Updates from September, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 12:42 pm on September 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: occupy wall street, police brutality,   

    Could you imagine this on UK TV? 

  • Mark 6:22 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adolescence, , becoming, , , kinship, ,   

    How do our brothers and sisters shape who we are? 

    In this podcast I talk to Katherine Davies, a researcher in the Morgan Centre at Manchester University, about her work on sibling relationships and personal identity. Despite the obviously somewhat common experience of sibling relationships, it’s an area that’s largely been ignored within social science, which has tended to focus on vertical kinship relations (parent –> child) to the exclusion of lateral kinships relations (child –> child). It’s a weird oversight and one which Katherine’s work is addressing in an interesting and sensitive way.

  • Mark 5:33 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    The all-powerful conspiracy which hides the fact that men are oppressed by women. Or not… 

    A scandal is brewing at the LSE. Tom Martin was a 39 year old student who signed up to do an MA in Gender, Media and Culture at the LSE. Six weeks later he quit. He has recently initiated legal action against the university for £50,000, claiming anti-male discrimination and false advertising.

    You can read his website here ( http://www.sexismbusters.org/ ) and his twitter feed here ( @sexismbusters ). We’re not linking directly because we have no great desire to find ourselves on his shit list (life is too short for it to be worth the effort). It’s worth having a look through some of the interesting claims he’s made on twitter though. At heart he seems to see the law suit as an attempt to, in his own words, “suing gender studies for pretending most men are rapists”. He claims gender studies systematically ignores “men’s issues” because of its institutionalised hatred.

    This is a video he posted on Twitter to support his case. Draw your own conclusions:

    There was a Guardian article by a former academic in the LSE department which you can view here. Read Tom’s response to it here.

    Beyond the particular issue in question, this seems an extremely worrying case because of the precedent it sets. As increasingly assertive and vocal student-consumers, now encumbering themselves with massively increased debt for UK degrees, meet a strained, underfunded and stressed higher education system in the UK, what action will they take to try and rectify their grievances? This is undoubtedly an extreme case but perhaps, though an outlier, it is a foretaste of things to come?

    • Tom Martin 6:42 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink

      I am Tom Martin, the man suing LSE’s Gender Institute for anti-male bias in its core texts among other places.

      You infer this case is outlandish – but judging by the thousands of comments posted on all the various articles, and the 35 donations my fighting fund, sexismbusters, has received from men and women in 5 countries, it seems a majority recognize, there is indeed an anti-male problem in gender and beyond, and that this case hits the nail on the head.

      I am an egalitarian. A feminist and a men’s rights activist. If people don’t want equality, they should try moving to the Yemen.

      You are right though, this case is important as a consumer issue too.

    • Mark 6:55 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink

      “it seems a majority recognize, there is indeed an anti-male problem in gender and beyond” – I’m guessing you quit your course before you studied any research methods or philosophy of social science?

    • Mark 6:56 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink

      and yes, by definition, your case is outlandish.

    • Mark 7:03 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink

      And I don’t think this case is a ‘consumer issue’. The fact you conceptualise it like that speaks volumes about yourself and illustrates exactly the problem I wrote about. FYI this is a post which will go up on another website in a week’s time (I post things I write to my personal blog when I write them). I would tell you the name of the site but given that you clearly either have as-it-happens google alerts setup or your sit around all day googling your own name, I’m guessing you’ll find it anyway so no need to give you the URL.

    • Mark 7:09 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink

      You’re a feminist and yet you endorse videos by ‘TheHappyMisogynist’?

    • Tom Martin 12:42 am on October 22, 2011 Permalink

      I have posted a reading list from the gender curriculum at LSE that I’m suing, along with an analysis tool, and one complete reading, with line by line analysis of it on my website, sexismbusters. Decide for yourselves.

      Paul Elam AKA ‘the happy misogynist’ is far more egalitarian than the vast majority of people claiming to be feminists. You’ll find an interview I did on his show at my website also.

      I’m against misogyny and misandry, and would like to remind you, (Goodwin & Rudman, 2006) found women are four times more misandric than men misogynistic on average –
      and point out that such negative attitudes can be exacerbated by negative propaganda about the already feared or disliked sex.

      Content analysis of factual media (Macnamara, 2006) found men are portrayed positively a mere 12% of the time, and negatively 69%.

      Gender studies professionals are experts on sexism, and do know that men get an overwhelmingly negative press, so, given women’s penchant for male-bashing as it is, for the learned people of gender studies to perpetuate the male-blaming, male-fearing bias, is totally wrong.

      I’m curious to know Mark, how you feel about my efforts to encourage gender studies to become a little more egalitarian.

      The Good Men Project just printed an article by Quiet Riot Girl, where she highlights the misandry of some gender academia.

      I would like to see a few more high profile feminist sites do the same.

  • Mark 12:10 pm on September 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Serco Group – “the biggest company you’ve never heard of” 

    I’ve had long standing issues with Serco ever since I was a teenager (long and not particularly interesting story!) and, as I’ve got older, I’ve found the extent of their activity and its general opaqueness rather troubling. However until I happened to check the Wikipedia page I didn’t realise quite how much stuff they do:

    • Home Affairs: Serco operates the National Border Targeting Centre for the UK Border Agency and provides the Carrier Gateway – the interface between carriers and the Agency.[5]
    • Aviation: Serco provides air traffic control services at international airports in the United Arab Emirates[36] and at some smaller airports in the USA and Canada.[37][38] Since 2004 Serco have also had £5m a year from the US government to manage airports in Iraq.[39] Serco also operate Scatsta Airport in the Hebrides.[40] In June 2010 Serco signed a £4million contract to operate all air traffic control services for Coventry Airport.[41]
    • Education: Serco holds a 10 year contract with Bradford City Council to manage and operate the local education authority,[46] providing education support services to the City’s schools, and similarly manages and operates Walsall[47] and Stoke-on-Trent local education authorities.[48] Serco is one of Ofsted‘s three Regional Inspection Service Providers, responsible for school inspections in the English Midlands.[49] Serco is also the provider of a Student information systemFacility, used in schools and colleges in several countries.[50]
    • Drivers’ licensing: Serco, through a purpose-made division Serco DES, holds a 10 year, $114 million contract with the Province of Ontario to operate the province’s DriveTest driver examination centres. These tests include vision, road, and knowledge tests for all persons seeking to become a licensed automobile driver in the province.[37]
    • Serco also administers a number of publicly funded websites in the UK, including the Business Link website.[52]
    • Serco publishes a magazine, Ethos Journal, to stimulate thought and provoke reaction to the big issues shaping the world of public services. Ethos is aimed at public sector leaders, politicians, academics and policy specialists debating the future of public services today.[54]
  • Mark 10:12 pm on September 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    UK Riots: Sociological Perspectives and Civic Responses 

    Saturday 15th October, 2011, Birmingham Midland Institute
    £10 waged, £5 unwaged

    The recent civil disturbances across a number of English cities have provoked much commentary and debate. However, there has been little sustained analysis of the events, their causes and likely consequences. This symposium is one in a series of unrelated endeavours to bring public understandings and sociological perspectives to bear upon the events of last month. To this end we have invited a diverse range of speakers to open up the discussion, and combine academics and members of the community on the stage and in the audience.  We combine speakers who will present sociological perspectives on the civil disturbances with a discussion of civic responses.

    The event is organized by the British Sociological Association’s Theory Study Group in collaboration with the Department of Sociology, University of Leicester and the Social Theory Centre, University of Warwick.


    10-11 Registration
    11-12.30 Panel 1:  Institutions  – Police, Politicians, Family, Media
    12.30-2pm Lunch
    2-3.30 Panel 2: Civic Responses – Young People, Community Organizing, Social Movements
    3.30-4 Break
    4-5.30 Roundtable: Learning from the past, looking to the future: What now?


    Dr Karim Murji
    Senior Lecturer in Sociology
    The Open University

    Ajmal Hussain
    London School of Economics

    Dr Nina Power
    Senior Lecturer
    University of Roehampton

  • Mark 9:35 pm on September 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    My PhD in 60 seconds (video to follow soon!) 

    Hi, my name is Mark Carrigan and I’m a final year PhD student in Sociology at the University of Warwick. My research is an attempt to answer a question that’s fascinated me since I was at school: what makes people who they are? How do different sorts of structural, cultural and personal factors intersect in shaping how we change and grow as we make our way through the world?

    The first strand of my research is empirical: I distributed surveys to 250 undergraduate students across a range of academic departments and, from these, I selected 18 to take part in the project. I conducted an in-depth interview with them every term for their first two years at university about all aspects of their lives – I’m trying to understand the issues they’re facing, how they construe these issues, how they attempt to resolve them and the impact these attempts have on their development as people.

    The second strand of my research is theoretical, engaging with philosophical and scientific debates about what people are and how they work, with the aim of producing a framework for understanding people which incorporates both the psychological and the sociological. This framework is something I’m using to try and understand my empirical data but also develop through that data. In practice I’m trying to do what you could call empirically grounded philosophy.

    The fundamental question I’m trying to address is such a big one that I’m not under any illusion that I’m going to answer it any conclusive way. But it’s setting up a research agenda which I intend to pursue after finishing my thesis. Also I’m hopeful that the theoretical framework I’m developing, as well as the novel research methods and methodology that flows from it, will be useful to other people who are researching these kinds of issues.

  • Mark 8:17 pm on September 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Becoming Who We Are 

    So this is a draft version of a presentation I’m giving at the International Association of Critical Realism conference in Norway on Tuesday. For various reasons, I’m really nervous about it – going on here because one person has already agreed to listen to it. But if anyone else would be so kind any feedback whatsoever would be enormously appreciated!

  • Mark 8:41 am on September 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Missed Opportunities 

    In the corner of the exhibition a three-hour film, Mouth of the Tyne, shows footage of Smith in the mid 1980s, explaining the ideas on devolution he lobbied for in the 1960s: Britain divided up into eleven locally administered areas, each of which would control the ‘commanding heights’ of its local economy. These would elect a repeserntative to a second camber, replacing the House of Lords. This would then be integrated into a federal Europe, and in the process the south-eastern aristocratic biases that skew British politics would be eliminated. The failure of this is all around us, as Old Etonions dominate the government and their think tanks advocate the population of Sunderland moving to London

    Owen Hatherley, A Guide To The New Ruins of Great Britain – pg 178

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