Category: Opinion

BJS Special Issue on “post-Brexit and Trump politics”

The British Journal of Sociology presents a free special issue containing reflections on the US election and related political developments in Europe, such as the ‘Brexit’ referendum in the UK.  The special issue on ‘post -Brexit and Trump politics‘ is edited by leading sociologists from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Harvard University, Nigel Dodd, Michèle Lamont, and Mike Savage. The aim of the collection is to ask how can we understand the election of Donald Trump...

I think I can(‘t), I think I can(‘t): a Mildred Blaxter New Writer’s Prize winner reflects on her identity as a new career researcher

Each year the Editorial Board of Sociology of Health and Illness offers a prize for “the best article published in the journal by an early career researcher”. In September, I received an email announcing that my article Engaging conceptions of identity in a context of medical pluralism: explaining treatment choices for everyday illness in Niger had been selected as the 2017 winner. Honored and surprised to receive this message, I laughed out loud at the absurdity of how drastically my...

SHI Special Issue: “Beyond behavior? Institutions, interactions and inequalities in the response to antimicrobial resistance”

A new free special issue  of Sociology of Health & Illness on Institutions, interactions and inequalities in the response to antimicrobial resistance, edited by Catherine Will  is available to read, here. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has come to prominence as a priority for policy makers and a subject for media debate, following advocacy by the Chief Medical Officer (Davies 2015). The concept refers to the emergence and spread of strains of common infections that can no longer be treated by existing antibiotic classes,...

What does the public think about health inequalities?

Politicians and researchers often appear to assume that the British public have a limited understanding of health inequalities. This is evident in efforts by researchers, non-governmental organisations and government bodies to raise awareness of persistent patterns of health inequalities (e.g. via creative visual maps that highlight how life expectancy varies by area) and health-damaging behaviours (notably smoking, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy foods). Yet, remarkably few studies have explored public understandings of health inequalities in the UK so it is...

“Was DACA Responsible for the Surge in Unaccompanied Minors on the Southern Border?”

The decision by the US administration to repeal the Executive Order of the Obama administration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has caused a great deal of commentary. This brief statement originally published in the journal International Migration elaborates on the findings reported in our original article  (free to access until 9th December). On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump Administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – a program implemented by President Barack...

The Dock on Trial: Courtroom Design and the Presumption of Innocence

A recent article in the Journal of Law and Society examines the place of the criminal dock in courtroom design. Courtrooms may appear to embody immemorial tradition, an impression reinforced by the use of arcane rituals and archaic costumes. On closer inspection, however, courtroom designs can be seen to respond to contemporary influences – pressures of time and budgets, changing attitudes to human rights, security fears, and the interests of professional groups. Where different participants sit in the criminal courtroom...

Are all neoliberalisms equally bad for your health?

There is evidence that the shift from social democratic to a neoliberal consensus in modern welfare capitalist states has restructured the contexts in which health practices are enacted. Neoliberal policies are being characterised by an emphasis on increasing individual responsibility, consumer choice, the privatisation of public resources and introduction of market regulation, and linked to growing social inequalities and worse health. When we turn to chronic illness, and chronic illness management (‘CIM’), these growing inequalities can be posited as a...

A European housing crisis? How housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable and how it contributes to inequality

There has been a lot of debate about how housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable to many, both in Britain but also in other European countries. While much of these debates are focused on specific national or regional contexts, the latest ‘State of Housing in the EU’ report, published biennually by Housing Europe, draws a clearer picture of the commonalities but also the divergences of the emerging housing crisis across Europe. The report, which is launched at the European Parliament and...

The rise of single households in the European Union and the impact on housing

In 2015,for the first time, there were significantly more single-households in the European Union than any other household type. As such, living alone has become the most common way of living across the EU. But why is this important? The rise of single living has important implications, not only on the number and the type of homes needed but also on the provision of housing-related services, including health or social care. The rise of single-households also creates new or different...

What Responses to Charlottesville Revealed About America

On the night of August 11th, white nationalists held a torch-lit pride parade through the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. They were met with counter-protests, and the demonstrations descended into a melee. The next morning, these same organizers held a “Unite the Right” rally in Emancipation Park, centered on a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that had been scheduled for removal. Once again, battle lines were drawn, and a fight ensued. This time, the white nationalists were driven...

Undisciplined Methods for Research and Engagement

A two-day intensive research methods workshop on ‘Undisciplined Methods for research and engagement’ took place on 31st May and 1st June at the University of Brighton, UK. The aim was to explore approaches to research that might challenge established or ‘disciplinary’ methods used in the social sciences and humanities, providing a space for deep reflection on ways of generating and representing knowledge through practical experiences. We did this through listening and sharing, drawing on walls, doing physical theatre exercises, nonsense...

An enduring genetic imaginary?

  In a speech celebrating the completion of the Human Genome Project, Bill Clinton, then president of the US, gave voice to the great expectations for genomic science, claiming it would ‘revolutionise the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most, if not all, human diseases’ (see https://www.genome.gov/10001356/). Yet emerging work on the sociology of the new genetics was already starting to raise questions about the desirability and implications of these developments.  One influential commentator, Abby Lippman, 1991, 1992) coined the term...

“Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research”. Noortje Marres on how digital technology contributes to sociology.

Noortje Marres is the author of 2017 book, Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research, a critical new overview and assessment of the key concepts, methods and understandings that currently inform the development of specifically digital forms of social enquiry. In conversation with Francesca Halstead, Noortje discusses the key arguments in her book, how she came to write it, and how digital technology contributes to sociology research and practice. What is Digital Sociology? Digital Sociology came into usage as a...

The company you keep: Is socialising with higher-status people bad for mental health?

Is socializing with higher-status people good or bad for mental health? A recent study of the same title starts with this question. People often believe that socializing with higher-status alters is beneficial by leading to access valuable resources. It seems true that individuals are able to obtain useful information and resources if they know people in higher positions, by providing useful resources that the individuals could have not accessed without such relationships. However, it is also probable that socializing with higher-status alters...

Decolonizing ‘Financial Literacy’

Does the discipline of sociology need to decolonise? When the editors of The Sociological Review put this question to their twitter followers earlier this year, the response was largely affirmative. Across the social sciences and humanities, there are growing concerns about the Eurocentricity of even the most putatively radical theoretical debates. Campaigns to decolonize higher education are not, however, limited to curricular matters. Sarah Cummings and Paul Hoebink have recently published research showing that only 14% of the authors (and...

Visualising the social space of housing in England

How can we represent sociological relations in a meaningful and visually appealing way whilst at the same time capturing the complexities of social and economic life? At this year’s British Sociological Association conference in Manchester, my poster aimed to address this question by bringing together elements of the work of the two sociologists Pierre Bourdieu and Otto Neurath. In brief, my poster depicts how their thinking can help to visualise and thereby help to better understand the social space of...