Category: Science & Technology

The digitalisation of cities and housing: what will the future bring?

There is a lot of talk at the moment about the how digital technologies are or will impact on a variety of aspects of our lives, ranging from the nature of our work relations to urban life and housing. The ramifications of the impacts of digitalisation on our cities and in particular on housing have been the topic of a recent Housing Europe conference in Tallinn, Estonia. This article will draw out some of the broader themes discussed during this...

Interview: Lisa Garforth on Green Utopias: Environmental Hope Before and After Nature

Lisa Garforth is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Newcastle University. Her work explores green future visions, especially in fiction. Her recent book Green Utopias: Environmental Hope Before and After Nature (Polity 2018) examines the changing content and socio-cultural contexts of green utopias from post-war environmentalism to the challenge of the Anthropocene. What lead you to write your book, Green Utopias, and what are the major themes? I wanted to rethink environmental utopianism, not so much from the perspective of practical...

True cowmen and commercial farmers: differing opinions on what it means to be a ‘good’ dairy farmer

Farming is both an art and a science. Dairy farming in the UK is poised between being a traditional backbone of the rural economy and a high-tech industry. We need to understand what farmers and other stakeholders value within this sector in order to understand how they make decisions. The idea of the ‘good farmer’ is a useful concept within rural sociology for understanding farmer decision making12. Farmers make decisions that are in line with the ideal of being a...

The Digital Nudge in Social Security Administration

This is an abridged version of our full research paper, published in the journal International Social Security Review, which can be read in full for free here. There are significant trends occurring across three major pillars of public administration, namely social investment (policy), nudge (process) and predictive analytics (technology). The European Commission defines social investment as policies designed to strengthen people’s skills and capacities, supporting them to participate fully in employment and social life (EC, 2015). Key policy areas include education,...

Smart Farming: Wither Do It Yourself (DIY) Farmers

We have data coming out of our ears.  Between 2015 and 2016, the world generated more of it than what had been created in the previous 5,000 years.  The same holds true in agriculture—data related to soil characteristics, water quality (and quantity), weather, yield, market trends, and the like. The global market for precision farming technologies is estimated to reach approximately US$6 billion by 2021, which translates to an annual growth rate of 12.4 per cent. Adoption rates of precision...

“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...

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...

The Sociology of Sickness: On Feeling Bad

At the time in which I write this, I have been sick for eight days. I’ve gone through 5 boxes of tissues. Two packs of medicines. Had a fever. Called off a day of work. Gone to the doctor. Slept more than I have probably all year long. Needless to say, this is quite the summer cold. Being sick is no fun, and I’m one to remind everyone around me that it is as such. I complain, I play the victim...

The Economist Twist

      If you operate in a world of “market forces” well, then you should probably leave the social research to the social scientists.  An August 23rd commentary in the Science and Technology section of the Economist magazine anonymously summarized an elegantly designed longitudinal quasi-experimental study in less than 500 words.  Their summary concluded with two very basic possibilities (because as we know the range of human possibility is exactly two!) to explain the correlation between criminality and socio-economic...

Fly me to the Moon: Aviation: past, present, and future

  This year marks one century of commercial flying. On New Year’s Day in 1914, a large crowd gathered in St.Petersburg, Florida, as an airboat named ‘Benoist’ (after its creator, Thomas Benoist), took to the sky for a 23-minute flight over the Tampa Bay, carrying a single passenger (Abram Pheil, who won his $400 ticket in an auction). This maiden flight soon became a regular route, thus marking aviation’s birth as a viable industry. In the following decades, transnational routes,...

From the defining issue of our era to “green crap” – the transformation of climate change discourse in the UK.

Source: http://politicalscrapbook.net/2013/11/david-cameron-get-rid-of-all-the-green-crap/ As the saying goes ‘the jury’s in’; human activity is causing global temperatures to rise unnaturally and catastrophically quickly. The IPCC’s international panel of more than 800 scientists compiled over 9,200 peer-reviewed research papers to reach this verdict.  As a result, we are said to be initiating a mass extinction event analogous to one that annihilated the dinosaurs. Yet, climate change, once a totemic issue for politicians attempting to appear progressive, is becoming one of their marginal concerns. ...

A sociological understanding of online health behaviours

  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMedicine_Drugs.svg The 2006 Online Health Search, a US survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, showed that “prescription or over-the-counter drugs” was the fifth most widely searched health topic on the Web.  The most recent study, conducted by the Pew Project in September 2012, found that 72% of Internet users they surveyed say they looked online for health information within the past year. As well as providing knowledge, the Web is also a retail opportunity which allows...

Prisoners and Chronic Health Conditions: A Look at the Research

Chronic conditions are health conditions that have lasted or are expected to last twelve or more months and result in functional limitations and/or the need for continuous medical care (Hwang et al. 2001). In a recent study using data from the 2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Paez, Zhao, and Hwang (2009) found that 43.8 percent of non-institutionalized civilians in the U.S. live with one or more chronic conditions. Among adults, it was found that hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes are the...

The Personal is Political: Investigating the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement

Angelina Jolie recently made a huge decision, choosing a double mastectomy to prevent what she and her doctors saw as an inevitability—breast cancer. She then bravely came forward with the decision, writing an op-ed detailing how she made the choice, trying to take away the stigma and fear many women experience. She describes not only the testing that she underwent, but also points to the inequities of breast cancer—that it happens in mainly low- and mid-income countries, and that even...

Harvard University Students Take a Stand Against Controverisal Dissertation

This week, Harvard University students are taking a stand against a controversial 2009 dissertation, “IQ and Immigration Policy,” which argues that Hispanics have lower IQs and develops contentious suggestions for U.S. immigration reform based on this assumption.  Jason Richwine, the author of the dissertation and currently a research contributor for The Heritage Foundation, ultimately recommends that U.S. immigration policy should be based on intelligence, excluding individuals with lower IQ scores and including individuals with higher scores. Though Richwine claims that...