Category: Social Movements / Social Change

Why W.E.B. Du Bois is the founder of American scientific sociology: Interview between Nigel Dodd and Aldon Morris

Professor Nigel Dodd, Editor-in-Chief of the BJS, interviews Professor Aldon Morris of Northwestern University on the 2016 BJS Annual Public Lecture. In his lecture Aldon Morris discussed evidence from his book, The Scholar Denied, showing W.E.B Du Bois, an influential 20th century black scholar, was the founding father of modern scientific sociology. Watch the interview Watch the full Lecture You can also read and download Aldon Morris’ paper, W. E. B. Du Bois at the center: from science, civil rights movement, to Black Lives Matter. 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...

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...

"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...

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...

‘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...

Can green norms cross borders? The experience of Chinese students in the UK.

Much academic literature has been written about behaviour change. The traditional, ‘common-sense’ view is that attitudes precede behaviours, as stated in Azjen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). This model has influenced policy-makers to seek to change citizens’ behaviour by simply providing information or providing feedback about the impacts of behaviour – on outcomes like our health, personal finances, the wellbeing of others, or the environment – and then hoping that enlightened citizens will do the rest. But this ‘ABC’ model...

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...

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...

Buying Time: Stefano Sgambati’s Sociology of Money, Debt & Finance

Writing for the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog yesterday, David Graeber warned that we may be heading towards yet another crisis of the kind we saw in 2007–08. In his Comment, Graeber takes to task George Osborne’s 2015 Mansion House speech (or rather the logic underpinning it), in which Osborne made a commitment to run a budget surplus in ‘normal times’, much to the consternation of dozens of academic economists. It seems that the utterly misleading and moralizing analogies so...

The Perpetually Angry Activist: Emotions and Social Change in News Media

Source: https://pixabay.com/en/anger-angry-bad-isolated-dangerous-18615/   News coverage of protests and the activists which engage in them forms into patterns; media tends to highlight the extreme, irrational, angry, and violent segments of collective action (Corrigall-Brown and Wilkes 2012; Winter and Klaehn 2005). We can turn to the recent example of the Black Lives Matter movement shown shouting down presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Why does the nature of news media depictions of activists’ emotional expressions matter? Evoking the wrong emotion in the public can alienate...

Making sense of the ‘social’ in social media (and social enterprise, social marketing, social analytics…)

Doubtless I am not alone among the contributors to Sociology Lens in having been exposed, during my first year as an undergraduate, to an array of foundational thinkers in sociology (and anthropology) who present human history as a movement away from ‘traditional’, ‘face–to–face’ or ‘kinship–based’ societies, towards those in which interaction and identity is less relational, and more individualized. Such theorizing is not only limited to the classical sociologists who wrote in the 1900s, like Ferdinand Tönnies and Émile Durkheim;...

The Missing Base: Barriers to Coalition-Building Around the Murder of Trans Women

  (Photo credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Prop_8_protest,_Washington_D.C.,_November_15,_2008.jpg) Today is the last day of the American Sociology Association’s annual meeting. In honor of this year’s theme Sexualities in the Social World, I wanted to bring attention to the troubling trend of murders of transgender women. First, I introduce what little data exists about the experiences of trans women. Then I consider three existing groups of social movement activists that could act as allies to the transgender community and the presence of barriers which might inhibit...

Framing of the FIFA Turf Controversy

                      For the first time in the history of FIFA’s 2015 Women’s World Cup, the competition is being played on artificial turf. Consequently coverage leading up to the first match between home team Canada and China tended to focus less on predicting outcomes of the game and more on the material of the pitch. Players and their supporters raised objections in an effort to express discontent and to attempt to...

One History for All?: Pride

I will never forget my first Pride. I was living in New York City for the summer working as an intern at the Human Rights Watch. The office, last minute, decided to join the parade with people from the office and their families marching with signs regarding LGBT human rights issues. I got to carry the HRW banner (pictured above, I’m on the right) that read clearly “Tyranny has a Witness.” How many people can actually say their first Pride...