Wednesday, 29 April 2015

York Sociology Dept in World Top 100 Departments

The QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2015 has placed a number of University of York departments in the top 50 and top 100.
 The Sociology department is officially in the top 100 departments in the world.

European Society of Criminology and Crime without Criminality

alex simpsonAlex Simpson is going to be presenting at the European Society of Criminology annual conference in September 2015.


He is going to present a paper on how deviance is constructed by drawing on the financial life in the City of London. Alex is using his doctoral research which is an ethnographic study of London's financial heartland.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Three new short pieces from Dave Beer: Smartness, football and metrics

The real game gets filtered by the imaginary. OlegDoroshin / Shutterstock.com
The real game gets filtered by the imaginary. OlegDoroshin / Shutterstock.com
This week Dave Beer has published three short open access pieces in various places.
  1. The first, piece, Living with smartnesswas published by the digital commons site Open Democracy
  2. The second piece, Systems of measurement have a productive power in our lives, reflects on his recent work on metrics and was published by LSE Politics & Policy.
  3. The final piece, Real or fantasy, football is now consumed by numbers, looks at the changing consumption of football and was published by The Conversation.

The Krays, the BBC's Hairy Bikers and Corpses

Ruth Penfold-Mounce has been interviewed by the University Research Online Site about her recent filming experiences with the BBC's Hairy Bikers, her research into celebrity culture and crime and also death, dying and corpses.
Ronnie (left) and Reggie Kray with nephew Gary (centre) in Bethnal Green, London featured in the book The Krays From the Cradle to the Grave.  PHOTOGRAPH: Barcroft Media

Researching Graphic Content from Conflict Zones

Holly SteelHolly Steel is presenting a paper at the International Visual Methods Conference in Brighton in Sept 2015. She will be sharing work drawn from her thesis by exploring 'Violence on a Loop: The ethics of researching graphic content from conflict zones'

Holly draws on her experience researching YouTube videos arising from the August 21st chemical attack in Syria, to explore the issues faced by researchers conducting visual analyses of graphic user-generated content (UGC). These glimpses of the conflict are often graphic, and include bodies in pain, those who are dying and those who are dead. Exposure to such content is increasingly part of journalistic labour. The issues faced by journalists in managing exposure to graphic content are echoed in the work of the researcher, who not only has to manage their own exposure to graphic content but navigate the ways in which these pieces of content are ethically presented within academic work. 

She suggests that issues faced by researchers, are:
1) ethical duty towards those within the frame; 
2) the ethics of reproduction;
3) vicarious trauma.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Shadow Puppet Performance Where are you now? Reflections on catastrophic brain injury - the vegetative and minimally conscious states

On 24 April 2015 the Chronic Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre hosted the inaugural public performance of a specially-commissioned show using shadow puppets.  This performance was the result of a collaboration between Karin Andrews Jashapara  (www.playoflighttheatre.co.uk) and Jenny Kitzinger and Celia Kitzinger, Co-Directors of the Chronic Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre (cdoc.org.uk). The voices were drawn from interviews conducted by Jenny and Celia as part of their research on catastrophic brain injury and these interviews have also been developed into an online resource to support families and health care practitioners (www.healthtalk.org.uk).

The 10-minute show was performed twice during the course of a conference, Brain Injury - the unseen and unknown, co-organised with Minster Law, and attended by more than 80 professionals working in law, health care, and social care.  Here are some reactions to the show.
  • This show brings home the reality of the situation.  It helped me with understanding that brain injury continues to affect the family of the injured patient far beyond our involvement.  (Solicitor)
  • Powerful performance - invites reflection on aspects of my work (Case Manager)
  • It gave me a much deeper respect of the position family members are in and how as a therapist I could try and support them with uncertainties (Occupational therapist)
  • Very moving.  My nephew suffered a catastrophic brain injury a year ago and died in intensive care a week later.  At the time I felt we should have persisted.  I'm not sure now.  (Physiotherapist)

The Krays, the BBC's Hairy Bikers and Me

Image result for Hairy bikersRecently I (Ruth Penfold-Mounce) had the opportunity of filming with the BBC's Hairy Bikers in the East End of London as an 'expert' on the Krays. The Hairy Bikers are making a 15 part series on The Pubs That Built Britain and tracking the history and stories surrounding pubs and pub culture. As part of this there is going to be an episode focusing on the East End which will feature The Blind Beggar Pub where Ronnie Kray shot and murdered George Cornell.

So back in March I found myself at 9.30am in a pub leaning on the bar armed with pints of beer for Dave Myers and Si King watching them having to repeatedly film trying to open the door to pub but messing up. Once they had successfully made it into the building we talked about my research relating to the Kray Twins and how they were untrained but effective spin doctors which combined with their distinctive Twinness has made them legendary.

So what did I take away from this experience? I can confirm that the Bikers are both as affable as they appear on tv and their hair is truly spectacular - television does not do them justice! I also learnt that walking, talking and gesturing whilst being filmed is harder than it looks and a skill I lack. I suspect I will look pretty stiff on screen as it felt so alien having cameras pointed at me and being told to act natural. However it was fun and I'm staying in touch with the producers and director and I hope to film for the BBC again.








Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Popular Culture, Forensics and Corpses

Ruth Penfold-Mounce has a new article 'Corpses, popular culture, and forensic science: public obsession with death' that has been released online in Mortality. Mortality is currently her favourite journal and not just because they have published her work but because it provides an interdisciplinary approach to death studies allowing for and and encouraging cultural explorations of this field.

Image result for CSI forensicsThe article considers how forensic science portrayals in popular culture fuel public obsession with death and corpses. It suggests that watching the dead is societally acceptable when seen through forensic science which provides a softening lens. It is this softening lens and popular culture representation that is leading to a normalisation of consuming the dead by the public.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Mythology, Mermaids and Representation of Women

Ana├»s Duong-Pedica presented at a conference for the first time two weeks ago. The conference was entitled ‘Tales and Totems : Myths and Lineage in Goddess Scholarship’ and  was organised by the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology.

The conference took place in Portland, Oregon so I had to present my paper via Skype. It was an odd experience as I couldn’t see the audience but the audience could see me! This was probably for the best as it made me a little less anxious to present in front of my screen rather than a room full of academics…

I entitled my paper ‘Rising from the Waters : the Goddess (Re)Appears’. It was based on research I had done for my masters’ thesis at the Centre for Women’s Studies on Western visual representations of Tahitian women and mermaids. I presented some key findings on representations of mermaids, Eve, Greek and Roman  Goddesses of Love (Aphrodite & Venus) and Polynesian women as femme fatales. 
Image result for mermaids

I explored the similar iconography that is used for the mythical fish women and in Western representations of Tahitian women: long flowy hair, sexualised positions, marine, natural backgrounds, use of seashells, flowers, pearls... Drawing on psychoanalysis and Goddess studies, my paper suggested that these images could be interpreted as contemporary, secular representations of the Divine Feminine, specifically in the Western male unconscious.

Ros Williams and Regulating Time Workshop

Ros Williams was invited to speak at an event at the University of Kent organised between Kent Law School and SATSU here at York. This was a workshop exploring the issue of temporality as it pertains to the creation of regulation (broadly conceived). 

In amongst papers about indigenous epistemologies of ownership in the US's electronic mortgage registration system (MERS), the importance of Greenwich Mean Time in the British imperial project of maritime sovereignty and modernity, I was asked to talk about issues arising from my own thesis. 

My paper explored how the public umbilical cord blood bank contends with the regularly updated professional standards intended to regulate the clinicians who use the collected tissue. The collection managers must anticipate future clinical need, typing and diagnosing tissue beyond current clinical expectations, and regularly appraising older stock. This anticipatory logic, as I call it in the paper, demonstrates the temporal rhythm of a repository of tissues collected in the past, maintained in the present, and of potential use in the future. 

See more info here: http://www.kent.ac.uk/law/time/index.html


Friday, 17 April 2015

Impact - Houses of Parliament POSTnote on Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States


Three pieces of research by Celia Kitzinger (University of York) and Jenny Kitzinger (Cardiff University) have been cited in the Houses of Parliament Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology POSTnote on "Vegetative and Minimally Conscious States" - see references 72, 73 and 90 on the attached POSTnote.

POST is an office of both Houses of Parliament, charged with providing independent and balanced analysis of policy issues that have a basis in science and technology.  Most parliamentarians do not have a scientific or technological background but science and technology issues are increasingly integral to public policy. Parliamentarians are bombarded daily with lobbying, public enquiries and media stories about science and technology. POST's aim is to help parliamentarians examine such issues effectively.  

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Jobcentres and Interaction

The Department of Sociology at York is delighted to announce the publication of the latest paper to come out of a study of interactions in UK Jobcentres, funded by the Department for Work & Pensions in 2007-2009.  The paper forms part of a Special Issue on "Labour Market Policy at Street Level"  in the latest volume of Social Work & Society.  It can be accessed at: http://www.socwork.net/sws.

The full project was a highly successful collaboration between Roy Sainsbury and Annie Irvine of the Social Policy Research Unit and Paul Drew and Merran Toerien of Sociology at York.  The full project report can be accessed at: http://php.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/pubs/1742/ 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Merran Toerien, Clare Jackson and Paul Chappell: NIHR grant Award

Many congratulations to Merran (PI), Clare and Paul Chappell who have been awarded an NIHR grant 'Evaluating nuanced practices for initiating decision making in neurology clinics'.


Merran Toerien (PI)

Clare Jackson


Paul Chappell




Thursday, 9 April 2015

Dave Beer - A new article on big data, everyday neoliberalism and the productive power of systems of measurement.

Dave Beer has had a new article published open access in the journal Big Data & Society. The piece, which is titled 'Productive Measures: Culture and Measurement in the Context of Everyday Neoliberalism', uses football as a case study for exploring the power of big data. The piece uses football to explore how systems of measurement shape behaviour, decisions and produce outcomes. The findings though stretch far beyond football. The piece uses the concept of productive measures to think about the way that data about us shapes culture, society and our everyday lives. This article builds upon and extends some of the ideas that can be found in his earlier book Popular Culture and New Media: The Politics of Circulation, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.


You can read the new article on Productive measures for free (it is entirely open access) here http://bds.sagepub.com/content/2/1/2053951715578951

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Postgraduate Conference - Myth(s) in Social Science and Humanities

The Sociology Department is proud to present the yearly postgraduate conference - organised by our postgraduates for postgraduates in social science and humanities. Anais Duong-Pedica and Valdimir Rizov have organised the event and focused it upon exploring the variety and richness of the notion of myth. It seeks to create a space where a multitude of disciplines, perspectives, and methods could be discussed critically. The ambivalence and the ambiguity of 'myth' is intentional. Myth is wide and varied - it can be a problematic social construction; it can be the process of creating meaning; it can even be the myth of meaning itself. Thus this conference plans to provide an opportunity for multi/interdisciplinary perspectives and their critical exploration.


A range of postgraduate students (of which 5 are from Department of Socioloy and Centre for Women's Studies) will be presenting papers in four different panels:
- Psychoanalysis and Psychology
- Self, Development, and Narratives
- Politics, Media and Representation
- Culture, Media and Representation

Other highlights will be the three keynote speakers:

  • Dr Shano Orgad (LSE) who will present on ambivalent and incomplete imaginings beyong dreams and nightmares
  • Dr Vanda Zajko (University of Bristol) will discuss the syncretism of contemporary mythopoesis
  • Professor Ivor Gaber (University of Sussex) will analyse media myths and society


For more information, abstracts and biographies and the full programme visit the website

Online registrations are open until April 30th

Paul Johnson - Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship

Paul Johnson has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship for one year to carry out a research project called: “‘Going to Strasbourg’: an oral history of human rights litigation in the European Court of Human Rights.” Paul will take up the Fellowship from Oct 1st 2015.