Month: November 2011

In the last three years, I’ve encountered a wide range of writing on asexuality. Some of it I like very much. Much simply doesn’t interest me, either as a result of its methodological approach or lack of theoretical ambition. A few articles have irritated me, albeit for different reasons in each case. However Saberi Roy’s article is […]

In this podcast I’m talking to Dougald Hine about the University Project. If you’re interested in the project and would like to get involved in something similar in your area of the country, check out the SI list of radical education projects. Get in touch if there’s any other projects you want added to the […]

Neoliberalism found fertile ground in academics whose predispositions to ‘work hard’ and ‘do well’ meshed perfectly with it’s demands for autonomous, self motivating, responsibilised subjects. This is gendered, racialised and classed, too, to be sure, in ways that merit urgent attention that I have been unable to give in this short piece. The lack of […]

it is notable how much self-contempt runs through such accounts, and the way they draw on the language of pathology. In the extract that begins this section, the male professor characterises himself as variously ‘addicted’, ‘obsessive’ and ‘compulsive’ when he might more accurately be seen as enacting quite reasonable strategies in order to cope with […]

A punishing intensification of work has become an endemic feature of academic life. Again, serious discussion of this is hard to find either within or outside universities, yet it is impossible to spend any significant amount of time with academics without quickly gaining an impression of a profession overloaded to breaking point, as a consequence […]

Precariousness is one of the defining experiences of contemporary academic life — particularly, but not exclusively, for younger or ‘career early’ staff (a designation that can now extend for one’s entire ‘career’, given the few opportunities for development or secure employment.) Statistical data about the employment patterns of academics shows the wholesale transformation of higher […]

It is all too common today for sociologists to assert that their sociology is critical, non-value-free or reflexive, and having done so to abandon any attempt to conform to the sorts of standards of reasoning and proof which are characteristic of scientific thought.

Early in 2009, when the Obama stimulus was under discussion, I was stunned to read statements from a number of well-regarded economists asserting not merely that the plan was a bad idea in practice — a defensible idea — but that debt-financed government spending could not, in principle, raise overall spending. Here’s John Cochrane: “If […]

Economists had good enough intellectual frameworks to have seen the risk of something like the banking and balance sheet crisis that burst upon us in 2008. But they ignored that risk. My best answer is that they were caught up in the spirit of the times, with its faith in the wisdom of markets and […]

A project like Wikipedia thrives because of it’s ability to harness the efforts of occasional contributors. As Clay Shirky suggests in his excellent  Here Comes Everybody, the numbers willing to make a small contribution (e.g. proof reading an article and correcting typos) vastly outstrip the numbers willing (or able!) to sit and write an entire article […]

Although usually described as ‘fly on the wall’, a more accurate metaphor for this kind of research is ‘cat on the prowl’, for a good participant observer is more like a stray cat. She is curious and interactive but not threatening. Occasionally intrusive, but easily ignored. – Sarah Thornton, Seven Days In the Art World