Category: Opinion

Rain on the body: Bodies as mere objects

Bodies are inscribed with meaning in and through a web of social and power relations. Bodies are not neutral and object matter; rather, they (re)produce themselves when alone and when with others. The digital world can create bodies from afar and the offline world can do so, too. For example, one interacts with others online through digital platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, shaping how the body is (un)seen and (un)heard; one can also interact with others offline, whereby a...

The Uneven Adjustment to Homeworking Among UK Sex Workers

The shift to homeworking under lockdown raises important concerns for those whose work involves physical and emotional connection, not least forms of work which have been undertaken in a shroud of secrecy. Here, I highlight the work of sex workers, in particular, who negotiate a sexual and emotional experience with clients through physical touch and emotional conversation. Of course, while some aspects of the experience can be – and are – undertaken remotely through online technologies in a burgeoning online...

Coronavirus reflections: Face masks, Islamic dress and colonial differentiation.

Like many countries across the world, France is currently negotiating the coronavirus pandemic and has recently begun to emerge from lockdown by circulating a slogan not dissimilar to the UK government ‘Sauvez des vies, restez prudent’ (Save lives, stay alert). What then is so notable about the French plan to tackle coronavirus and be free from lockdown? Aside from the bureaucratic plan developed in France, the significant and noteworthy method of returning to some sense of ‘normalcy’ is to mandate...

Identity Theory, Emotions, and the “Victim”—“Survivor” Binary

Sociological identity theory concerns itself with the concept of the self: what it is, how societal structures influence it, and how we navigate it. According to the symbolic interactionist tradition, heavily influenced by the work of George Herbert Mead, one’s sense of self or identity is built in and through social interactions with others. As such, there is a reciprocal relationship between the self and the external social world; society impacts the self, and in turn, the self impacts our...

Housing Associations as Third Sector anchor institutions: examples from England and Austria

Housing associations are well-known actors in the provision of affordable housing, not only in England but also in a number of other European countries. Whilst typically being classed as actors of the Third Sector, that is, neither state-owned nor profit-driven, their institutional and regulatory set-up differs widely in different countries. In recent years, there is increasing interest as to the role of housing associations, not just as housing providers but as actors who are influencing and shaping local communities. This...

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...

Distance as a social vocation

In this article, I explore the habitus of social distancing to critically engage with the different human conditions that grips us amidst the coronavirus pandemic. I also briefly discuss different kinds of distances we practice in our everyday life before I go on to show how distance is turned into a vocation upon which our survival and hope rests.  The foundation of society is also based on distance as much as it is on closeness. Distances complete us. Let me take you...

The Sociology of Medical Guidelines

Allen Frances, M.D, is an American psychiatrist who chaired the DSM-IV taskforce, and later criticized the DSM-5 and American psychiatry for their roles in manufacturing mental illnesses and the epidemic of overdiagnosis. In this blog post he makes a well-founded plea for sociologic contributions to medicine. Before the Flexner report in 1909, medical education and practice in America were chaotic and of low quality. After the report, both were quickly and dramatically reformed in ways that seemed completely wonderful at...

‘If there were doctors who could understand our problems, I would already be better’: dissatisfactory health care and marginalisation in superdiverse neighbourhoods

In the 2007 film, originally entitled ‘Allotment’, the inimitable Omid Djalili plays a refugee doctor called Ali who consults in his allotment shed. Ali reviews the numerous medications taken by allotmenteer Charlie (played by John Henshaw). Ali indicates one packet of pills: ‘This one here is for women problems! Do you have women problems?’ Charlie looks annoyed, puzzled and then embarrassed. Why is Charlie taking drugs for a gynecological condition? Given Charlie’s dislike of visiting the health centre, his wife...

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...

The lack of common sense in disorder thinking

Disorder thinking has been popular and dominant in recent decennia, with a rising number of behaviors and emotions being medicalized into a psychiatric disease. More people today than ever before in history are being diagnosed and treated for ever lighter quirks, drawing professional attention away from those who need treatment most. One recent example of medicalizing a problem that someone might have is Misophonia. Misophonia In 2013, a research group led by the Chair of the Dutch Psychiatry Association introduced...

‘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,...

“If it’s not on Strava it doesn’t matter”. The collective shaping of running via self-tracking social interactions

“If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen”, I have often been told as I explain my research to runners and cyclists familiar with the social fitness platform. Self-tracking has become an everyday activity, and not just for athletes (and ‘wannabe’ athletes). Wearable devices for self-tracking of sleep, food intake, physical activity and even sex are readily available, and smart phones gather data on steps, heart rate and sleep without you even knowing. The ethics and power issues associated with...

Upholding Equity Across Different Campuses

In the past decade the United States has witnessed an influx of conversations regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Cases like Brock Turner and Chanel Miller or Emma Sulkowicz became national examples of the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses as well as universities’ failures to protect survivors and seek justice. While there is much work left to be done, there seems to be a more concrete understanding of the frequency of sexual assault and the injustice done…