Category: Opinion

“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...

‘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...