Updates from March, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 6:10 pm on March 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    The Morphogenesis of the Intimate Role Array, or, Why It Is Fucking Stupid To Worry About Being a ‘Substitute Boyfriend’… 

    I was just reading this post on the Good Men Project: it’s a question by a guy who’s worried he’s being ‘used’ as a ‘substitute boyfriend’ by a female friend who regularly calls him to talk before bed. The ‘expert’ columnists advise him that, yes, he is being used and that he should break off contact with this (clearly very close) female friend because, as one of them puts it, “The only people you should be regularly talking with, under those circumstances, are your boyfriend, your girlfriend, or your sex friend. And just so we’re clear, those people should be IN your bed while you’re talking to them”.

    I’ve rarely stumbled across something which encapsulates the confusions of late capitalist intimate culture as perfectly as this. Let’s leave aside the vacuity of the two advice columnists branding themselves as a platonic partnership to forge a new media career (see their website called “she said, he said” here) while also glibly advocating the dissolution of close platonic friendships without even any pretence at expert insight.

    What really grates is the sheer repressiveness loaded into how they approach their normative claims. There are a certain range of legitimate roles (romantic partner, ‘sex friend’, friend) with a specific set of normal behaviours attached to them (i.e. friends don’t talk before bed, it’s wrong to talk to anyone other than a romantic partner or a ‘sex friend’ while you are in bed etc). If a relationship with another person can’t be construed in terms of one of these legitimate roles and/or the behaviours manifested in the relationship don’t match those expected from the role in question then the relationship is deemed to be pathological and ought to be dissolved.  The possibility that relationships can take satisfying and sustainable forms which don’t fit into these constraints and that the the roles plus expectations attached to them should be reshaped and expanded is entirely foreclosed, as is an awareness that this is the process through which intimate culture changes over time.

    The content of the advice of columnists like this relies upon a whole set of social and cultural changes relating to intimate life which were the product of people coming together to struggle against repressiveness and assert their moral agency. Most obviously, their casual use of the category ‘sex friend’ wouldn’t have been widely accepted until fairly recently. In part these changes have come about because people were able to expand the array of intimate roles that are socially recognised (e.g. the concept of the ‘sex friend’, the idea of a boyfriend having a boyfriend or a girlfriend having a girlfriend) as well as expanding the freedom individuals have about how they behave towards each other within those socially recognised roles (e.g. the acceptability of premarital sex or cohabiting without marriage). Through a loose and inchoate (though nonetheless passionate and committed) rebellion against the repressive consequences of construing personal life in moral terms, a new freedom was won: a degree of moral agency about our intimate lives became possible which had never been seen before.

    Yet the sort of advice offered in this column, which I’m obviously taking as an ideal type, threatens this. The language of normality and pathology relating to intimate life risks replacing the old language of morality and immorality. In so far as it has (and continues) to become cultural common sense, we risk losing the freedoms that had been won as the expanded array of intimate roles and expanded space for intimate behaviour ossifies and collapses due to our unexamined concern to live our intimate lives in a ‘normal’ way. We also risk losing the capacity to win new freedoms, as the shrinking space of the ‘normal’ and the fear of the category of the pathological inhibits experimentation in our lives and leads to its censure in the lives of others. I really do wish sex and relationship ‘experts’ like the two in that column would shut the fuck up. I genuinely believe they are doing, as a whole and over time, a profound violence to freedoms which a previous generation struggled and died for.

  • Mark 1:16 pm on March 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    BSA Teaching Group – Call for micro-lectures To all Postgraduates in Universities local to Birmingham 


    Call for micro-lectures

    To all Postgraduates in Universities local to Birmingham

    At the



    Do you want to:

    Enhance your profile?        

    Keep sociology teachers up-to date?

    Talk to the people who will be writing the next generation of textbooks for A level?

    Reach an audience of potentially 35,000 A level students a year?

    Increase sociology’s wider knowledge base?

    Maybe influence wider society?

    Then come and deliver a micro-lecture [about 15 minutes] on your research to a group

    of committed sociology teachers who are eager to discover what the new research is showing.

    We are looking for updates in all the fields covered by the current sociology syllabi from both OCR and AQA. These cover such areas as: culture and identity creation; differentiation; inequality and stratification; demography; welfare and government policy in most fields of life; family and households; the role of women; minority groups; aging; youth culture; all aspects of education especially potential changes and their effects on different groups within society; health and welfare; wealth and poverty and welfare provision; politics and power; globalisation in all  its many aspects; religion; crime and deviance; methodology; theory and the role of research.  If in doubt that your field would be relevant to us consult the syllabus athttp://www.aqa.org.uk or http://www.ocr.org.uk

    Interested? Then contact Rachel Jones, conference organiser: jonesr@tauntons.ac.uk

  • Mark 1:40 am on March 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Vanity of vanities 

    What do people gain from all the toil
       at which they toil under the sun?
    A generation goes, and a generation comes,
       but the earth remains forever.
    The sun rises and the sun goes down,
       and hurries to the place where it rises.
    The wind blows to the south,
       and goes around to the north;
    round and round goes the wind,
       and on its circuits the wind returns.
    All streams run to the sea,
       but the sea is not full;
    to the place where the streams flow,
       there they continue to flow.

    Samuel Edmund Hiller 1984 – 2012
    Goodbye Sam. I miss you x

  • Mark 9:05 am on March 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Cheryl Frank Memorial Lecture in London May 16th 

    Dear members of IACR and friends of critical realism,


    Christian Smith, who shared the 2011 Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize with Alan Norrie,


    for his book “What is a Person?” will give his lecture:



    “Human Nature, Human Goods, and Motivation for Action”



    at the Institute of Education in London 

    Wednesday May 16 at 5.30pm in the Clarke Hall.



    All are welcome!


    on behalf of IACR


    Tone Skinningsrud

    Department of Education

    University of Tromsø


  • Mark 10:53 am on March 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Multi-Author Blogging at Warwick 

    The word ‘blogging’ often has negative connotations. Yet blogging can be understood both as an output and as a platform. Many negative views about blogging are connected to a certain idea of what it is: a single author, using it as a forum to express their views to a world which, in my cases, isn’t particularly interested. However this is only one kind of output which the platform can be used to publish. Increasingly, popular and successful blogs are taking on a new form: the multi-author blog. As the LSE’s Chris Gilson and Patrick Dunleavy have argued,

    The truth is that the single-author blog model has already gone out of fashion, and is in rapid decline. A blog is only as good as its readership and without consistently strong posts, and an easy way of finding them, there will be no readership. In the modern world of web 2.0, RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter, it simply is not very effective to have a single author, single issue, rarely updated blog; all the effort made in writing and posting will be typically wasted.

    Even creating a combined blog portal for a whole university is no guarantee of success. For instance, the Warwick University blog portal lists over 7,000 blogs which in combination have over 140,000 entries. But there are no indications of which are the popular or timely blogs, nor even a separation of staff and student work.

    These considerations help explain why the vast majority of popular political blogs are now multi-author blogs (MABs); that is, themed and coherent blogs run by a proper editorial team and calling on the services of multiple authors to ensure that the blog remains topical, can cumulate a great deal of content and can ensure a good ‘churn’ of high quality posts. We believe that MABs are a very important development, and they can be an assured way for an academic institution to become more effective in the context of the web.

    Such websites function more like online magazines and take full advantage of the power of modern blogging platforms: free, instantaneous, collaborative publishing of a kind which has never previously been possible. While the uptake of such tools within academia is still relatively new, there are already countless examples of ongoing successes, such as the LSE Impact Blog, the LSE Politics & Policy Blog and the Sociological Imagination. As Gilson and Dunleavy argue later in the article above:

    We believe that there is a huge untapped market for well-informed, continuously updated and varied academic blogging. Academics are already writing content and universities already function as huge dynamic knowledge inventories that insiders know about, but the wider public cannot access. The difficult creative job is therefore already done. Multi-author blogs are a fantastic, easy, and moreover, cheap way for academics and universities to get their research out to what is essentially an unlimited audience. From this process, we can all benefit.

    Perhaps the most exciting aspect of such tool is that they require little technical knowledge to utilise. If you are capable of using Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word, you’re capable of using these tools. Furthermore, the extremely sophisticated collaborative functions built into them enable projects to be maintained without the need for regularly scheduled meetings or large amounts of communication. They enable an entirely new form of academic communication: a kind of ‘middle-range publishing’ that falls between books/journals & conferences/seminars.

    Over the next couple of months, the Digital Change GPP will be supporting Multi-Author Blogging activities at Warwick. There will be an initial 1 hour session on April 19th (12pm to 1pm in the Research Exchange Seminar Room 1) which will offer an overview of Multi-Author Blogging, examples of its successful use and advice on planning potential projects. If there is enough interest, there will then be a longer ‘hands on’ session in May intended for people who want to get a project started.

    If you’re interested in either session or would like to know more then please get in touch:

  • Mark 1:55 pm on March 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Some thoughts on personal morphogenesis… 

    If we intend to conduct biographical research, it raises the obvious question: what is a biography? Our answer to this should ideally involve both theoretical and methodological considerations I.e. it should be orientated towards thinking through the practical consequences for a researcher thinking in terms of a given concept of biography.

    One tendency I find deeply problematic is to conflate biography with self narrative I.e. the truth of our biography can be found in the story of how we got from where we were to where we are now. However there is something important in the most engaging of such narratives. They involve a making sense of changes in ourselves and changes in our circumstances.

    Subsuming these three distinguishable though interdependent aspects of a biographical process under the concept of narrative makes it difficult to understanding the unfolding interconnections between them. Yet it’s these interconnections which account for the form and content of the narrative and it is through the analysis of them that we can explain the unfolding of someone’s biography rather than just describing it.

    This is where the concepts of personal morphogenesis and personal morphostasis are useful. The former refers to those events which lead to some transformation of personal characteristics and/or elaboration of self hood. The latter refers to those events which lead to the reproduction of personal characteristics.

    These are the drivers of the biographical process – they are the generative mechanisms which underlie the observable shape and direction to an individual’s life (as well as the stories they tell about themselves and their lives as they attempt to make sense of their experience retrospectively).

    I’m aware that when I talk/write about this stuff, it sounds very abstract, whereas in my mind it is not – this is an approach which I have been developing through the actual practice of doing qualitative longitudinal research. The BSA conference paper Im making these notes with reference to is intended to present this overall approach in a way which makes sense to people who aren’t critical realists. Expect some more posts on this topic over the next couple of weeks.

  • Mark 4:20 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    RIP Sam 

    Did you hear the ’59 Sound coming through on grandmother’s radio?
    Did you hear the rattling chains in the hospital walls?
    Did you hear the old gospel choir when they came to carry you over?
    Did you hear your favorite song playing one last time…?

    Tell all the young boys, young girls,
     All the young boys, young girls,

    That you ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night,
    Ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night,
    Ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night,
    You weren’t supposed to leave my life.

    So fuck it back to the wall/
    crush it/ laugh at em all/
    hush/ let em try to find the beauty in your face/
    something more than a song/
    they hatin? Aw come on/
    dust/ let em try to find the beauty in the bassline/
    aw but then them words dont change/
    we wont sing with what will fade away/
    yeah we do our own damn thing/
    we dont blink at what tomorrow might bring (at all)/

    Well I haven’t always been a perfect person,
    I haven’t dreamt what mum and dad had dreamed,
    but on the day I die, I’ll say at least I fucking tried.
    That’s the only eulogy I need,
    thats the only eulogy I need.

    Rest in peace mate. It was a privilege to know you.
    Samuel Edmund Hiller 1984 – 2012

  • Mark 3:33 pm on March 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gail lewis, milton keynes campus, participant data, psychosocial perspectives, , valerie walkerdine   

    Studying gender and sexuality psychosocially: Dialogue across perspectives, 15 May 2012 

    Tuesday 15 May 2012, 10:00-16:40

    The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

    Location: Michael Young Building 1,2 & 3

    Map and Directions:



    This event brings together people who are studying gender and sexuality from a variety of psychosocial perspectives. There have been a number of events recently considering ‘new femininities’, ‘sexualisation’, ‘girlhood’ and other related topics, but few have explicitly focused on what different theoretical positions have to offer these areas. These topics are of great psychosocial interest because the key tension throughout the work is that between structure and agency.

    During this seminar a number of perspectives will be offered during the morning (psychoanalytic, phenomenological, Deleuzian, discursive, critical realist, etc.) in two panels of presentations. In the afternoon, two facilitated workshops will give attendees the chance to bring their own theoretical perspectives to bear on data in this field. Finally, responses to the day will be offered by some key writers in this area.


    10:00-10:15       Introductions: Meg Barker and Ros Gill

    10:15-11.45       Panel 1: Valerie Walkerdine, Jessica Ringrose, Emma Renold & Gabrielle Ivinson

    11:45-13:15       Panel 2: Mark Carrigan, Feona Attwood, Darren Langdridge

    13:15-14:00       Lunch

    14:00-15:00       Workshop 1: Working psychosocially with participant data – led by Ester McGeeney

    15:00-16:00       Workshop 2: Working psychosocially existing data – led by Laura Harvey

    15:45-16:30       Responses: Ros Gill, Gail Lewis, Kesi Mahendran, Meg Barker

    Registration: Please e-mail socsci-ccig-events@open.ac.uk if you would like to attend.

  • Mark 7:12 am on March 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Public Perceptions of the Social Sciences in a Contemporary Era of Unrest 

    Public Perceptions of the Social Sciences in a Contemporary Era of Unrest
    BSA Postgraduate Day Conference
    16th April 2012
    Department of Sociology, University of York

    Keynote Speakers
    Professor John Holmwood, University of Nottingham & President Elect of the British Sociological Association
    Professor Les Back, Goldsmiths College
    Professor Mike Savage, University of York
    Professor Roger Burrows, Goldsmiths College

    Event Poster and Booking Details

  • Mark 9:30 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you will do will surely obscure them. If you do not alarm anyone morally, you will yourself remain morally asleep. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift to the coming human hell.
    C Wright Mills – The Politics of Truth
  • Mark 6:16 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    University of Warwick Department of Sociology Seminar Series #warwickphd #warwickecr 

    A presentation by Dr. Ashley Mears from the University of Boston
    -‘Pricing Looks: the Gendered Production of Value in an Aesthetic

    Fashion modelling is one of a handful of occupations in which women
    routinely earn more than men, commanding wage premiums up to 75 percent.
    How do women manage to earn more than men in fashion modelling? Drawing
    on interviews and observations from within the New York and London
    fashion worlds, Ashley will trace the logics of valuation for men and
    women in display fields, and show how gender norms influence the pricing
    of bodies in this aesthetic economy.

    Venue: Gillian Rose Room (R3.25), Ramphal Building, Department of
    Sociology, University of Warwick

    Date: Thursday 15th March 2012, 5-7pm

  • Mark 11:22 am on March 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Impact Workshop: Creating Effective Partnerships #warwickphd #warwickecr 

    In light of the funding council emphasis on collaborative partnerships for research and impact, both with other HEIs and with private and public organisations, it is crucial that today’s researchers are capable of working effectively with a range of organisations.

    What it is: An interactive workshop on effective engagement with non-academic partners.

    Led by: Dr Maggie Leggett, Head of Public Engagement at Bristol, NCCPE Ambassador (formerly Head of PE at the BBSRC)

    Topics: How to identify potential partners

    What to know before you start

    Troubleshooting – what to do when things go wrong and how to maintain good relations for the long-haul

    When: Thursday March 15th, Lunch at 1pm, seminar at 2pm

    Where: International Digital Laboratory Boardroom

    To register please visit http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/rss/impact/workshops/. Please indicate whether you will be attending lunch.

  • Mark 11:21 am on March 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Forthcoming seminar: Connecting at a distance #warwickphd #warwickecr 

    Connecting at a distance: creating a collaborative language learning community.

    This seminar will combine insights from our experience and hands-on opportunities to evaluate technologies for connection and collaboration in an informal, international community. We will build and expand our own personal learning networks to help find support for the challenges faced in your individual contexts. Our aim will be to ensure that you gain practical, applicable insights that you can immediately use to make your work easier.

    For more information (including how to book) visit: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2012/seminars/disciplines/DW128

  • Mark 5:56 pm on March 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: academic career, , , , ,   

    Pursuing an academic career in an age of austerity? 

    (via AyeshaKazmi from the Occupy Boston protest)

    [View the story “Pursuing an academic career in an age of austerity?” on Storify]

  • Mark 10:50 am on March 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: social pathologies, , university of hull uk   

    CfP:Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilisation, University of Hull 13-14 Sep 2012 (this looks fantastic) 

    International Conference
    Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilisation
    Call For Papers

    September 13th & 14th, 2012. University of Hull, UK.

    This conference focuses on the social pathologies of contemporary civilisation, i.e. on the ways in which contemporary malaises, diseases, illnesses, anxieties and psycho-somatic syndromes are related to cultural pathologies of the social body, how disorders of the collective esprit de corps of contemporary society manifest at the level of individual bodies, and how the social body and bodies politic are related to the hegemony of reductive biomedical and individual-psychological perspectives. The central research hypothesis guiding the conference is that many contemporary problems of health and well-being are to be understood in the light of radical changes of social structures and institutions, extending to deep crises in our civilisation as a whole. A particular focus of the conference is the role of humanities and social sciences, particularly sociology, philosophy and anthropology, in helping to understand the connection between individual and collective experiences of social transformations and of health and well-being.

    Now in its third year, the thematic scope of the conference offers an insightful approach to unfolding social, political and cultural processes across disciplinary boundaries, with a focus extending from the experience of the individual to a global scale. Following successful conferences at Aalborg (2010) and Cork (2011), this year the conference is hosted by the University of Hull.

    We invite abstracts of not more than 300 words related to any of the above themes to be submitted not later than June 10th to the email address below. All abstracts will be subject to peer-review and should be sent to the conference organisers at socialpathologies@hull.ac.uk

    Organizers: University of Hull Dept of Social Sciences, University of Aalborg, University College Cork.

  • Mark 5:05 pm on March 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    The Workflow for Continuous Publishing and How It Compares to ‘Traditional’ Publishing 

  • Mark 4:53 pm on March 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    The 200-plus emails that have been released from WikiLeaks’ cache of “Global Intelligence Files”—more than 5 million messages lifted from Stratfor, a private “global intelligence” firm—are a comical mix of breathless geopolitical intrigue and workplace chitchat, equal parts Tom Clancy and Office Space. But the trove also offers insights into the business of corporate intelligence, showing how multinational companies paid Stratfor tens of thousands of dollars to watch global hotspots, cover their competitors, and even monitor pesky activists. It was all part of Stratfor’s “Global Vantage” plan, a subscription-based program for companies to obtain personalized intelligence briefings. Launched in 2006, the service became an overnight success: Organizations as diverse as Coke, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, the Marine Corps, Duke Energy, and Georgetown University plunked down $20,000 or more a year to get their hands on tailored sensitive information. As Stratfor’s leaked master client list shows, major military contractors were well represented, as were Big Oil and agribusiness.
    WikiLeaks Goes Inside Corporate America’s Wannabe CIA
  • Mark 4:22 pm on March 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: academic output, eventual development, , , ,   


    ePamphlets is a word I’m using until a better one occurs. As part of the process of continuous publishing , I’ll regularly curate ePamphlets based on my online work in the area. The kind of things they collect:

    • Podcasts
    • Videocasts
    • Blog
    • Extended chunks of writing
    • Quotes from reading (I’m also using the blog as my reference manager now)
    • Brain storming blog posts
    • Guest blogs on other sites
    • Anything else that seems pertinent!

    My idea is that ePamphlets, produced through a process of research-orientated curation, can stand as a central bridge between themes explored in informal academic outputs (as the ‘gray literature’ moves increasingly online) and their eventual development into formal academic output. Crucially though, they can also stand as outputs in their own right e.g.  cataloguing events, preferably curating content from multiple contributors or proving an engaging ‘root in’ to an unfamiliar body of work .

    In the menu bar you can see the ePamphlets I’ve started to work on. All still at a very early stage but I’m quite taken with the concept. I plan to use the development of my academia 2.0 ePamphlet to lay the groundwork (in the broadest sense of  the term) for the monograph of the same name I plan to commence after my PhD.

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