Category: Topics

Local Contexts, Global Movements: How Place Shapes Online Social Movements

These days, it is almost impossible to imagine what our daily lives would look like without social media. Platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram have all come to shape our society in fundamental ways – not least in the ways in which we communicate. On the most fundamental level, social media usage has introduced new words to our language that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago (for example, Merriam Webster now lists a Twitter-specific definition for...

Emotional Labor, Social Movements, and Being a Bad Feminist

Since Arlie Hochschild’s groundbreaking book The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (1983), the concept of “emotional labor” has become increasingly popularized. Writing about jobs in the service industry, Hochschild defines emotional labor as the work that “requires one to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others” (20). In other words, many (if not most) jobs require us to manage and negotiate our own feelings and the...

Transitions from care to adulthood: exploring historical narratives

Outcomes for care leavers The evidence has been well publicised: young people who have spent their formative years in public care are less likely than their peers to be in gainful employment, and more likely to become homeless, to become involved in crime or prostitution or to become long-term dependent on the state.  A closer inspection of the data tends to reveal a much more nuanced picture: a small group of care leavers are ‘movers on’ who achieve educational, employment...

Is America Coming Apart?

Income and wealth inequalities in the United States are ever widening, and it is having a knock-on effect on segregation. Consider your own life. When you think about the people with whom you interact most, both socially and professionally, it is likely that your neighbors, classmates, and coworkers come to mind. This makes sense, as we come to spend a great deal of our time in our own schools, our own neighborhoods, and our own workplaces. Now consider the socioeconomic...

Why declining church attendance sharpens cultural backlash

Religion occupies an odd place in British public and social life. On the one hand, there is an established church in England, while the Church of Scotland is recognised as the national church in Scotland, guaranteed under the Act of Union of Scotland and England of 1707. But compared with other countries Britain is at a relatively late stage of secularisation. A decreasing proportion of the public attend a place of worship regularly, even taking into account the relatively greater...

To Do What You Love, Or Not? Employment and the Dominant Ideology of Work Passion

“Do what you love” is something we often hear in response to questions about what career path to choose. Whether from guidance counselors, college professors, or parents, the message is always the same: the best job is the one you are passionate about. A job, in other words, should be more than a job – it should be a part of who you are. While often well-intentioned, this idea is built on several problematic assumptions. First, it presupposes that everyone...

The economic and distributional impacts of affordable housing

A new report on limited-profit housing associations in Austria quantifies the economic impacts of affordable housing in terms of household budgets, economic output, and state expenditure. This article summarises the key findings from this report and draws conclusions on the links between housing and economic inequality. Profit-limitation and affordability – almost 2k Euros savings to households Limited-Profit Housing Associations (LPHA) in Austria occupy a distinctive Third Sector role in Austria’s housing market, being neither profit-driven nor state-dependent. LPHA provide homes...

Researchers should do more to bring their findings to society: the case of ADHD-medication

In 2020, I co-authored a paper with one of my PhD students, entitled A prescription trend analysis of methylphenidate: relation to study reports on efficacy. In this study by Maruschka Sluiter and colleagues, the prescription-rate of ADHD pills in the Netherlands was analyzed in relation to newly published evidence regarding the lack of their efficacy. We showed that several negative study reports from 2007 onwards did not lead to significant reduction in the rate of methylphenidate (MPH) prescriptions. The data...

Does cultural consumption increase future earnings?

In contemporary Britain (as in almost every other nation), there is a clear link between cultural tastes and social position. People who are highly educated, have higher incomes, and work in prestigious occupations are generally more avid cultural consumers than people in less advantaged positions. As you might expect, they are more likely to enjoy high-brow activities like classical music concerts and art galleries. However, they also participate more often in a diverse range of activities; from going to the...

Is College Worth the Student Loans?

Getting a college education is, in many ways, revered in U.S. society. It is often said that the four years spent in college are “the best four years of your life,” based in the notion that college is a social and fun experience that will shape one’s life. However, the pervasive societal encouragement of college education is also based on some more dire assumptions. Many young adults in the U.S. grow up hearing that they need to go to college...

The Contested Ground of Science, Politics, and Religion

It is no secret that we live in an era of “fake news” and widespread distrust in basic facts. As I have discussed previously on Sociology Lens, this is a distinguishing feature of Trumpism and much of the rhetoric currently surrounding American politics. Just recently, we saw the idea that the election of Joe Biden as the next President was “fake” playing out in deadly ways when Trump-supporting rioters and White supremacists stormed the Capitol on January 6th. Unfortunately, this...

“This Year I Will…”: Personal Resolutions and the Near Future

Each January, as the calendar turns to a new year, thoughts turn to personal resolutions. Media outlets promise a “New Year! New You!”—achieved through prescriptive, step-by-step programs or more elusive strategies, such as strengthening one’s willpower. In the popular imagination, resolutions are a means to an end, and that end is an improved version of the self.  Despite their clear connection to temporality and identity projects, sociologists have had surprisingly little to say about resolutions. In my article, “A Year...

The Cost of Pollutants: Environmental Hazards, Racial Residential Segregation, and Health

Racial disparities in health are undoubtedly one of the most significant public health issues of our time. According to the National Institute of Health, racial and ethnic minorities suffer from a higher incidence of a wide range of negative health outcomes than Whites, such as preterm births, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. COVID-19 has been no exception, with people of color being disproportionally affected by the pandemic both in terms of infection rates and deaths. Studies have shown that these...

A Covid Cry: adjusting, adapting & extending

Last night (11th November) the UKRI announced their latest position on funding extensions for PGRs, and I burst into tears. As I tried to grasp the fine print detail of the UKRI statement, my eyes kept leaking out fear and hopelessness. Will I be one of the lucky ones? Does my end date fit? Have my circumstances been challenging enough? How can I finish this project before the money runs out? What else is going to happen to the people...

Using arts-based methods to access vulnerable children’s experience: The case of children in the Lesbos refugee camp

The aim of this excerpt is to outline a qualitative arts-based methodology used to understand and to evaluate refugee children’s lived experience of in-detention camp schools. We think that this may be a useful protocol with which to approach additional contexts of children’s lives that are difficult to research using traditional methods due to cultural and context – related challenges. The rights and abilities of children to consult and express their worldview as well as to influence their lives and...

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...