The Department has a feature in the latest edition of the BSA Network Magazine. (You may wish to increase your zoom level to read the text)
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Monday, 17 November 2014
Ellen Annandale recently attended the National Council of Associations in Paris, organised by the European Sociological Association (ESA). Representatives of 20 national associations attended to share and debate concerns about Teaching and Research in Europe.
In her opening remarks, ESA President Carmen Leccardi highlighted the need to keep continuities with the classics. Quoting Whitehead that, ‘a science which hesitates to forget its founders is lost’, she raised concerns that sociological practice risks being reduced to ‘big data sets’. Drawing on the Italian situation she bemoaned that much social research has moved from the academy to market research and private companies. Horizon 2020 points to the devaluing of the social sciences and humanities, the outcome of the neoliberal technocratic reasoning that has constructed a hierarchy of the sciences. She highlighted the ‘presentification’ of academic work as work overload and administrative challenges make it hard for us to look to the horizon as we instead are pushed to deal with everyday problems.
Michel Wieviorka, President of Fondation Maison des Sciences d’Homme, questioned sociology’s future in an increasingly interdisciplinary climate, remarking that if you visit some US university bookshops the sociology section is “dusty”, while next to it new areas like cultural studies flourish. The new generation of scholars, he remarked, he much better trained, but much more niche in their outlook. As sociology becomes more specialised it is less and less able to engage in wider intellectual debates.
In his Keynote address, Craig Calhoun, President of the LSE and of the International Institute of Sociology cautioned his peers that ‘memories of when we were students will be very poor guides” for the present. Globalisation involving the movement of people, interconnectedness of publications, and particularly the spread of new models of ‘best practice’ and international ranking are having major effects, “some good, many of them bad”. League tables are problematic because they assume that all universities are doing the same thing. Unification benefits the dominant and world rankings devalue universities in most countries in the eyes of their own nations which can lead to loss of respect which then impacts on their funding. It may be better to see universities less as a hierarchy and more as an ecology. He emphasised that social science will “commit suicide” if it does not reach out to the public, but in a way that is combined with a level of academic judgement i.e peer critique and correction. Social science, he opined, has lost its erstwhile connections with social movements, remarking, for example, that gender sociology was much better when it involved the women’s movement. Echoing Wieviorka’s concerns he maintained that we should speak of ‘social science’ not ‘social sciences’, and stop fighting over boundaries as this is a wasted fight over diminishing pools of money. Finally highlighted that social science needs to better value synthesis remarking that currently we lack a system for this (except in textbooks) and that consequently high level theory regrettably appears to be in decline.
Ellen was attending as a Vice President of ESA and member of its Committee on National Associations
Friday 16th January 2015: 12:00 - 16:30, University of York, Tree House, Berrick Saul Building BS/104
Keynote:Deborah Lupton, Canberra University, Australia 'Digital health data, big and small: some critical sociological reflections'
Presentations:John Gardner, University of York, UK 'The broad clinical gaze in paediatric deep brain stimulation'
Chrissy Buse, University of Leeds, UK 'Looking out of place: clothing and the boundaries of 'home' and privacy in dementia care'
Clare Jackson, University of York, UK 'Healthcare professionals initiating decisions in labour: A pilot conversation analytic study of data from One Born Every Minute'
The meeting is open to researchers, academics and postgraduate students. We also welcome anyone who has an interest in the sociology of health and illness.
Cost of attendanceLunch and refreshments will be provided. To cover our costs and to help with future meetings the following charges will apply:
£15 for BSA Members, £20 for Non-members, £10 for BSA Concessionary members, and £15 for Non-member students*
Study Group Pagehttp://www.britsoc.co.uk/medical-sociology.aspx
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Paul Johnson, writing in Discover Society, takes a critical look at the UK Conservative Party’s proposals to reform the relationship between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights
org/2014/11/04/turning-the- european-court-of-human- rights-into-a-folk-devil-the- uk-conservative-party-and- human-rights-2/
There is a dearth of legal literature critically discussing male rape in law and the courtroom, and Aliraza Javaid, one of the Sociology Departments Doctoral Researchers has just published an article on this topic derived from his thesis.
The paper 'Male Rape in Law and the Courtroom' has been published in the Web Journal of Current Legal Issues and critically examines how male rape is placed in law and the courts. It focuses particularly on the jurisdiction in England and Wales, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The paper fundamentally argues that such an Act does not fully reflect male rape victims’ experiences, and also argues that the defence counsels' expectations of how a male rape victim is supposed to have suffered contradicts the male rape literature.
Aliraza has already published on feminism, masculinity and male rape and is happy to be contacted regarding his reserach on twitter, Academia.edu or Linkedin.
Tuesday, 4 November 2014
In recent years many university departments are employing teaching fellows are they are playing a crucial role in the undergraduate experience. Matt Spokes reflects on what it is to be a teaching fellow:
Trying to come up with a neat definition of what being a teaching fellow involves is, I think, a little tricky; it encompasses a number of different roles so it can be many things rather than just one. Firstly, I see it is a chance for those starting out in academia to get some working experience of the trials and tribulations of life on a day-to-day basis in a busy Sociology department; I began the fellowship as I entered the final phase of writing up my PhD, so in this sense it also represents my transition from student to academic (which is, of course, far from straightforward).
One of the necessary skills required of a teaching fellow is time and workload-management; if, for example, you’re writing-up a PhD thesis then how do you juggle that alongside your seminars, lectures, and administration roles? During my doctorate I held a number of jobs concurrently and I seemed to adapt an already-established rigidity of approach to both my thesis write-up and my teaching, but this still surprised me as I hadn’t realised how disciplined my working processes had become until I started in the role. Having said that, there is always the possibility of something unexpected coming along which means it is still a challenge to balance your time effectively.
The other fundamental aspect of the role – as the title indicates - is teaching, and again this involves a variety of different tasks, practices and expectations. Presently I lecture on, and am the module convener for, the first year Sociology of Crime and Deviance module; as a team-taught module, this requires co-ordinating with a number of members of staff (lecturers and post-graduates who teach) as well as first year undergraduates. This role is different from the work I do with second year undergraduates as a seminar leader and lecturer on the Social Research Methods and Crime, Culture and Social Change modules, so it is important to be able to modify and apply different pedagogical approaches depending on the particular needs of the teaching environment. Alongside this, as I move from finishing my PhD in to academia more fully, I am also working towards completing a couple of publications based on my thesis - as well as sketching out new research projects - and this creates additional considerations in terms of balancing the varied teaching and research schedules spread across the academic year.
Ultimately though, the fellowship enables me to experience the upsides and downsides (relatively speaking) of working in a vibrant and engaging department: it is a great opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience of the strains and successes of making a contribution to teaching and research in a modern academic institution.
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