Author: Lucy Towers

Brexit: the revenge of the left behind?

The outcome of the 2016 EU referendum surprised most commentators. Even after four years, the debate on why 52% of Britons voted in favour of leaving the EU is far from over. The search for the ultimate causes of Brexit has produced a large body of academic work and even infiltrated popular culture. In one HBO production, the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum is portrayed as a success of Dominic Cummings, a canning Leave campaign director (portrayed by Benedict...

The Sociologia Ruralis special issue on “Right-wing populism in rural Europe”

Right-wing populism has shaken and stirred the European political landscape. Today, populist parties are no longer confined to the margins: they set the terms of the political debate, fuel societal conflict, and even form governments. Whereas their success is not an exclusively rural phenomenon, it is undeniable that their nationalist, xenophobic, Eurosceptic politics strongly resonate in many corners of the European countryside. The progressive media tends to explain this support away by presenting rural voters as politically unsophisticated, ‘naïve crowds’...

Partisanship in Police Repression

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested since Tuesday’s US election. Almost all of them have been anti-Trump activists engaging in civil disobedience. Nonetheless, the fear of clashes between Trump supporters and opponents in response to the contested US election remains strong.  If these occur, my research suggests that the police will favour Trump supporters. This bias isn’t because police are right wing (although they may well be) but is tied to the features of police organizations and logics and how...

Election Anxiety and “Fake News” – What Sociologists Can Do

With Election Day looming on November 3rd, the country’s already high levels of stress and anxiety now seem even more amplified. Demonstrably, articles entitled something along the lines of “How to Cope with Election Anxiety” are flooding the Internet. On top of COVID-19, sky-high unemployment rates, and persistent civil unrest in response to injustice, the importance of the upcoming election seems greater – and therefore more anxiety-ridden – than ever. While much of this sense of “doom” is coming from...

Where are future generations in newspaper coverage of climate change?

Climate change is accelerating – and will impact most on children and those yet to be born.  The failure to halt the relentless rise in global temperatures is an act of intergenerational injustice in which the UK is centrally implicated.  It is among the top national contributors to global fossil fuel emissions and, as the first industrialising country, has made the largest per person contribution to climate change.   While today’s children and tomorrow’s generations will be hardest hit, they...

This Cannot Be White-washed

This essay introduces the latest issue of City & Community’s Symposium: “Eyes of a Storm: COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and Police Brutality.” I thank Dr. Alyasah Ali Sewell for coming up with the symposium title. There is free online access for the next month at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15406040/2020/19/3. During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, at least 675,000 people were infected in the United States and 500 million worldwide (Barry 2004). However, like today’s COVID-19 Pandemic, the infection rates were not evenly distributed across the...

Race and Racism in the NHS

I was privileged to host a conversation with Tarek Younis and Andrew Smart as part of the BSA Medical Sociology Group virtual event on 10th September 2020, about their papers, published in Sociology of Health and Illness, and included in the journal’s virtual collection of papers on race and ethnicity. The collection and the conversation at the conference were inspired by recent calls for racial justice, provoked in part by the killing of George Floyd, just one of too many...

Is ADHD diagnosis flawed? Younger children in a school year group are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD globally

In 2019, I was the lead author of a paper titled Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder late birthdate effect common in both high and low prescribing international jurisdictions: a systematic review. We reviewed 22 studies from 13 countries covering over 15 million children, and found that it is normal for the youngest children in a school-year-group to be diagnosed with and ‘medicated’ for ADHD at a much higher rate than their older classmates. This ADHD late birthdate effect was typically strongest...

Body-worn cameras do not have clear or consistent effects on most officer or citizen behaviors, but more evaluation is needed.

The last decade has been marked by the rapid adoption of body-worn cameras (BWCs) by the police and a growing body of evaluation research on the technology’s effects. Spurred on by high-profile officer-involved shooting incidents and protests, many citizens and community groups have supported the adoption of BWCs, hoping that this technology might deter police misconduct and increase police accountability and transparency as to their uses of force. Police agencies also argue that BWCs can keep citizens accountable, reduce frivolous...

Populism, policy and pandemics

Across the globe there has been an upswing in populist right wing political parties in the past decade. This raises a number of particular challenges for the provision of health and social care. For example, witness the cross-country disparities in excess mortalities linked to COVID-19. If we look at countries with right wing populist leaders (e.g. USA, Brazil) compared to other countries (e.g. New Zealand). Much of this difference can be accounted for by the populist rejection of expertise and...

Doctors’ Orders – Sociology Lens Q&A

Can you give us some background information about the US medical residency system? The US medical residency system is peculiar in the sense that on any given year, there are consistently fewer prospective American MD medical student (USMD) applicants than there are available positions—by between 25 and 40%. This has been true since the about 1950s. So the country relies on international and osteopathic medical graduates (what I collectively call “non-USMDs”) to fill residency positions in fields like internal medicine,...

WHAT DOES BAKING TELL US ABOUT CLASS DURING COVID-19 IN INDIA?

In an unequal and diverse society like India, food has had deep associations with questions of identity, whether that of religion, caste, class, gender, ethnicity, or tribe. The recent COVID-19 crisis has highlighted some of these associations in a newer light, including the relationship between food and class. For most of the Indian middle-classes, the period of lockdown has been spent in experimenting with food as dishes like Dalgona coffee and banana bread became popular ‘quarantine recipes’. Food also became...

Stigma in a Polarized Society: The Case of Trump’s Family Separation Policy.

In June 2018 the United States’ news cycle was dominated by images of distraught children being separated from their anguished parents by uniformed Customs and Border Patrol officers. Although enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico border has long been condemned as draconian by human rights groups, the Trump administration’s move to a “zero-tolerance” border control policy resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of migrant children who were separated from their parents. The shift in enforcement drew much opprobrium, before the...

Lonely patients’ ambivalent engagements with digital media

Feeling isolated or lonely is common among chronically ill people. They may suffer severe pain, have limited mobility, and/or experience stigmatisation—depending on the nature of their condition. Consequently, many will turn to digital technologies to make connections with others. In a recent Australian study on patients’ use of digital media, my colleagues and I found that our respondents often spontaneously mentioned during their interviews that they felt isolated or lonely and that the internet and social media provided valuable tools...

Re-homing hens during Covid-19: A rethinking of urban space?

Through the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, humans have been exposed to the threat that the exploitation and eating of animals poses to humanity and public health. It has also become obvious that animals want to and are willing to take up more space (Taylor, 2020). In the relative absence of humans during lockdown, animal populations have spread out and some have actually entered cities and towns for the first time. Where conversations are taking place on the human abandonments and...

Elections Have Consequences: What Happened in 2016 and What May Happen in 2020

Almost four years, a pandemic, countless protests, and an impeachment later, it seems that the election of Donald Trump in 2016 has had more severe and deadly consequences than many had imagined. While his election over Hillary Clinton was difficult to imagine in itself – for pollsters, political operatives, and the general public alike – and took the entire world by surprise, it was even harder to project what life in the U.S. would be like for the subsequent four...