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  • Mark 5:30 pm on June 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Harmony Korine, ,   

    The ‘Liquid Narrative’ of Spring Breakers 

    I contemplated writing a review of this film when I saw it a few months ago but wasn’t confident I could do it justice. So I was fascinated by this unusual interview with Harmony Korine about the film:

    Though the interview has made me want to go back and see the film again:

  • Mark 10:05 am on June 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Two potential directions for para-academic digital scholarship 

    Para-academics mimic academic practices so they are liberated from the confines of the university. Our work, and our lives, reflect how the idea of a university as a place for knowledge production, discussion and learning, has become distorted by neo-liberal market forces. We create alternative, genuinely open access, learning-thinking-making-acting spaces on the internet, in publications, in exhibitions, discussion groups or other mediums that seem appropriate to the situation. We don’t sit back and worry about our career developments paths.We write for the love of it, we think because we have to, we do it because we care. […] We do this without prior legitimisation from any one institution. Para-academics do not need to churn out endless ‘outputs’ because of the pressures of a heavily assessed research environment. We work towards making ideas because learning, sharing, thinking and creating matter beyond easily quantifiable ‘products’. And we know that this is possible, that we are possible, without the constraints of an increasingly hierarchical academy.
    The Para-Academic Handbook

    I’ve just read back over our submission to this and I realised that the main thing I was trying to say can be summed up as two responses by para-academics to the question of how their digital scholarship is recognised:

    1. Incorporating digital scholarship into the evaluative procedures within the audit culture and leverage ‘digital products’ for instrumental advancement within a institutional environment which is likely to become increasingly amenable to their recognition.
    2. Resist the auditing of digital scholarship and seek to find spaces within the contemporary academy to move what have, up until now, been purely ‘online’ practices into ‘offline’ spaces. Eventually seeking to overcome the dichotomy all together.

    Clearly this is an overdrawn dichotomy but I’d argue there are, fundamentally, two potential direction of travels: incorporating into existing structures or expanding out in an attempt to change (or at least resist) those structures. Is institutional recognition of digital scholarship worthwhile if it distorts the practices (which at their best are paradigmatic of communication for its own intrinsic value rather than extrinsic institutional rewards) which render digital scholarship attractive in the first place? Now to try and work out what (2) means in practice – the case made to this end in the chapter is pretty meagre.

  • Mark 8:31 am on June 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bertrand Russell,   

    Baking an idea in the unconscious mind 

    My own belief is that a conscious thought can be planted into the unconscious if a sufficient amount of vigour and intensity is put into it. most of the unconscious consists of what were once highly emotional conscious thoughts, which have now become buried. It is possible to do this process of burying delbierately, and in this way, the unconscious can be led to do a lot of useful work. I have found, for example, that if I have to write upon some rather difficult topic the best plan is to think about it with very great intensity – the greatest intensity of which I am capable – for a few hours or days, and at the end of that time give orders, so to speak, that the work is to proceed underground. After some months I return consciously to the topic and find that the work has been done. Before I had discovered his technique, I used to to spend the intervening months worrying because I was making no progress: I arrived at the solution none the sooner for this worry, and the intervening months were wasted, whereas now I can devote them to other pursuits.

    Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness, Pg 49-50

    This is a book I first read seven years ago and occasionally come back to. While it’s full of scattered insights, I’d struggle to think of any advice I’ve encountered anywhere that has been more straightforwardly useful than this suggestion. It’s something I began to try and practice consciously pretty much immediately and, in the past few years, it’s become such a habitual part of how I work that I’d pretty much forgotten I ever did anything else. It’s a natural antidote for those who, as C Wright Mills might have put it, can find themselves getting obsessed with the “feel of an idea” – my own take on Russell’s advice is to try and sit with an idea, see where associations lead you spontaneously, think through its implications and try to contextualise it in terms of ideas that are already more settled in your mind. Then to let it go, distracting yourself with something else and avoiding it for as long as possible until some practical exigencies demand reengagement. Often they don’t and this is where the method is particularly great.

    It came back to mind recently because of a discussion in which I suddenly found that a fragmented set of thoughts which preoccupied me a couple of years ago (how cultural items can be used to mediate human relationships e.g. CDs, Mp3s, Books, Films, Youtube Clips) suddenly emerged back into my psyche as a fully formed theory (linking transformation of the cultural industry to theories of individualisation) which was relevant to the discussion. As far as I can remember, I’d expanded no deliberate thought or intellectual energy on addressing these ideas in the preceding couple of years – they’d simply been sitting in the back of my mind, baking until they were ready. The ‘baking’ metaphor is perhaps another example of this. Someone used the term at a conference I was at recently (in fact I’m not 100% sure I didn’t mishear them) and it briefly lodged in my attention without me really knowing why. Until I came to write this blog post and suddenly it became obvious why I had latched onto the metaphor of ‘baking an idea’.

    • Emma 12:06 pm on June 30, 2013 Permalink

      This sounds like a post for your sociological craft project! You could extend the baking metaphor – it sounds to me like making bread – you shouldn’t overwork the dough (idea) and have to have confidence to leave the dough alone while it proves for however long is necessary….

    • Mark 12:11 pm on June 30, 2013 Permalink

      it is! 🙂 i like this extension, i’ve never baked anything in my life so the metaphor is a bit of a stretch for me….

    • emmalhead 1:13 pm on June 30, 2013 Permalink

      Am unfortunately a better baker that social theorist!!

  • Mark 11:00 am on June 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

    The AHRC’s Collaborative Skills Development call 

    The AHRC’s Collaborative Skills Development call is aimed at supporting the development of innovative, collaborative training packages for PhD students and early career researchers in the arts and humanities.

    The 2013 call will operate with three strands:

    • The Organisation-led strand will offer funding of up to £60,000 to enable Research Organisations to offer training and skills development activities to groups of students and Early Career Researchers in several institutions, involving a variety of different partners.
    • The Early Career Researcher (ECR)-led strand will offer funds up to £5,000 to support ECRs to establish and run collaborative training and researcher development activities primarily for the benefit of other ECRs.
    • The Student-led strand will support doctoral students to establish and run smaller-scale collaborative activities, with an award limit of £3,000.

    Proposals must be collaborative, involving at least one Research Organisation and another partner. Proposals can be led by any Research Organisation, including Independent Research Organisations, and the student and ECR-led strands are not restricted to AHRC-funded students / ECRs.

    Applications should propose the development of skills within one of the following areas:

    • Partnership working including public engagement: To support postgraduate students to engage effectively with collaborators outside of academia, including community groups and the public, private and third sectors.
    • Entrepreneurship and the Creative Economy: Delivering activities and strategies that enable postgraduate students to develop their research in an entrepreneurial context, including Enterprise learning.
    • Research Skills Enrichment: Supporting new activities that will enable postgraduate researchers to enhance their research skills by engaging with disciplines outside of their own in order to add value to their current research and/or develop their research in a new direction.

    Proposals will be eligible from any discipline within the AHRC’s subject remit. Applicants are welcome to propose innovative forms of skills development and training for students and ECRs, but we will also accept applications proposing conferences and workshops, placements and internships, business plan type competitions and entrepreneurs-in-residence, study visits and electronic resources, to name just a few examples.

    Further information on how to apply can be found here: AHRC’s Collabrative Skills Development Call

    Closing dates for applications – ​4pm on Thursday 19 September 2013

  • Mark 10:58 am on June 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Call for papers: ‘Getting Social Research into Policy & Practice’ 

    We’re very pleased to announe the Call for workshop papers for “Getting Social Research into Policy and Practice”, the Social Research Association’s annual conference on 9 December 2013 at the British Library, London.

    The SRA annual conference is a unique event: it is the only forum the UK has for bringing together social researchers from all sectors and disciplines to share knowledge and ideas, to debate our most pressing professional issues, and, of course, to meet and talk.

    As austerity continues to constrain the world of social research, what more can be done to make better use of evidence and bridge the gap with policy and practice?   This year’s conference will explore how researchers can engage more effectively with those who use research.  What can and should researchers do to ensure they inform policy processes and local practice?  How do we translate nuanced research findings into practical solutions?  How far should researchers stray into the world of policy-making?  How do we produce robust evaluations as budgets dwindle? What do policymakers and practitioners need from research, and can it realistically be delivered?

    We are looking for engaging workshop papers which will address the broad theme of ‘Getting social research into policy and practice’ through the lens of one of the following:

    •       Communicating and disseminating research with impact
    •       Innovation in a time of austerity
    •       Evaluating the ‘impossible’
    •       Evidence-based policy vs. policy-based evidence
    •       Maintaining quality
    •       Overcoming methodological challenges
    •       Ethical issues and dilemmas.

    Papers are for workshop sessions of 20 minutes (followed by a 10 minute Q&A).  Up to two lead presenters will receive a solid discount on the delegate fee.

    Please email your abstract of not more than 500 words to admin@the-sra.org.uk by no later than *Monday 19 August*.  Please write ‘SRA Conference Abstract’ in the subject line of your email, and include your name on all attachments.  Your abstract needs to include:  >Title of presentation  >Summary outline of content and areas of learning  >A description of your research methodology, if appropriate  >Name, affiliation, email and phone contact for each presenter.

    Please do not send completed presentations or papers. The SRA website http://www.the-sra.org.uk will provide further details on the conference.

  • Mark 9:56 am on June 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: conspiracy theories,   

    Why are conspiracy theories popular? 

    This morning’s article on the LSE politics blog was a thought-provoking discussion of conspiracy theories and the increasing weight of social scientific evidence concerning their emergence and dissemination. This is a topic that’s fascinated me for years and one which, until I started to realise that reading these sites on a daily basis would drive me mad,  I was seriously considering as an idea for post-doctoral research. I couldn’t agree more with the article’s dismissal of psychopathological explanations of conspiracy theories – in effect a kind of reductive psychologism:

    To begin, let’s take the often used psychopathological explanation, that those believing in conspiracy theories are crazy. Despite Alex Jones’ recent efforts to convince BBC viewers otherwise, mental illness is neither an antecedent, nor the product of conspiracy theorising. Most people believe in at least one conspiracy theory; many people believe in several. It would be difficult to label them all crazy. Some attribute conspiracy theorising to more benign afflictions such as paranoia, feelings of powerlessness, and alienation. These explanations don’t get us very far either: first, the causal direction is not clear. People may believe powerful actors are out to get them because they are paranoid, but conversely, people may feel paranoid because they believe powerful actors are out to get them. Second, given the numbers of people that believe in conspiracy theories, we could not label all or most of society as paranoid.

    However what I find less compelling is the article’s dismissal of the argument that conspiracy theories represent a form of cognitive simplification, allowing individuals to make sense of complicated events in simple terms:

    Conspiracy theories are often seen as the result of cognitive quirks, that in a complex world, people seek to account for complicated events and messy circumstances with simple theories. However, this often cited explanation does not stand up to scrutiny. While each person can decide for him or herself how complicated an explanation is, conspiracy theories are generally far more complicated than the official stories they often attempt to refute. Which is more complicated, the suggestion that 19 terrorists boarded planes and crashed them on 9/11/2001, or that Bush, Cheney, the FBI, the CIA, Israel, all major news outlets, the NYPD, the 9/11 Commission, and Popular Mechanics magazine are all secretly conspiring together to hide airplanes, plant explosions, destroy evidence, and deceive the public? Put simply, conspiracy theories are usually never more parsimonious than the official explanations they rival.

    Part of the problem here is the seemingly linear understanding of ‘complexity’ invoked. This may very well be a consequence of writing for the web, in which case I withdraw my objection, though I suspect it isn’t. My difficulty with the counter-argument is in its conflation of narrative complexity and moral complexity. The stories conspiracy theorists tell are certainly complicated – though it’s important to recognise that this is likely as much a result of the constant argumentative elaboration required when most of the people you make it too will, rightly, see it as ridiculous and offer objections – but, I’d argue, this narrative complexity obscures an underlying moral simplicity. Conspiracy theories work to sustain a sense of moral order which is profoundly simplified: good America has been thrown off track by bad neo-Conservatives who have conspired to manipulate the public for their own ends. The reduction in cognitive load which stems from affirming such a sense of moral order is a consequence of the questions it forecloses – those concerning government policy, geopolitics, differences and similarities between successive governments, one’s own complicity (wilful or otherwise) in the ensuing difference these governments have made in the world.

    These are reflexive questions – ones concerning our place in relation to the world and what we should do given we are in such a place. Conspiracy theories do not so much foreclose reflexivity – ‘truthers’ do vigorous and committed activism which any adequately sociological treatment of conspiracy theories has to recognise – but rather constrain the projects which might be reflexively enacted as consequence of such deliberation. It leads individuals to ask some questions, predisposing certain answers & ensuing projects, but not others and it is the nature of the questions it leads one to ask which constitute the ‘simplification’. But this is not something unique to conspiracy theories. It is a characteristic of all lay theories about socio-political processes and, assuming we wish to avoid a lazy liberal relativism that is chronically suspicious of political conviction, then it is precisely this continuity with other forms of political belief (rather than the divergences so theatrically embodied by Alex Jones on the Daily Politics) that we must examine.

  • Mark 8:58 am on June 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    The Empty ‘Posturing’ of Žižek and Lacan? 

    This interview (via Open Culture) will perhaps divide opinion. It follows on quite nicely from John Searle’s comments about Foucault, Bourdieu and continental obscurantism which I found recently. Before I express a view, let me offer a preamble: I own and have read a lot of Žižek books, though the ratio between my owning and my reading of the book is quite telling. I also think that, contra his critics, he can actually write pretty well, though seemingly only in his shorter books i.e. he often doesn’t write well. But I’m also aware that I like Žižek in pretty much the same way I sometimes like going out to get extremely drunk. I like the way that reading a Žižek book involves (to me at least) being engulfed by a torrent of verbosity, with the rapid fire and often barely coherent patchwork quilt of names and ideas being interrupted by those occasional moments of startling lucidity which, in the unpredictable zig-zag between incoherence and insight, work to lend the experience a sense of profundity entirely out of proportion to the actual weight of the propositions being put forward in the text (not a million miles away from the way in which drunken intellectual debates can sometimes feel incredibly profound because they occasionally lead to the unexpected elaboration of preexisting positions in spite of  what is, if you’re honest, the generally low quality of the discussion). So I find it hard not to agree with Chomsky here:

    What you’re referring to is what’s called “theory.” And when I said I’m not interested in theory, what I meant is, I’m not interested in posturing–using fancy terms like polysyllables and pretending you have a theory when you have no theory whatsoever. So there’s no theory in any of this stuff, not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t. So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing.

    Or at least I agree with him up to a point. I don’t know enough about Chomskyan linguistics to substantiate the claim but I’m unsure as to what extent the positivist rhetoric is invoked here for effect and to what extent these are reflective methodological principles. Ironically, what knowledge of Chomskyan linguistics I do have comes largely, I think, from the eclectic (mis)appropriation of interdisciplinary concepts which characterises the work of cultural theorists (fair term?) like Žižek whom I occasionally feel compelled to read. But I do identify with the impulse to differentiate methodologically coherent theorisation, understood as part of a broader endeavour of collective knowledge production, from the kind of Theory represented by Žižek.

  • Mark 7:07 pm on June 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Caught Between Zombies and Chavs? The aesthetics of the crowd in an age of austerity 

    I love book shops. There are few things in life that give me greater pleasure then entering a book shop to choose a book at random. While I occasionally buy some utter crap through the enthusiastically scattergun approach I take to book buying, it’s much more common for me to stumble across books that I come to love. Or at least ones that intrigue me enough to lead to a purchase but then sit, unread, around my house for a year or two before I finally get round to them. There’s a much smaller, in a weird way rather exclusive, category of books that provokes neither response though. These are ones I have recurrently picked up in a shop, flicked through and yet  have  failed to provoke a degree of interest which would lead me to buy them… nonetheless they are sufficiently interesting that I find myself picking them up again a month or two later though still not buying them. The book of World War Z falls very much into this category and, rather inevitably given I must have picked it up close to 10 times over a number of years without buying it, it’s lodged into my psyche in a way that sits rather incongruously with the fact I was never interested enough to read it. So I was rather intrigued to see the film but nonetheless a bit ambivalent about it:

    There are obvious things to dislike about this film. The narrative is disjointed in parts, with occasional gaping holes in the story telling matched by smatterings of dialogue so wooden that it’s a wonder the actors were able to deliver it with straight faces. But nonetheless it was gripping and the spectacle was, well, spectacular. This revolved around two aspects: zombie crowds and the breakdown of social order. The apotheosis of this was reached in the siege of Jerusalem by the zombie armies (!?) before the film got a bit tedious in the second half – Israel was the only state which took the initial reports of zombies seriously, with past history compelling military leaders to respond to even the most far fetched potential threat (there’s a far from subtle moral about the risk modelling of natural security states here). But please do ignore my cynicism because it turns out those walls were useful after all… for a while at least. But eventually the zombie armies, spurred on by the sounds of peaceful interethnic cultural collaboration – literally, it was harmonious singing in the immigration zone of Jerusalem that provoked the attack – soon overwhelmed even these defences and the state of Israel was consumed by the zombie plague. Was anyone else astonished that this bit of the film got made?

    Leaving aside the sheer socio-political weirdness of this bit of the film, it also left me thinking about the aesthetics of the crowd which characterised the film as a whole. The film portrays, in its own terms, the beginning of a world war – an established global order, represented throughout by the United Nations, suddenly finds itself under siege by an internal threat and, I’m sad to say, all looks lost, at least until some heroic figures are able to leverage scientific knowledge and military resources into temporary survival and the onset of total war. Who are the enemy? The sheer mass of the human population, those who formerly contributed to the reproduction of the social order each and every day but are now gripped by an inexplicable destructive urge, constituting an existential threat to the established order through their sheer numbers and violent reaction to the remaining organs of power. How terrifying a spectacle, to see a crowd so blood thirsty, plagued by such malevolent demons that too much contact with soldiers can leave the security forces equally consumed by the nihilism of the mob! Who are the heroes? Special forces, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the IDF and the US Military. The thought that kept returning to me through the film was the extent to which it portrayed the mirror image of what China Mieville describes as ‘floating utopias’ – in a kinder and gentler age of pre-austerity neoliberalism, the libertarian imaginary found its expression in fantasies of liberation from the state in floating paradises of consumption and free enterprise. In an age of austerity, this utopian impulse finds it counter-image in nightmares of being eaten alive by a feral crowd, with dark hopes of malthusian salvation necessitating a militarization of social life and total war against the mass of humanity. Only through embracing death and destruction (by literally internalising it in the form of the viruses which render one oblivious to the teeming destructive hoards)  can the forces of social order stand a chance against the nihilistic fever which has gripped the mass of humanity and eviscerated the capitalist world system.

    The portrayal of the zombies isn’t a million miles away from that of the murderous chavs in Eden Lake:

    But in that case the murderous crowd amounted to a few insecure, though deadly, teenage boys. The social pathology did not yet extend (in 2008) to the population at large. While a fashionable London couple found themself murdered by the locals when visiting the future site of an exclusive gated development in the West Midlands, the film nonetheless conveyed a vision of a controlled future in which these marginal predators would be kept at bay by increased social order – in other words, the gates were going to be put up around Eden Lake. So, if we want to avoid north London couples being massacred by West Midlands chavs, we’d better embrace this process. But World War Z portrays a time where even the world’s biggest gate cannot keep out the murderous masses. So what hope for our collective futures? Well it seems we can either retreat into militarised communes, hiding from the world while the remaining forces of political order slaughter the mass of the earth’s population, or we can begin to look more closely at the constitution of the feral crowd and begin to wonder if ‘zombies’ and ‘chavs’ are ideological fictions that serve a nefarious political purpose.

    • Heather Mendick 9:48 am on July 1, 2013 Permalink

      Great piece, makes me *really* not want to see the film – reminds me of Lisa Blackman and Valerie Walkerdine’s brilliant analysis of masses and crowds in their book Mass Hysteria.

    • Mark 9:57 am on July 1, 2013 Permalink

      Oh I’ll have a look at that, sounds really interesting – i realised when writing that post that the portrayal in films of the feral crowd is something I’ve been fascinated by for ages.

  • Mark 9:44 pm on June 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALEC,   

    The ALEC Rock 

  • Mark 7:52 pm on June 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Rethinking the vision of sociology one might want to argue for 

    it may be time to re-think how to situate our ourselves and our commitments in relation to, not only what one is against, but also what vision of sociology one might want to argue for. It is not a mattter, to my mind, of answering disciplined instrumentalism with hyperpolitical posturing that dwells in the delusion that we transform the world simply by making pronouncements about it. It might be that the value of what we do is found in the commitment to thinking, education and understanding. In fact I think this is what the sociologists in this exhibit are talking about. Guided by ambition and a confidence that may have something to say about our current condition, this involves shaping the discipline, developing collaborations, and yes, raising income and resources to fund projects we believe in. A commitment to dialogue is central here to – not least with our students – if we are to seek and find new audiences and publics for sociological ideas. We have no choice but to play the game and establish standing that can be quantitatively recognised. However, this is a dead game without retaining a commitment to communicate to a wider range of publics comprised not only of professional sociologists but also our students – inside and outside universities – and people searching for alternative ways to think the issues of the day.

  • Mark 5:07 pm on June 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: James Gandolfini,   

    RIP James Gandolfini 

    This was the scene I was looking for from Get Shorty but I can’t find it on Youtube.

  • Mark 6:23 am on June 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

    CfP: Gender violence and virtual worlds: brave new world(s) of regulation? 

    Virtual Worlds and Online Games now play a large part in society and social past times; they are
    popular and mass culture. Women actively participate in various online environments and Virtual
    Worlds, forming a significant part of these communities.

    However, Virtual Worlds provide a different space for people to inhabit. Cyberspace has traditionally
    been regarded as a lawless environment – as much for its jurisdictional difficulties and absence of
    regulation, as for its lack of physical nature. In recent years one could observe a sudden emergence
    and major growth of cybercrime, with particular rise in cyber stalking and cyber-harassment. What is
    particularly intriguing is that many of these crimes take a gender-based form, such as gender-based
    violence, sexual harassment or cyber-pornography, which primarily victimize women (or rather female
    avatars and characters).

    Despite their prevalence cybercrimes, and gender-based cybercrimes in particular, remain
    unregulated. Where regulation occurs, it is largely in the form of Acceptable behaviour and Codes of
    Conduct. The difficulty then arises then with enforcement. Furthermore, various attempts at
    discussing the issue of misogyny in online environments and cybercrimes against women meet a
    strong, opposing and somewhat alarming response, such as one directed against Anita Saarkesian, a
    feminist games critic, blogger and the author of the Tropes v Women.

    These recent developments and paint a rather alarming picture of the gender inequality in virtual
    worlds and prompt a question about the need for regulation of such behaviour in online environments
    and in virtual worlds.

    The Ignite© (UN)CONFERENCE is designed to create an opportunity to discuss these pressing,
    contemporary issues in an informal, multidisciplinary environment. Our event will take a form of Ignite
    sessions which are designed to stimulate discussion and exchange of new ideas in a short period of
    time (http://igniteshow.com/). Presentations should be no longer than 10 minutes. After the Ignite
    sessions, separate sessions will be run to further explore these issues.

    We are hoping to attract a range of participants from various backgrounds, who are interested in
    participating in this event and contributing to the discussion. You do not need to be a game player to

    Please submit proposals of no more than 200 words including a brief biography and 3 keywords to
    Kim Barker (Birmingham Law School) and Olga Jurasz (Open University) at: virtualgender@gmail.com
    by 10 July 2013 and join the debate on twitter @VirtualGender.

  • Mark 10:07 am on June 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

    “They were stalking the corridors, the lecture rooms, the offices…”: open research, ethics and impact 

    The Last Seminar by Stan Cohen must surely merit consideration as the strangest paper ever to appear in a Sociology journal. It tells the story of a gradual invasion of the university campus by those who are neither expected nor welcome: research participants. Encountering  strangely familiar figures in their everyday working lives, befuddled sociologists suddenly begin to recognise that those who have been the objects of past research have gradually returned to confront the researchers who sought to repress them upon completion of the research:

    Then Bridges, who I thought had been deliberately avoiding me, walked up to the desk at the end of a class in which he had participated with his usual intense stare.

    ‘You don’t know anything about it, do you? It’s all a game to you.’I asked him what he meant.

    ‘Prison’, he said, ‘You think because you’ve spoken to a few cons you understand it all. Well, you don’t, you just don’t.’

    He was slowly shaking his head. The tone was polite, but condescending. I’d heard that tone before.

    The ensuing confrontation is neither welcome nor pleasant. Those whose existence had been reduced to representational objects begin to subject the researchers to emotional torment, with their mere presence throwing the campus into disarray:

    Those of us who had done any empirical research were being infiltrated by our subjects. (‘Infiltrated’, is that the right word? I’m still not sure how to describe what was being done to us. Penetrated? Visited? Invaded?) I could not explain how this had happened but they were certainly here, taking revenge against us for writing about them.

    The story ends with Cohen’s narrator desperately bundling up his most treasured books before fleeing the burning campus as gun fire echoes in the distance. It’s a very strange story. But it asks an important question: what would involuntary confrontation with participants in past research look like? What would it feel like? How would a prior knowledge of such future rencountering (re)shape our practice? Certainly these are not new questions. But it would be difficult to find a text which considers them quite as dramatically as Cohen’s.

    This is something I’ve thought a lot about in the context of researching the asexual community. I first encountered the notion of asexuality through two new friends who identified as asexual. As I got curious about asexuality – partly because I didn’t ‘get it’ and partly because of its conspicuous absence within the sexualities literature I’d encountered at that point – I started to search online. I very quickly found asexual discussion forums, blogs and youtube videos. I found a website that an asexual PhD student (who eventually switched topics to research the history of asexual identity) had setup in order to help encourage and facilitate what was, at that point, a fairly insubstantial amount of academic research on asexuality. In short: an awful lot was happening online.

    It soon became obvious that the internet had been integral to the emergence of an asexual identity and the formation of something which, for lack of a better term, we might call an asexual ‘community’. However the internet was also crucial to the formation of an extremely loose but nonetheless identifiable asexual research community – e-mail, mailing lists, blogs, discussion forums allowed   geographically dispersed individuals with common interests to communicate. This has eventually led to some face-to-face meetings: a seminar at the University of Warwick, a conference panel at the Sexualisation of Culture conference, the formation of an interest group of the National Women’s Studies Association and numerous conference sessions which have emerged from this.

    There’s a risk of overstating the point but there is, nonetheless, a clear homology here and it’s a really interesting one. In a way it represents a reshaping of the field of research – the same trends are identifiable in the formation of groups of researchers as can be seen in groups of the researched. It might be the case that asexuality represents an outlier but, even if this is so, it’s helpful because it foregrounds a change which might be difficult to identify elsewhere if it is manifesting itself more gradually. The institutional and territorial gap between researchers and the groups they research – the concern of Cohen’s story – is being radically narrowed by the internet in general and social media in particular. There are some striking examples of this within asexuality studies, such as the formalisation of the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network’s gatekeeping function and the Open Letter to Researchers written by the Asexuality Awareness Week committee, but I find it difficult to see how this could become anything other than a broader trend. Some elements of Cohen’s parable could seem anachronistic given the sensitivity and awareness which many social researchers, particularly insider researchers, exhibit in relation to this ‘gap’. My intention is simply to frame this recognised issue in terms of the many ways in which the technological innovations which are driving this process can be drawn upon to negotiate it proactively. By this I mean things like:

      • Single author or multi-author blogging
      • Tweeting about research
      • Setting up a tumblr blog about research
      • Podcasting (interviews, talks)
      • Facebook pages
      • Videocasting (interviews, talks, documentaries)
      • Live streaming events
      • Engaging with community blogs

    These are possibilities which often come up in terms of ‘impact’ and ‘public engagement’. But I think these are often sterile concepts, redolent of top-down imperatives and an audit culture – it also risks subsuming the specific publics of the researched who have a stake in the content of that research under the general ‘public’ with whom we are ‘engaging’.

    These are powerful tools which, increasingly, require little to no technical expertise to master. Martin Weller talks about these technologies as being ‘fast, cheap and out of control’:

    Fast – technology that is easy to learn and quick to set up. The academic does not need to attend a training course to use it or submit a request to their central IT services to set it up. This means they can experiment quickly.

    Cheap – tools that are usually free or at least have a freemium model so the individual can fund any extension themselves. This means that it is not necessary to gain authorisation to use them from a budget holder. It also means the user doesn’t need to be concerned about the size of audience or return on investment, which is liberating.

    Out of control – these technologies are outside of formal institutional control structures, so they have a more personal element and are more flexible. They are also democratised tools, so the control of them is as much in the hands of students as it is that of the educator

    In adopting fast, cheap and out of control tools we make the research process newly open and, in doing so, help ameliorate the methodological and ethical difficulties which can result from too wide a gap between researchers and the groups they are researching. Using these tools proactively helps ensure that changes in the broader field of research which are, by definition, unpredictable can be negotiated more actively than would otherwise be the case. Incorporating them into ongoing practice can also, somewhat paradoxically, lead to much greater impact than could ever be achieved by deliberately seeking ‘impact’ as a compartmentalised activity. The digital footprint which open research leaves manifests itself in a discoverability by activists, journalists, practitioners and policy makers which would be difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate through other means. But this discoverability is also a challenge – ethically and methodologically – one which I think Stan Cohen would have found very interesting.

  • Mark 8:51 pm on June 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply

    CfP: The Sociological Craft Project 

    In this new feature the Sociological Imagination invites short (2500 word max) contributions reflecting on any aspect of academic craft. We use the term ‘craft’ in the broad sense conveyed by Richard Sennett:

    Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake. Craftsmanship cuts a far wider swath than skilled manual labour; it serves the computer programmer, the doctor, and the artist;  parenting improves when it is practiced as a skilled craft, as does citizenship. In all these domains, craftsmanship focuses on objective standards, on the thing in itself. Social and economic conditions, however, often stand in the way of the craftsman’s discipline and commitment; schools may fail to provide the tools to do good work, and workplaces may not truly value the aspiration for quality. And though craftsmanship can reward an individual with a sense of pride in work, this reward is not simple. The craftsman often faces conflicting objective standards of excellence; the desire to do something well for its own sake can be impaired by competitive pressures, by frustration, or by obsession.

    We envision a number of forms such contributions might take:

    • Reflections on particular academic roles (e.g.review editor).
    • Reflection on the process of writing for particular forms of publication (e.g. journals, monographs, logs)
    • Reflections on the craft of research (the tools utilised, your relationship with them, the messiness of the process)
    • Reflections on where you work, the devices you use, how the ambiance shapes your writing
    • Reflections on undertaking research, managing time, negotiating conflicting demands.
    • Reflections on routines and writing practices which are integral to your craft
    • If you were brave enough to send us a picture of your workspace we’d love to include it!

    However these are only examples. We’re keen not to get posts of the style “10 Tips for Writing Good Journal Articles”. We have nothing against these posts – we often feature them! But this project is aim towards generating a discussion of the craft of sociological work, the practices which sustain it and the emotional life and personal concern which are irrevocably bound upon it. We are particularly interested in contributions that explore the constraints that contemporary academic structures place upon the creative exercise of sociological craft and how we can, hopefully, work towards ameliorating these circumstances.

    If you want to submit a contribution for the project then please e-mail your contribution attached as word document (with any multimedia files attached separately) along with a short 2 line bio to accompany your post.


  • Mark 6:37 pm on June 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply

    Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick Competition for 3 PhD Studentships 

    Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick

    Competition for 3 PhD Studentships

    CIM is pleased to announce a competition for three PhD studentships funded as part of an ESRC Professorial Fellowship award awarded to Professor Celia Lury on the topic ‘Order and Continuity: Methods of Change in a Topological Society’. Professor Lury will act as the primary supervisor for each successful applicant, with a second supervisor from a relevant department at Warwick.

    The primary objective of the Fellowship is to investigate the claim that contemporary society is becoming topological in a series of projects designed to investigate whether or not the topological characteristics of ordering and continuity of transformation can be identified across the domains of economy, politics and culture. A particular focus will be the role of the mixed or composite methods of modeling, measuring and mapping in the enactment of change and continuity.

    For further details see attached and here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/cim/study/esrcphdstudentshipcim/

    Deadline June 30th 2013

  • Mark 3:02 pm on June 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: editing, , , ,   

    Some reflections on editing books and special issues while doing a PhD 

    This interesting post by Pat Thomson left me speculating on the future of edited books. I co-edited an edited book (see below) early in my PhD, with an existing project inviting me onboard as a fourth editor – largely, I assume, because my knowledge of the  asexuality literature was useful to the project. It was a great experience in many ways. I gained an understanding of the publishing proces and I realised how usefully such projects can broaden your grasp of the literature. So that was great. But on the other hand it also left a chapter which I was immensely proud of stuck in a book (which, as my first, I was also quite proud) with a price tag that might as well have gone hand-in-hand with a coversheet saying that it was intended for institutional libraries and everyone else should get lost.

    Ok, so this is a problem, but surely they’re still worthwhile? So I thought as I set off on a second editing project. This time I put together a CfP for an Asexuality Studies anthology. Largely due to rookie mistakes and the intervention of some pretty major upheavals in my personal life during this time the project soon began to collapse into a bit of a mess. I also started to question my choice of publisher and, after consulting a number of people I trusted, settled on another. But the timescales involved at this stage were such that I had to go back and update all the existing contributors and gain permission to repackage the project. Given the real problem I was having with e-mail at the time (now resolved by becoming one of those irritating people who insists on getting to inbox zero everyday) this dragged on and on. While continually cursing the fact I hadn’t recruited a co-editor who was more organised than me (I’m great at time management but bewilderingly inadequate when it comes to the sustained feats of low level organisation necessitated by a process like editing a volume) I attempted to persevere, albeit punctuated by intermittent rounds of guilt ridden procrastination, before finally calling it a day a few months ago and sending profuse apologies to all concerned.

    My third experience of editing has been brilliant. I led a team of guest editors for a special asexuality themed issue of psychology and sexuality (some of which is still open access) which came out earlier in the year. Some things went wrong. The aforementioned personal difficulties (a year that was in theory one for wedding planning had become a year for untangling lives instead – it’s the sort of thing which makes it hard to prioritise academic editing…) got in the way a lot, as my general level of self-organisation got way too low to be able to sustain a project of this sort in a manageable way. Thankfully my co-editors were wonderful (though one did understandably get rather frustrated with me at points) and we eventually pulled it together. The end result is a genuinely groundbreaking text and, if you’re interested in sexuality studies, it’s an interesting one as well. Plus we have a proposed extension of it into a book under review at the moment. So in all this was a good experience. Though it’ll probably be a while before I get involved in editing again.

    So here are some things I learnt which might be useful to PhDs/ECRs who are doing this stuff for the first time:

    1. Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved. Or rather don’t underestimate the consistency of it. It’s not really that onerous in many ways but it does need little and often to succeed. If you are someone (like me) whose level of self-organisation veers between extremes then this is particularly important to address. As I found out to my cost, procrastinating for a month on an edited collection can make the mess you have to clean up afterwards radically more onerous as a result.
    2. Don’t underestimate the potential benefits attached to it. Assuming this is a topic you’re interested in then you’re likely to massively increase your connections with others working on the topic, as well as getting a broader review of the field as a whole. I have a vague anxiety that 75% of the world’s asexuality researchers think I’m a complete flake after my behaviour during the editing proceses described above. But on the flip side I’m pretty sure I know 75%+ of the people working in one of my fields.
    3. Don’t try and do it on your own! Just don’t. I did it largely because, well, I thought it would look better to have been a sole editor. But it was a disaster. Whereas if I had, so to speak, had a Todd on that project (my very experienced co-editor from the other two projects) then I doubt it would have failed. If anything is a natural focus for collaboration in the contemporary academy, it is edited collections.

    So I think editing collections can be a very worthwhile thing to do but it should be approached cautiously for those in the early stages of their careers. I can say with near certainty that I will never agree to edit anything again unless I have a co-editor who I have a prior working relationship with. But what about the broader landscape within which an individual might choose to offer time and energy to a project like this? I still think there’s value in them for many of the reasons Pat describes in her article. After internalising the horrible attitude “book chapters are worthless” I’ve started to relent in recent months. I’m writing a chapter with Milena Kremakova for the Paracademics Handbook and I’m writing a chapter giving an overview of the asexuality studies literature for a psychology handbook later this year.

    But the price issue still troubles me. Sure, I can post a pre-print on my academia.edu and on my blog. But that’s still an unsatisfying workaround. Edited books no longer have much credentialising function within the audit culture and their communicative function is hampered by the unit costs resulting from the commercial organisations to whom we are choosing to outsource the publishing. So more than any element of the contemporary landscape of scholarly publishing, it seems that the production of edited collections is a practice ripe for revolutionary change. I’ve written a little about this here but it’s something I want to come back to in future.

    • Stephen Mugford 11:03 pm on June 17, 2013 Permalink


      This is a thoughtful and detailed post which I think many people will find helpful. Let me, if I may, add two small points.

      First–on ending up with something you liked published obscurely–my general solution is to put a copy on Slideshare where people can access it and other stumble felicitously across it… Maybe that would work for your chapter, tho i get the copyright is complex at times.

      Second, specifically re PhD work: It is about 100 years since I did my PhD [ 🙂 ] but from that experience and from supervising quite few since, I do know the temptation, if the going gets tough, is to take refuge in jolly exciting and intellectually attractive displacement activities. I would caution about any idea/project that had that effect.

      I always told my doctoral students two things:

      1. the definition of a good PhD is a finished PhD;
      2. the definition of a great PhD is one the examiners have passed.

      I hope this is helpful and not implicitly patronising to young schloars. My ambition (for others) is always to foster talent, not divert it …. (For myself, is it keep exploring ideas until the Alzheimer’s gets me.)


    • Mark 7:04 pm on June 23, 2013 Permalink

      “exciting and intellectually attractive displacement activities”

      I hate to think how many items could be found on the many pages & 600+ posts on this site that fall into this category – hell, even the things which pay my bills basically fall into this category…

  • Mark 5:16 pm on June 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Quantified Self and Philosophical Anthropology 

    Last week I listened this Radio 4 documentary about the Quantified Self which was much better than I anticipated. However I was confused at what I couldn’t help but see as the vacuity of the esteemed critics invited by the programme. Their objection seemed to be that the idea of self-measurement (as if this was something which began in the last few years) necessitated a reductive orientation towards the self. Somehow it seemed that an attempt to know oneself through measurement constituted a great violence to human nature, occluding a more direct engagement with the existential questions posed by day-to-day life, given we are beings who care thrown into a world beyond our control. Perhaps the strongest (and also silliest) claim made by these critics was the apparent argument (I’m not 100% sure here) that the problem with digital measurement is that it mediates the relationship between human beings and their emotions and so shatters the ‘natural’ emotional life we would otherwise enjoy.

    I hope I misconstrued these arguments and that there was a sophisticated understanding which I missed. But if these were the cases made, it points to something interesting – as so often is the case when clever people end up recurrently saying stupid things about a topic – namely that the discussion lacks an adequate set of concepts with which to be carried out. Which is not a surprise given how the debate around the quantified self leads quite naturally into social theoretical questions of structure, agency and culture – none of which enjoy much in the way of clarity or agreement. Many of the points of contention in the debate rested on empirical questions about how the technologies being subsumed under the term ‘quantified self’ were actually being deployed by concrete actors, as the present moment of an ongoing biography, within specific social and cultural contexts. This issue is crying out for empirical research & when I get a chance to look next week I hope to find some. Furthermore these discussions are crying out for a more fully rounded picture of the ‘self’ which both seeks quantification and is in turn quantified as object. The model Margaret Archer has been developing for the last 15 years would be absolutely perfect as the framework to make sense of what the quantitative self ‘is’, how ‘it’ operates and why ‘it’ is spreading.

  • Mark 12:11 pm on June 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    3 tips for managing institutional, project and group twitter feeds in #HigherEd 

    In the last few years I’ve jointly or solely managed a whole range of twitter feeds – including @sociowarwick, @bsatheory, @bsapgform, @bsadigitalsoc, @lsepoliticsblog, @bsarealism, @digital_change, @soc_imagination, @asexstudies, @dis_of_dissent, @warwicksocsci and probably some others that I’ve forgotten about. Along the way I’ve learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Given that we seem to be in the very early stages of some sort of corporate twitter presence being expected for research groups or academic departments (etc) I thought I’d offer some tips about how to manage these kinds of twitter feeds in a way which will generate an audience, won’t cause any controversy and won’t take up too much of your time.

    1. Tools like Buffer app are essential to manage multiple twitter feeds effectively without it taking over the rest of your life. They stagger your tweets according to a predefined scheduled over a certain number of days. This can be 2 or 3 tweets only on week days. Or it can be 25+ tweets every day. It’s up to you. It’s worth playing around with it at first. Try out different  schedules, taking into account both the content & time available to you. But once you get to grips with it, it means Twitter scheduling can be a weekly activity rather than a continual demand on your time. For instance I would schedule the @LSEPoliticsBlog feed (30 tweets a day at one point, 20k+ followers) two or three times a week. It took two hours max. 
    2. However this talk of ‘content’ which I slip into these days with distressing ease poses an obvious question: what ‘content’ do you have? This is where you need to think through what the point of the twitter presence is. Is it to disseminate project news? Is it to raise awareness of the project? Is it to network with likely outside constituencies? For research projects this question can be a bit tricky. Which is why combining this presence with a blog can be a strategic masterstroke at this stage. If you can get members of your project to write articles about the issues you’re engaging with and their past work (etc) then this can be a valuable way of generating content for the Twitter feed. For research projects this is admittedly rather complex – listen to this interview with the manager of the enormous FP7 funded MYPLACE project if you’re looking for some inspiration. For academic departments, it’s a lot easier, though this depends on how organised you can be. When I was employed to manage the Sociology@Warwick online presence (prior to joining the LSE’s Public Policy Group to manage the LSE Politics Blog) I curated a collection of open access papers, books and media appearances of all the staff within the department. I then used buffer app to periodically tweet links to these, as well tweeting departmental news/events and retweeting tweets by staff members where appropriate. Now that more sociologists are using Twitter on a regular basis, it becomes possible to imagine a department twitter feed as aggregating the more appropriate aspects of individual users within the department. This could even take the form of a rebel mouse page like this one which I use to automatically curate my online activity.
    3. One of the most important features of Buffer is the analytics it offers i.e. it tells you how many people click on links and how many people retweet or favourite the tweet itself. Once you have been managing a Twitter feed for some time, it can become possible to see trends emerging in the kinds of content you’re putting out through it. This allows the management of the feed to become properly reflexive – are people interested in the work of a certain academic within your department? Then tweet more of it. Does video and audio get a good reaction? Then ensure that all appearances by department members on youtube and vimeo (sometimes the individuals themselves are not aware these videos are out there!) feature in your regular cycle of content. Furthermore, it’s ok to push out the same links more than once. But be selective about how you do it, watch the analytics and try to put a different spin on it as you do.

    Part of the difficulty with this sort of activity is that there’s not a natural home for it in most institutional structures. Which is a shame because social media is, in most instances, a necessary (though insufficient) component in an impact strategy for social scientists. If you’re finding it difficult to establish a twitter presence (or to grow an established presence) then the above points will hopefully be of use. If you’d like further help, I’m always available for short term consultancy – here are some nice things people have written about work I’ve done for them and I’ve got a dull but informative social media portfolio document with stats available on request.

  • Mark 6:45 pm on June 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Art, research and sociology’s promiscuity 

    I’ve just come back from two days talking, thinking and occasionally getting frustrated by the question of the relationship between art and social research. This is something I’ve been curious about for ages. Here are some reasons why:

    • I think the communicative repertoire exhibited by most sociologists is profoundly limited and I think of performance, in the broadest sense of the term, as something which deserves serious consideration to this end.
    • Dialogues with artists about their practice (as well as about art more abstractly) can be incredibly helpful in recognising non-linear creativity and incorporating this recognition into ongoing practice.
    • An engagement between art and sociology can help drive innovation in methods, particularly in relation to the sensory and the possibilities which ubiquitous digital devices afford for mobile social research.

    These dialogues might involve an exploration and renegotiation of the boundary between sociology and art. However I find the possibility that some might deliberately or otherwise collapse the boundary rather worrying. Social research ≠ art. Artefacts of art practice ≠ data. Exploratory liminality ≠ research questions. Conflating these things precludes the creative exploration of the differences and commonalities between them. It does a disservice to both sociology and art. My concern is that what Andrew Abbott describes as sociology’s difficulty with excluding things – its lack of any intellectually effective means of expelling topics which have come to occupy sociological attention – might, in time, lead to a slide from considering the relationship between art and sociology to an enthusiastic attempt to conflate the two.

    • Kip Jones 9:01 am on June 15, 2013 Permalink

      ‘Moving our work to arts-based procedures is not a series of isolated acts; it requires an adjustment in how we approach everything in which we engage—including writing for academic publication. …My current writing, which is continual, reminiscent of my blog, and isn’t afraid to allow motifs to develop across publications and over time through a body of work [is but one example]. In terms of structure, its composition is influenced more by the arts (frequently music, but also painting), than academic writing. The ever-present constant is that it allows room for the reader to participate [following Bourriaud’s (2002) relational aesthetics]. I expect the reader to have questions, even doubts. As a writer, I leave a trail or clues to some of the answers, rather than routinely relying on argument or debate’. – Jones, K. (2012) “Short Film as Performative Social Science: The Story Behind “’Princess Margaret’”.
      Ch. in Popularizing Research, P. Vannini, Ed. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

    • emcgeeney 10:12 am on June 26, 2013 Permalink

      Reblogged this on New Frontiers in QLR.

  • Mark 7:25 pm on June 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply

    Conference: Recognising Diversity? Gender and Sexual Equalities In Principle and Practice 

    Recognising Diversity?: Gender and Sexual Equalities In Principle and Practice marks the end of the research project ‘Recognising Diversity?: Equalities In Principle and Practice’, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (PI. Dr. Sally Hines, Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (CIGS), University of Leeds).  The project was designed to provide knowledge transfer of the PI’s previous research, which explored understandings, meanings and significance of the UK Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Set within the context of an increasing legal, policy and political focus on ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’, and a raft of other legal and policy shifts around gender and sexuality, the GRA promised increased rights and recognition for trans people. Yet, the project found that whilst some trans people were afforded increased levels of citizenship, others were further marginalised. Fuelled by ‘rights based’ claims for inclusion founded on notions of ‘sameness’, findings from the project suggested that equality and diversity agendas fail to account for ‘difference’.

    This 2 Day Conference explores these issues in relation to UK gender and sexualities equalities and diversities more broadly. In keeping with the aims of the knowledge transfer award, it seeks to bring academics working around equalities and diversities together with policy makers, activists, journalists, artists, and support organisations, to explore the significance of recent UK cultural, social, political, legal, and policy shifts which address gender and sexuality. The conference centres the importance of dialogue both across academic disciplines and between academic and non-academic members, activist and user-group communities.

    DAY 1: 20/06/2013

    8.15-9.00       Registration and Refreshments

    9.00-9.15       Conference Day 1 Opening: Sally Hines

    9.-15-11.00     Panel 1: Community Organising and Policy Responses: Chair Sally Hines

    James Morton (Scottish Transgender Alliance):‘UK Trans Equality Legislation: Policy and Practice Changes’
    SAFRA Project: ‘Policy and Queer Muslim Women’
    Jeff Evans (Schools Out): ‘The Prevalence of Homophobia in Schools Survey Campaign’
    Eleanor Formby (Sheffield Hallam University): ‘Living Censored Lives? Engagement with ‘Community’ among LGBT People in the UK’
    Bernard Reed (OBE) and Terry Reed (OBE) (Trustees of GIRES): ‘Combating Transphobic Bullying in Schools’ (Short Presentation)

    11.00-12.30     Panel 2: Policy Change and Resistance: Chair Maria Do Mar Pereira

    Diane Richardson (Newcastle University): ‘Mind the Gap: Policy Change and Forms of Resistance to Implementing Sexualities Equalities Initiatives’
    Davina Cooper (University of Kent): ‘Christian Accommodation and State Theory’
    Yvette Taylor (London South Bank University): ‘Diversities’ ‘etc.’ Ticking Boxes, Listing Lives?’
    Irene Gedalof (London Metropolitan University): ‘Turning Around Equalities: Narratives of Difference in an Age of Austerity’

    12.30-1.30      LUNCH

    1.30.-3.00      Panel 3: Cultural Politics: Chair Zowie Davy

    Paris Lees (Journalist and Editor: ‘META’ and ‘Gay Times’): ‘Whoever Speaks to Me in the Right Voice: Making Things Better Through Positive Engagement’
    Mark Carrigan (Sociologist and Academic Technologist): ‘Social Media and Academic Outreach: The Ramifications of Technology for Theory and Practice’
    Helen Belcher (Trans Media Watch and Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity): ‘Challenging Cisgenderism in the British Media’
    Juliet Jacques (Journalist and LGBT activist): ‘CONUNDRUM: The Dilemmas in Transsexual Narratives’

    3.00-4.30       Panel 4: Queer(y)ing Activism and Theory: Chair Jo Woodiwiss

    Maria Do Mar Pereira (University of Leeds): ‘Of Public Speeches and Corridor Talk: Resistance to Feminist and Queer Research in Contemporary Academia’
    Matthew Waites (University of Glasgow): ‘Academics, Movements, NGOs and Publics: Critical Dialogues in LGBT and Queer Politics’
    Tracey Yeadon-Lee (University of Huddersfield):  ‘Transphobic Hostility Within ‘Radical’ Feminism: Critical Reflections’
    Francis Ray White (University of Westminster) ‘Fat and Trans: Queering the Activist Body’

    4.30-5.00       COFFEE BREAK

    5.00-6.30       Panel 5: Intersecting Inequalities: Chair Sam de Bois

    Sarah Lamble (Birkbeck, University of London): ‘Equalities and Diversities Beyond the Carceral State’
    Liz McDermott (University of York): ‘The World Some Have Won: Class, Sexuality and the Making of Inequality’
    Robert Vanderbeck (University of Leeds): ‘Religion, Sexual Orientation, and Hate Speech’
    Kay Inkle (Plymouth University): ‘Disablism or Diversity? A Crip Interrogation of Bodies, Sexualities and Genders’

    6.30            Conference Day 1 Closing: Sally Hines

    7.30+           CONFERENCE DINNER

    Reading and Q & A: Serge Nicholson and Laura Bridgeman (hotpencil Press): There Is No Word for It: Trans MANgina Monologues

    DAY 2: 21/06/2013

    8.30-9.15:      Registration and Tea/Coffee

    9.15 –9.30:     Conference Day 2 Opening: Sally Hines

    9.30-11.00:     Panel 1: Intimate Diversities: Chair Sally Hines

    Paul Simpson (University of Manchester): ‘Oppression, Tolerance or Civil Indifference?  Middle-aged Gay Men Experiences of Manchester’s Heterospaces’.
    Surya Monro (University of Huddersfield and Bi-Activist): ‘Bisexuality, Diversity and a Lack of Recognition’
    Jamie Heckert (Anarchist Studies Network): ‘Bringing Equality to Life: A Queer Approach’
    Grant Denkinson (Founder of Polyday) ‘Currents and Undercurrents in UK Polyamorous Communities’

    11.00-12.30:    Panel 2: Resisting Liberation Narratives: Chair Stefanie Boulila

    Eleanor Wilkinson (University of Leeds): ‘Marriage is a Privilege not a Right’: A Feminist Reading of the ‘Equal Love’ Campaign’
    Nicola Barker (University of Kent): ‘A Perfect Couple: State Austerity and the Conservative Proposal of Same-Sex Marriage’
    Shelley Budgeon (University of Birmingham): ‘Gender Equality: “What’s the Problem?”
    Bim Adewunmi  (Journalist and  Blogger) ‘The Black Correspondent’

    12.30-1.30:     LUNCH

    1.30-2.00:      Performance: Side by Side (GLBT Youth Theatre): Chair: Sally Hines

    2.00-3.45:      Panel 3: Community Organising: Chair Sally Hines

    Christie Elan-Cane (NON-GENDERED – Fighting for Legal Recognition): ‘NON-GENDERED – Fighting for Legal Recognition’
    Jenny- Anne Bishop Jenny- Anne Bishop (Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity, Trustee and an Organiser of Sparkle (Manchester Trans* Pride), &  Co-ordinator of TransForum: ‘Prejudice or Recognition & Equality? Mobilising the Trans Community’
    Sonny van Eden and Andrew Dallamore (FtM London): ‘Trans Mens’ Community Organising’
    Lee Gale (TM Training): ‘The Invisible Man: The Impact of Communities Shared’

    Short Film Screening: Trans Men Are… (Produced and Directed by Serge Nicholson and Tom O’ Tottenham in partnership with GALOP, 2012) Introduced by Serge Nicholson

    3.45-4.15:      COFFEE BREAK

    4.15-5.45:      Panel 4: Practices and Policies of Care Chair: Surya Monro

    Andrew Gilliver (Lesbian and Gay Foundation: LGB Community Leaders – addressing health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
    Zowie Davy (University of Lincoln): ‘Recognition in the DSM V: Gender Dysphoria and the Semantics of Power’
    Bernard Reed (OBE) and Terry Reed (OBE) (Trustees of GIRES): ‘Improving Trans Health Care’
    Ryan Combs (University of Manchester): ‘Service User Experiences of Trans Health Care in the UK: What Needs to Change and Why?’

    5.45-6.30:      Film Screening: Millennium Man (Produced and Directed by Jason Barker, 2001) followed by Talk and Q & A with Jason Barker: Chair Sally Hines

    6.30:           Conference Close: Sally Hines

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