Category: Sociology of Culture

Undoing Residential Segregation: Is Housing Access Enough?

More than fifty years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, many Americans continue to live in neighborhoods that are segregated by race/ethnicity and class (Loh et al. 2020). How does this spatial separation come about, and what would it take to meaningfully integrate neighborhoods? Is providing affordable housing enough, or do we need to think about other dimensions of belonging within a community, such as shared opportunities for recreation, consumption, or making friends? Questions like these are of central...

What Is Socialization, Really?

              One of the very first concepts I teach my students in Introduction to Sociology is “socialization”. Referring to how individuals come to learn and reproduce the social order of a given society, the concept of socialization is fundamental to sociologists’ understanding of how society works. As we grow up and are exposed to the social influence of family members, teachers, and peers, we come to internalize the societal norms and beliefs that they adhere to so that we can...

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...

“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...

Election Anxiety and “Fake News” – What Sociologists Can Do

With Election Day looming on November 3rd, the country’s already high levels of stress and anxiety now seem even more amplified. Demonstrably, articles entitled something along the lines of “How to Cope with Election Anxiety” are flooding the Internet. On top of COVID-19, sky-high unemployment rates, and persistent civil unrest in response to injustice, the importance of the upcoming election seems greater – and therefore more anxiety-ridden – than ever. While much of this sense of “doom” is coming from...

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...

Elections Have Consequences: What Happened in 2016 and What May Happen in 2020

Almost four years, a pandemic, countless protests, and an impeachment later, it seems that the election of Donald Trump in 2016 has had more severe and deadly consequences than many had imagined. While his election over Hillary Clinton was difficult to imagine in itself – for pollsters, political operatives, and the general public alike – and took the entire world by surprise, it was even harder to project what life in the U.S. would be like for the subsequent four...

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...