Category: Opinion

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...

‘Fair Play’ & the ‘Level Playing Field’? Gender & Spectacle at the Olympics

It is hard to disavow the wonder and enchantment that watching the Olympics engenders. It’s easy to become engrossed by the spectacle of elite athletes pursuing seemingly impossible, barely perceptible improvements in sports that, for the next four years, you may never again consider. And spectacle is precisely what the Olympics proffer. But as Michael Silk (2011) writes in Sociology, the spectacle of sporting mega-events does far more than merely enchant. In London 2012, sporting spectacle was put to work...

"Not In My Name" Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

“Not In my Name” they shouted. That was ten years ago, but it feels as though the same could be said today of the increasingly hate-filled, aggressive tone of public life in the UK, United States and much of Europe. “Not In My Name” was one of the slogans of the campaign against the UK’s invasion of Iraq. Although I was sympathetic to the message at the time, I thought this was a slightly pathetic, anodyne slogan, one which felt...

Dear Progressive Friends: Do You Actually Care About Criminal Justice Reform?

  My Facebook newsfeed is filled with petitions to remove Judge Perksy, “the Stanford Rape judge”, off the bench. And I am pissed. Here is a judge who listens to a criminal defendant’s story and considers it in sentencing – doing exactly what a judge should do, and progressive America is up in arms about it! Not only did Judge Perksy order an individualized sentence that considered mitigating factors, he offers the same, holistic consideration to the accused in his...

Corruption, Formal and Informal

In a 2014 review article for Sociology Compass, David Jancsics outlined a ‘minimal consensus’ on what constitutes corruption, drawn from his survey of literature on corruption in sociology, economics, organizational studies, political science and anthropology. The four poles of this consensus, Jancsics suggests, are that corruption is the “informal/illegal and secret exchange of formally allocated resources”; that “at least one corrupt party has to have formal membership/affiliation or at least a contractual relation with the organization from which the resources...

Responsibility in Recognition

Officials need to be held responsible for recognizing and acknowledging systems of inequality and injustice within their organizations. As leaders, as deans, as CEOs, as presidents, as the heads of operations for companies, educational institutions, governments, etc. individuals and teams of individuals holding leadership positions should be held accountable for the systems of inequality that are allowed to persists under their leadership. A now infamous example of such an instance is the University of Missouri’s former president Timothy Wolfe. Wolfe’s...

‘LOBO’ Loans: Derivatives, Local Government Debt & Citizen Audits

I was recently asked to contribute to a piece on derivatives for an economics education website – with the brief being to explain why derivatives ‘matter in daily life’ for readers with no presumed or particular interest in finance. So far, I confess, I’ve not found it particularly easy. Derivatives are a funny kind of sociological object. We’ve almost all heard of them; many will have a sense that they (or some particular use of them) were implicated in the...

The Rise of ‘Citizen Economists’ and ‘Economics Citizenship’ (Part 2)

In my previous post for Sociology Lens, I took a brief look at the sociological literature on ‘citizen science’ and ‘scientific citizenship’. My aim was to ask whether recent efforts to challenge the expertise of academic economists – and democratize economic knowledge – might be understood in parallel terms, as matters of ‘citizen economics’ and ‘economic citizenship’. ‘Citizen science’ has largely come to be discussed as a matter of collaboration with or working under the direction of professional scientists, although...

The Rise of ‘Citizen Economists’ and ‘Economics Citizenship’

A couple of years ago, Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang wrote in an opinion piece for the Guardian that the “economy is too important to be left to professional economists (and that includes me).” In fact, Chang suggested, judgments made by “ordinary citizens may be better than those by professional economists, being more rooted in reality and less narrowly focused…Indeed, willingness to challenge professional economists and other experts is a foundation stone of democracy. If all we have to do is...

‘Uber-geddon’ and the democratisation of transport

I was in London the other week. It was late on a Saturday night. I was at a house party and wanted to get back to a friend’s house. It was about a fifteen minute walk but we were tired, possibly a little drunk, and we uber-ed it home. Natch. You know that a word or an idea has really entered the zeitgeist of popular culture when it’s used as a verb and people (and even Microsoft Word) recognise it....

Professionals on Strike

Yesterday, for only the second time since 1975 (the first was this January), junior doctors in England went on a 24-hour strike. The strike action was the culmination of a series of disputes and breakdowns in negotiations that have been ongoing since late 2014, when the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration recommended a new contract. The contract threatens to have a significant impact on doctors’ pay, and on the extent to which they are protected from working excessively...

The ‘public’ and the ‘private’ in the shaping of markets

A couple of years ago, in a meeting hall adjacent to the Houses of Parliament, I sat in the audience while fund managers spoke alongside officials from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and representatives of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), an organisation funded by DFID and other donors with a mandate to “encourage private infrastructure investment in developing countries.” (PIDG was praised by DFID in their 2013 Multilateral Aid Review for “catalysing private investment in infrastructure,” but...

My Happiness Experiment

Last month I wrote about a new method of measuring happiness, or ‘subjective wellbeing’ as sociologists like to describe it, in our daily lives (you can read that post here if you haven’t already). My starting point was that most of us rely on our ‘evaluative self’ at the expense of our ‘experiencing self’. This means that when we are asked if we are ‘happy’ in our lives/job/relationship/location etc  (or if we reflect on this question internally), we too often...