Category: Social Identity

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...

‘Cloud chasers’ and ‘substitutes’: e-cigarettes, vaping subcultures and vaper identities

The social meaning of e-cigarettes and vaping involves a vaping subculture, ideas about health through harm reduction, pleasure and community, as well as addiction and stigma. Some use e-cigarettes to quit smoking; others thrive in the flavoured clouds. In addition, there is a ‘split vision’ of health and stigma in the perceptions of vaping where the vaper identities are constantly negotiated. The use of e-cigarettes has increased and moved beyond a cessation-only practice, were vaping has started to serve social,...

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...

Agency and structure: the impact of ethnic identity and racism on the health of ethnic minority people

Powerful people have a significant impact on our lives. Not only can their decisions affect our access to wealth, and consequent well-being, but their influence affects our very self-definition and expression. Understandings about who we are and what that means develop in light of the ways in which certain categories are understood in and responded to by wider society: what we’re told about what ‘being one of those sorts of people’ means. But while academic studies acknowledge the societal or...

The Importance of Trans Positive Research in a Time of Great Criticism

  ‘Two in five trans [1] people (41 per cent) and three in ten non-binary people (31 per cent) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity in the last 12 months.’ (Stonewall Trans Report 2018). If you add to this the levels of criticism and “debate” present on social media ranging from Piers Morgan [2] to Paula Radcliff [3] about the trans community it makes for a pretty dire situation. I contend that a way to improve this...

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...

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...

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...

Making Sense of Brexit: Interview with Victor J. Seidler

Victor Jeleniewski Seidler is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Sociology, at Goldsmiths University of London. His research interests include social theory and philosophy; Marxism and critical theory; moral theory; masculinity and sexual politics, and he has written on social theory, ethics and gender, particularly in relation to men and masculinities. In recent years his writing and research have focused on the cultural memory of particular events, including 9/11 and 7/7, and the ways they might challenge traditional social and...

“Disgruntlement” and Protest Movements in the Trump Era

In their recently published article, “Protest Movements and Citizen Discontent: Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party”[1], Martin et al. seek to explain how and why citizens support broad-based protest movements like the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street.  Unlike social movements with clear constituents and defined goals, movements like these lead us to wonder why some individuals participate and not others.  Deviating from conventional frameworks that point to the extension or dislocation of political ideologies as social movement catalysts,...

Mirror, mirror on the wall… which one of the healthcare team am I? Understanding healthcare practitioners’ professional identities and what role professional regulation plays

In this article, Policy Adviser Michael Warren outlines some of the themes and challenges that arise from the Professional Standards Authority’s work on understanding professional identity and regulation. The research can be found here. Think of it, someone comes up to you and asks: “who are you?”. Where do you start? It’s a query that calls into question your entire identity. One place to start is your occupation, or ‘professional identity’. You may even have more than one professional identity,...

Interview: Professor Diane Richardson on Sexuality and Citizenship

Diane Richardson is a Professor of Sociology at Newcastle University. Diane is internationally recognised for her work in the area of feminist and sociological study of sexuality and gender, including recent publication, Sexuality and Citizenship (Polity 2018). A central concern of this research is to understand how models of citizenship are constructed and deployed by marginalised groups as new democratic moments emerge. Diane’s research addresses interlinked themes including the relation between cultural and material aspects of recognition, as well as...

LGBTQ+ Pride Month: Free Content Collection on Mental Health

To celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month we are delighted to provide free access to articles on the topic of Mental Health in the LGBTQ+ community. During the month of June you can access 40+ free articles across a range of topics to raise awareness and keep the conversation going. You can access the articles via the links below, or from the virtual issue landing page, here. Experiences and unmet needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people with cancer care: A systematic...

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...

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...