Category: Sociology of Media & Communication

In the digital ‘culture war’, left wing politics must capture online spaces – not just try to regulate them

It is tempting to see in contemporary digital political communication nothing more than too many people, saying too much, too loudly. Or, as Plato put it when complaining of the Athenian Assembly, people ‘shouting or hammering their disapproval and approval, grossly exaggerated in either case, of the things that are said and done’. That temptation is to be avoided. Our choice is not between acquiescence to elite authority on the one hand, and acceptance of our cacophonous public sphere on...

Sexed up online: Instagram influencers, harassment, and the changing nature of work

Kylie Jenner is estimated to earn $1 million per sponsored online post. Scrolling through her Instagram feed shows plenty of examples of how lucrative – and sexualized – the online attention economy has become. From poolside parties and bikinis, to fast cars and crop tops, and from motherhood to makeup tips, branded products are peppered among the mix of idealized selfies, professional headshots, and candid (or made to seem candid) snaps. Jenner is touted as the highest paid influencer on...

Marketing Children: Overcoding Indigenous Children with Colonial Happiness in the Child Welfare System

In 1964, the Today’s Child column began in the Toronto Telegram, written by Helen Allen at the behest of then-Deputy Minister of Welfare in Ontario, Dr. James Band. In 1972, the column moved to the Toronto Star. The Today’s Child ran weekly until 1982 and featured over 4,000 daily advertisements of children who were available for adoption. Each column would feature a photo of the child or multiple children and offer descriptions of each child’s appearance and disposition. A television...

Creationism, anti-intellectualism and education

For decades academics, educators, and policy makers have butt heads with creationists (i.e. people who believe in intelligent design over evolution).  Evolution is incompatible with strict religious beliefs that God created the universe.  Religious families have historically contested education on evolution in classrooms, believing that their children are being fed false information that infringes on their religious practice. Longest and Uecker [1] have recently added to this conversation by illuminating the salience and importance of these beliefs.  The authors argue that...

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...

Radicalization: Interview with Kevin McDonald

In his recent book, Radicalization (Polity, 2018) Kevin McDonald unpicks the term radicalization, showing that this term is little understood, and is problematic in that it does not articulate the very different experiences of those involved. New violent actors, whether they travelled to Syria or killed at home, range from former drug dealers and gang members, to students and professionals, schoolgirls, and mothers with young children. The book sets out to explore radicalization not as something done to people, but...

What not to watch: #MeToo and contemporary popular culture

In light of #MeToo, one of issues I have found myself thinking about on a daily basis is how to come to a decision as to whether or not a piece of culture is irredeemably tainted by the involvement of men accused of abuses and if I, as an ethical subject, should continue to consume them. The most significant factor in assessing whether or not to consume a piece work in which so-called ‘bad men’ feature prominently is individual experience....

Early Career Researcher Focus: Interview with Eva Cheuk-Yin Li on Gender Performance in East Asia

At the 2018 British Sociological Association Conference, we had the pleasure of speaking to sociology researchers across the breadth of the discipline, and at all career levels. Eva Cheuk-Yin Li has just completed her PhD on gender and sexuality studies and pop culture in East Asia, at King’s College London, and spoke to Sociology Lens about her research into gender performance in the context of pop culture and fandom in Chinese societies. Tell us about your research background I am...

The body positivity movement: advancing ‘fat’ activism

Apart from the fight against fat shaming, other approaches to body positivity range from anti-shaving decisions, to unretouched campaigns by which certain media channels reject photoshopped pictures, to accepting body changes during and post-pregnancy, to celebrities’ body positivity advice (Money, 2017). Arguments are made that body image is no longer essential for an individual’s self-definition (Murray, 2007) and yet contradictory comments in body positivity forums show fluctuations between individual options and social pressures. An analytical overview of social media cues...

“Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research”. Noortje Marres on how digital technology contributes to sociology.

Noortje Marres is the author of 2017 book, Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research, a critical new overview and assessment of the key concepts, methods and understandings that currently inform the development of specifically digital forms of social enquiry. In conversation with Francesca Halstead, Noortje discusses the key arguments in her book, how she came to write it, and how digital technology contributes to sociology research and practice. What is Digital Sociology? Digital Sociology came into usage as a...

Health and new normals

A recent article in The Conservation – To be ill is to be human: why normalising illness would make it easier to cope with – authors Gill Hubbard and Claire Wakefield argue that sickness remains the great unsaid, an object and state of denial, a source of fear and cause of stigma. Because of this, we tend to stay quiet when we fall ill, often keeping it hidden and coping alone.  This may make it far harder to cope when...

‘Fair Play’ & the ‘Level Playing Field’? Gender & Spectacle at the Olympics

It is hard to disavow the wonder and enchantment that watching the Olympics engenders. It’s easy to become engrossed by the spectacle of elite athletes pursuing seemingly impossible, barely perceptible improvements in sports that, for the next four years, you may never again consider. And spectacle is precisely what the Olympics proffer. But as Michael Silk (2011) writes in Sociology, the spectacle of sporting mega-events does far more than merely enchant. In London 2012, sporting spectacle was put to work...

Star Wars: A New Hope Awakens…

With all the Star Wars hype this past month the fandom seems to have awoken once more. The newest installment of Star Wars not only reinvigorates long-time fans but inspires a plethora of new comers to the franchise. Star Wars: The Force Awakens gives the world a new hope in representation as it showcases two of its main characters, a British woman as its protagonist and a Nigerian Brit as the deuteragonist. From the many hours of fan-made footage to...

Mass Media Depictions of Black and White Crime

The depiction of crime in fictional mass media occurs differently for people depending on the color of their skin and what this color has come to symbolize in such a complex system of race, ethnicity, and stratification in the United States.

Confessions of an Airport-lover. The ‘Non-place’ in a global village.

Like millions of others – possibly including yourself – I passed through several airports this summer (Remember summer?). But – perhaps unlike you – I obsess about airports, maybe because air travel forms a key part of my studies, or because I’m just something of an aero-geek. I mean, I was in the air cadets for two years as a teenager. But if you think about it, airports are strange, unique kinds of places.

Prize Winning Fictions

On Tuesday, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings was awarded the Man Booker Prize for 2015 at the City of London’s Guildhall (an institution about which I wrote for Sociology Lens last year). James’ book is an imagined retelling of the attempt made on Bob Marley’s life in 1976, and the first novel by a Jamaican writer to win the Prize, which now comes with a £50,000 cheque, having been introduced with a purse of £5,000 in 1969....