Digital Sociologist, Social Theorist and Engagement Strategist

Digital platforms are driving a tectonic shift in public culture, creating a range of intellectual challenges for research, scholarship and higher education. Learned societies have a uniquely important role to play in responding to these problems. But it can be difficult to do this when social media, open access and academic precarity make their organisational […]

In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of Digital Anthropology, Digital Geography and Digital Sociology as distinctive subdisciplines. However there has been relatively little dialogue between them, least of all with regards to common challenges they respond to and common concerns they share. We feel this absence matters for the subdisciplines themselves but also for […]

A provisional reflection on where I’ve got to six years after my PhD and where it is I want to go with my research over the next six years There are a wide range of topics I have worked on in the last decade: online communities, social movements, digital scholarship, realist social theory, the transformation […]

The philosopher Daniel Little has long been my favourite theory blogger. I was so pleased to read this thoughtful reflection on the scholarly purposes of social media which included a generous endorsement of Social Media for Academics: The appearance of a second edition of Mark Carrigan’s Social Media for Academics is therefore timely. Both young academics — […]

Do you edit an academic journal? Would you like it to have a higher profile and greater impact? Do you need advice on navigating the changing landscape of scholarly publishing? I can help you develop a cost effective and powerful strategy customised to your journal, with a particular expertise in community building and digital engagement. […]

From Zizek’s The Ticklish Subject pg 430: In short, the only way effectively to bring about a society in which risky long-term decisions would ensue from public debate involving all concerned is some kind of radical limitation of Capital’s freedom, the subordination of the process of production to social control – the radical repoliticisation of the […]

This extract from Zizek’s The Ticklish Subject pg 451 left me reflecting on the edginess which pervades public spaces at the moment, with practical co-existence in a situation of implicit (invisible) threat clearly taking a psychological toll on many of us: This disintegration of paternal authority has two facets. On the one hand, symbolic prohibitive norms are […]

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how breaks, ruptures and transitions are conceived of an ontological level. They are evidenced through factors across a range of domains which are presented as indicators of change but the underlying rupture must exceed these particular trends in order to be regarded as such. There’s something might and […]

A summary of Hartmut Rosa’s recent interventions on Covid-19 from a (rapidly published) paper by Christian Fuchs: The German sociologist Hartmut Rosa (2020b) argues that the corona virus crisis means “forced deceleration”4. He argues that there is a “massive deceleration of real physical life, where on the one hand one feels silenced and excluded but […]

I can’t help but relate this proliferation (in my view fragmentation) within the humanities to the discursive phenomena of turns. Much as we turn when we’re unsure where we’re going, I’m intuitively sceptical that what Rosi Braidotti describes on pg 100-102 of PostHuman Knowledge is a sign of the humanities being in good health: The discursive […]

A really important argument from Richard Seymour’s latest Patreon blog post: The geo-economics of particle conveyance, is an industrial byproduct of agribusiness. The concentration and centralisation of agricultural capital results in unprecedentedly large farm sizes, with big, sedentary animal populations intensifying virulence. The imperative to streamline production where profit margins are often very tight, results in working conditions […]

I thought this was a good summary of the strange alliances unfolding as the plate tectonics of politics shift, from Rosi Braidotti’s Post Human Knowledge pg 34-35: Former liberal thinkers turning arch-conservative, in response to the current US administration’s preference for white supremacy, is becoming a salient feature of the contemporary American theory wars (Lilla […]

From Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism loc 373: While neoliberalism, which emerged with the Thatcher and Reagan governments, led to higher unemployment and lower wage growth, for more than a generation this was mitigated by access to cheaper goods and services–by relocating production to countries with lower wages–as well as inflated asset prices, particularly […]

This extract from Xavier de la Porte’s The Imposter: BHL in Wonderland loc 1946 captured something important about intellectual culture in late neoliberalism: the essay sits in between specialised writing and the popular press, in spite of the tendency of essayists to elevate it above everything else: At the same time a structural evolution was taking […]

This fragment from  Xavier de la Porte’s The Imposter: BHL in Wonderland stuck with me because it dramatised an issue which I’ve often found myself reflecting on. How is financial, social and cultural capital transformed into the pleasures of intellectual production? This account of Bernard-Henri Lévy resonated because of how easily I could imagine myself enjoying […]

This extract from Xavier de la Porte’s The Imposter: BHL in Wonderland reproduces a conference opening given by Derrida in which he drew attention to the new generation of philosophers who were being put forward as a consequence of the ‘techno-politics of telecommunications’. From loc 1809 of their book: There lies, in the techno-politics of telecommunications, […]

Anthropological shocks occur when many populations feel they have been subjected to horrendous events that leave indelible marks on their consciousness, will mark their memories forever, and will change their future in fundamental and irrevocable ways. Anthropological shocks provide a new way of being in the world, seeing the world and doing politics. — The […]

From Matt Taibbi’s Hate Inc loc 120: In 2016 especially, news reporters began to consciously divide and radicalize audiences. The cover was that we were merely “calling out” our divisive new president, Donald Trump. But from where I sat, the press was now working in collaboration with Trump, acting in his simplistic mirror image, creating […]

Looking back to the past, Predictions of the end Unseen ultra violet rays Are beating on my head Nuclear threat want to bet will be our demise The day will come when we’ll look to apocalyptic skies When the news had spread, that soon we’d all be dead Well it just blew our minds No […]

I thought this extract from Ulrich Beck’s final book Metamorphosis shed light on our current situation. The role of expert systems in rendering the crisis legible is familiar, with “the means to make the invisible threat to their life visible” lying in the mediation of events. The obvious different though is how intensively mediated Covid-19 […]

I thought this action by Eventbrite was really interesting. Platform firms reliant on face-to-face interaction face a difficult future and their relationship with their user base is one of the key resources they have access to: On Thursday, March 19, we sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leadership urging them to protect the live events […]

From David Harvey, Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom, Columbia University Press, 2009, pp. 80–1: The optimistic cosmopolitanism that became so fashionable following the Cold War, Craig Calhoun points out, not only bore all the marks of its history as “a project of empires, of long-distance trade, and of cities,” it also shaped up as […]

I’m currently rereading Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a cheery accompaniment to the early signs of civilisational collapse. The translator R.J. Hollingdale captures something important about what has always drawn me to Nietzsche when he writes that “unlike most people, even most philosophers, Nietzsche lived with his intellectual problems as with realities, he experienced a similar […]