Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Symposium: Fiction and the Social Imaginary

As part of the Culture Cluster, Dave Beer and Gareth Millington are running a symposium in March and are putting out a call for abstracts.

Book Launch - Handbook of Sociology of Arts and Culture

On Wednesday 7th October Laurie Hanquinet's new Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Arts and Culture whcih she co-edited with Mike Savage is having a book launch


The launch will take place from 6.30 to 8pm at the London School of Economice in CLM 6.02

Laurie Hanquinet and Mike Savage will introduce the Handbook, and there will be a response by Tony Bennett (University of Western Sydney). Several of the contributors to the book will also be present and will contribute to the discussion."

Friday, 25 September 2015

Farewell CSI - the show that made forensics fun

Ruth Penfold-Mounce's love of (and research interest in) popular culture and forensic science has led to her being published in The Conversation.

She has written an article marking the finale of the CSI series which is ending after 15 years. Follow the link: Farewell CSI - the show that made forensics fun

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Materialities of Care conference

On Wednesday September 16th and Thursday September 17th, we hosted the Materialities of Care conference, which focused on the role of everyday artefacts (such as objects, dress and furniture) and spaces in the delivery and experience of care. This was an interdisciplinary event, gathering researchers with backgrounds spanning, amongst others, Archaeology, Geography, History, Museum Studies and Sociology. 

The Waiting Room by Carol Von Canon©
Day One presented a series of research papers across these disciplines, as well as a poster exhibition representing the projects of early career and established researchers who are interested in the intersection of material culture and caring practices. Amy Hunter, from the University of Leeds, won a Jury Prize for her conference poster. Day Two took the form of a number of methodological workshops, alongside a wider discussion of plans for the development of a longer term research network arising from the event.

Made possible through the support of the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness, and co-organised by sociologists at York and Leeds, the conference successfully brought perspectives from across the humanities and social sciences into dialogue with each other, and thus laid the ground for a number of research plans for the future. Should you wish to be informed about future events and meetings around this theme, please contactchristina.buse@york.ac.uk or daryl.martin@york.ac.uk, and we will keep you up to date.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Workshop in Conversation Analysis: Shanxi University, China

Clare Jackson and Merran Toerien joined Professor Paul Drew (Loughborough University) and Dr Chase Raymond (UCLA, in the USA) at Shanxi University in Taiyuan, China to deliver a Workshop in Conversation Analysis (10th - 14th August 2015).  
Prepping for the start of the workshop - Clare and Merran with participants at the opening plenary session
Aimed at graduate students and faculty with an interest in developing their analytic skills, the workshop involved an intensive programme of lectures and small-group hands-on practical sessions.  Over 60 participants took part, including locals (from Shanxi University) and many from a diverse range of universities around China.  The workshop generated much online discussion among participants on ‘we-chat’ (a social networking forum in China), giving us instant feedback, insight into some of the debates students were having about the data they were working on, and lots of pictures of us all hard at work (okay and sometimes not)!  We were absolutely delighted by the level of engagement and effort put in by all participants, with some groups staying up into the early hours to work on the presentations they gave towards the end of the week.  The standard of work was very high and indicates a growing body of CA expertise in China - very exciting indeed! 

We are very grateful to Professors Guodong Yu and Yaxin Wu (of Shanxi University), who invited us, hosted the workshop and ensured such a great turnout and such an exceptionally well-organised event.  They also arranged some wonderful sight-seeing and cultural opportunities for us, which will remain with us as highlights for many years to come.  We are also deeply endebted to Jody Zhou, whose organisational skills, attention to detail and general care for us ensured that we were always beautifully looked after, both in the classroom and out.



Some much needed relaxation - sight-seeing at the Forbidden City (Chase Raymond, Clare Jackson, Merran Toerien)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

York Sociologist wins British Medical Association Award

Professor Celia Kitzinger and Professor Jenny Kitzinger, co-Directors of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre have won a major award from the British Medical Association (BMA).

They were awarded first prize for "Information on Ethical Issues" at the 2015 BMA Patient Information Awards for their multi-media online resource that provides information and support for families of profoundly brain injured patients. 

With the support of the charity DIPEx and the Health Experiences Research Group at Oxford University, the Kitzingers developed a multi-media online resource drawing on findings from their interviews with 65 family members with a relative in a vegetative or minimally conscious states. The resource shows a wide range of families with different experiences and views about prolonging life at the boundary between life and death.  It was used by more than 4,000 people within months of its launch and has already won awards for its impact on policy and society.  It can be viewed here.

The BMA Patient Information Awards encourage excellence in the production and dissemination of accessible, well-designed and clinically balanced informationThe reviewer for the BMA praised the team for creating: ‘a profoundly honest and singular resource which will offer wisdom, empathy, insight…and support to others…of great value to both families and clinicians', adding: ‘In over five years of reviewing for the awards this is the best resource I have seen’.

Celia Kitzinger attended the award ceremony on 7th September 2015, along with Jenny Kitzinger and two members of the project’s Advisory Group, Margaret Kellas and Gunars Libek (family members of a vegetative patient).  Celia describes the impressive range of patient information resources highlighted by the event.

The awards ceremony was held at BMA House in London – beginning with tea and followed, after the formal ceremony, with a buffet dinner.  Both offered ample opportunity to network with other people attending the ceremony, and I made new contacts – and renewed acquaintances – with colleagues working in the charity sector.   Sir Al Aynsley-Green, President of the British Medical Association, spoke passionately about the shift over his lifetime from paternalistic to patient-centred care and the importance of listening to and learning from patients.   

The “Information for Children” award category was an important one for Aynsley-Green who is a strong advocate of children’s rights (and only the second pediatrician to have been appointed as BMA President). The winner was the Teddington Trust with a set of story books featuring a bear, “Little Ted”, and communicating the message that children with Xeroderma pigmentosum (a genetic disorder in which the ability to repair damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light is deficient) can live full and happy lives.

Another children’s charity, CLIC Sargent, won the “Innovation Award” for a pack on “Cancer and School Life” which includes a DVD for teachers preparing to welcome a child with cancer back to school and a lesson plan to help explain childhood cancers to children.

The “Learning Disabled Resources” award went to a booklet about lymphoma for people with learning disabilities and Headway, the brain injury charity, was “highly commended” for their factsheet about how to make a complaint about health and social care services.

Most impressive, though, was the Patient Information Resource of the Year, produced by the Motor Neurone Disease Association - an end of life guide for people with motor-neurone disease.  This is close to my own interests in end-of-life decision-making, and I found the information exceptionally honest, accurate and sensitive - especially in relation to suicide and assisted suicide.  At a time when assisted dying has a high political and media profile - and people with motor neurone disease feature heavily amongst those going from England to the Swiss clinic, Dignitas, to end their lives - the ability to convey frank information about the legal status of suicide, treatment refusal, palliative care and the help that is (and is not) available for patients is very important – and it is conveyed superbly here.

This award ceremony was a wonderful event that underscored the extent to which charities (in particular) are working to ensure that patients are informed, engaged and involved in their own healthcare. All the prize winning and commended entries offer patient information in a form that enables, so far as possible, user-involvement in medical decision-making and patient care.




Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Winner of Sociology of Health and Illness 'Mildred Blaxter New Writer Prize'

Many congratulations to Daryl Martin who has just won the journal Sociology of Health & Illness 'Mildred Blaxter New Writer Prize' for the article 'Architecture and health care: a place for sociology' published in the journal (co-authors  Sarah Nettleton, Christina Buse, Lindsay Prior and Julia Twigg). 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Meet the New Lecturer in the Department of Sociology

The Sociology department is welcoming a new member of staff this September in the form of Katy Sian. She has been appointed Lecturer in Sociology. 

Having completed her PhD back in 2009 at the University of Leeds she went on from 2010-2012 to work on the TOLERACE project (FP7) as a post-doctoral researcher. This post-doctoral research was based in the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies (CERS) University of Leeds exploring the semantics of tolerance and anti-racism across Europe. Katy then moved to the University of Manchester in 2012 where she held a lecturing position in Sociology before taking up a Hallsworth Research Fellowship in 2013, exploring Sikh and Muslim conflict in the global Sikh diaspora. She has also have held visiting research posts at the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) and the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society (CSRS) at the University of Victoria, Canada.

The main thrust of Katy's scholarship is focused on critical race theory and the performance of post-colonial subjectivity among ethnically marked communities stranded in metropolitan archipelagos. Specifically she takse a key interest in: postcolonial studies; critical race studies; inter-ethnic relations; critical Sikh studies; crime and racialization; Islamophobia and the war on terror; religion and identity; migration and diaspora. Her research has aroused interest beyond the academic world and she has made several appearances in the media to discuss questions arising from herresearch. Katy is active in the community around anti-racism issues and her work continues to involve her within conversations across interfaith organizations. 

Katy is an active member of the twitter community and co-founded The Culture Craft blog connected to the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the University of Leeds which acts as a platform to offer a series of interventions to disrupt the dominant ways of thinking about issues such as politics, culture and racism, see: https://theculturecraft.wordpress.com/.


On top of all these achievements Katy is also the author of two books and co-author of another, 

  • Conversations in Postcolonial Thought (2014) New York: Palgrave; 
  • Unsettling Sikh and Muslim Conflict: Mistaken Identities, Forced Conversions, and Postcolonial Formations (2013) Lanham: Lexington Books; 
  • Racism, Governance, and Public Policy: Beyond Human Rights (2013) London: Routledge

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Welcome to new staff

The Department of Sociology is welcoming new teaching fellows this September in the form of:


Germaine Gunther
Germain Stockbridge, Teaching Fellow in Social Psychology


Steve Hirschler
Steve Hirshler, Teaching Fellow in Criminology


Friday, 4 September 2015

Removing Suicide from the A-Level Sociology Syllabus

anais duong pedicaAnais Duong-Pedica who is doing her Phd research on suicide here in the Sociology Department has been published on the LSE Impact of Social Science blog. She critically engages with the decision to remove the study of suicide from the A-Level Sociology syllabus.

Follow the link

Legend - The new Krays film

Image result for legendRuth Penfold-Mounce has had a busy summer being interviewed by a range of reporters with an interest in her work on the Krays. This peak in interest in these 1960s East End of London Twin brothers is due to the release of the new film Legend starring Tom Hardy as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
Ruth was interviewed by Cole Morton for the Independent on Sunday for his essay on the brothers and their violent history. Click here for more

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Regenerative Medicine and Sociology


Sociology has always had a strong interest in medicine, and more recently, in the impact of the new biomedical sciences on medicine. An emerging area for sociological inquiry is Regenerative Medicine (RM) which Andrew Webster has already published on. Its distinctive feature is the use of live cells and tissues to treat disease, replacing diseased tissue and organs with new, healthy and specially-grown tissue. There has been considerable social and political controversy surrounding the use of cells, especially embryonic stem cells, but these debates have largely subsided, and now RM is widely heralded as potential source of cures for a range of illnesses.

The field of RM, however, is still very much in its infancy, and there are very few therapies available in the present day. Clinicians and investigators working on new RM therapies are encountering many significant challenges relating to financing, manufacturing, regulation, and organisational inertia. These pose important questions that sociology can address, especially in terms of how healthcare systems such as the NHS may – or indeed, may not – embrace and embed biomedical innovation. 

Equally importantly, RM raises questions about ‘Life’, in the form of tissues and cells, and how this is being manipulated, harnessed and in some cases commercialised in the name of ‘health and wealth’. Simultaneously, new social groups and agencies are forming to govern and facilitate this harnessing of life. From a sociological standpoint, we may ask: how do these novel forms of life reflect their cultural context? How do they change the boundaries of what is seen as ‘life’ itself? What discourses are being mobilised to promote innovation? What novel social organisations are emerging, and how do these upset or reaffirm traditional professional divisions?  Whose viewpoints and interests are being heard, and whose are being ignored? And more broadly: how exactly are social concerns and technological developments intertwined and shaping one another?
john gardner
John Gardner

Prof Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster
It is these types of questions that are being addressed by our ESRC-fundedREGenableMED projectThe project team comprises ten researchers from the Universities of York (Andrew Webster, Graham Lewis and John Gardner), Edinburgh, Birmingham and Sussex, with specific expertise in science and technologies studies, law, commercialisaiton, and technology horizon scanning.  The three year project is now into its second year, and we have been interviewing a range of stakeholders in the RM field, as well as collecting reams of secondary data on clinical and commercial activity, much of which is being collated in an extensive database. Our first paper, which explores the perceived novelty of RM will soon be published in RegenerativeMedicine in September. Ultimately, we hope that our broad, sociological perspective on the field will enable us to inform and guide responsible innovation in the area.