Category: Political & Economic Sociology

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...

LSE Sociology Public Lecture: Professor Marion Fourcade on Ordinal Citizenship

The 2019 annual British Journal of Sociology Public Lecture will take place on Friday 25th October, 6.30pm to 8.00pm in the Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics and Political Science. Chaired by Professor Nigel Dodd, this year’s speaker is Professor Marion Fourcade from University of California at Berkeley, on the topic of Ordinal Citizenship: “The expansion of social citizenship in the 20th century mitigated the brute effects of economic inequality in people’s lives. The institutionalization of...

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...

‘Seeing What is Invisible in Plain Sight’: How Effective Is the New Law on Coercive Control?

In early 2013, Rob Titchener, a tall, dark and handsome dairy farmer, arrived in Ambridge and started an affair with Helen Archer. And so began the controversial story line of the usually staid and very popular BBC Radio Four drama, ‘The Archers’, that ‘gripped the UK’ for three and a half years. The portrayal of Rob’s torturous coercive and controlling persecution of Helen culminated in a thrilling Sunday night ‘special episode’ in September 2016, as the programme was extended to an hour for...

Is there a long-term impact of social background on graduates’ careers?

It is a well-known finding that children’s social background affects their educational attainment. But does parental background still matter for attaining a more prestigious job after graduating from university? In a recently published article, we examined graduates’ occupational trajectories to identify a potential long-term impact of social background on individuals’ working careers. We argued that the influence of family background on graduates’ careers might vary across the life course, and it is, therefore, important to take into account changes across...

Of bodies and burkinis: institutional Islamophobia, Islamic dress and the colonial condition

The image accompanying this piece was taken last month in France. The image is of a poster that was displayed on the wall of a beach front café, set against the backdrop of armed troops parading the beach front. The overwhelming impression of the poster is the bust of Marianne, her flowing locks said to represent the freedom of the French Republic. She dominates the image, exemplary of what it means to be a woman in France.  The poster is...