Category: Opinion

Rural Poverty – do we need a sociological perspective?

Rural poverty has received relatively little attention from scholars in Europe or the USA, often regarded as secondary to more visible urban poverty. Lately, however, rural disadvantage has received unexpected attention, if only for its perceived role in generating political upheaval (see Krugman, Hank or Guilluy for example). Divergences between rural and metropolitan electoral results, support of populism in rural areas and even the rise of protest movements in the countryside have prompted a renewed interest in urban-rural disparities and...

Against false dichotomies in the politics and ethics of big data exploitations in public healthcare

Care.data was so short-lived. Announced in 2013 and scrapped 3 years later, it was never actually given the chance to serve its purposes and prove how it differed from other ‘revolutionary’ state health data research services. However, someone has only to read the transcripts of the special Health Committee to understand the confusion of the public, healthcare professionals and state institutions in England around this big data programme: how achievable it was, who could deliver it, to whose benefit or...

Profitability, Inequality and Climate Change

Climate change is the most serious challenge of the 21st century. Recent headline making events like wildfires in California, flooding in China, heatwaves in South Asia, and droughts in East Africa stem from human induced climate change. Scientists tells us that the risks associated with climate change are on course to intensify. This will result in enormous strain on human societies from the spread of diseases, human displacement, massive biodiversity loss, political conflict over resources, and higher mortality rates from extreme...

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...

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...

‘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...

How to understand social change and stability through discourse and communication?

This is a summary of a paper, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology, that presents a theoretical proposal for integrating two (historically estranged but often combined in practice) social psychological frameworks, as well as a methodological strategy for analysing discourse and communication, developed from this integration. The goals pursued with it are those of advancing a more socially relevant Social Psychology, more capable of comprehending how meanings are constructed and transformed in discourse and communication, as a way...

Transforming Despair into Hope

It is a feature of qualitative research that behind every published paper is a pile of data, fieldnotes, and ideas that never make it into the finished text.  Nevertheless, many of these ideas and observations, culled along the way, will have played an important role in shaping the final analysis.  It is some of these thoughts and observations, not formally presented in this paper and its companion piece – Towards a new perspective on deliberate self-harm in an area of...

Update: Us too! Why it’s time to give female death by suicide some serious sociological attention!

It is almost a year since I wrote this original blog post, linking to my research paper, An exploration of integrated data on the social dynamics of suicide among women, published in Sociology of Health & Illness. Statistics published since then show that as the overall suicide rate in the UK continues to show a downward trend, the rate of suicide among young girls aged 15-19, grew to its highest rate since records began in 1981 (Mohdin, 2018).  The National...

Doing ‘being on the edge’: the dilemma of being authentically suicidal in an online forum

This blog post summarises the main themes and concerns highlighted in the 2009 paper ‘Doing being ‘on the edge’: managing the dilemma of being authentically suicidal in an online forum’. The paper begins by outlining research into suicide and highlights that research into suicidal identities from a discursive perspective has not been widely established. The research demonstrates how discursive psychology can be useful in examining how suicidal identities can be built up in internet interaction. Using discursive psychology, suicidal identities...

Risks and responsibility: Navigating the long-term care of bariatric patients

“Concerns are rising about the late adverse events following gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.” So opens the abstract of an article recently published in the Lancet detailing the results of a nationwide, observational, population-based, cohort study in France. In this study, researchers compared nearly 9,000 bariatric patients with matched controls looking at outcomes for both mortality and morbidity (specifically: gastrointestinal disorders with the need for endoscopy or surgery; gastrointestinal disorders without the need for these interventions; nutritional disorders, and psychiatric...

‘Cloud chasers’ and ‘substitutes’: e-cigarettes, vaping subcultures and vaper identities

The social meaning of e-cigarettes and vaping involves a vaping subculture, ideas about health through harm reduction, pleasure and community, as well as addiction and stigma. Some use e-cigarettes to quit smoking; others thrive in the flavoured clouds. In addition, there is a ‘split vision’ of health and stigma in the perceptions of vaping where the vaper identities are constantly negotiated. The use of e-cigarettes has increased and moved beyond a cessation-only practice, were vaping has started to serve social,...

Of bodies and burkinis: institutional Islamophobia, Islamic dress and the colonial condition

The image accompanying this piece was taken last month in France. The image is of a poster that was displayed on the wall of a beach front café, set against the backdrop of armed troops parading the beach front. The overwhelming impression of the poster is the bust of Marianne, her flowing locks said to represent the freedom of the French Republic. She dominates the image, exemplary of what it means to be a woman in France.  The poster is...

Interview with Cynthia Lum and Christopher Koper, new Editors in Chief of Criminology & Public Policy

Cynthia Lum and Christopher Koper, new Editors in Chief of Criminology & Public Policy 1. Congratulations on being appointed the new editors of Criminology & Public Policy (CPP). As you begin your term, what is your broad vision for the future of the journal? We are thrilled to be selected as the new editors of Criminology & Public Policy and intend to continue the excellent work of the outgoing editors Professors Bill Bales and Dan Nagin in making CPP one...