Category: Social Movements / Social Change

Young children at street protests

When we see reports from protests, some of us feel uneasy about seeing children taking part. The reasons for this anxiety may vary. But it is interesting to ask ourselves what exactly triggers our reactions. Of course, photos and videos capture a fragment of reality in a specific composition, while the experiences of the participants are more integrated and general. The pictures of children protesting [1] raise in many people the fear that they may have fallen victim to manipulation....

If You Plant It, They Will Come: Anti-GM Protest in Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Kingdom

On 13 October 2003 Friends of the Earth led a group of 1000 people on a march through London to Downing Street to present a petition opposing the continued development of genetically modified crops in the UK (Brown, 2003). A week later in Wellington, Greenpeace erected a billboard on the grounds of Parliament asking why the Prime Minister was not listening to the peoples’ concerns over genetic engineering (New Zealand Press Association, 2003). Both these events came in the latter...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

The British Journal of Sociology: New Design Volume 70

As an editorial team we are keenly aware of the momentous changes that are taking place in the world of journal publishing, and fully intend to keep our own practices as a journal and as editors – everything from what we publish to how we review, and how quickly – under constant scrutiny in order to ensure that we stay as up to date and as relevant as we can be. So, it is with great pleasure that we announce...

BJS Annual Lecture: From “Having” to “Being”: self-worth and the current crisis of American society, by Michèle Lamont

On Thursday 25th October 2018, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Department of Sociology hosted its annual British Journal of Sociology  (BJS) public lecture. The lecture, by Professor Michèle Lamont from Harvard University was entitled, From “Having” to “Being”: self-worth and the current crisis of American society. The lecture focused on diagnosing the challenges of neoliberal American society: the pitfalls of the American dream across classes, hardened group boundaries, and the need to invent new narratives of hope.  The lecture...

“Disgruntlement” and Protest Movements in the Trump Era

In their recently published article, “Protest Movements and Citizen Discontent: Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party”[1], Martin et al. seek to explain how and why citizens support broad-based protest movements like the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street.  Unlike social movements with clear constituents and defined goals, movements like these lead us to wonder why some individuals participate and not others.  Deviating from conventional frameworks that point to the extension or dislocation of political ideologies as social movement catalysts,...

Sociology Research Led a US State to Abolish the Death Penalty

The Chronicle of Higher Education this week reported that when the Washington State Supreme Court abolished the death penalty this month, it was primarily because of the work of sociologist, Professor Katherine Beckett. On Thursday, 11th October 2018 the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the death penalty violates the Washington State constitution‘s prohibition on ‘cruel punishment.’ In its ruling, the Court cited research by University of Washington Center for Human Rights Faculty Associate Prof. Katherine Beckett, and Lecturer Heather Evans, who conducted the...