Latest articles from sociology lens

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...

Review of "Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men" by Jane Ward

  Ward’s book, Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men is a look at a timeless, but under evaluated phenomena. Sex between straight white men sounds like a paradox: some kind of residual heteronormative notion. Ward’s assertion is that it is not- that for time immemorial otherwise heterosexual white men have engaged in homosexual and homosocial behaviors under a variety of homosocial circumstances (fraternities, the military, pornography, bathhouses). Ward’s thesis is aligned with queer theory and the notion that sexuality...

Star Wars: A New Hope Awakens…

With all the Star Wars hype this past month the fandom seems to have awoken once more. The newest installment of Star Wars not only reinvigorates long-time fans but inspires a plethora of new comers to the franchise. Star Wars: The Force Awakens gives the world a new hope in representation as it showcases two of its main characters, a British woman as its protagonist and a Nigerian Brit as the deuteragonist. From the many hours of fan-made footage to...

"How was your 2015?" and other daft questions

Christmas. Our post-christian festival of gluttony, consumption and indulgence on a (post-) industrial scale. Office parties and festive meals are a time for living in the moment, of justifying a round of sambuccas, or a snog with your work-colleague with a disclaimer of “Oh well, it’s CHRISTMAS!”. You might feel fat, foolish and poorly the next day but for now, hang the consequences. I always think that New Year is a follow-up of a slightly different flavour – best-of-the-year round-ups...

Profiting from Precarity

In Italy during the 1970s, labour movements responding to and resisting the rigidity of assembly-line employment celebrated precarious patterns of work; precarity was something beautiful (precario bello). This, Stevphen Shukaitis observes, “is an eminently sensible thing to say when you think about what the kind of ‘security’ and ‘stability’ is created by working in a petrochemical factory or on an automobile assembly line for forty years.” More recently, popular discussions of precarity in the Anglophone world have tended to orient...

What does ‘disruptive innovation’ disrupt?

At the end of last week, Ellen MacArthur’s second Disruptive Innovation Festival came to a close, having dedicated the first three weeks of November “to exploring the ideas and innovations which are shaping our changing economy, connecting participants directly with the world’s most forward-looking start-ups, entrepreneurs, designers, thought-leaders and policymakers via a unique collaborative online format.” While the Festival was in full swing (although not apparently in response to it), Lee Vinson, a Science & Technology Studies professor at Stevens...

Can the revolution in the music industry tell us anything about the future of capitalism?

Christmas is coming. The John Lewis ad is out. Consumerist-bonkers-day Black Friday is around the corner, and as I write, hundreds of container ships are slowly inching their way across the seas from China to the West, bringing a cargo of all the things we are told we need this year. Toys-wise, apparently this year’s must-have presents include an “interactive Thunderbirds Tracy Island” and a “‘skate and sing’ remote control Elsa” (apparently she’s out of Frozen but, being childless, I...

Mass Media Depictions of Black and White Crime

The depiction of crime in fictional mass media occurs differently for people depending on the color of their skin and what this color has come to symbolize in such a complex system of race, ethnicity, and stratification in the United States.

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...

Confessions of an Airport-lover. The ‘Non-place’ in a global village.

Like millions of others – possibly including yourself – I passed through several airports this summer (Remember summer?). But – perhaps unlike you – I obsess about airports, maybe because air travel forms a key part of my studies, or because I’m just something of an aero-geek. I mean, I was in the air cadets for two years as a teenager. But if you think about it, airports are strange, unique kinds of places.

LGBTQ* People and Public Space

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/people-crowded-steps-walking-692005/ For LGBTQ people, public space is fraught with potential dangers, harassment, and discrimination. Over the past few months I have been researching how LGBTQ people learn to navigate space and its political implications. Public space is the stage in which the sociopolitical plays out. How people present themselves and how people respond to such presentations is inherently a political struggle. Noting that gender is part of our performance is important to analyzing gender as a political act, as...

Prize Winning Fictions

On Tuesday, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings was awarded the Man Booker Prize for 2015 at the City of London’s Guildhall (an institution about which I wrote for Sociology Lens last year). James’ book is an imagined retelling of the attempt made on Bob Marley’s life in 1976, and the first novel by a Jamaican writer to win the Prize, which now comes with a £50,000 cheque, having been introduced with a purse of £5,000 in 1969....

Selected Politics Concerning Natural Hair

The term “natural hair” is used in the African American community to differentiate between hair that has been left in its natural state and hair which has been permed (which is to permanently straighten the hair follicle with chemicals). African American hair in its natural state appears tightly coiled or kinky and is often socially stigmatized. Social stigmas are any idea that individuals associate with negative connotations. Many individuals would agree that hair is a prevailing symbol of one’s self...

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...