Author: Francesca Halstead

Put to the test: For a new sociology of testing

A test can be defined as an orchestrated attempt to reveal an entity’s potentially unknown properties or capacities. A drug trial, a pregnancy test, and a planetary probe are all procedures designed to ascertain the properties of some entity. However, while tests and testing are well‐established social forms, their role in culture, economy, politics, and everyday life seems to be expanding. With smart city experimentation, randomized controlled trials in economic development, and apps to test your personality and the performance...

School Closures During COVID-19: Potential Impacts on Homeschooling Regulation

Life as we know it is rapidly changing in the current coronavirus pandemic. While many Americans are experiencing unprecedented financial hardship as unemployment rates are skyrocketing, others with relatively unaffected jobs are nonetheless worried about other aspects of this “new normal”: no handshakes, no large gatherings, and even moving freely about or visiting with loved ones is restricted. Many, of course, are also falling ill or losing family members and friends. Although some states are more affected than others, the...

No Time for Blind Optimism

The world is facing the most serious health catastrophe since 1918.  A global pandemic—one that many medical authorities warned would happen sooner or later—is here.  The coronavirus travels quietly, widely, and can have deadly consequences.  At this writing, well over 1.5 million people have been infected and close to 90,000 have died.  Compare this to the SARS epidemic of 2002-2003 which infected 8,098 people and killed 774 or the 2014 outbreak of the Ebola virus which infected 18,000 people and...

Money, markets and trade caused coronavirus pandemic

In recent weeks, the microscopic bundle of genes and proteins that comprises the Covid-19 coronavirus has been ascribed almost miraculous powers to infect huge and growing numbers of human bodies.  The media coverage of the outbreak  has ensured that few are unaware of the respiratory tract symptoms that the infection produces: symptoms that – in the case of the most vulnerable – can kill. However, this account has largely sidelined the social, economic and political environment that has contributed to...

‘Women of my age tend to drink’: Understanding how older Australian and Danish women negotiate the pleasures and risks of their alcohol use

When we think of risky drinking, typically we think of young people ‘binge drinking’, passing out on the footpath and generally looking a bit ‘messy’. The media reinforces the notion that drinking is primarily a problem among young people by regularly circulating stories and images of young people being drunk in public and causing problems either to themselves or bystanders. This emphasis on young people’s drinking is not surprising, particularly since they are more likely to drink in public places,...

Pregnancy and childbirth in prison

“I’ve got baggy tops, so I just always have to hide my bump, and like most people couldn’t recognise that I’m pregnant, so that’s a good thing”. With a prison population of approximately 9000 women in England, it is estimated that approximately 600 pregnancies and 100 births occur annually.  Despite there being an extensive literature on the sociology of reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth, there has been scarce qualitative research looking specifically at pregnant prisoners. Our recently published open access paper:...

Vaccine frictions – one rationality does not fit all

This blog piece highlights some points of my on-going multi-sited research project on HPV vaccination in Finland. The findings presented are based on my open access research article, What kind of ‘a girls’ thing’?, published in Sociology of Health and Illness. When you are vaccinated, you get protection against the cancer‐causing HP virus. On the front page of the Finnish HPV vaccination campaign site. That vaccine protects from papillomavirus (not directly even from cervical cancer), which is very effectively prevented...

The impact of care farms on quality of life, depression and anxiety among different population groups: A systematic review

This is a plain language summary for a new Systematic Review published in Campbell Systematic Reviews, aimed at understanding the impact of care farming on quality of life, depression and anxiety, on a range of service user groups. Care farming is the therapeutic use of agricultural and farming practices. People value the farms, but the evidence on their effectiveness is limited. What is this review about? Care farming (also called social farming) is the therapeutic use of agricultural and farming...

How do refugee organizations communicate about forcibly displaced people?

© DFID – UK Department for International Development published under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) http://bit.ly/33MnkXX  70.8 million. That is the enormous number of people who were forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2018. Many of them are confronted with hostility, xenophobia and/or increasingly popular far-right movements.[1] While states have the basic legal responsibility to protect and assist these displaced people,[2] in recent decades, several states worldwide have implemented increasingly restrictive asylum policies.[3] In protecting refugees’ rights and...

How can we foster positive outcomes for children and young people in care, and what can we learn from ‘success’ stories?

‘Graduation was a really happy day. When I went on stage [my former counsellor] was cheering and stuff and you’re not supposed to do that. She was so excited. She was crying actually; it was so embarrassing. I feel very proud. No one thought I would…genuinely, other than [former counsellor]. In my care reviews, it would be like, lots of people don’t succeed at university. So, to me that [graduation] was like, in your face!’ *Karen ‘She [social worker] understood…She...

The Humanities in Technology: What Kind of World Do We Want?

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on the work of artificial intelligence, machines, and automated learning, where does that leave the Humanities? How can we use these technological tools to inform research without compromising the necessary human contributions to these fields? Machine-learning and AI algorithms are becoming ever more commonplace within research, and are beginning to find their uses within the broad scope of Humanities scholarship. At its most ambitious, AI aims to equal, if not outstrip, human intelligence. AI...

LSE Sociology Public Lecture: Professor Marion Fourcade on Ordinal Citizenship

The 2019 annual British Journal of Sociology Public Lecture will take place on Friday 25th October, 6.30pm to 8.00pm in the Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics and Political Science. Chaired by Professor Nigel Dodd, this year’s speaker is Professor Marion Fourcade from University of California at Berkeley, on the topic of Ordinal Citizenship: “The expansion of social citizenship in the 20th century mitigated the brute effects of economic inequality in people’s lives. The institutionalization of...

Rethinking Old Authoritarianisms

Following World War II, sociologists became particularly interested in collective behavior, or what was sometimes referred to as the “psychology of the crowd”.  Fueled by their disbelief of the spread of Nazism and authoritarianism, these scholars sought to understand how collectives could come to widely uphold authoritarian tendencies-even if they had never previously engaged in similar political activity.  These early studies largely focused on individual psychology, comparing crowd behavior to a contagion that spreads and possesses otherwise harmless people.  This...

Digital Health: Sociological Perspectives

Digital technologies are increasingly being developed, implemented and used in the delivery of health and care, contributing to potentially disruptive changes in how healthcare is practised and experienced by health professionals, patients and those within their wider care networks. The following extract is from the introduction to a new special issue of Sociology of Health and Illness, edited by Flis Henwood and Benjamin Marent, now free to access until the end of 2019: ‘Digital health’ is both easy and hard...

‘Seeing What is Invisible in Plain Sight’: How Effective Is the New Law on Coercive Control?

In early 2013, Rob Titchener, a tall, dark and handsome dairy farmer, arrived in Ambridge and started an affair with Helen Archer. And so began the controversial story line of the usually staid and very popular BBC Radio Four drama, ‘The Archers’, that ‘gripped the UK’ for three and a half years. The portrayal of Rob’s torturous coercive and controlling persecution of Helen culminated in a thrilling Sunday night ‘special episode’ in September 2016, as the programme was extended to an hour for...

Is there a long-term impact of social background on graduates’ careers?

It is a well-known finding that children’s social background affects their educational attainment. But does parental background still matter for attaining a more prestigious job after graduating from university? In a recently published article, we examined graduates’ occupational trajectories to identify a potential long-term impact of social background on individuals’ working careers. We argued that the influence of family background on graduates’ careers might vary across the life course, and it is, therefore, important to take into account changes across...