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.
British Sociological Association
MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY GROUP ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2015
THIRTY TWO FREE PLACES AT THE 2015 BSA MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY CONFERENCE
Thanks to successful conferences in recent years, the BSA Medical Sociology Group committee has been able to increase its support for a number of groups who may find it difficult to obtain funding for attendance at its annual conference. For the 2015 Annual Conference, which will take place on 9-11 September at the University of York, a number of free places will be available (including registration, meals, accommodation and conference dinner):
- 20 free places for postgraduate students
- 12 free places for individuals who are unwaged, low-waged or working outside academia (e.g. sociologists in non-academic posts, in civil society organisations or service user groups, etc.)
These places will be distributed to eligible individuals who apply to the BSA before 19 June 2015. If there are more applicants than available places, then places will be allotted to eligible applicants through a process of random allocation.
To apply for a place, please visit http://www.britsoc.co.uk/events/medsoc-annual-conference/registration.aspx for detailed eligibility and to download the application form.
Please note those who have previously received a funded place will not be eligible to apply.
Completed forms should be sent to email@example.com before the deadline above.
You will be notified regarding you application shortly after the deadline. If you are unsuccessful, you will be placed on a reserve list. If you are successful and later find that you are unable to attend the conference, please notify the BSA office as soon as possible, so that the place might be offered to someone on the reserve list.
Please note that free places cover registration, accommodation and subsistence for the conference. Unfortunately it is not possible to subsidise travel to and from the conference.
Gender and Climate Change workshop
Friday May 29th from 2.00 til 4.30
Wolfson Research Exchange at the University of Warwick
Sherilyn MacGregor (Keele)
Vulnerable victims or resilient subjects? Dismantling the gendered discursive traps of climate change politics
Feminist activists and policy professionals have provided ample evidence that the impacts of climate change have gender dimensions, thereby putting gender on the international climate agenda. Feminist academics have been much slower to take up the issue, resulting in a shortage of theoretical scholarship on gender and climate change. What can feminist political theorizing contribute to the project of developing gender-sensitive responses to this serious global challenge? I argue that one task should be to complement field-based research on women’s experiences of climate change with feminist constructivist analyses of how discursive framings of ‘the problem’ and policy solutions often serve to reinforce neoliberal, patriarchal power relations. Understanding the complex workings of ideology, language, and power can help us to beware the discursive traps that inevitably threaten all those who work for counter-hegemonic social change. To illustrate this approach, I use feminist critical discourse analysis to interrogate the emergence of a vulnerability-resilience dualism that now dominates climate policy at all levels. I show that within the adaptation literature, the construction of the ‘resilient subject’ in opposition to the ‘vulnerable victim’ fits squarely within the dominant post-political agenda: it is founded on scientistic and masculinist values; it naturalizes neoliberal rationalities of governance; and it deflates the political capacities and identities of people as citizens. The vulnerable climate victim is weak, usually feminized, and in need of ‘knowledge transfer’ in order to become robust and self-reliant enough to survive and thrive in harsh new conditions beyond control. Not only does this simplistic binary ignore complexities on the ground, including the dubious construction of masculine resilience, but it also removes expectations of citizen resistance to the root causes of ecological crisis, thereby casting it as non-political fait accompli. I argue that feminist theoretical analyses should expose and devise strategies for avoiding this and other discursive traps that exist within the sphere of climate change politics and policy.
Dr Sherilyn MacGregor (PhD York University-Toronto) is senior lecturer in Environmental Politics and director of the Environmental Studies programme at Keele University in the UK. Her research expertise lies in the fields of gender politics and environmental politics, with a special focus on the theoretical and policy connections between sustainability, citizenship and social reproduction. She is joint editor of Environmental Politics journal and director of PublicSpace, a not-for-profit company specializing in research communication in the public interest.
Lopa Saxena (Coventry)
Gender, Climate Change and Food Sovereignty in South Asia: an exploration from a feminist political ecology perspective
In South Asia as in many other agrarian economies in the developing South, the gendered impacts of Climate Change have led to women being disproportionately affected posing a substantial threat to food security. On the other hand, Food Sovereignty is attracting much attention as a form of resistance to dominant neo-liberal influences on food, agriculture and rural development. I am exploring the relation between the two from a Feminist Political Ecology perspective looking at some of the issues in relation to production, gender and climate change adaptation.
Dr Lopa Saxena has recently become a Research Associate in the Centre for Agro-ecology, Water and Resilience in Coventry University. Previously she was working as an independent researcher on consultancies and has worked on University-led team projects. Her research interests include Food Security, Climate Change and Gender, Vulnerability and Resilience, Gender and Disasters, Sustainable Land and Water use Practices, and Women Entrepreneurship. She holds a PhD in Environmental Economics and Environmental Management from the University of York (UK).
Rebekah Martin is an MA student on the Gender and International Development programme in the Department of Sociology at Warwick. She will introduce the film ‘Missing: the forgotten women in India’s climate plans’.
‘Queering ESOL: towards a cultural politics of LGBT politics in the ESOL classroom’
UCL Institute of Education
19 – 20 June 2015
For info about previous seminars go to:https://queeringesol.wordpress.com/
Luiz Paulo da Moita Lopes (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
Queering language teaching in Brazilian schools
Holly Cashman (University of New Hampshire)
Making queer latinidad visible in the U.S. Southwest: xenophobia, identity politics, and resistance
Tommaso Milano (University of Witwatersrand)
Queer entanglements: representations, practices and the complex politics of sexuality in South Africa
Susan Stryker (University of Arizona)
Crossing Genders, Crossing Borders: Transgender in Transnational Contexts
Confirmed invited speakers
Helen Saunston (York St John University)
Queering TESOL in international learning contexts
Mark McCormack (Durham University)
Moving beyond homophobic language: the intent-context-effect matrix
Nick Mai (London Metropolitan University and Aix-Marseille)
Assembling ‘Samira’ and ‘Travel’: understanding sexual humanitarianism through experimental ethnofictional filmmaking
Rusi Jaspal (De Montfort University)
ESOL An Opportunity for Challenging Homophobia
Jason Ho (City University of Hong Kong)
“Blue pill or red pill” (or both?): Critical and dramatic inquiry approaches in a CLIL curriculum on sexism, heterosexism, and transphobia
There will also be contributions from Francesca Stella (University of Glasgow), Laila El-Metoui (LGBTiq inclusion in Further Education), Joanna Pawelczyk and Łukasz Pakuła (Adam Mickiewicz University), Thorsten Merse(Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität), Mike Baynham (University of Leeds), Yiu Tung Suen(City University Hong Kong), Melanie Cook (King’s College London) and John Gray (UCL Institute of Education).
The conference will also include the screening of the film Samira, which will be introduced by the director Nick Mai.
To reserve a place contact Tracy Modha (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note that this event is free and that funding for travel of up to £75 per attendee is available for research students and ESOL practitioners.
by Garth Stahl
Class, gender, and ethnicity, while contested areas, all play a role in the constitution of identity as the self is not fixed. Identities are not distinct from discourses but instead produced by and through them. As collections of meaning imbued with symbolic connotations, discourses define objects set parameters on what we can think, feel, and be (MacLure 2003), where we may ‘make ourselves but not in conditions of our own choosing’ (Archer et al., 2010). Neoliberalism, as an extension of human capital theory which suggests that individuals and society derive economic benefits from investments in people (Sweetland, 1996, p. 341), was a step toward eliminating ‘class as a central economic concept’ (Bowles & Gintis, 1975, p. 74). Current iterations of neoliberalism function as a political, economic, and ideological system that gives considerable credence to the market as the best, most efficient platform for distributing public resources. This macro-level structural framework attributes greater consideration of individual duty than government responsibility (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000; Reay, David, & Ball, 2005; Zipin, Sellar, Brennan, & Gale, 2013).
Archer and Francis (2007) write that in the neoliberal reading ‘there are no foundational aspects of selfhood such as “race” or gender that preclude an individual from taking up the opportunities available to them – failure to do so simply reflects an individual lack of enterprise’ (p. 19). Within a neoliberal discourse it is argued that the self is malleable, constantly made and re-made as people must become ‘entrepreneurs of the self.’ Neoliberal ideology privileges the reflexive modernisation thesis where historic conventions of femininity and masculinity can arguably be reinscribed in new ways (cf. Adkins 2000; Kenway and Kelly, 2000) and where historic and gender-based inequalities exist simultaneously with evidence of changed expectations (Adkins, 2000). In our neoliberal times, Davies and Bansel (2007) have claim:
The so-called ‘passive’ citizen of the welfare state becomes the autonomous ‘active‘ citizen with rights, duties, obligations, and expectations—the citizen as active entrepreneur of the self; the citizen as morally superior. This is not simply a reactivation of liberal values of self-reliance, autonomy and independence as the necessary conditions for self-respect, self-esteem, self-worth, and self-advancement but rather an emphasis on enterprise and the capitalization of existence itself through calculated acts and investments combined with the shrugging off of collective responsibility for the vulnerable and marginalized. (p. 252)
The neo-liberal rhetoric, where context is ignored for the sake of the entrepreneurial self, has the ability to create conditions of heightened fixity especially if one lacks certain capitals. Within neoliberalism, risk is always pervasive where today young people often seek to manage the riskiness of transitions from school to work through a range of strategies including cultivating certain identities. Saturated in labels of success/failure and active/stagnant, education today is infused with the neoliberal prerogative which increasingly fixes identities within rhetoric is risk.
The neoliberal education experience
The neoliberal policy which permeates classroom discourses becomes a powerful mediating force in the identity construction of all students (Phoenix, 2004). Neoliberalism, with its promotion of ‘efficiency’, ‘productivity’, ‘targets’, and ‘choice’, enables competition and market-driven results without strategic consideration to the gross economic inequalities it creates, particularly for marginalised communities (Ball, 2009; 2012;). Working-class students both present learner identities and have learner identities imposed upon them within a highly pressurized and stratified educational environment.
As pedagogic processes become influenced by neoliberal logic, there are overt and subtle consequences for gender identities. The presence of a competitive ‘performance-oriented culture generates anxiety, especially among boys whose gender identity needs to be based on achieving power, status, and superiority’ (Arnot, 2004, p. 35). In terms of gender, we must consider the sublimation of certain elements of the self as particularly potent for working-class boys who construct their masculinity around traditional models of ‘breadwinners’ in economies where their employment ‘choices’ are increasingly limited. In contrast, femininity seems to be less impacted by neoliberal logics as young women have been documented as ideal, flexible, neoliberal subjects (McRobbie, 2008; Walkerdine 2003).
In considering the identity work of students, the concept of ‘positioning’ raises the question of possible selves which are contradictory both to other selves and to internal selves (Davies, 1989, p. 229). The production of the self, our subjectivity, involves learning inclusive and exclusive practices and positioning oneself in relation to these practices to establish a sense of belonging (Davies & Harre, 1990). Further, it is argued that human beings ‘are characterized both by continuous personal identity and by discontinuous personal diversity’, where selfhood is the product of discursive practices and these processes lead to a multiplicity of selves (Davies & Harre, 1990, p. 46). As a result, individuals are active agents who position themselves (‘reflexive positioning’) and are positioned by others through social interaction (‘interactive positioning’) as gendered, classed, and ethnic individuals (Davies & Harre, 1990). Therefore, identity work involves grappling with both subjective constraints and the constraints of accepted discursive practices (Renold, 2004), often within powerful neoliberal discourses (Francis, 2000).
When considering an analysis of learner identities with engagement/disaffection, the emotional power of education is in the creation of the self. In schooling, the self is increasingly sublimated through neo-liberal agendas, where ‘it is the duty of the individual to be sufficiently flexible to maximize the opportunities available to her/him, and any failure resides in the individual rather than in the socio-economic structures’ (Francis, 2006, p. 191). When considering identity as negotiated through school contexts, it is essential to consider the ‘web’ of numerous and complex factors that contribute to disaffection toward school (Stevenson & Ellsworth, 1991). Therefore school failure/success is bound up with the process of students doing ‘identity work’, where young people’s engagement with schooling ‘depends in part on the sense they make of themselves, their community, and their future and in part on “the adaptive strategies” they use to accept, modify, or resist the institutional identities made available’ (Smyth, 2006, p. 290). Within or beyond the classroom, identity is positioned through conceptions of the collective and the individual and in a constant form of negotiation as it is constructively articulated, debated, and problematised.
Adkins, L. (2000). Objects of innovation: Post-occupational reflexivity and re-traditionalisations of gender. In S. Ahmed, J. Kilby, C. Lury, M. McNeil, & B. Skeggs (Eds.), Transformations: Thinking through feminism (p. 331). London: Routledge.
Archer, L., & Francis, B. (2007). Understanding minority ethnic achievement. Oxon: Routledge.
Archer, L., Hollingworth, S., & Mendick, H. (2010). Urban youth and schooling: The experiences and identities of educationally ‘at risk’ young people. Berkshire: Open University Press.
Arnot, M. (2004). Male working-class identities and social justice: A reconsideration of Paul Willis’s Learning to Labor in light of contemporary research. In N. Dolby, G. Dimitriadis, & P. Willis (Eds.), Learning to Labor in new times (p. 231). New York: Routledge.
Ball, S. J. (2009). Academies in context: Politics, business and philanthropy and heterarchical governance. Management in Education, 23(3), 100–103.
Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1975). The problem with human capital theory––A Marxist critique. The American Economic Review, 65(2), 74-82.
Davies, B., & Bansel, P. (2007). Neoliberalism and education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 20(3), 247-256.
Davies, B., & Harre, R. (1990). Positioning: The discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 20(1), 44-63.
Francis, B. (2000). Boys, girls and achievement: Addressing the classroom issues. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Francis, B. (2006). Heroes or zeroes? The discursive positioning of ‘underachieving boys’ in English neo-liberal education policy. Journal of Education Policy, 21(2), 187-200.
Gillborn, D., & Youdell, D. (2000). Rationing education: Policy, practice, reform and equity. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Kenway, J., & Kelly, P. (2000). Local/global labour markets and the restructuring of gender, schooling, and work. In N. Stromquist, & K. Monkham (Eds.), Globalisation and education: Integration and contestation across cultures (pp. 173-195). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
MacLure, M. (2003). Discourse in educational and social research. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Reay, D., David, M. E., & Ball, S. (2005). Degrees of choice: Social class, race and gender in higher education. London: Institute of Education.
Renold, E. (2004). ‘Other’ boys: Negotiating non-hegemonic masculinities in the primary school. Gender & Education, 16(2), 247-265.
Stevenson, R. B., & Ellsworth, J. (1991). Dropping out in a working class high school: Adolescent voices on the decision to leave. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 12(3), 277-291.
Sweetland, S. R. (1996). Human capital theory: Foundations of a field of inquiry. Review of Educational Research, 66(3), 341-359.
Zipin, L., Sellar, S., Brennan, M., & Gale, T. (2013). Educating for futures in marginalized regions: A sociological framework for rethinking and researching aspirations. Educational Philosophy and Theory 45, 1-20.
About the author: Garth Stahl (@GarthStahl) is a Lecturer in Literacy and Sociology at University of South Australia. He is a theorist of sociology of education. His research interests lie on the nexus of neoliberalism and socio-cultural studies of education, identity, equity/inequality and social change. Currently, his research projects and publications encompass theoretical and empirical studies of learner identities, gender and youth, sociology of schooling in a neoliberal age, gendered subjectivities, equity and difference, and educational reform. Of particular interest to him is exploring counternarratives to neoliberalism around ‘value’ and ‘respectability’ for working-class youth. His book, entitled Identity, Neoliberalism and Aspiration: Educating White Working-class Boys is now available from Routledge.
“The Relational Subject by Pierpaolo Donati and Margaret S. Archer
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 will be published by Cambridge University Press in July 2015. See here for more details or to pre-order.
25th June, University of Manchester
Despite years of investment into widening participation agendas, marginalised persons, whether in terms of class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality or disability, remain ‘devalued’ (Skeggs and Loveday 2012) owing to systems and structures of Higher Education. Reappropriating Value(s) will be a day of discussion and will bring together various academics and practitioners whose work speaks towards, or takes direct action against these practices. See here for confirmed speakers’ abstracts.
9:30-10:15: Registration (tea/coffee)
10:15-10:30: Welcome and introduction to the day
Morning Session: Re-appropriating Values (theoretically and empirically)
10:30-11:15: Keynote 1
Dr Stephanie Lawler: ‘We’ve been framed!’ Value, social magic and symbolic power
11:15-12:15: Panel 1
Jessie Abrahams: Honourable Mobility or Shameless Entitlement? Social class and graduate employment
Rashida Bibi: “I understand how the world works much better”: British South Asian Muslim women and experiences of Higher Education
Hilary Stewart: Disability, Symbolic Capitals and the Psychosocial
12:15-12:45: Discussion with keynote and panel
12:45-1:45: Lunch (provided)
Afternoon Session: Re-appropriating Values (politically, practically, pragmatically)
1:45-2:30: Keynote 2
Prof. Tracy Shildrick and Prof. Rob McDonald: ‘Fat Cat Sociology’ Revisited: the pressures and possibilities of ‘public sociology’ and ‘real world’ research impact
2:30-3:10 Panel 2
Victoria Armstrong: Introducing Mad Studies…
Dr Lisa McKenzie: ‘Beyond Capital’: The value of academic work
3:10-3:40 Discussion with keynote and panel
3:40-4:30 Closing Comments & Ways Forward
4:30-6:00 Wine Reception and further discussion
6:00 Meal and more drinks for those interested
Location information here: https://reappropiatingvalues.wordpress.com/venue/
Papers applying a critical realist approach are invited on all topics, but in particular papers that focus on the practical, analytical and methodological implications of critical realism.
The Conference program will include a memorial for Roy Bhaskar (1944-2014)
This useful post on the Pickle Jar blog offers some pointers about effective live tweeting. I agree it’s important to remember that most (?) people reading your live tweets won’t be in the room with you and thus will be confused by any features of the context you take for granted in your tweets. In that sense, I think this is excellent advice:
Context is key. If you’re sending a tweet out into the world, assume your audience knows very little. If you hear something interesting, try to share it as if you’re sharing words of wisdom with someone who wasn’t there. Feel free to paraphrase, and take pictures of the slides if there’s just too much amazing stuff on there for 140 characters. Those who aren’t there will get something out of it, and those that are will have a reminder that they can re-tweet or favourite.
But surely live tweeting also serves a purpose for people within the room? The experience of live tweeting has often lived up to the rhetoric of the ‘back channel': offering an outlet for both exchange with and awareness of other people at the event, many of whom I’ve never previously met. There are obviously risks posed by this (a topic for another post) but it’s also something that can introduce a novel sociality into what might otherwise be a large and impersonal event.
This is why I think it’s important to distinguish between the official live-tweeter (scene setter, context communicator and summariser in chief) and the voluntary live-tweeting of others at the event. Part of the role of the former is to encourage the latter through regular retweets and rapid responses to any questions. But another crucial part is to provide a sufficient sense of the context to ‘outsiders’ for the flurry of activity taking place amongst ‘insiders’ to be comprehensible and engaging. The insider activity isn’t a threat to the quality of the live tweeting, it’s rather what can make a hashtag fascinating to read if there is someone mediating between the two in order to ensure that ‘insiders’ don’t exclude ‘outsiders’ by taking their shared context for granted.
There are numerous ways to establish context: regular reminders of what the hashtag is (e.g. “We’re live tweeting from @BritSoci conference day 2, #BritSoc15″), taking pictures of the venue itself to convey a sense of place, regular statements of the schedule (e.g. “Our next speaker is @mark_carrigan from @SocioWarwick talking about social ontology of social movements”) and signalling openness to queries (e.g. “If you have any questions about #BritSoc15, whether you’re here or not, please get in touch!”). This kind of activity can help if you’re subsequently using the hashtag as a basis to compile a report of the event by providing way marks to make sense of what can be a vast stream of activity. But more importantly I think it also contributes to the accessibility of the event, structuring what might otherwise be an intimidating mass of communication and doing so in a way which encourages it to grow.
There’s a really important suggestion later in the Pickle Jar post which I’ve only recently started doing myself:
One way to really add some useful background is to start digging up links. Is the person on stage mentioning a project they worked on? Dig up a link to that project (or better still, a video about it), and share that on the conference hashtag. Do they have a personal site, with background detail? Go find it, and share it. It may seem like a bit of a slog, but Google is your friend here.
I prefer to live tweet on a phone but I’m planning in future to always use my laptop for this reason. If someone mentions a paper they’ve written, look it up and tweet the link! Tweet the institutional profile of the speaker and always ensure you link to their personal twitter feed and tag the department as well if they have a twitter presence. In this sense, the official live tweeter does a large part of the ‘networking’ in order that other people don’t have to.
There’s suggestions later in the post which I’ve experimented with in the past but found people quite reluctant to participate in. Perhaps it’s how I’m phrasing it? But the promise of Audioboom for micro-podcasts with speakers really fascinates me and I’ve love to find a way to suggest this possibility to speakers that doesn’t immediately make them recoil in horror:
While you’re there, how about tracking a few speakers down for an audio interview? We’ve already chatted about the possibilities of platforms such as Audioboom, and you can use these with little more than a smartphone and a quiet sideroom or corridor.
If video’s more your thing, why not provide some great content for curators and your followers by capturing a quick chat or a tech demo using Youtube Capture, Vine, or Instagram Video? Or if you’ve got an audience that isn’t in a wildly-different timezone, why not livestream an interview or a quick event summary using Periscope or Meerkat?
Intersections of Ageing, Gender, Sexualities (i-ages)
UNIVERSITY OF SURREY, GUILDFORD, UK
6 July 2015 – 7 July 2015
This international, multidisciplinary two day conference offers a unique opportunity to explore the intersections between ageing, gender and sexualities. It explores how they work together to produce structural inequalities, privileges and disadvantages, challenges and opportunities, and diverse lived experiences. Papers will be presented by researchers from, Australia, Hong Kong, Iran, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, UK and USA.
Professor Toni Calasanti, Virginia Tech, USA
Professor Mark Hughes, Southern Cross University, Australia
Associate Professor Travis Kong, University of Hong Kong
Professor Yvette Taylor, London Southbank University, UK
Registration for two-day event (includes lunch and refreshments both days) £80 (£40 students)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PROVIONAL PROGRAMME & REGISTRATION GO TO EVENT WEBSITE
CfA: Ethnographies & Health early-career workshop
LSHTM, 1st – 2nd October 2015
We are pleased to announce a call for abstracts for an exciting new workshop for early career researchers, entitled ‘Ethnographies and Health’, to be held at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in London, UK, on 1st and 2nd October, 2015.
Keynote speaker: Dr Tiago Moreira, Durham University
We invite abstracts of up to 400 words for papers that explore topic-based, methodological and theoretical questions of using ethnographic approaches in health, and health-related research, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Supported by a workshop grant from the Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness, the workshop will be free to attend and will be structured to allow for supportive and engaged debate around each paper presented.
Please see the attached poster for more information, and please feel free to circulate this call widely.
Deadline for abstracts is 31st June, 2015. Please send abstracts (and any enquiries) to Joanna.reynolds@
As part of its effort to expand beyond traditional types of academic publication, Big Data & Society has introduced an Early Career Researcher Forum targeted to scholars finishing or having recently completed advanced graduate degrees. More specifically the ECR forum seeks work by researchers reflecting about some of the challenges of their work (related to Big Data topics) in about 1000 to 2000 words with a range of illustrations, figures, etc. as well as a brief bio (100 words). The goal is to encourage reflexive submissions that explore what it means to be a researcher studying issues concerning big data and society. As guidance we ask authors to consider a series of questions (addressing any or all of these):
- What kinds of challenges empirically and/or methodologically have you encountered in your work?
- Do you have an example of these challenges, particularly one that can be shared in an online forum such as the journal offers, i.e., with visualizations, graphs, etc.?
- Does Big Data allow you to ask new questions or explore old issues?
- Are there questions that your data can not answer? Why? What else is necessary?
- Why is your research important and interesting?
- How do you relate back to your home discipline, and do your colleagues understand you?
In addition to targeted submissions, the Early Career Researcher forum accepts unsolicited contributions and encourages those who are interested to correspond with the co-editors (Irina Shklovski and Matthew Zook) for guidance.
As some people reading this might know, I’m an obsessive cultivator of habits. I’m preoccupied by them intellectually and spent 6 years writing a PhD about how who we are is shaped by the situated interplay between reflexivity and habit over time. But this is also a big part of how I orientate myself to my work: what’s the most satisfying and effective way to to approach what it is I have to do? I’ve blogged in the past about the apps I use for this purpose.
It’s for this reason that I’ve tried various writing routines over the last few years and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that word count goals just don’t work. In fact setting myself a goal for how many words to write a day now strikes me as representative of everything that’s wrong with the academy i.e. counting your writing rather than valuing it. Looking towards a quantity of words inevitably encourages you to see how quickly you can write them and move on to something else. If not necessarily alienating, it now strikes me as quite alienated, no matter how useful the capacity to do quasi-automatic speed writing I’ve developed over the last few years is increasingly proving to be.
Since giving up on a word count goal I’m enjoying academic writing more than I have in a long time. I’m actually finding my book interesting again, after months of seeing it as an obstacle to be negotiated through daily bouts of meeting my word target (in turn ratcheting up my stress about the book when I failed to meet them). My new resolution: to only count things if I’m certain doing so serves a useful purpose. Perhaps this is a useful starting point for thinking about how the Qualified Self does inevitably sometimes interface with self-quantification.
In this podcast I interview Andrew Sayer, Professor of Social Theory and Political Economy at the University of Lancaster, about his book Why Things Matter To People.
Here’s a link to the book:
There’s a review I wrote of the book here: sociologicalimagination.org/archives/14330
The 5th ICTs & Society Conference:
The Internet and Social Media at a Crossroads: Capitalism or Commonism?
Perspectives for Critical Political Economy and Critical Theory.
Vienna University of Technology.
June 3-7, 2015.
Given that the information society and the study of information face a world of crisis today and are at a crossroads, also the future of the Internet and social media are in question.
The 5th ICTs and Society Conference therefore wants to focus on the questions:
What are the main challenges that the Internet and social media are facing in capitalism today?
What potentials for an alternative, commonist Internet are there?
What are existing hindrances for such an Internet?
What is the relationship of power structures, protest movements, societal developments, struggles, radical reforms, etc. to the Internet?
How can critical political economy and critical theory best study the Internet and social media today?
This podcast was recorded at a Centre for Social Ontology seminar in February 2015. The speaker is Balihar Sanghera from the University of Kent.
This paper examines how charitable giving is an outcome of different interacting elements of lay morality. Charitable giving reflects people’s capacity for fellow-feeling (or sympathy), moral sentiments, personal reflexivity, ethical dispositions, moral norms and moral discourses. An eclectic account of lay morality and charitable giving is warranted because of the complex nature of the object. Though ordinary people engage in ethical reasoning, they often think and act in piecemeal fashion, so that confusion and inconsistencies can occur. This is particularly evident when gender, class and ‘race’ shape people’s feelings and evaluations of others, their attention and care for others, and their understanding of responsibility and blame for social issues. Morality is further complicated because it takes place in the mundane world of everyday life that can result in inconsistent and confusing judgements and actions on giving.
19th June at the University of Warwick. There’s a Facebook event here. Details copied & pasted below:
“No to the ‘insourcing’ and further casualisation of academic staff!”
TeachHigher threatens job security and quality education at ALL UK universities.
Make your voice heard at Warwick University Open Day!
Warwick University staff and students call on their colleagues across UK Higher Education to support them in resisting TeachHigher. TeachHigher is a scheme whereby hourly paid academic staff will no longer be recruited and employed by academic departments but contracted via this new ‘internal academic recruitment and administration service’. TeachHigher is being piloted at Warwick but intends to franchise out at universities across the UK.
We oppose TeachHigher because it will institutionalise and entrench a two-tier system of academic staffing at Warwick – further separating off hourly-paid academics from those on more secure contracts. It will give Human Resources control over hiring and firing – not only threatening the autonomy of academic departments but also making it easier for central management to recruit ever larger numbers of hourly-paid and casualised staff while continuing to reduce the number of secure and permanent positions. TeachHigher staff will be employed on even worse terms and conditions than those currently endured by hourly paid academics at Warwick.
TeachHigher represents a threat not just at Warwick, but to anyone working and studying at a UK university. Warwick Employment Group plan to sell TeachHigher as a commercial franchise to other universities. In fact, Warwick is already complicit in promoting casualisation and precarity at numerous other UK Higher Education institutions, via Warwick-owned agency UniTemps which contracts mainly catering and cleaning staff but also some admin and academic staff. TeachHigher looks suspiciously like another version of Unitemps – a national outsourcing agency for academic staff – unless we stop it now!
Active opposition to TeachHigher among Warwick staff and students has already met with two small but significant victories – collective resistance can work! Massive public meetings, extensive press coverage and so-far three academic departments voting to boycott TeachHigher has resulted in the cancellation of the pilot scheme due to begin in April, and its postponement until October 2015. Management have also begun to backtrack on the outsourcing question – whereas the initial website for TeachHigher described it as a ‘subsidiary’ company, it is now claimed that it will be an academic services department. But there is still much to be done…
We need to act now, and act together, to put an end to TeachHigher once and for all!
This demonstration is supported by Warwick UCU.
HOW TO GET HERE:
The nearest railway stations to Warwick University campus are Coventry and Leamington Spa. Do not go to Warwick train station (it is far away, and has no public transport links.) From Coventry station catch the number 11 or 12 bus, from Leamington Spa catch the U1. 19th June is a Warwick University open day, so transport may be congested – leave lots of time to get here. There may be free shuttle buses running from Coventry railway station to campus.