Updates from January, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 10:35 pm on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    My TEDx talk: late capitalism and a/sexual culture 

    (More …)

     
  • Mark 12:06 pm on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    BSA Conference Event – C Wright Mills, 50 Years On 

    C. Wright Mills: Legacies and Prospects – 50 Years On
    Friday 13th April, 11-12.30pm 

     

    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.

    Prof Mike O’Donnell (University of Westminster) – “Charles Wright Mills and the (Continuing) Problem of Radical Agency”.

    Prof Liz Stanley (University of Edinburgh) – TITLE TBC

    Prof John Holmwood (University of Nottingham) – TITLE TBC

     

     
  • Mark 11:52 am on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    2012 Call for Papers about Asexuality 

    National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)
    2012 Call for Papers about Asexuality

    November 8-11, 2012, Oakland, CA.

    Papers on any topic at the intersection of women’s and gender studies and
    asexuality will be considered.
    (More …)

     
  • Mark 10:07 am on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    The cultural significance of asexuality 

    Until people started calling themselves homosexual, it didn’t make much sense for anyone to refer to themselves as heterosexual. Up until that point, it had simply been taken for granted and, as such, escaped scrutiny either by individuals or by society more widely. As adjectives both homosexual and heterosexual were coined in 1892, in an English translation of work by the early sexologist Kraftt-Ebing. However, as a noun heterosexual didn’t enter common usage until the 1960s. The Google Ngram viewer illustrates the relative occurrence of each term within their (enormous) corpus:

    To put it bluntly: people write more about homosexuality. The argument I’m making certainly doesn’t entail the view that there weren’t heterosexual people until homosexual people but rather that the visibility of sexual difference (slowly) made heterosexuality an object of deliberate reflection. I included asexuality as well as bisexuality below but the former is pretty meaningless given its prevalence as a biological term. Nonetheless, it seems interesting and arguably inverts a common way of understanding the relationship between sexualities i.e. homosexuality –> heterosexuality –> bisexuality rather than heterosexuality –> homosexuality –> bisexuality. In a sense heterosexuality, as a concept in itself rather than the characteristics of person referred to by that concept, should be understood as derivative from homosexuality, again understood as a concept rather than set of imputed characteristics.

    So what effect would a much increased visibility of asexuality have? Following through the line of thought above, it would make being sexual an object of deliberate reflection. This is certainly my own experience in three years of studying asexuality and it’s been a pretty interesting one. It seems likely that a widespread acquaintance with asexuality, even if it is entirely mediated, would bring being sexual into discursive awareness in a way that hasn’t previously been the case. Quite simply: you’re more likely to reflect upon a personal characteristic if you’re aware that there are people who don’t share it. Furthermore, although I think internal conversation is important to this process, there’s also a vast dialogical element to it. Or to put it simply: you’re more likely to talk to others about a personal characteristic you share with them if you are aware that there are other people who don’t share it. 

    Within the asexual community, once technology enabled people to conduct dialogues about their shared experience of being asexual in a sexual world, a rich and differentiated language quickly emerged. In spite of this commonality, there were also differences within the asexual community and, as people continued to discuss them, language began to ‘catch up’ to experience. Conversely I wonder whether, once sexual people begin to reflect upon being sexual as something more than a biological characteristic construed in terms of the entirely vacuous notion of a ‘sex drive’, will a rich panoply of sexual difference similarly begin to emerge? So sexual difference might come to be construed not in terms of object choice (i.e. hetero/bi/homo) but in all manner of complex idiosyncrasy which, at present, only very tangentially finds any sort of discursive expression.

     
  • Mark 12:21 am on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    The State Lottery 

    First they taught us to depend on their nation-states to mend,
    our tired minds, our broken bones, our bleeding limbs.
    But now they’ve sold off all the splints
    and contracted out the tourniquets
    and if we jump through hoops then we might just survive.
    Is this what we deserve?
    To scrub the palace floors?
    To fight amongst ourselves?
    As we scramble for the crumbs they spit out,
    frothing at the mouth about the scapegoats that they’ve chosen for us.
    With every racist pointed finger I can hear the goose-steps getting closer.
    They no longer represent us so is it not our obligation to confront this tyranny?

     
  • Mark 8:28 pm on January 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Sexual Minority Research in the New Millennium 

    This book presents current research focusing on sexual minorities. It discusses topics that include gay and lesbian parenthood; asexuality; media representations of trebly marginalised minorities; the effect of imaged contact on heterosexual women’s attitudes toward lesbian women; and, the high-school experiences of sexual and gender minority youth and best practices in the development of interventions designed to attenuate homonegativity. The final entry is a ‘virtual discussion’ in which contributors responded to a set of questions that focused on key issues in the field of sexual minority studies.

    Amazon link / Table of contents

    (It’s a bit pricey for individual purchase but the sort of thing that every university that has courses on sexualities should have in its library. Why not suggest the purchase…?)

     
  • Mark 10:00 am on January 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Social Class and Educational Aspiration 

    The BSA postgraduate forum is sponsoring an event of  Social Class and Educational Aspiration for postgraduates involved in this area of research. The Conference and Workshop will be hosted by the  University of East London On Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st  March 2012. The event is structured around five keynote lectures by leading social class and education academics alongside two tutorial PhD workshops, conducted by the academic speakers.

    Conference abstracts  are sought from 18 postgraduates; eight of whom will be selected to give a 20 minute talk and the rest will be invited to give a poster presentation. There is an option to only give a poster presentation but you must still send an abstract. It is intended that the conference theme is interpreted widely, however the following themes  in relation to social class are of particular interest:

    ·         Educational aspiration,
    ·         Educational attainment/achievement,
    ·         Access to higher education,
    ·         Recent changes in educational policies,
    ·         Theoretical and methodological discussions on social class and education.

    If you are interested in taking part in this event please see http://www.britsoc.co.uk/events/postgrad.htm   for further details on how to apply. You will need to complete the application form and write an abstract of no more than 250 words on how your research demonstrates a sociological and/or educational critical engagement with social class and education – in particular educational aspiration.

    If you have any further queries please contact Jenny and Tamsin at: sceaevent2012@gmail.com .  The deadline for applications is Monday February 6th 2012.  Please note that this event is free for all participants who are BSA members and £25 to all non-BSA members. All participants are expected to be present for the full two days.

     
  • Mark 12:48 pm on January 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    And I know I’m not the one who is habitually optimistic. But I’m the one who’s got the microphone here so just remember this… 

    Yeah I am sick and tired of people who are living on the b-list
    Yeah they’re waiting to be famous, and they’re wondering why they do this
    And I know I’m not the one who is habitually optimistic
    But I’m the one who’s got the microphone here so just remember this
    Well life is about love, lost minutes and lost evening
    About fire in our bellies and about furtive little feelings
    And the aching amplitudes that set our needles all flickering
    And they help us with remembering that the only thing left to do is live

     
  • Mark 1:41 pm on January 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Marginal Cartographies: Researching Beyond Borders 

    6th Annual Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference
    Marginal Cartographies: Researching Beyond Borders
    Department of Sociology – University of Warwick

    CALL FOR PAPERS

    In the age of globalisation, British mainstream academic research seems to pay too little attention to other parts of the world. In this context, Marginal Cartographies: Researching Beyond Borders, the 6th Annual Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference which will take place at the University of Warwick on 28th April 2012, aims to offer an arena for research that deals with marginality, in all its senses.

    The Conference focuses on research that goes beyond traditional disciplinary, temporal or spatial boundaries. We welcome papers that go beyond perspectives, theoretical approaches or methodologies that frame current British mainstream research in the field of humanities, arts, education, cultural studies and social sciences in a broader sense.

    The following streams on marginalized perspectives are intended as a (non-exclusive) guide of possible topics/clusters:

    Theoretical perspectives on marginalised/broadly overlooked topics
    Methodological issues
    Sensorial research, including visual research
    Embodiment, emplacement, and cultural practices
    Media research
    Literature & art research
    Gender, ‘race’ and ethnicity
    Researching the past (e.g. memory studies, oral history)
    Policy and politics
    Religion and spirituality
    Migration, citizenship
    Education

    The organising committee welcomes abstracts from postgraduates in any discipline, on issues that fit within and go beyond the focus and topics suggested above. Selected papers will be presented in a friendly and supportive academic environment, with each presentation lasting 20 minutes and 10 minutes for questions and answers.

    Please send an abstract (under 300 words including your personal details – name, institution, phone number and e-mail
    address) to marginalcartographies@gmail.com.

    Deadline for submitting abstracts is 12 February 2012.

    Notification of acceptance will be given by 16 March 2012, at the latest.

    You are welcome to contact the Organising Committee at marginalcartographies@gmail.com if you have any further
    questions.

    We look forward to seeing you at the University of Warwick.

     
  • Mark 7:09 pm on January 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Interrogating Sex and Gender Categories: an Asexual Case Study 

    Until 2001 there wasn’t an asexual community. Why was this? 

    • The question is more complex than it appears.
    • The internet was a necessary condition because it allowed a geographically dispersed group to connect. Was it a sufficient condition though?
    • It provided the infrastructure for a disparate group to connect.
    • However there still had to be a converging drive to connect across a diverse and disparate collection of individuals.
    • What explains this drive to connect? Empirical and theoretical dimensions to this.
    • Empirically, asexuals pretty much universally face partially or entirely pathologising reactions (at least initially) from others when they voice their lack of experience of sexual attraction. “Maybe you’re just a late bloomer”, “There’s probably something wrong with your hormones”, “Were you sexually abused as a child?
    • Theoretically, it’s the experienced inadequacy of the sexual/intimate discourses situationally available to make sense of the fact they don’t experience sexual attraction.
    • Their everyday environment both (a) renders this lack of sexual attraction problematic, making it an unavoidable object for internal deliberation (b) fails to provide the cultural resources necessary to articulate a self-understanding which is either subjectively or socially adequate.
    • This is the socio-cultural process underlying the drive to connect.

    What explains the reactions asexual individuals face? 

    • Their friends, family, peers literally did not understand.
    • The sexual assumption is a habitual cognitive category which, as an empirical claim, asexual individuals regularly encounter in the dispositional reactions and the reflective judgements of peers, friends, family and others.
    • The sexual assumption —> sexual attraction is both universal and uniform: everyone ‘has’ it and it’s largely the same thing in every instance.
    • The sexual assumption is a component in distinct clusters of interactions which asexual individuals find themselves engaged in at different points in their biographical trajectory.
    The methodological implications of this approach
    • Construing the lives of participants in biographical terms & preferably studying them longitudinally
    • Valuing their personal narrative (in both an ethical and methodological sense) without reducing their biographical trajectory to their story about it.
    • Recognising the multi-dimension nature of that biography: individual <–> networks, individual <–> ideas, individual <–> social structures
    • All of these dimensions shape biographical unfolding in different ways AND they interact with each other
    • My particular focus in studying asexuality has been at the level of individual <–> networks and individual <–> ideas.
    • In the terms I used above, the  everyday environment (a) renders lack of sexual attraction problematic, making it an unavoidable object for internal deliberation (b) fails to provide the cultural resources necessary to articulate a self-understanding which is either subjectively or socially adequate.
    • This plays out differently at distinct identifiable stages e.g. when someone first starts to recognise that they don’t experience sexual attraction and a given reference group does OR when they’ve decided that an assumption of self-pathology is unsustainable and want to find other ways to understand themselves.
    • A general approach to studying sexualities would involve using qualitative methods, preferably longitudinally, to (a) identify situations such as the this at particular moment in the individual’s past, aiming to fully capture the material and psychic aspects to them (b) understanding the individual’s internal deliberative responses to them (c) identifying the ensuing influence on the individual’s biographical unfolding over time.

     

     
  • Mark 10:06 am on January 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    And the ‘original’…. 

     
  • Mark 10:01 am on January 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    I read some Marx and I liked it… 

     
  • Mark 10:18 pm on January 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Are you interested in being a Postgraduate Forum Convenor for the British Sociological Association? 

    Are you interested in being a Postgraduate Forum Convenor?

    Our existing team work together to make sure that student members of the Association are kept up-to-date with matters of specific interest to them. They will also facilitate contact between student members and the BSA Council. In return for their hard work and dedication.

    Postgraduate Forum Convenors are offered a free place at BSA events and all travel expenses are reimbursed.

    The Convenors’ tasks include:

    • Circulating information to other postgraduates via the PG Forum email distribution list
    • Maintaining the PG Forum pages of the BSA website & the Facebook fan page.
    • Supporting and hosting PG Focus podcasts
    • Making contributions to Network
    • Assisting with the processing of BSA Support Fund applications by joining the panel of members who grant awards from the Fund
    • Helping organise the Postgraduate workshops/events at the BSA Annual Conference
    • Representing the interests of Postgraduate members at Council meetings

    Since the PG Focus podcasts were launched to great success in 2009, they have become an increasingly important part of the PG Forum activities. We are therefore particularly interested in having someone join us who has knowledge about, or an interest in learning, skills relating to the compiling, editing, uploading, and online maintenance of the blog and PG Focus podcasts.

    The successful applicant will work with current convenors to become
    proficient at assisting with the online and media aspects of the PG Forum’s activities. The new convenor(s) will also share other duties, including attending on average one Council meeting and two PG Forum meetings per year; quickly and efficiently dealing with email correspondence regarding Support Fund applications and other business; overseeing the organization of a session for the PG Day and spearheading new initiatives that will benefit the PG Forum community.

    While the time commitment for this role is flexible, with responsibilities shared between convenors, and the workload varies over the year, applicants can expect to devote between 4 and 16 hours per month to PG Forum
    responsibilities.

    If you have questions about what being a convenor entails, please contact us at PGForum@britsoc.org.uk

    Include a letter explaining why you think you are suitable for this role.
    Deadline for applications: 1 March 201

     
  • Mark 7:46 pm on January 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    TEDx Warwick: Home Grown Ideas (with me, @lukerobertmason and others) 

     
  • Mark 9:00 am on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Hip-Hop or Shakespeare? Akala at TEDx 

     
  • Mark 12:18 am on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Master Tasks for Intellectuals 

    1. To define the reality of the human condition and to make our definitions public
    2. To confront the new facts of history-making  in our time, and their meaning for the problem of political responsibility.
    3. Continually to investigate the causes of war, and among them to locate the decisions and defaults of elite circles.
    4. To release the human imagination, to explore all the alternatives now open to the human community by transcending both the mere exhortation of grand principle and the mere opportunistic reaction.
    5. To demand full information of relevance to human destiny and the end of decision made in irresponsible secrecy.
    6. To cease being the intellectual dupes of political patrioteers.
    • C. Wright Mills
     
  • Mark 9:45 pm on January 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Nick Crossley on Relational Sociology 

    In this podcast I talk to Nick Crossley about his recent book Towards Relational Sociology. The interview covers relational sociology, interdisciplinary approaches to social theory, the future of social theory and the contested status of quantitative methods.

     
  • Mark 7:39 pm on January 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    11 random thoughts on asexuality studies, to be written up properly at a later date… 

    1. There seems to be three tendencies within the literature: medical/psychological, queer theory / cultural studies / women’s studies, sociological & anthropological. With the latter two having a lot of convergence in outlook if not methods. My own work started in the third category and now sits on the border between the second and third category.
    2. Partly this convergence between queer theory / cultural studies / women’s studies work and sociological & anthropological work emerges from the empirical findings of the former e.g. myself and Scherrer. When conducting empirical research on asexuality with any sort of even vaguely hermeneutic concern, the experienced inadequacy of everyday concepts about intimate life becomes rapidly apparent e.g. the clear boundary between friend and partner when sex is taken out of the picture. Likewise a range of people have independently reached the conclusion that the empirical data must lead to a rethinking of both everyday AND academic concepts about intimate/sexual life in a pretty broad way. This is the point of convergence with the more abstract approaches (queer theory / cultural studies / women’s studies), the basic direction of thought seems to be largely the same, it’s just that the starting point has been different i.e. theory –> empirical claims / empirical claims –> theory.
    3. The crucial point is that this rethinking applies to people who aren’t asexual as well. A lot of issues relating to everyday concepts of intimate life are flagged up in a heretofore unprecedented way in terms of the experience asexual people have but these experiences are not confined to asexual people. It’s just that they became newly visible when, in the last decade, you had the emergence of an international community who did not experience sexual attraction talking at length about their respective experiences.
    4. In terms of published academic work that’s been done so far, some fascinating parallels have been drawn between asexuality and polyamory. In terms of unpublished work, people are thinking about this in terms of a range of issues: campaigns about the medicalization of sexuality (particularly in their gendered dimensions), the sexuality of the disabled, the cultural invisibility of older lesbians, the sexualization of society, the meaning and status of friendship within contemporary society, trans experience and trans politics.
    5. There’s a fascinating intersectionality within the asexual community (most obviously in terms of transgender and aspergers) which has yet to be engaged with in anything other a speculative & conversational way.
    6. Nathan Erro has made a very persuasive case (though perhaps I’m biased!) about the value of an asexual literary criticism. It’s an incredibly potent and fruitful lens through which to (re)think texts.
    7. I’ve tried to argue, albeit thus far entirely in chats with the media and online articles, that the social & cultural visibility of asexuality – thus far still in its VERY early stages – is hugely historically significant. Much as the identity of heterosexual only became meaningful once there was a visibile group identifying in some way as homosexual, what will a meaningful identity as sexual look like? Thus far, it’s been entirely taken for granted, to the extent that it’s rarely, if ever, been a meaningful topic of social/cultural dialogue or internal conversation. Speaking from personal experience, spending a lot of time thinking about asexuality, it makes you look at your own sexuality in a far more nuanced fashion. I’ve also been struck when doing talks on asexuality that there’s no good word for people who aren’t asexual: I tend to alternate between saying sexual people and non-asexuals, neither of which sound right. I find this quite interesting.
    8. Why wasn’t there an asexual community until 2001? There’s a lifetime’s work of social/intellectual/cultural history that becomes obvious once you start to really seriously engage with this (deceptively simple) question. Once I get my PhD finished, I’m guessing an awful lot of my intellectual activity for the rest of my 20s at least is going to be taken up by it.
    9. If you take these issues of rethinking seriously then an obvious question occurs: is another transformation in intimate life taking place and, if so, what is it, what’s driving it and what will its effects be?
    10. I was struck about six months ago by the thought there’s an as yet unarticulated shared project here amongst a lot of people working in the area. What is the project?
    11. How does asexuality relate to queer theory? Thanks to Prof Steve Fuller at Warwick who got me thinking seriously about this issue. It seems to occupy a similar intellectual terrain but a distinctively different way. It seems less abstract, more connected to empirical research, more social & cultural in its orientation and, arguably, both less political (in an ivory tower radicalism sense of the term political) and more political (in a normative concern about social organisation) at the same time.
     
  • Mark 12:55 pm on January 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Some thoughts on socialization and personhood 

    The traditional conception of socialization rests on the assumption that socialization is simply a matter of internalization. Dispositions which ‘fit’ the subject’s social placement are internalised from the social. Exactly what the socialising agent is called varies e.g. family, schooling, class. Behind this divergence about socialising agents is a convergence about how the subject is construed: the process is conceptualised as an entirely passive one, as a pre-social subject is progressively assimilated into the social.

    Part of the problem here is the severely impoverished view of the intrapersonal which has tended to dominate sociological theory. What little recognition the intrapersonal receives has tended to focus, presumably as a result of the influence of psychoanalytical thought and continental philosophy, on the psychic life of the subject. But this produces a truncated view of human personhood: psychic life ‘in here’ and social life ‘out there’ with a mysterious gap which demands to be filled. The easiest way to do this has been to either (a) ignore the intrapersonal together as being beyond the domain of sociology (b) postulate a mechanism which functions at the intrapersonal level which accounts for subject’s ‘socialisation’.

    We need to move away from a model of socialisation which sees it as being a matter of assimilating the person-to-be to social life. This isn’t denying the efficacy of socialisation processes as traditionally construed (although it is claiming that they obtain less-and-less the increasing rate of social change) but rather arguing that socialization must be understood as a multi-dimensional process within which a range of factors, over time and in a path-dependent way, interact with an internally differentiated subject:

    Part of the apparent passivity that characterises socialization in early life is the relatively weak role that reflexivity plays in the process i.e. comparing one’s objective circumstances to one’s subjective concerns in order to decide what to do. Social and cultural factors act on the subject and the subject reacts: impulsively, unthinkingly, habitually. However even in early life, a nascent capacity for reflexivity manifests itself as soon as a subject begins to have concerns relating to their experiences i.e. as soon as they come to care one way or another about aspects of their environment. The fact that obvious reflexivity, in the adult sense, doesn’t begin to develop until adolescence (and in many cases adulthood) means that this process appears passive. But my contention is that childhood involves increasingly complex emotional responses to an environment, as well as ever increasing awareness both of these responses (knowledge about the self) and the ways in which the environment produces them (knowledge about society). Construing socialisation as passive completely misrepresents (a) the developmental trajectory which leads to the possibility of ‘being active’ as an adult (b) the nature of that ensuing adult agency itself.

     
  • Mark 10:32 pm on January 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Margaret Archer – Socialization as reflexive engagement 

    Skip 8 minutes in for it to start:

     
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