Category: Opinion

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...

What About the People? Unlocking the Key to Socially Sustainable and Resilient Communities

The World Resources Institute has published an article by Cathy Baldwin, and Robin King, entitled, What About the People? Unlocking the Key to Socially Sustainable and Resilient Communities. The article is about an applied social science report that argues for the use of social science theories of social capital and social cohesion as key determinants of community resilience in urban communities affected by climate change-related adverse weather events. It looks at this in the context of creating city built environments that...

Promoting better understanding of social work: Interview with Guy Shennan

Guy Shennan is a social worker of over 25 yrs, Chair of the British Association of Social Workers (‘BASW’) and an independent consultant and trainer in solution-focused practice. He spoke to Sociology Lens about promoting a better public understanding of social work, of the need for collaboration between social work organisations and with service users, and on the benefits of social media as a means of achieving this.   What are the aims and visions of the British Association of Social...

Rethinking Agrarian Transitions and Left Politics in India: 50 years since Naxalbari

It is now half a century since the small uprising in the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal led to the spread of a Maoist inspired revolutionary armed struggle in India, that is still ongoing. But with the Indian state now bent on crushing these Naxalites, and with the more general challenges faced by parliamentary communist parties across India, the question of how to analyse the agrarian economy – the basis of left strategy for a communist society in many...

Sociologists Outside of Academia: Solutions to Everyday Problems. An Interview with Professor Nick Fox

I attended my first British Sociological Association Conference at the University of Manchester, 4-6 April 2017. I’m not a sociologist, nor a journalist, unless we’re counting a short stint as a reporter for an Irish Dancing magazine in 2004. I’m a publisher, and I came to the BSA Annual Conference firstly as an exhibitor, attending to promote the societies, journals, authors, contributors and community who publish with us, and secondly, with a more personal agenda to immerse myself in the...

Health and new normals

A recent article in The Conservation – To be ill is to be human: why normalising illness would make it easier to cope with – authors Gill Hubbard and Claire Wakefield argue that sickness remains the great unsaid, an object and state of denial, a source of fear and cause of stigma. Because of this, we tend to stay quiet when we fall ill, often keeping it hidden and coping alone.  This may make it far harder to cope when...

Sex, drugs and activism: making HIV treatment as prevention available in the UK

On 10 April 2017, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) announced that PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) – the use of HIV treatment in people who are HIV-negative to prevent HIV – would soon be available on the NHS. This is a landmark decision for the use of HIV treatment as prevention in the UK, making Scotland the first – and currently only – country to provide PrEP through the NHS. PrEP policy pathways The Scottish pathway to this policy decision has been...

Liminal spaces : Making connections for healthcare professionals

Discovering this paper (on Twitter) by Brown et al (2017) and how elegantly it presents the ambivalent world of people recovering from ME, a contested and controversial condition. Encountering it on social media has led to me feeling compelled to write this blog to see if it elicits some response from other healthcare professionals. As a recovering nurse educator I have been in hiding for a number of years but this paper has encouraged me out of my cave. I...

Silence Does Not Equal Siding with the Oppressor: Why I Decided Not to Attend the March

Aside from disliking huge crowds, there are many reasons why I decided not to attend the Women’s March this upcoming Saturday (January 21st, 2017). This inauguration is scary and telling of times to come. It has been a while since I have been this scared, especially after moving to a red state. Up until now, I have been steadfast in my sociological training. Many professors tell budding sociologists they need to be (p)olitical as opposed to (P)olitical because objectivity is...