Updates from October, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 11:41 am on October 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    This is also really cool… 

    Can anyone recommend any other videos like this? I think I want to write an article for SociologicalImagination.org about envisioning socio-technological futures…

  • Mark 9:39 am on October 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    A year ago I would have thought this was really silly… 

    I mean it’s still a bit silly! But not in a socio-technologically unfeasible kind of way.

  • Mark 8:13 pm on October 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Bill Gates vs Cassette Boy 

  • Mark 5:09 pm on October 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    How we could do academic publishing differently… 

    (More …)

  • Mark 4:51 pm on October 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    iPhone 5??? 

  • Mark 3:58 pm on October 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    The chutzpah is pretty breath-taking… 

    Occupy protesters should target governments not City, LSE chairman says | UK news | guardian.co.uk.

    The chairman of the London Stock Exchange has urged the Occupy movement to blame irresponsible governments rather than City institutions for the global financial crisis.

    The LSE is the target of the Occupy the London Stock Exchange protest, but Chris Gibson-Smith believes the inhabitants of the impromptu tent city in the capital are blaming the wrong people.

    He said they should target the politicians who allowed banks to run up huge debts.

    “There are unintended consequences of free markets,” he added. “It’s not capitalism that has been the problem, but irresponsible governments and politicians who have allowed the financial system to explode by permitting the build-up of ludicrous amounts of debt and leverage.

    “No one ever said that free markets could or would be self-regulating. That’s where people over the past few decades have got it wrong, and many are still in denial – look at Alan Greenspan, [the former chairman of the Federal Reserve], who is still defending free markets.”

  • Mark 7:07 pm on October 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Want to deconstruct heteronormative paradigms and cultivate a transformative and emancipatory radical intellectual praxis…? 

    But don’t know where to start? Then go to automatic insurrection. If you don’t get the joke, click ‘again’. If you still don’t get the joke then there’s basically no hope for you. Sorry.

  • Mark 9:48 pm on October 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: lse gender studies, sexism busters, ,   

    My response to Tom “sue the oppressive LSE feminazis” Martin 

    Why am I so utterly oblivious to the misandry you’re asking me about? Am I the victim of false consciousness? If misandry were as ostentatiously rife within gender studies courses as you claim, how did I manage to extract so much personal enjoyment from such a course? How did so many other males manage to do the same thing? Do they realise they’re enslaved by femi-nazi propaganda and derive some sort of masochistic kick from it? Or are they pitiable dupes infatuated by anti-male ideology until the point when the shining light of your mighty intellect pierces their veil of illusion and leads them out of the cave and into the light?

    I can’t take you (or your crusade) seriously because the substantive intellectual content of everything I’ve read that you’ve written on this subject – and worryingly I’m fairly certain I have read a substantial quantity of it – endlessly elaborates on a conceptually impoverished motif which you cling to like a scared aggressive child. I just read the methodology for the content analysis of the ‘discriminatory’ LSE course materials which you posted on your website and I’d suggest others to do the same. Even if I agree with the underlying moral commitments, I have a huge intellectual problem with anyone who reduces the politics of a given issue to the representation of groups within academic discourse. I’ve also rarely encountered anyone who does it quite as crudely as you do: repeatedly using the word ‘egalitarian’ doesn’t make you sound clever if you also make it obvious how narrowly you operationalize the concept.

    When did the feminazi cultural conspiracy start? If you did this exercise 50 years ago on intellectual writing about sex & gender, what would you find? What about 100 years ago? 200 years ago? Did misogyny previously dominate society before a bolshy feminist reaction went ‘too far’? Or were gender relations ‘ok’ until a feminist movement ruined everything? Or have men always been oppressed by woman? It’s meaningless for you to quote isolated research findings at people if you also refuse to engage with these questions. Your ‘methodology’ makes it pretty clear that you consciously cherry-pick the research you cite. If research that makes negative claims about men is prejudiced then, given your own self-definition as someone seeking to further fair representations, you’re dismissing such research as irrelevant to your project at the outset. The fact it hasn’t occurred to you to apply the same evaluative standard to the research you cite – largely through single sentence summaries – as ‘proving’ the facts of widespread misandry pretty much sums up the difficulty here. I mean you say all this pretty much outright on your site.

    I suspect you’ve found that academics avoid getting into substantive discussions of research papers you’re citing with you and, it seems, this establishes their participation in a political conspiracy to avoid recognising ‘inconvenient truths’ about gender politics. It doesn’t. It means they’re people who have better things to do in their spare time than give detailed refutations of the interpretive activities of someone who patently lacks the critical faculties to competently read research papers, understand them and draw on them as sources of evidence in making claims about wider social processes. I suspect you assumed the hostility which people in your classes at LSE undoubtedly directed at you was evidence of wider tendencies for feminists to collectively suppress the truth. It wasn’t. I’m guessing it was much more likely people reacting to you being a rude ass-hole who, I imagine, lacked the basic decorum necessary to interact reasonably with others in an academic setting and the intellectual imagination (dare I say intelligence?) to sustain a dialogue with people who held positions other than your own.

    Also if you want to “set out a few broad terms of [your] investigation” then, ffs, actually define your terms rather than just listing a whole series of psuedo-objective questions constructed out of entirely unexamined and undefined concepts.

    Genuine question: do you ever think that, alleged misandry notwithstanding, it might have benefitted you intellectually to have finished a social science Msc at a top university if you were going to devote your life to making social scientific arguments in the public sphere?

    For what it’s worth I don’t work in gender studies, my degrees are in philosophy and sociology, the three month gender studies course I once did was an optional module and, although I’m a feminist, gender studies isn’t an area I have any intellectual involvement in or am likely to in the future. I don’t have some personal stake in defending gender studies, Tom – I just think you’re a twat. Now please fuck off and stop posting comments on my blog.

    • Tom Martin 5:06 am on October 25, 2011 Permalink

      Are you going to post my two previous comments Mark?

    • Mark 8:47 am on October 25, 2011 Permalink

      Hi Tom – what part of “please fuck off and stop posting comments on my blog” didn’t you understand? I didn’t invite you to my blog, in fact I was very clear in my original post about your case that I didn’t want to get into a dialogue with you. In fact I think my exact words were “life is too short”. The only reason you’re here is because you’re a self-publicist who sits around googling your own name in order to try and find people to talk to about your case. I have absolutely no interest in doing this. I realise you’re sufficiently self-important that you’ll take this as further evidence of you being ‘silenced’ by an LSE mafia (for what it’s worth I don’t think my personal blog is a public forum, I think this is the equivalent of you coming to stand in my front garden and ranting about yourself…) but it’s not. I find your case interesting but I find you tediously dull and kind of depressing to talk to, plus I’m busy and, at present, very stressed. Now please go away 🙂

  • Mark 5:41 pm on October 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: capitalist crisis, janet daley, mutual aid, , ,   

    Shrill neoliberal ideologue begins lecturing about the moral virtues of declining prosperity – a sign of things to come? 

    Being slightly poorer might actually enrich our lives – Telegraph

    How weird is this? I find Janet Daley’s columns morbidly fascinating given that, in a manner not dissimilar to Simon Heffer, she often seems like an unusually clear spokesperson for the neoliberal world view in the broadest sense of the term. So when she begins to write peans to declining living standards, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that a crisis of moral confidence is beginning to set in amongst the ruling class:

    Now don’t get me wrong, I believe profoundly in the value of mass prosperity and the ability of free markets to deliver it: the personal freedom, self-determination and dignity that come with financial independence are transforming for individuals and for the societies in which they are generally available. And yet, and yet… through this very independence that comes with relative wealth, something has been lost.

    She then goes on a bizarre trip down memory lane, recounting how a lack of affluence in her upbringing went hand-in-hand with solidarity and mutual aid (presumably now absent from her life in exchange for the ‘personal freedom, self-determination and dignity’ that she enjoys as a wealthy columnist and leader writer). Apparently the 1970s were a moral golden age for an ‘impoverished’ British middle class before renewed affluence inflicted a plethora of pathologies on a blighted people. Furthermore traditional working values were mysteriously ‘junked in favour of celebrity culture and materialism’ (as if cultural shifts occur in a vacuum). All in all it sounds like Janet Daley thinks neoliberalism has been a bit shit really, in spite of all the virtues she has spent a career imputing to it. So now, thankfully, we can recognise that ‘there might be a chance to recover something valuable that has been almost forgotten’.

    Wow. The article is so weird that it’s almost difficult to know what to make of it (particularly when one reads it in terms of Charles Moore’s admission that he is starting to think the left might actually be right). I’ll have a stab at understanding it though: the rambling weirdness of the article is not a function of Daley’s intellectual vacuity (she is an extremely bright woman) nor ideological incoherence (on the contrary the ex-philosopher is a resolutely consistent advocate of neoliberal doctrine). It’s a sign that the empirical claim on which her entire political framework is founded is finding itself more trenchantly falsified with each passing day. With this comes disorientation, inconsistency and a vague nostalgia for the past – a reassertion of ‘traditional values’, imbued with a moral charge that she herself (possessed of ‘dignity’ and ‘self-determination’) escapes in daily life.

    Anyone else get the feeling that the neoliberals are going to get really nasty and moralistic rather than let go of their dogmas?

  • Mark 6:14 pm on October 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Blogging for Researchers 

  • Mark 5:58 pm on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    C. Wright Mills: Legacies and Prospects – 50 Years On

    The initial details for the panel I’m organising at the British Sociological Association annual conference next year, as part of the Theory stream, are starting to take shape: 

    In March 2012 it will have been 50 years since the death of C. Wright Mills. In that time the world has changed beyond recognition: the Cold War ended, the Keynesian consensus broke down, a globalizing neoliberalism rose to the ascendancy and the internet began to transform human communication and culture. In recent years, with 9/11 and then the financial crisis, it seems that history has returned with a vengeance.

    This panel will explore the relevance of C. Wright Mills’ ideas 50 years on, considering the value of his legacy and the resources his work offers to understand the rapidly changing social world of the 21st century.

    • Mark Carrigan, University of Warwick – ‘There’s no money left in the kitty’: austerity politics and the deficit of sociological imagination 
    • John Holmwood, University of Nottingham – TBC
    • Mike O’Donnell, University of Westminster – Charles Wright Mills and the (Continuing) Problem of Radical Agency
    • Liz Stanley, University of Edinburgh – TBC
  • Mark 8:49 am on October 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , politics of austerity, ,   

    “There’s no money left in the kitty”: austerity politics and the deficit of sociological imagination 

    In this presentation I will explore the unfolding of austerity politics in the UK in terms of longstanding tendencies towards the narrowing of political and cultural horizons in political life. I argue that this trend can, at root, be understood in terms of a ‘deficit of sociological imagination’ in mainstream political discourse. While Wright-Mills felt able to write in 1959 that ‘the sociological imagination is becoming, I believe, the major common denominator of of our cultural life and its signal feature’, there has been a precipitous decline in its prominence and significance since he made this (perhaps overly optimistic) claim. I suggest that without sociological imagination ‘private troubles’ become connected to ‘public issues’ in ideological and one-dimensional modes which, in denying the possibility of alternatives, so too undercuts the feasibility of political agency for large swathes of the populace. I frame my arguments in terms of what I take to be the most egregious and radical manifestation of this tendency: the contemporary politics of austerity.

    Abstract for panel on C Wright Mills at BSA Conference 2012

  • Mark 6:34 pm on October 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    The Secret Club at the Heart of Politics? 

    Nick Clegg arrives in Downing Street
    In an article over the summer Julian Astle, former director of liberal think tank Centre Forum, suggested that the UK had been governed for much of the last two decades by a ‘secret club’:

    Numbering no more than 15 frontline politicians and a similar number of key advisers, it includes the last remaining Blairites and the “Cameroon” Conservatives and “Orange Book” Lib Dems at the top of the coalition government. Its members, divided by tribe, are bound by a truth they dare not admit – that they have far more in common with each other than with their own parties.

    As an empirical claim this is fairly indisputable. Followers of any of these positions might claim significant differences (e.g. New Labour embraced finance capital in order to achieve social democratic aims in a globalised world that was inimical to them) but, at best, these are artefacts of history. The fact these political parties arrived at this point via different trajectories pails into insignificance compared to the sheer fact of their convergence.

    While Julian Astle seems to merely see this as an interesting state of affairs to be analysed, others would see it as an egregious and worrying failure of democracy. The economic sociologist Colin Crouch argues that western liberal democracies are moving into a stage of post-democracy where the formal institutions of democracy continue to exist but the pervasive culture of participation and engagement which sustained an active democracy is increasingly exhausted. The decline of manufacturing and the traditional working class, as well as the advance of economic globalization, has hollowed out processes of democratic engagement to produce an isolated, disconnected and self-referential political class cut off from the public they claim to represent.

    We are left with a politics dominated by elites where influential business interests are the only group within society able to make their voice heard. Their pervasive, though often unseen, lobbying activity shapes the priorities of government while engagement with the wider public is increasingly shaped by ‘spin doctors’ and other advertising professionals. While policy is incubated in secretive ‘liberal’ and ‘centre-right’ think tanks, the public is seen as an electoral obstacle to be negotiated, possessed of no agency beyond the ridiculous reifications manifested in focus groups and polling data.

    This state of affairs isn’t undemocratic but it certainly is post-democratic. The UK is governed by a small clique of free-market politicians, entirely at odds with their own parties, implementing radical right-wing policies which largely failed to feature in either parties manifesto. That’s why Ed Milliband’s recent conference speech, as light on policy detail and as clumsy as the delivery was – rhetorically challenged as he is – ought to win him applause. It was the first time in a long time that any UK politician had departed from the neoliberal consensus that has underpinned the slide into post-democracy.

    For so long we have been told that there is no alternative. It’s pretty inevitable the speech would win him enemies on the right, with the inevitable lazy accusations that he is ‘anti-business’ but it’s depressing that it seems to have won him criticism on the left. He’s the first mainstream politician to have suggested TINA be damned, there might be an alternative. Don’t shoot the messenger just because he’s an uncharismatic policy wonk struggling to cope with the destructive legacy of New Labour within his party.

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