Category: Political & Economic Sociology

Populism, policy and pandemics

Across the globe there has been an upswing in populist right wing political parties in the past decade. This raises a number of particular challenges for the provision of health and social care. For example, witness the cross-country disparities in excess mortalities linked to COVID-19. If we look at countries with right wing populist leaders (e.g. USA, Brazil) compared to other countries (e.g. New Zealand). Much of this difference can be accounted for by the populist rejection of expertise and...

WHAT DOES BAKING TELL US ABOUT CLASS DURING COVID-19 IN INDIA?

In an unequal and diverse society like India, food has had deep associations with questions of identity, whether that of religion, caste, class, gender, ethnicity, or tribe. The recent COVID-19 crisis has highlighted some of these associations in a newer light, including the relationship between food and class. For most of the Indian middle-classes, the period of lockdown has been spent in experimenting with food as dishes like Dalgona coffee and banana bread became popular ‘quarantine recipes’. Food also became...

Stigma in a Polarized Society: The Case of Trump’s Family Separation Policy.

In June 2018 the United States’ news cycle was dominated by images of distraught children being separated from their anguished parents by uniformed Customs and Border Patrol officers. Although enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico border has long been condemned as draconian by human rights groups, the Trump administration’s move to a “zero-tolerance” border control policy resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of migrant children who were separated from their parents. The shift in enforcement drew much opprobrium, before the...

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...

Dismantling Distrust in Colombia’s Enduring Conflict

The conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC – Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and the Government of Colombia had a dramatic effect on the country, leading to over 200000 deaths and the displacement of seven million people since 1964. Forming with the stated intention to defend the rural poor, ensure fair resource distribution and overthrow the state, the FARC attracted support from elements of the community. Over time it became increasingly embedded in the licit and illicit...

The Uneven Adjustment to Homeworking Among UK Sex Workers

The shift to homeworking under lockdown raises important concerns for those whose work involves physical and emotional connection, not least forms of work which have been undertaken in a shroud of secrecy. Here, I highlight the work of sex workers, in particular, who negotiate a sexual and emotional experience with clients through physical touch and emotional conversation. Of course, while some aspects of the experience can be – and are – undertaken remotely through online technologies in a burgeoning online...

Coronavirus reflections: Face masks, Islamic dress and colonial differentiation.

Like many countries across the world, France is currently negotiating the coronavirus pandemic and has recently begun to emerge from lockdown by circulating a slogan not dissimilar to the UK government ‘Sauvez des vies, restez prudent’ (Save lives, stay alert). What then is so notable about the French plan to tackle coronavirus and be free from lockdown? Aside from the bureaucratic plan developed in France, the significant and noteworthy method of returning to some sense of ‘normalcy’ is to mandate...

Housing Associations as Third Sector anchor institutions: examples from England and Austria

Housing associations are well-known actors in the provision of affordable housing, not only in England but also in a number of other European countries. Whilst typically being classed as actors of the Third Sector, that is, neither state-owned nor profit-driven, their institutional and regulatory set-up differs widely in different countries. In recent years, there is increasing interest as to the role of housing associations, not just as housing providers but as actors who are influencing and shaping local communities. This...

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...

Money, markets and trade caused coronavirus pandemic

In recent weeks, the microscopic bundle of genes and proteins that comprises the Covid-19 coronavirus has been ascribed almost miraculous powers to infect huge and growing numbers of human bodies.  The media coverage of the outbreak  has ensured that few are unaware of the respiratory tract symptoms that the infection produces: symptoms that – in the case of the most vulnerable – can kill. However, this account has largely sidelined the social, economic and political environment that has contributed to...

Gender, Political Change, and the Macro-Social

It is clear that there is a reciprocal relationship between politics and our social world; while political action acts on our social environment, social phenomena equally shape our political landscape. In this vein, there has been a growing acknowledgment that social facts, like gender, deeply influence who rises to political power as well as the policies they are able to enact.  For example, over the past two years our country has frequently discussed how masculinity contributed to the rise of...

Localised Far Right Mobilisation in Timişoara, Romania

Figure 1: Timişoara’s Piaţa Traian is a contested area for the poor Roma access into architectural heritage buildings. Photo: Remus Creţan, 2019 The social, political and economic upheaval in Eastern Europe following the removal of the communist regimes that dominated region in 1989 has had lasting effects. The prospect of membership of the European Union opened the possibility of new opportunities and access to resources, enabling them to weather much of the transitional instability. Requirements for increased transparency and accountability...

Rural Poverty – do we need a sociological perspective?

Rural poverty has received relatively little attention from scholars in Europe or the USA, often regarded as secondary to more visible urban poverty. Lately, however, rural disadvantage has received unexpected attention, if only for its perceived role in generating political upheaval (see Krugman, Hank or Guilluy for example). Divergences between rural and metropolitan electoral results, support of populism in rural areas and even the rise of protest movements in the countryside have prompted a renewed interest in urban-rural disparities and...

Against false dichotomies in the politics and ethics of big data exploitations in public healthcare

Care.data was so short-lived. Announced in 2013 and scrapped 3 years later, it was never actually given the chance to serve its purposes and prove how it differed from other ‘revolutionary’ state health data research services. However, someone has only to read the transcripts of the special Health Committee to understand the confusion of the public, healthcare professionals and state institutions in England around this big data programme: how achievable it was, who could deliver it, to whose benefit or...

Profitability, Inequality and Climate Change

Climate change is the most serious challenge of the 21st century. Recent headline making events like wildfires in California, flooding in China, heatwaves in South Asia, and droughts in East Africa stem from human induced climate change. Scientists tells us that the risks associated with climate change are on course to intensify. This will result in enormous strain on human societies from the spread of diseases, human displacement, massive biodiversity loss, political conflict over resources, and higher mortality rates from extreme...