Category: Sociology of Culture

Put to the test: For a new sociology of testing

A test can be defined as an orchestrated attempt to reveal an entity’s potentially unknown properties or capacities. A drug trial, a pregnancy test, and a planetary probe are all procedures designed to ascertain the properties of some entity. However, while tests and testing are well‐established social forms, their role in culture, economy, politics, and everyday life seems to be expanding. With smart city experimentation, randomized controlled trials in economic development, and apps to test your personality and the performance...

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...

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...

The “Meat Paradox”, Culture, and Beyond

Cultural sociologists have repeatedly sought a model to explain how culture motivates action. Ann Swidler famously introduced the “cultural toolkit”: an individual’s collection of cultural scripts from which they can draw upon in various contexts.  More recently, cultural sociologists have used theories from cognitive science to explain how actions are driven by the interaction between cognition and the individual’s environment. These models emphasize that individuals’ choices are never purely made out of free will; rather, they are a product of...

Football is for hope, for joy, for peace, and for … trafficking?

Football gives hope to people across the globe, both young and old. Aspirations of being a professional football player signals an opportunity to change the socio-economic circumstances of not just an individual, but potentially a community for generations to come. Football gives joy to those who watch it and play an active role in following their favourite teams through the numerous ups and downs of professional sport. Football has also been used to bring peace to countries on the verge...

Infant feeding and the need for sociology

Discussion of how mothers feed their babies is rarely out of the news. Ellie Lee, Director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies at the University of Kent reflects on the issues.  As we teach our students, the sociological imagination helps us to see the relatedness of private problems and public issues. Sociological work about feeding babies stands as an excellent example of the application of this point. Research about the public struggles over how babies are fed, and the struggles women...

Children’s Lunchboxes and Social Class

As children’s lunchboxes travel between home to school and back again, so might concerns about good and bad parenting, and healthy and unhealthy diets. The way in which parents discuss lunchboxes in research studies can reveal a lot about parenting, social class and ways of feeding children outside the home. Government and school health initiatives that attempt to regulate lunch boxes are underpinned by particular norms of healthy eating and one of their unintended consequences is that children and their...

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...

Social innovation in crisis-shaken villages

Villages are rarely seen as centers for innovation. However, empirical research shows evidence of innovative activities taking place even in crisis-shaken rural regions. Anika Noack and Tobias Federwisch consider three initiatives, which aim to overcome local problems with socially innovative ideas. In doing so, the authors reveal external impulses by intermediates as crucial for social innovation. The rural municipality of ‘Kremmen’ (an anonymised name for the municipality involved in the study) was once a flourishing tourist destination in the Eifel...

British Journal of Sociology Best Paper Prize 2018: Gabriel Abend, ‘Outline of a Sociology of Decisionism’

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2018 British Journal of Sociology (BJS) Best Paper Prize, awarded to what we consider to be the best – most significant, provocative, intriguing, exciting, thought provoking – piece published in the journal over a two-year period running from our March 2017 issue to the December 2018 issue. This year’s prize goes to Gabriel Abend, Professor of Sociology at University of Lucerne and Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University, for the...

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....

Highlights from the ISA World Congress of Sociology, Toronto, 15-21 July 2018

The XIX International Sociological Association World Congress of Sociology is taking place this week, 15-21 July 2018. The Conference theme is Power, Violence and Justice, a topic that could not be more relevant for the global landscape in 2018. With over 5,000 delegates attending from across the globe, the congress opened with a vibrant and rousing performance by the Red Urban Project, Wasauking First Nation dancers and musicians. Professor Myrna Dawson, President-Elect of the Canadian Sociological Association began the addresses...

Interview: Lisa Garforth on Green Utopias: Environmental Hope Before and After Nature

Lisa Garforth is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Newcastle University. Her work explores green future visions, especially in fiction. Her recent book Green Utopias: Environmental Hope Before and After Nature (Polity 2018) examines the changing content and socio-cultural contexts of green utopias from post-war environmentalism to the challenge of the Anthropocene. What lead you to write your book, Green Utopias, and what are the major themes? I wanted to rethink environmental utopianism, not so much from the perspective of practical...

Free Content Collection: Celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity

Join us in celebrating World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (#WorldDiversityDay), observed annually on May 21st. A special collection of the latest research from a variety of disciplines to share knowledge on this important subject is free to access  until June 30th 2018 Former Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova commented on the importance of this world focus day: “Even as we celebrate cultural diversity today, we must remember that cultural diversity is increasingly under threat. Across the world, violent extremists have targeted cultural...

Producing Memory: Maps, Materials, Belongings @ Tate Exchange, London

From 1-6 May 2018, a fascinating project is taking place at Tate Modern, London, with artists and researchers from Queen Mary University of London, thinking about the role of objects in the production, conservation and recollection of individual and community memories. Producing Memory: Maps, Materials, Belongings offers installations, discussions, displays, workshops and screenings to explore how memory is produced in relation to material, objects and places. The programme displays migrant and refugee art, and considers the challenges of producing and conserving a home and identity when...