-themes:

– Resurgence of the global (political) subjects
– Performing IR in everyday life
– Speaking in silence: reconstructing marginalised voices in IR

Keynote Roundtable Speakers: Dr Kyle Grayson (Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle), Dr Griseldis Kirsch (Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea, SOAS) and Dr Erzsébet Strausz (Politics and International Studies, Warwick)
Registration: Please contact Misato Matsuoka (m.matsuoka@warwick.ac.uk) by 5th June; limited spaces are available

Event programme

PhD Studentship: Gender, Bodies and Technology, Engendered bodily practices and self-monitoring in the digital age

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Title: Gender, Bodies and Technology, Engendered bodily practices and self-monitoring in the digital age

There has been a significant uptake in the use of ‘body tracking’, m-health and e-health devices in recent years. There are many body tracking apps available on the Apple, Android and Windows app stores and many more in development. An increasing range of facets of human existence are being monitored and quantified by devices which enable digital manipulation and analysis. Like many other forms of digital data, self-tracking data have a vitality and social life of their own, circulating across and between a multitude of sites. These devices are, however, not used by individuals in isolation, rather, they enable the online sharing and comparison of data which present new dimensions of embodied and gendered practices to examine for sociologists. Furthermore, corporations who manufacture such devices draw on aggregated, accumulated data for commercial purposes. These data, and their analysis, are reconstituting how people relate to their bodies and selves and those of others. So far these developments have not been considered in relation to how they constitute, and are constituted by, ‘gendered logics’.

Thus it is timely to pursue questions of how and why people choose to engage with their health through quantification and tracking and what meanings they attach to them in relation to their gender. Body tracking’ devices and their users are of increasing interest to academic and sociological researchers although so far little empirical research has been conducted. Yet the shifting forms of selfhood configured via these digital data assemblages are of huge interest to contemporary social life. The theoretical implications of the use of such methods of digital self-analysis has only just started to be explored in relation to issues of surveillance and self-surveillance (Bossewitch and Sinnreich, 2012; Lupton, 2012) and notions of ‘gamification’ (Whitson, 2013) and this scholarship provides an opportunity to contribute and work in an exciting new field.

The study will involve a mixed methods approach which will enable the researcher to generate data which give a broad but detailed picture of how data and technologies intersect with the social and embodied experience of gender through two approaches.

First, analysis of the offline aspects of this topic is to be conducted through in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups with users of self-monitoring techniques (both digital and analogue) and particularly those which are closest to the experience of gender and bodies (eg. exercise, fitness, menstrual cycle, food). Visual and haptic methods will be central to this aspect of the research with participants asked/encouraged to discuss their methods of monitoring, and those of others, in relation to how they look and feel. This will be achieved through direct interaction with devices and representations and some respondents creating visual and written logs of their experience.

Second, digital methods will be used in order to analyse the topic on the data level. For instance the researcher will perform a hyperlink network analysis which can help to determine who are the powerful actors in networks and the role they play in the formation of cultural capital (Beer, 2011: 4.14). They will also conduct a sentiment analysis of different kinds of online posts which can be mapped in order to determine positive, neutral or negative sentiment. Such analysis can help to ascertain broad sentiment towards, and connection between, particular topics.

However, it is imagined that the student will contribute to the final and more detailed research methodology for the project and take a decisive part in further developing the proposal.
Please contact Dr Natalia Gerodetti for further details: n.gerodetti@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

The naked reality of capitalism is today on display. And it’s horrible.

Franco Berardi

How Much Data Is Created Every Minute?

Posted By Mark Carrigan

I’m usually somewhat sceptical of content marketing infographics but I rather like this:


We spend ever more hours of our day discussing, analysing and assessing what we do, and ever fewer hours actually doing it

Posted By Sociological Imagination

An excellent account of the stultifying experience of the acceleration of higher education:

There’s a simple explanation for the drive to quantify everything: the replacement of the horizontal self-government of university departments with the vertical hierarchy of departmental heads and senior management. Academics used to document their output on their CVs; now, managers have to find ways to justify their existence. “Everyone knows the results are absurd,” Graeber tells me via email. “We all spend more and more hours of our day discussing, analysing and assessing what we do, and fewer and fewer hours actually doing it, and all of it, just to give these high-level administrators who aren’t really needed something to do for their gold-plated salaries.”

But this is more than just a power shift, Graeber notes. “It represents a transformation in our basic assumption about what a university is…Thirty years ago, if you said ‘the university’, people assumed you were referring to the faculty. Now if you say it, people assume you’re referring to the administration.” The corporate bureaucrats who now run universities are “often more interested in real estate speculation, fund-raising, sports, and ‘the student experience’ than anything that has to do with learning, teaching, or scholarship at all”.


CfP: The Neoliberal University: Gender, Class, & Sexuality

Posted By Sociological Imagination

This panel intends to investigate processes of bureaucratization and business-afication of the university and the role that these have in re-shaping the interrelations of class, gender, and sexuality; and the specific ways that the change from educational pedagogy to business model has impacted classed, gendered, and sexual practices and relationships.

The rise of neoliberalism coincided with the increase of enrollments in universities and this panel proposes to investigate these two in relation to each other. The scale of the university has increased in terms of rising numbers of students enrolled. Also, as university has become more accessible to larger numbers of citizens, the importance of higher education as a marker of class has become, relatively, more available.

In the light of these shifts, the question is how the (increasing) importance of the university as a site of emancipation takes on questions of gender norms and practices, as well as forms of sexuality.

On the one hand, universities can be seen as sites of normative structures regarding gender, sexuality, race / ethnicity, class, age and more, shaping normativity from aesthetics to  (gendered) harassment on college campuses.

On the other hand, universities have also been the sites for social justice and emancipation, regarding gender and sexuality, by the way of Women’s & Gender studies, LGBT studies and Queer Theory.

This panel seeks to bring together a collection of papers on the role of the neoliberal university in shaping, marking, and creating new expressions and relations of gender, class, and sexuality. In this way, it opens up the discussion to allow for the varied ways that universities implement and allow possibly opposing development of providing spaces for emancipation as well as reproducing normative spaces in terms of gendered, sexualized and classed possibilities.

Papers should seek to elaborate on both theoretical elements and empirical cases (from the Global North and South) and aspects of the role of the university in the 21stCentury and its impact on gender, class, and sexuality.

The Cheat’s Guide to Academic Success

Posted By Mark Carrigan

HT Petra Boynton. It’s funny but it’s fucking tragic that this is so:



Creative Work and Coercions of Circumstances

Posted By Mark Carrigan

It was only with the success of shows like The Sopranos and The Wire that the reverence accorded directors in cinema  began to be extended to creators of television. David Milch was the show runner for NYPD Blue and Deadwood. He also seems to have been a remarkably unusual creative, with the extremity of his behaviour perhaps illuminating a dimension of the creative process which too frequently passes unnoticed:

He also developed several obsessive-compulsive conditions. These included addictions to alcohol and heroin, though they were not as immediately crippling to his ambitions to become a novelist as were such habits as rewriting the same thirteen pages of prose over and over again, word for word, in longhand, for a year. Television proved a salvation […] TV’s “coercions of circumstances,” as Milch called them – speed, deadlines, the constraints of genre, the necessity of collaboration – would prove to be precisely what he needed to emulate his mentor and become an author.

Brett Martin, Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution, pg 172

For those who aren’t working with multiple addictions and suffering under the weight of debilitating obsessive compulsive symptoms, it’s easier to lose sight of the ‘coercions of circumstance’ under which we work. We could argue that these are anyway more extreme when it comes to television. But creative work always takes place within a context and I like this notion of ‘coercions of circumstances’ as a way of making sense of how these contextual factors impinge upon the rhythms and meanings of creative work. Part of the motivation for the Accelerated Academy project is a desire to understand how coercions of circumstances are being transformed in the contemporary academy in a way that leaves them inimical to scholarship.

We’re having some problems with the new @soc_imagination site. Are any technically skilled readers able and willing to help?

Posted By Mark Carrigan

As you’ve probably noticed, we redesigned the site using a new WordPress theme which will fit the site more effectively as we become more image heavy and expand the number of our daily posts. However there’s two problems which we’re struggling to fix:

  • The logo and the background on the sidebar don’t match. I’ve used an online tool to determine the precise colour of the logo. I’ve set the background to this. On my office PC, it matches. On my personal MacBook Air, it doesn’t. I’ve repeated the process the other way round, picking the colour on my laptop, only to find the mismatch now holds the other way round. What on earth is going on?
  • The new theme removes WordPress bylines and I’m trying to restore them. We’ve had lots of different people post on the site and we need to ensure that it’s clear to the reader who has written what. I’ve worked out how to reinsert author bylines with CSS by modifying single.php but my incredibly meagre CSS skills don’t stretch as far as working out how to incorporate them into the design of the theme itself. At present, I can get the byline included as a line of text at the very top of the screen but ideally I want them as ‘by [author]’ below the post title and above the main body of the post.

Any help would be much appreciated! I’ve now spent at least a day over the past week on changing the site, something which I initially thought would take a couple of hours maximum. I’m on the verge of giving up and just reverting back to the old theme.

Television and feeling the passage of life

Posted By Mark Carrigan

There’s an intriguing passage in Difficult Men, an account of television’s ‘third golden age’, concerning the temporality of Mad Men and how it differs from The Sopranos, which is widely acknowledged as the originator of our current glut of quality television:

And Mad Men used the ongoing, open-ended format to approach a kind of radical realism that went way beyond whether, say, the refrigerator in the Draper home was the perfect shade of 1962 olive green. The show, in a wildly un-TV-like way, insisted on portraying how the passage of life feels.

“The first season of The Sopranos, you literally felt like you were being dropped out of an air plane every episode,” Weiner said. “You constantly had the sensation that you missed an episode: ‘Everybody in this story seems to know that guy. Do I know that guy? Was he on last week?’ No, they act like they know that guy because they have a life without you.

Brett Martin, Difficult Men, pg. 261

I take the author’s point to be that Mad Men seeks to create an experience of immersion in the passage of life within its narrative world rather than, as with say The Sopranos and The Wire, a tour of an immensely detailed social world with the  route driven entirely by the exigencies of story telling. I haven’t actually watched Mad Men beyond the first series because I found it too slow. But I’ve been thinking about temporality in film and television since watching Boyhood last year, a film representing the titular boy growing up over 7 years, in the process capturing the goal of my PhD thesis (key question: what is it for a person to change?) far more perfectly than did the thesis I spent six years working on:

The multi-millionaires running higher education

Posted By Sociological Imagination

To say things are “getting out of hand, especially given the tax-exempt nature of universities” shows an impressive capacity for understatement:

For E. Gordon Gee’s final year as the president of Ohio State University, which he left in 2013, he got a package of more than $6 million, as was widely reported. It was a one-time bonanza, including deferred payments and severance, but he’d earned roughly $2 million annually over the previous years.

The Chronicle of Higher Education analyzed salary information for private colleges from 2012, the most recent year available, and found that Shirley Ann Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received a package worth over $7 million.

John L. Lahey of Quinnipiac University: about $3.75 million. Lee Bollingerof Columbia University: almost $3.4 million.

Fenves’s salary as the president of the University of Texas puts him well behind that of his counterpart at Texas A & M University, who has an annual base of $1 million plus $400,000 in additional compensation, according to The American-Statesman.

Each profligate compensation package breeds more like it, as schools’ trustees convince themselves that they must keep pace in order to recruit, retain and receive the precious fairy dust of the heaviest hitters.

They reason that “this is a winner-take-all society and that people with extremely high levels of talent are richly rewarded,” said Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

“But I think that things are getting out of hand, especially given the tax-exempt nature of universities,” he told me. “They’re in privileged positions, and they were given these privileged positions not to enrich themselves but to serve society. These presidents are expected to live quite nicely but not exorbitantly and not extravagantly.”


Centre for Social Ontology PhD/ECR Conference

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Centre for Social Ontology PhD/ECR Conference
June 23rd, University of Warwick, 10am – 4pm

Social ontology is integral to the study of society. It is impossible to inquire into the social world without some understanding, at least tacitly, concerning the entities which make up that world and their properties and powers. However social ontology remains an often confused and contentious matter within the social sciences.

The first Centre for Social Ontology PhD and ECR conference seeks to address this matter through papers exploring the role of social ontology within sociology.

The conference is open to all PhD students and Early Career Researchers with an interest in social ontology.


9:30 to 10:00 — Welcome and coffee

10:00 to 11:30 — 3 papers

•  Jonathan Beacham: Mixed Method Ontologies and Dialectical Futures
•  Adam Wood: Why Architecture Needs a Social Ontology
•  Giulia Lasagni: Mutual Recognition and Social Commitment

11:30 to 11:45 – Coffee

11:45 to 12:45 – 2 papers

•  Janet Lord: What does it mean to be a teacher? A critical realist approach.
•  Kalok Yip: IHL and IHRL – Convergence of Laws, Conflation of Ontologies

12:45 to 13:30 – LUNCH

13:30 to 15:00 — 3 papers

•  Gry Cecilie Høiland: Using a critical realist approach for studying the implementation of a work inclusion policy measure at the front lines of the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Agency – methodological implications
•  Michael Bauwens: What is social ontology (not)?
•  Michael Edward Walsh: titlte TBC

15:00 to 15:30 – Coffee

15:30 to 16:30 – 2 papers

•  Maryam Al Mohammad: Towards building a researcher methodological habitus
•  Sara Melo: Exploring the ontology of patient safety

The Association of (Gay) Suburban People

Posted By Sociological Imagination


It’s easy to associate gay culture with urban life, as if the two are inextricably linked and always would be. But this fascinating work of social history offers an illuminating perspective on organised gay suburban life in the 1970s and 1980s:

The name was carefully chosen: it emphasized the group’s goal of challenging the sexual conformity of suburban society and also invoked the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble — yet avoided any reference to either homosexuality or Detroit. As Rogalski notes, “It was politically expedient to pick a name … that wasn’t threatening.” Before long the group was promoting itself on the local radio show, Gayly Speaking. “Gay people in Oakland and western Wayne County no longer have to feel isolated in the desert of suburbia,” said Herbert “Bo” Taylor, the group’s first chairman, in an interview with host David Krumroy, another ASP founder. “We saw a need to organize not only for social reasons but for political reasons, for reasons of self-protection.” ASP was, he said, sparking “a new consciousness” and raising “a new awareness of the numbers of gay people in the suburbs.”


Brutalist urban architecture in Hong Kong

Posted By Milena Kremakova

Think a city cannot surprise you? I thought so, until I found Michael Wolf’s work. Here are some of his pretty ugly – or pretty in their ugliness, depending on your viewpoint – photos of HK urban highrise blocks of flats. This is how I imagined sociology to be, when I first read my first sociology book back in 2002: Peter Berger’s “Invitation to sociology” (I found a pdf of first chapter here – beware, it might hook you up on sociology). Check out more about Wolf’s photographic project on life in cities.


Web Science 2015: Call for Late Breaking Research

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 10.55.11

Call for Late Breaking Research
ACM Web Science 2015
Sunday June 28th – Wednesday 1st July
University Of Oxford

At WebSci15 we will hold an exciting and interactive session for Late Breaking Research: analysis, demos and concepts that are not yet ready for publication, but would stimulate debate and further investigation into current topics within Web Science. Abstracts are invited (approx 500 words) that propose interesting and novel research that will presented in a Pecha Kucha-style session on Sunday afternoon (28 June).

Late Breaking Research may be proposed on any theme that facilitates  interdisciplinary discussion of the Web and approaches to Web Science research. We particularly welcome applications that are ambitious in scope and aim to address the pressing challenges of Web Science. This might include, but is not restricted to:

* Theorising the Web
* Data ownership, access and ethics
* Digital cultures
* Digital inequality, citizenship and governance
* The future of the Web

Submissions will be reviewed by the General and Programme Chairs as they are received and will not be otherwise peer-reviewed. They should be approximately 500 words and are not required to follow ACM formatting requirements. Figures and references can be included but please respect a two page limit to facilitate review.

Submit papers using EasyChair at

Please note the interim deadline of 27 May in order to receive
notification before the early bird registration deadline of 29 May.
Submissions will be accepted up until 14 June.

Find out more about the conference at: http://www.websci15.org

Science, Security and the Future of Freedom

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Science, Security and the Future of Freedom

Wednesday 3rd June 2015 – All day event

Venue: MS.01. Maths Building, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL


The twenty-first century will be shaped by cyber security. In 2012, the world sent over eight trillion text messages. In five years time, everything we buy in a shop that costs more than $10 will have an IP address and will collect information on the world around it. Many farm animals now contain SIM cards that transmit their health status and in ten years time, equivalent body-monitoring for humans will be ubiquitous. In twenty years time we will think – then blink – and send an email. In cities like London, New York and Toronto the majority of human interactions will be recorded.  Who will secure these digital shadows of ourselves? And will they constrain us – or make us more capable and free?


10.30 – 11.00       Registration / Coffee

11.00 – 12.30       Session 1 – Open Futures

“How I learned to Stop Worrying and enjoy Surveillance”
Richard Aldrich, (Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick)

“The End of Secrecy”
Chris Moran and Melina Dobson, (Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick)

“Intelligence and the Future of Accountability”
Mark Phythian, (Politics and IS, University of Leicester)

12.30 – 13.30       Lunch

13.30 – 15.00      Session 2 – Possible Futures

“The Digital Future”
Carsten Maple, (Warwick Manufacturing Group, University of Warwick)

“The Future of Technology and Privacy”
Tom Chothia, (Computer Science, University of Birmingham)

“The Future of Resilience”,
Mark Freeman, (Business School, University of Loughborough)

15.00 – 15.30      Coffee break

15.30 – 17.00      Session 3 – Dangerous Ideas

“The Future of Digital Activism”
Athina Karatzogianni, (Media Studies, University of Leicester)

“Surveillance and Science Fiction”
Simon Willmetts, (American Studies, University of Hull)

“Science, Security and the Idea of Freedom
Andrew Hammond, (Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick)

17.00                     Drinks

New perspectives on class, inequalities and families

Posted By Sociological Imagination

BSA Teaching Group Regional Conference
New perspectives on class, inequalities and families
Friday 29 May 2015
University of East London
US.G.17, University Square, Stratford
1 Salway Road, London E15 1NF



9.30 Registration, tea & coffee

10.00 Prof Corinne Squire, UEL: Introduction and welcome

10.15 Prof Mike Savage, London School of Economics: The Great British Class Survey and new forms of class in the UK. Chair: Dr Penny Bernstock, UEL

11.00 Examination board presentation – AQA

11.30 Patrick Robinson, Cadbury Sixth Form College: Teaching the new 2015 specs: Globalisation and social networks. Chair: Prof Corinne Squire, UEL

12.15 Lunch with networking time – delegates will be invited to bring at least one resource with them which they find useful in the classroom.

13.15 Prof Gargi Bhattacharya, UEL: Living in a time of diminishing expectations: Inequality after austerity. Chair: Patrick Robinson, Cadbury Sixth Form College

14.00 Examination board presentation – OCR

14:30 Postgraduate Micro-lectures

Jenny Thatcher, UEL: ‘You got to have faith, Polish migrants in the UK and their secondary school choices

Rumana Hashem, UEL: Thinking intersectionally and taking the sociology lecture outside the classroom

Jose Ignacio Diaz-Vazquez, UEL: Becoming a woman by practising autofiction

15:15 Break, tea & coffee

15.30 Examination board presentation – WJEC Eduqas

15:45 Dr Janet Boddy, University of Sussex: Researching families across contexts.

Chair: Dr Belinda John-Baptiste, UEL

16.30 Close

Delegate rates (include lunch & refreshments):

BSA Member £50; Non-member £70

BSA Concessionary (student) member £35; Non-member (student) £40

Registration: http://portal.britsoc.co.uk/public/event/eventBooking.aspx?id=EVT10387

For further information please contact the BSA: bsatg@britsoc.co.uk<mailto:bsatg@britsoc.co.uk> or Tel:
(0191) 370 6639

For academic enquiries please contact: C.Squire@uel.ac.uk<mailto:C.Squire@uel.ac.uk>


Reconstructing Sociology: The Critical Realist Approach

Posted By Sociological Imagination

Critical realism is a philosophy of science that positions itself against the major alternative philosophies underlying contemporary sociology. This book offers a general critique of sociology, particularly sociology in the United States, from a critical realist perspective. It also acts as an introduction to critical realism for students and scholars of sociology.

Written in a lively, accessible style, Douglas V. Porpora argues that sociology currently operates with deficient accounts of truth, culture, structure, agency, and causality that are all better served by a critical realist perspective. This approach argues against the alternative sociological perspectives, in particular the dominant positivism which privileges statistical techniques and experimental design over ethnographic and historical approaches.

However, the book also compares critical realism favourably with a range of other approaches, including poststructuralism, pragmatism, interpretivism, practice theory, and relational sociology. Numerous sociological examples are included, and each chapter addresses well-known and current work in sociology.

Reconstructing Sociology will be published by Cambridge University Press in September 2015. See here for more details or to pre-order.


Generative Mechanisms Transforming the Social Order

Posted By Sociological Imagination

The latest volume in the Social Morphogenesis series examines how generative mechanisms emerge in the social order and their consequences. It does so in the light of finding answers to the general question posed in this book series: Will Late Modernity be replaced by a social formation that could be called Morphogenic Society?

This volume clarifies what a ‘generative mechanism’ is, to achieve a better understanding of their social origins, and to delineate in what way such mechanisms exert effects within a current social formation, either stabilizing it or leading to changes potentially replacing it . The book explores questions about conjuncture, convergence and countervailing effects of morphogenetic mechanisms in order to assess their impact. Simultaneously, it looks at how products of positive feedback intertwine with the results of (morphostatic) negative feedback. This process also requires clarification, especially about the conditions under which morphostasis prevails over morphogenesis and vice versa. It raises the issue as to whether their co-existence can be other than short-lived.

The volume addresses whether or not there also is a process of ‘morpho-necrosis’, i.e. the ultimate demise of certain morphostatic mechanisms, such that they cannot ‘recover’. The book concludes that not only are generative mechanisms required to explain associations between variables involved in the replacement of Late Modernity by Morphogenic Society, but they are also robust enough to account for cases and times when such variables show no significant correlations.

See here to order a copy or review a table of contents.me