Updates from January, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 8:27 pm on January 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    Things I’ve been reading recently #1 

    At the end of 2014 I tried to choose the favourite books I’d read during the year. I discovered two things. Firstly, it was a real struggle to remember what I had actually read. Secondly, I had started and failed to finish far more books than I had completed. So this year I’m planning to do periodic blog posts about things I’ve read in full with the intention of ensuring that I don’t forget things and that I avoid my tendency to get distracted half way though a book and not come back to it.

    Books:

    The Irregular Army is a slightly disturbing book about how recruitment standards in the U.S. Military have been lowered dramatically in the last decade as a response to increasing difficulties in attracting and retaining military personnel. To put it bluntly, the U.S. Military is increasingly full of alcoholics, drug users, gang members and neo-nazis to a degree that would have formerly been unthinkable. Those who would have previously been deemed too old, too young, too overweight or too traumatised are now actively recruited. Furthermore, the underlying  difficulties are leading to ever increasing pressure on personnel who don’t fit into these categories to serve longer tours and to reenlist (including reservists who probably never had any expectation they would find themselves in a combat zone) leaving them with yet more  time in stressful and increasingly chaotic conditions. The author makes a convincing case that many of the reported atrocities committed can be explained by this toxic mix and convincingly suggests that many other atrocities may have gone unreported.

    The Dark Net is an immensely readable book by Demos researcher Jamie Bartlett collecting a number of case studies on various controversial aspects of the contemporary internet: including suicide and self-harm forums, far-right organisations, trolling, child pornography and online drugs marketplaces. With the exception of some of the material on the history of trolling, I don’t think I learnt anything new from the book but I enjoyed reading it.

    Little Brother by Corey Doctorow is a young adult novel about the creeping authoritarianism which follows a terrorist attack in San Francisco. The young protagonist is caught up in the attack and its aftermath, with the story following his radicalisation and increasingly outright confrontation with a Department for Homeland Security that is quasi-fascist by the culmination of the story. It’s a gripping read, with the partial exception of a cringe-worthy sex scene and dialogue which fell flat at many points. The author’s preachiness also bugged me at points, though if I’d read this fifteen years ago I might have been more receptive to this aspect of the book (including the list of books he wants his young audience to read included at the end).

    Edited to add:  Buying Time by Wolfgang Streeck is something I read which I forgot to include when I wrote this post. Perhaps it was a deliberate forgetting because the book is so egregiously depressing. Utterly plausible throughout, Streeck makes the argument that we are potentially seeing the twilight of liberal democracy in the current struggles over austerity within Europe. We risk the emergence of a Hayekian market dictatorship, one in which the state’s fiscal obligations to the markets wins out over its democratic obligations to its citizens after a decades long struggle, with the full gamut of repressive strategies potentially being brought to bear against those who have not already internalised the imperatives of the market (and thus ceased to make the democratic demands which the states of Europe are now reneging on). It’s a depressing book but it’s not one which paints these outcomes as inexorable. Streeck’s Europe includes agents as well as institutions – it’s just that the balance of forces mean successful resistance to these trends appears disturbingly unlikely.  Incidentally, there’s actually a good overview of Hayek’s inclinations towards dictatorship (as both a transitional social form and as a ‘liberal dictatorship’ preferable to a ‘democratic government devoid of liberalism’) on his wikipedia page. His argument reminds me of that made by Chantall Mouffe but at a much lesser degree of abstraction and it is all the more powerful for that. Mouffe’s notion of the democratic paradox intends to illustrate how the articulation of liberalism and democracy is a precarious historical outcome rather than anything intrinsic to either element: the constitutive tension arises because there’s no guarantee that democratic procedures won’t lead to illiberal outcomes (and this is rather Hayek’s point I guess). Streeck’s book makes a much more concrete case, situating the present crisis in terms of a much longer term crumbling of the state – the present debt crisis has its roots in a strategic response to the crisis of the 1970s, relying on sovereign debt to fuel social spending and build consent for governance, in turn empowering the financial markets because of the state’s growing reliance upon them. That at least is how I remember the gist of the argument: I should maybe writing something more extensive at a later point because I think this book is very important and I want to be clear about my understanding of it. At its heart, it was an argument about second-order institutional relationships i.e. the relations between relations: (state <–> public) —- (state <–> market). To put it crudely, we see capital’s end game in the institutionalisation of technocratic governance under the guise of austerity (and through mechanisms like constitutional commitments to budget surpluses) such that the first set of relations looks set to collapse under the weight of the second. He also has some very astute observations about the political discourse emerging around international relations under these conditions and the manner in which national populations are understood to be culpable for the putative failings of their governments.

    Graphic novels:

    I haven’t read as much as I usually do this month because I’ve been obsessively working my way through two sets of graphic novels:

    Y, The Last Man tells the story of Yorick Brown, the survivor of a ‘gendercide’ that kills all the men on earth. It’s a bizarre dystopian fiction which is also very funny. I’m not sure I can do justice to its scope and depth so I won’t try. It’s by Brian K. Vaughan who is more recently known for Saga which didn’t quite work for me in the way it seemingly did for other people. I was really impressed by The Last Man and I think there’s a PhD thesis waiting to be written on the representation of gender within it.

    – I’ve also been working my way through everything that Jonathan Hickman has done for Marvel that I hadn’t already read because I’m so utterly engrossed by his Times Run Outs story arc. Secret Warriors didn’t quite live up to expectations, though it probably didn’t help that I read it in reverse order because the graphic novels arrived that way and I lack self control. Shield is magnificently weird though slightly too overblown for my taste in this sort of story telling (only slightly) with Hickman’s epic ambitions distracting him from more mundane tasks like characterisation.

     
    • jeff vass 9:41 am on February 1, 2015 Permalink

      Good to get the heads up on some interesting graphic novels. Would be good to look at some new ones (to offset my inclination to read back issues of 2000AD). The Dark Net would make a good graphic docunovel

    • Mark 9:43 am on February 2, 2015 Permalink

      Take a look at something called The Massive!

  • Mark 8:36 am on January 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    The Relational ‘We’ in Personal Morphogenesis – February 3rd @SocioWarwick 

    Beth Weaver (Strathclyde)
    Tuesday, February 3rd
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, R1.15
    Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

    This paper discusses my empirical application of a relational realist analytic framework to illuminate the role of social groups or collectives, as social relations, in shaping and affecting outcomes for individuals and for groups. Using the morphogenetic sequence developed by Archer, to illustrate the conceptual schema progressed by Donati (2011), this framework affords equal recognition to individual actions, social relations and social systems. To empirically capture the relational ‘we’ in social morphogenesis, however, requires taking the social relation as a central unit of analysis. This means empirically conceptualising the social relation as both context and as interaction, and it means analysing the shifting dynamics and influences on the form and shape of a given social relation. Such an analysis can reveal what triggers reflexivity, what different forms of reflexivity entail, and how social relations can shape and influence outcomes for individuals and groups as well as how such processes shape and alter the relations themselves. Using examples from my own research examining the dynamics of desistance from crime, I will show how both individual and relational contributions are interconnected, and how the manner of relating and the reciprocal orientation of individuals-in-relation towards the maintenance of a given social relation are significant in understanding the relational ‘we’ in social morphogenesis.

    Beth Weaver is a Lecturer at the Glasgow School of Social Work, University of Strathclyde. Prior to entering academia, she worked in the areas of youth and criminal justice social work in Scotland and latterly as a MAPPA Coordinator. 

     
  • Mark 7:58 pm on January 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Balihar Sanghera, moral economy, ,   

    An eclectic account of lay morality and charitable giving in the UK – Feb 17th @SocioWarwick 

    Balihar Sanghera (Kent)
    Tuesday, February 17th

    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, R1.04
    Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

    This paper examines how charitable giving is an outcome of different interacting elements of lay morality. Charitable giving reflects people’s capacity for fellow-feeling (or sympathy), moral sentiments, personal reflexivity, ethical dispositions, moral norms and moral discourses. An eclectic account of lay morality and charitable giving is warranted because of the complex nature of the object. Though ordinary people engage in ethical reasoning, they often think and act in piecemeal fashion, so that confusion and inconsistencies can occur. This is particularly evident when gender, class and ‘race’ shape people’s feelings and evaluations of others, their attention and care for others, and their understanding of responsibility and blame for social issues. Morality is further complicated because it takes place in the mundane world of everyday life that can result in inconsistent and confusing judgements and actions on giving.

    All welcome! E-mail socialontology@warwick.ac.uk with any questions

     
  • Mark 12:08 pm on January 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Productivity culture, cognitive triage and the pseudo-commensurability of the to-do list 

    For a couple of years I’ve been striving to empty my e-mail inbox on a daily basis. It doesn’t particularly bother me if I don’t succeed and I often don’t. I go through phases of doing this daily and then, for whatever reason, fall out of the routine. I’ve rarely had to spend more than a hour a day on e-mail this way because there’s only so much that accumulates in the space of twenty-four hours. It’s left me with a firm conviction that e-mail is only really a problem if the quantity exceed a certain point (e.g. if dealing with a day’s e-mail always took a few hours or more) or if you don’t attend to it regularly. Obviously, it can be difficult to attend to it regularly for all sorts of reasons. That in fact is why I write this as someone who does ‘inbox zero’ for a couple of weeks at a time rather than as a continuous feature of my life. But from my point of view what I formerly experienced as a real problem now just seem as if I was doing it wrong. It used to stress me out a lot and, at least when I’m in a phase of emptying my inbox daily, it just doesn’t stress me out at all. I drink coffee, listen to Today on Radio 4 and have cleared my inbox by the time I start my day.

    What struck me this morning however is that this process can have unforeseen consequences. It’s not a case of ‘stress’ caused by e-mail giving way to an absence of stress but something more subtle than that. I tweeted earlier today:

    I was suddenly struck by the horrible repetitiveness of this process. Had the character limit not precluded it, I would have likely added a fourth line: “continue daily until death”. Well actually I probably wouldn’t because of how unspeakably depressing a sentiment that would be in the absence of the navel-gazing contextualisation a blog post like this would provide. Nonetheless I’ve been thinking about that feeling all morning. It quickly passed but it was an arresting sense of the intrinsic pointlessness of practices conducted in this mode.

    I say intrinsic because it has all sorts of extrinsic benefits: by dealing with e-mail in this way I neutralise it as a source of stress, I ignore my inbox for the rest of the day*, I have more time and energy for the things I care about etc. But in and of itself, the practice of ‘inbox zero’ is devoid of value: it’s a kind of cognitive triage, systematically attending to what is urgent in order to free up resources for what is important. That at least is what it’s supposed to do. But I think the instrumentalism of triage practices, desiring to do something as quickly as possible because you’re fundamentally irritated by the fact it’s necessary and want to get it out of the way, risks seeping into how other activities are engaged with.

    What provoked that slightly despairing feeling in me this morning was the exercise of going from e-mail to omnifocus: clearing my inbox, clarifying the necessary actions ensuing from those e-mails and filing them in my organiser. Suddenly the various lists contained within that organiser grew dramatically – in one case going from 10 items to 20 items. My problem is that while some of those tasks were incredibly dull, others were not and yet the way I framed them led me to see them all as problems to be solved. They were irritants, barriers to a conceptually incoherent state I was implicitly seeking to attain in which everything I’d ever have to do was now done.

    This is the mentality that cognitive triage generates: things are conceived as obstacles to be eliminated rather than activities to be enjoyed. As the list gets bigger, it becomes harder to see the individual ‘to do’ items as activities in their own right. They are reduced to uniform list items and nothing more. Things you enjoy and things you despise are given equal weight. The logic of the to-do list is one of commensurability and this is the problem with it. The process of triaging combined with the logic of the to-do list can lead to an evisceration of value: the potential goods internal to activities, those experiences of value that can only be found through doing, get obliterated by the need to cross items off a list. There’s a relational richness to practical activity which can easily be obliterated at the level of phenomenology by the tendency of ‘productivity’ to give rise to ‘mindless busyness’. This is how Heidegger describes it in What Is Called Thinking?

    A cabinetmaker’s apprentice, someone who is learning to build cabinets and the like, will serve as an example. His learning is not merely practice, to gain facility in the use of tools. Nor does he merely gather information about the customary forms of the things he is to build. If he is to become a true cabinetmaker, he makes himself answer and respond above all to the different kinds of wood and to the shapes slumbering within wood – to wood as it enters into man’s dwelling with all the hidden riches of its nature. In fact, this relatedness to wood is what maintain the whole craft. Without that relatedness, the craft will never be anything but empty busywork, any occupation with it will be determined exclusively by business concerns. Every handicraft, all human dealings are constantly in that danger. The writing of poetry is no more exempt from it than is thinking.  (pg 14-15)

    In other words: your desire to ‘get things done’ obscures the fact that you actually like many of the things you’re doing and, as a statement about moral psychology, if you forget this fact then you’re much less likely to enjoy doing them. Being in a rush to get something done runs contrary to attending to the task itself. Unfortunately, it is only through attentiveness that we derive value from practical activity. Focusing on the next thing you have to do squeezes out awareness of what you are presently doing. Wondering how quickly you can get something done makes it hard to focus on the logic of the task itself. Seeing something as an obstacle to be overcome precludes experiencing it as a source of fulfilment. Productivity culture or rather the various forms of triaging it encourages can easily undercut many of the things which motivate it in the first place e.g. seeking to perform mundane tasks more efficiently in order to have more time to write.

    *Well actually I don’t but at least I recognise that it’s blind compulsivity that undermines this rather than any practical necessity.

     
    • PoshPedlar 9:24 pm on February 24, 2015 Permalink

      Mark!
      I’ve just checked….. there are 14,014 unread emails in my inbox.
      What would you suggest?

    • Blues Fairy 10:17 pm on February 24, 2015 Permalink

      Very insightful observation. i compulsively mark all emails as ‘read’ because I can’t stand my inbox being out of my control. I find this concept of mindfulness so incredibly difficult! The more I try to focus, the more I notice how scattered I am inside. How focused on becoming I am rather than the being. How fixated on the extrinsic values ( goals,milestones – anything that can be validated by others) I am to the detriment of the intrinsic values of simply being. Ironically, one must master being in order to become. Again, very elaborate and deep post.

    • allthoughtswork 10:51 pm on February 24, 2015 Permalink

      The bizarre self-imposed dichotomy of “work” versus “play” is the worst disease of our age. I blame Protestants.

      They say if you do something you love you never have to work again, presumably because you are laughing it up all day long. But never underestimate a human being’s ability to turn an enjoyable activity into work. We do it constantly for two reasons.

      One, society gives out points for suffering, not success. If you were born rich, you’re a slug, but if you slaved for an appropriate number of years through an appropriate pile of shit and pain, now you deserve that Lexus, we’ll give you a pass. Any desirable thing not purchased with a long history of misery and struggle is unfair, anybody happy when we are not is just wrong.

      Two, human beings are uninformed about the power of their own minds. It’s ridiculously easy to alter perception and turn any situation around to one’s advantage but it’s more fun (and socially acceptable–Hi, Protestants!) to complain about it and get those points for suffering instead.

      Ever get together with friends and talk about nothing all night but how fabulous everyone’s lives are and how much you appreciate what you have? I rest my case.

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    • Erika (daylilyoverflow) 12:17 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Excellent post! I completly agree. Some days i find myself avoiding activities I would normally enjoy simply because I dained to put it on my to-do list and make a task of it.

    • thelmaesquit 12:49 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

    • Jean 1:33 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      I have heard as a tip that it is best to touch an email only once –after reading it, delete it or act upon it.

    • G U.P.876LTD. 2:12 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on G U.P.876 Ltd..

    • test blog do not read 3:46 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      I really loved this! It definitely resonated with me.

    • bailoun 3:52 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      This is wonderful in so many different ways. I like how you made the connection between the quotation by Heidegger and the ritual of email inbox cleansing as symbolic of the way we increasingly view things these days.

    • Mark 5:10 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Run away and setup a new e-mail account that only you know the address for

    • Mark 5:11 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      I think part of the problem is that to initiate such a conversation would make you seem conceited – so there’s no social opening for that kind of dialogue to emerge, even if both people are privately feeling it.

    • Joseph 5:12 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Indeed, many things we do lack mindfulness and “being present”! I think you’re right about “to-do” lists, which is probably why I’m so bad at making them. The tasks/chores/things we actually enjoy doing become check marks on a list, and we rush through them without really being present doing so.

      In my last profession, I had a daily running list. There were always things on that list when I walked in every day. As I went through the day, I added more and checked some off. At the end of the day, I was lucky if I finished the day with less than I started with, even though I had worked my butt off!

      Now, I don’t really do lists unless I’m super busy and need to keep my head straight. Otherwise, I’m a “Wow, you’ve got a clean inbox” kind of guy on the daily. I want that inbox – like my lists – mostly empty!

    • Mark 5:12 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      I don’t think it’s just you!

    • Mark 5:12 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      It’s very tempting to do so, isn’t it?

    • Mark 5:15 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      It hadn’t occurred to me to think of it as a ‘ritual’ – actually that’s another dimension to this which is really interesting. E-mail as cleansing ritual to make oneself feel in control. Inbox zero as a particularly extreme form of ritual.

    • Mark 5:16 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      but why? so so I and I’m now thinking, after another comment, that this is incredibly ritualistic. it’s a daily purify ritual to produce a sense of control over my life.

    • Joseph 5:29 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      I’ll go with that. If my inbox is full, I feel a bit crazy and out of control! 😉

    • Wisket of Gem 5:37 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      COOL!

    • allthoughtswork 6:17 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Yeah, much better to just suffer forever in silence. At least then your friends and loved ones can be comfortable with you.

    • dogus34 6:26 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      🙂

    • svenwerner 6:51 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on svenwerner.

    • Hannah 8:19 am on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      I love the (definite ritual) of checking off the to dos and making sure that the inbox has all been taken care of, but on some days I definitely feel that it IS possible to also enjoy the tasks that come out of that as stand alone challenges. It doesn’t happen every day, but more often than not. Though the caveat would probably be that the best days are when you can focus on one thing and ignore lots of others!

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    • Jae 3:04 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Whoa – hold on there. Don’t rock my world this early in the morning – I haven’t even checked my emails yet!

      My inbox IS my to-do list. My calendar even sends me emails when I’m supposed to do something or think about something (really, I schedule time to think about projects when I don’t want to think about them right now). I’ll have to schedule some time to re-evaluate my inbox philosophy – I’ll send myself an email reminder.

    • asheep-likefaith 3:22 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      So glad to know I’m not the only one. Thanks for addressing this topic!

    • roxygurl464 4:36 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      We were just having this exact conversation the other day in the office. Checking email and creating daily “to do” lists seem to take up a huge portion of our day. So much so, that by the time emails are attended to and sorted, list written and prioritized, you feels so mentally drained that actually performing the daily tasks seems almost daunting. There has to be a better way! I for one am a huge fan of the “mark as junk mail/spam” option as opposed to just marking as read or deleting. It really reduces the crap so I can focus on the important tasks at hand. Not to mention, I have a severe case of OCD when it comes to email and have labels and folders for EVERYTHING! As far as the daily to do list, call me old school, but I prefer the good ol’ notebook and pen. This way I can make notes if needed and go back and reference if needed.

    • Ivory M 4:36 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      I agree with you about keeping the email box down daily helps to keep control and make me feel less frantic. I love to do lists because I tend to be forgetful and will end up doing other tasks that could have waited. For me, it also helps me stay on track when I take breaks in between tasks. I think people forget that a to do list is a guide not a work schedule.

    • krysjez 5:22 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Great post, Mark, and I’d never thought about how viewing tasks as…tasks would strip them of joy. Maybe it says something about my present state that even the ones I would traditionally designate as ‘fun’ (working on my comic, cleaning my room) have become chores to prove a point about how effective a human being I am rather than whatever the alternative is. I would disagree though with the assertion that viewing things as to-do list items automatically takes away from being fully engaged with the activity. Productivity culture gives strength to the vague voice feeling that more work awaits, which if you pay enough attention to will detract from engagement, but if you put your mind to it (particularly for enjoyable activities) it’s definitely very possible to remain fully within the task at hand.

    • Psychobabble 6:05 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      This reminds me of what happened to my TV watching habits when I got TiVo. I began to see the list of shows I had recorded not as enjoyment, but as a to-do list or something that needs to get done (watched). It’s hard to get around that.

    • dmshields12 7:56 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on thedirtydeedotcom.

    • geofox 10:31 pm on February 25, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Geofox.org.

    • Mark 2:23 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink

      I basically agree, I’m just not convinced it’s as straight forward as just putting your mind to it though

    • Mark 2:24 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink

      If I buy too many digital comics, something which is usually engrossing becomes a chore because I’m not sure how to manage the surplus

    • Crimson SaFIRE 2:46 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on rage2resilience.

    • Kak Faiez 8:30 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink

    • brettcljonez 1:01 pm on February 26, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on thedetectivesford.

    • anissayost9 1:59 pm on February 26, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Anissa Yost and commented:
      Read this particular post this morning and it struck a chord inside me as this seems to be a daily struggle in my own life. Thought I would share as maybe some of you will also have an interest.

    • Phred the Elder 2:40 pm on February 26, 2015 Permalink

      Been there, done that. Repeat. Repeat repeating.
      May I suggest a site that has helped me find (and maintain) my sanity?
      http://zenhabits.net
      Leo has provided me with clarity and helped me simplify a lot.
      Phred

    • sakshamdc1 4:26 pm on February 26, 2015 Permalink

    • WildeAboutWords 10:30 pm on February 26, 2015 Permalink

      The critical thinking is on point here. It forced me to take into consideration a few more things that I “accomplish” every day — including checking my email.

    • Fernando Karl "Fehhstylez" 遠山フェルナンド 10:53 pm on February 26, 2015 Permalink

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    • johnberk 11:22 am on February 27, 2015 Permalink

      In my line of work (RE), it is not just the email communication, but the technological progress that is made overall. I find it difficult to catch up with all the latest apps, but I have to use them in order to provide the best for my customers. Apps like Matterport are crazy and effective as hell. The only problem is the time I have to dedicate to search for new utilities, making me work less on the real world issues. I can directly apply this to my email communication as well. I’m obsessive compulsive with my emails, and I try to respond to them all right away. And sometimes I think how the heck I can continue like this for another twenty years. This growing anxiety will drive me mad.

    • cambridgefemalecyclist 11:51 am on February 27, 2015 Permalink

      thanks so much for such an insightful piece! i am compulsive about having inbox zero for my work emails (which are voluminous on a daily basis) but as those come at a separate address from personal ones i actually don’t feel compelled about my person inbox with which I associate no stress at all (usually). I don’t know whether it means I need to calm down about work and enjoy it a bit more rather than freak out about not achieving inbox zero, or whether it means i need a new profession but that’s a separate thought i suppose… 🙂

    • Hannah H. 6:05 pm on February 27, 2015 Permalink

      This rings so true… I have recently been trying to downsize my personal library and it seems like I’m skimming pages to flip them faster so I can throw the book in a donation bin, but I’m not retaining anything from the stories! In some ways, my bookshelf is a lot like your inbox. And I think you’ll agree, as gratifying as the mental triage can be, remaining mindful is ultimately more beneficial to your thoughts/creative productivity.

    • calyptorhynchus 12:22 am on February 28, 2015 Permalink

      I’m a compulsive presser of the delete button, if it’s that important they can phone.

    • floramaydc 2:16 am on February 28, 2015 Permalink

      I like you how reconciled a mundane act with a well thought philosophy. I partially agree that the value of one’s action is reduced when it becomes a ‘habit’ or viewed as a task instead of a conscious decision to exercise it. But that is because it is expected of us, as a thinking being, to find meaning and joy on what we do. It is sad though that most of the time people would assume there is a dichotomy between work and pleasure, rather than viewing work as an expression of a person’s creativity; therefore, deriving pleasure from work.

    • jazeller 9:16 am on February 28, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on La Dolce Vita and commented:
      As I trudge through that time of year where my future looms over me in the form of The Omnipresent Application, it’s healthy to attend to the problem of employment and finances rather than cross it off my list.

    • totalnorse 1:39 pm on March 1, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on recumbent Norse.

    • ktvida 2:34 am on March 2, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Katie Clogg's Blog.

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    • sonniq 7:03 am on March 3, 2015 Permalink

      Oh my, the to do list. Even finding the time to make the list can be overwhelming. Getting through email with all the”stuff” that comes in. It’s a daunting task. So I go through the first ten and the rest build up. I should just scrap the whole 1,700 of them now and start over. Our I won’t get anything else done! Great article.

    • sonniq 7:17 am on March 3, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Watch and Whirl and commented:
      Oh my, the to do list. Even finding the time to make the list can be overwhelming. Getting through email with all the”stuff” that comes in. It’s a daunting task. So I go through the first ten and the rest build up. I should just scrap the whole 1,700 of them now and start over. Our I won’t get anything else done! Great article.

    • johnbryanjamena 7:46 am on March 3, 2015 Permalink

      you cool

    • maxilprof 4:05 pm on March 3, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Maxilprof and commented:
      Ecco, appunto, sulla produttività ci sarebbe molto da dire…

    • matomassetti 1:39 pm on March 4, 2015 Permalink

      Interesting light shedding on modern habbits. To further another avenue to the wood shop example: the wood crafters shop in Florence, Italy will always have some sense of constant continuity, constant production of Pinocchio’s (probably made in some other part of Italy) the store having to be open every week for the millions of tourists each year. In comparison, the wood crafter shop in Pacentro is only open by ear, and the crafter has the privilege of producing upon inspiration and request (the shop was rather his home, as well, not a place for tourists to commonly visit (or consume, for that matter). Our “getting things done” is comparative to our excellent ability to consume products, and even our time (emails).

    • preetamnandal1 3:06 pm on March 4, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Mobile world.

    • Sophia 12:37 am on March 5, 2015 Permalink

      Inbox zero calms me. But in response to the lists, I’ve found that if you can do it now, don’t write it on the list, just do it, get a snowball effect rolling. Stuff that needs to be done tomorrow, write on a list. Not for everyone since people forget things but it helps keep the focus on the action and not listing everything and then feeling the burden of it.

    • dougstuber 1:50 am on March 5, 2015 Permalink

    • flawedcherub 11:43 am on March 5, 2015 Permalink

      Well-said, my friend.

    • timokirschner 12:08 am on March 8, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on timokirschner's Blog.

    • mariesmagiska 1:31 pm on March 8, 2015 Permalink

      you got a Point there

    • meenavemuri 6:10 am on March 9, 2015 Permalink

      Nice post! I’m truly inspired but I have to comment that I am the type of person that has email checking on the top of the hourly checklist. Interesting point for a psychological study even!

    • jenny 10:59 am on March 9, 2015 Permalink

      Ahh, the safety net of the to do list! Great post, stumbled upon via Freshly Pressed. It made me think back to an interesting TED talk I saw last week by a Harvard scientist called Matt Killingsworth. I haven’t linked it – not everyone is a fan! – but if you’re interested it was called ‘Want to be Happier? Stay in the moment’.

    • Peter B 1:14 pm on March 13, 2015 Permalink

      I have more Trash in my Inbox than Trash Folder…… 🙂 … I am being stuck at my Email

    • Ray Smith 1:17 pm on March 13, 2015 Permalink

      My Inbox have filled with Thousands of Emails, which are SPAM, but i am unable to Filter those as they are in Large numbers….

      North State

    • breeze6 1:13 am on March 14, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Breeze6's Blog.

    • Through my eyes.. 5:19 am on March 14, 2015 Permalink

      Hey i hope you don’t mind but i’d like to invite you to my blog at: http://www.nishadiwaker.wordpress.com

    • Li Wei 11:30 am on March 16, 2015 Permalink

      “Being in a rush to get things done runs contrary to attending to the task itself” – by some strange coincidence I also realised what you’re writing about this past week. In response I’ve begun to see things not merely as tasks to be finished, but as experiences to be carried out with curiosity and attention – and that has totally changed the tone of my days.

    • Mark 6:44 pm on March 16, 2015 Permalink

      Excellent! How are you doing it? I find it much easier to write than to put into practice

    • pastorwilf 9:55 am on March 17, 2015 Permalink

      Great post, very insightfuk

    • Li Wei 12:06 pm on March 17, 2015 Permalink

      There where the practice lies, no? In the end it’s a process of learning what our particular triggers and habits are… But so far I’ve found that recognising resistance or distraction are big things for me. Often the resistance is an unwillingness to accept the inevitability of the tasks given current circumstances. And by distraction I don’t mean other tasks, but other matters that are occupying my mind – something I’m upset or dissatisfied with usually. When I’m clear of these it’s easier to know what needs to be done, and focusing comes more easily. Of course, awareness is needed for all this – mindful and meditation help.

    • Li Wei 12:09 pm on March 17, 2015 Permalink

      One more thing that sounds a bit obvious. Stop wanting to complete things all the time, just do what feels right. Trying it for a day does wonders to recalibrate the mind.

    • christinecao8 11:15 pm on March 18, 2015 Permalink

      I could definitely relate to this post… often times we do things just to get them done. I’ve found myself practically being lost without my to do lists as well. You make a very good point.

    • jcckeith 5:46 am on March 19, 2015 Permalink

      This seems more of an issue of prioritizing and knowing which things you enjoy and which you don’t. For me, my to-do list is organized around which things are related to each other such as vicinity of doing the activities listed – the whole killing two birds with one stone idea. The other thing organizing my daily to-do list is work/reward. I do a few things on the list that I do not enjoy and then I reward myself by doing something on my to-do list that I do enjoy. I also know which things are urgent, which are convenient, which are unnecessarily stress inducing and which will bring a sense of fulfillment.

    • rcullen2015 5:27 am on March 20, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on ROBERT CULLEN'S 3S BLOG and commented:
      Here’s a post to think about when trying to achieve a #3S life:

      “your desire to ‘get things done’ obscures the fact that you actually like many of the things you’re doing and, as a statement about moral psychology, if you forget this fact then you’re much less likely to enjoy doing them. Being in a rush to get something done runs contrary to attending to the task itself.

    • Beau B. Reeroj 7:31 pm on March 21, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on My mind is puke of rainbow. and commented:
      Wow I am a vivid to-do-list living being!

    • Uthman 7:45 am on March 24, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Uthman's Personal Website.

    • carlageenen 12:41 pm on March 24, 2015 Permalink

      I am so unapt for the TO DO list. It doesn’t seem to align with the way my mind works. Plus it puts me in an instant state of rebelion.

    • Deena khales 8:45 am on March 30, 2015 Permalink

      Love this post, it makes you think whether your to do lists are adding any value to your life or not! That is why I restarted posting on my healthy Lifestyle blog:
      https://deespursuitofhealthiness.wordpress.com/
      to add more meaning to life than just the regular 9-6 to do list!

    • kenzieeec 2:51 pm on April 4, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Cupcake..

    • todaysdiywoman 10:52 pm on April 4, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on todaysdiywoman.

    • popicock 3:30 pm on April 6, 2015 Permalink

      It was like a day dream when you put yourself in a position to “keep up with the Jones family”. It’s a start but the foundation has to be built as I post this comment.

    • howitbegins 8:56 pm on April 12, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on howitbegins.

    • fleejr 3:08 am on April 22, 2015 Permalink

      Reblogged this on Total Business Solutions.

    • bissysancimino 10:24 am on May 16, 2015 Permalink

      I loved reading this post and it’s reaffirming to recognize the way our brain and minds rationalize our daily tasks…being present in the moment is essential for practicing gratitude and happiness. I regularly get together with close friends (or Skype) and recognize the amazing things in our lives. I think it’s a key to being happy – knowing how blessed you are and knowing how to pay it forward. It difficult to have that conversation on a societal level but with close people you trust, it should be celebrated and your positive energy spread outward.

    • ephemeraldesigns 9:13 am on July 17, 2015 Permalink

      I procrastinated the first three years out of hs away and now I actually find myself having ambition but my procrastination basically gets the better of me unless I make lists and reminders and etc but I see your point about it being repetitive you have to look at the thin line of it being helpful and productive and don’t let it become just a semi useful habit that keeps you droning on to the same routine.

  • Mark 8:34 am on January 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    The Relational ‘We’ in Personal Morphogenesis – February 3rd @SocioWarwick 

    Beth Weaver (Strathclyde)
    Tuesday, February 3rd
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, R1.15
    Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

    This paper discusses my empirical application of a relational realist analytic framework to illuminate the role of social groups or collectives, as social relations, in shaping and affecting outcomes for individuals and for groups. Using the morphogenetic sequence developed by Archer, to illustrate the conceptual schema progressed by Donati (2011), this framework affords equal recognition to individual actions, social relations and social systems. To empirically capture the relational ‘we’ in social morphogenesis, however, requires taking the social relation as a central unit of analysis. This means empirically conceptualising the social relation as both context and as interaction, and it means analysing the shifting dynamics and influences on the form and shape of a given social relation. Such an analysis can reveal what triggers reflexivity, what different forms of reflexivity entail, and how social relations can shape and influence outcomes for individuals and groups as well as how such processes shape and alter the relations themselves. Using examples from my own research examining the dynamics of desistance from crime, I will show how both individual and relational contributions are interconnected, and how the manner of relating and the reciprocal orientation of individuals-in-relation towards the maintenance of a given social relation are significant in understanding the relational ‘we’ in social morphogenesis.

    Beth Weaver is a Lecturer at the Glasgow School of Social Work, University of Strathclyde. Prior to entering academia, she worked in the areas of youth and criminal justice social work in Scotland and latterly as a MAPPA Coordinator. 

     
  • Mark 11:32 am on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    CfP ‘Emotional Methodologies’ BSA Postgraduate Conference 

    An interesting looking event being organised by Joseph De-Lappe and others:

    Call for Papers

    BSA Postgraduate Conference: ‘Emotional Methodologies’

    19 May 2015
     
    University of Leicester 

    The conference ‘Emotional Methodologies’ will explore methods for researching emotionally-charged data and reflections on researchers’ responses to them, focusing on two themes:

    • The methodological consequences of the affective turn in social science
    • The move away from the idea of researcher as a detached observer towards more embedded and embodied presence

    Combining presentations from established academics and contributions from postgraduate students, this multi-disciplinary event will provide a friendly and welcoming environment for postgraduates to present their research and engage in academic debate on the role emotion plays in contemporary social science research. It will also offer the opportunity to reflect on the direction emotionally-charged social science research could and should take in the future

    Key Note Presentations:

    Dr Kye Askins (University of Glasgow): Embedded and Emotional Observer
    Dr Helen Lucey (University of Bath): Emotional dimensions of learning and teaching

    Suggestions for topics include, but are not limited to:

    • Emotion and place
    • Engaging with emotionally charged research data
    • Dealing with one’s own emotional response
    • Embedded and embodied presence of the researcher
    • Expected and unexpected emotions
    • Challenges and/or opportunities of emotions in research
    • Affect/Effect in research
    • Transmission of emotions in research
    • Welcoming emotions in research

    We welcome applications from Masters and PhD students to present a paper.
    Please send a 250 word (max) abstract and a brief biographical note before 5.00 pm on Tuesday 31st March to: Grace Sykes gs210@le.ac.uk , Tom Grant tag10@le.ac.uk  or Joseph De Lappe joseph.de-lappe@open.ac.uk . (Papers will last 10-15 minutes).

    Registration:
    £10 BSA Members, £25 Non-BSA Members (Conference registration fee includes lunch, refreshments and wine reception)
    Travel and childcare bursaries are available, please contact the organisers above for further details

    To register please book online at: http://portal.britsoc.co.uk/member/event/eventBooking.aspx?id=EVT10414

     
    • Martha K Huggins 8:43 pm on February 13, 2015 Permalink

      Hope you will consult our book, Women
      Fielding Danger (Martha K Huggins and Marie Louise Glebbeek). It has wonderful articles from women from several disciplines that demonstrate your topic and how emotions in research was managed in-situ. Martha

  • Mark 11:29 am on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Is it weird that I want to go one of these fake conferences to see what happens at them? 

    I assume these are the conference equivalents of predatory open access publishers. But what actually happens at them? I have an idea for a piece of exploratory travel writing which was initially a joke but I’m now considering trying to pitch to the Chronicle of Higher Education or Times Higher Education:

    Social Science and Humenities Research Symposium 2015

    Call for Paper

    We would like to invite you to participate in the ICSSH 2015, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which will bring together many distinguished researchers from all over the world. Participants will find platform for presenting new research, exchanging information, and discussing current issues. The conference will bring together academics, leading researchers, professionals, engineers, practitioners, scholars, and scientists or anyone in the domain of interest from around the world.

     For More: http://conference2015.biz/icssh.html

    Conference Track

    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Arts
    • Literature and Language
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Food Safety
    • Womens Sciences
    • Popular Culture
    • Religious studies
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Psychology
    • Museums and Heritage
    • Archaeology
    • Oceanography
    • Aquaculture
    • Heritage
    • Ecology
    • Multi Discilinary

    Important Dates

           Registration and Abstract submission deadline February 06th 2015
           Notification of acceptance February 18th 2015
           Full paper submission deadline & conference fee payment deadline February 25th 2015

    To register: http://conference2015.biz/icssh.html

     
    • Joseph De Lappe 12:17 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink

      The one that really gets to me, Mark, is MSM (Man who have sex with Men) in reports, because he’s totally made up and yet there are conferences where people do nothing but talk about MSMs as if they are real. I want to design a SIMS character which is based on all the ascribed characteristics and then describe his exploratory journey through they landscapes he is held to traverse…

    • juliusbeezer 2:22 pm on January 27, 2015 Permalink

      Inter-disciplinary cross-fertilisation rating’s going to be off the scale! What’s not to like? And, having liberated the CO2 on the nine hour flight–I’m guessing you won’t be riding your bike down there–you might as well pick up a few days of high quality meditation and yoga instruction at a pleasantly sited ashram while you’re at it.

    • Mark 1:03 pm on January 29, 2015 Permalink

      I read that about 5 times before I realised that SIMS wasn’t an academic acronym that I wasn’t familiar with…

    • Joseph De Lappe 4:28 pm on January 29, 2015 Permalink

      Haha 😂

  • Mark 11:27 am on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    The Ethical Economy, w/ Adam Arvidsson – Middlesex University, 17 February 2015 

    Wish I could make this:


    Research Seminar – The Ethical Economy
    Collaborative ethics, promotional cultures and digital media

    Guest Speaker: Prof. Adam Arvidsson (University of Milan)
    Tuesday 17th February (h. 17 – Middlesex University, Room C107)

    The event will explore the different aspects around the new ‘collaborative economy’ that is emerging out of the crisis of corporate capitalism: peer production, the sharing economy, co-working spaces, impact business and prosumerism.

    Professor Adam Arvidsson from University of Milan will discuss how a more ethical economic system can emerge that rectifies the crisis of our current downturn, while balancing the injustices of extreme poverty and wealth.

    Join us to discuss how innovations in production, valuation and distribution systems interplay to potentially demonstrate that social production and the motivation of continuous capital accumulation can exist hand-in-hand with a new desire to maximize social impact.

    Respondents: Sophia Drakopoulou (Middlesex University – Cybersalon) and Alessandro Gandini (Middlesex University).

     
  • Mark 11:26 am on January 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , happiness, , well-being   

    Happiness Symposium 4th June 2015 Leicester – Call for Papers 

    This looks interesting:

    Call for Papers
    Is well-being the most appropriate measure of the state of post-crisis societies in the West? Can different tools that assess it provide useful and meaningful information about societal prosperity which can be used by the policy makers? What sociology can add to the discussion about appropriate indicators of human flourishing in modern times?

    These questions require thorough evaluation of the state of society today which can be enriched by the research findings from quantitative and qualitative studies that complement each other in order to provide full picture of the society today. Current recession and austerity measures that were implemented in most Western countries as a result of it challenged the view that the standards of living dominating in the past decades can be sustained in an unchanged form. What followed was the rise of the popularity of well-being measures that aimed to evaluate broadly understood life satisfaction of people in societies that were already being transformed by the economic crisis and its repercussions, in order to define happy life and what matters to it.
    Furthermore, both theoretical and empirical perspectives can contribute to the broadening of the concept of well-being in relation to the post-crisis society.

    The participants of the event will be looking to assess the relevance and usefulness of well-being indicator as a measure of the progress of society in modern times and will seek to answer the question: in what other terms should we evaluate our societies if well-being is not enough?

    The event will give the opportunity to engage in scholarly debate and exchange views and ideas within the sociological framework that will enrich and broaden sociological perspectives on societal well-being. Suggestions for presentation topics include, but are not limited to:

    ·         Sociological approach to researching well-being

    ·         Consequences of current crisis on modern society

    ·         Welfare policies and their role in building thriving society

    ·         Theoretical perspectives on the concept of societal well-being

    ·         Methodological issues with researching well-being

    ·         Components of the well-being of the society

    ·         Gender roles in the post-crisis society: winners and losers

    ·         Inequalities in well-being – inequalities in the post-crisis society

    ·         What do quantitative and qualitative methods contribute to the research of well-being and society?
    We are limited to inviting a maximum of 30 delegates. There are spaces available for up to 8 presenting delegates who should apply with a 300-word abstract and a brief biographical note. Details of all delegates will be included in the conference programme. Applications should be sent to the organiser of the event:  Katarzyna Kucaba (kk237@leicester.ac.uk<mailto:kk237@leicester.ac.uk>).  The deadline for applications is 5pm on Sunday 15th March.

     
  • Mark 8:33 am on January 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Prosumption, appropriation and the ontology of economic form – TOMORROW @SocioWarwick 

    Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough)
    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, R1.15
    Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

    Prosumption – the unpaid performance of productive work by ‘consumers’ who thus help commercial businesses to generate a profit – is perhaps the most studied of the many hybrid forms of economic practice that have proliferated in the digital economy. A number of critical accounts have analysed prosumption in terms of Marx’s labour theory of value, suggesting for example that as prosumers do useful work for free they are infinitely exploited by the firms that profit as a result. But such accounts analyse the digital economy in terms that were derived from the nineteenth century factory – and terms that were highly questionable even in that context.

    The spectacular mismatch between this model of capitalism and the case of prosumption exposes the inadequacy of the standard monolithic conception of capitalism as a homogeneous and universal contemporary economic form – a conception that at a certain level is also shared by the marketised discourse of mainstream economics. We need a new ontology of economic form that goes beyond the totalising concepts of mode of production and market economy and instead provides us with tools for understanding the sheer diversity of forms of economic practice in the contemporary economy. This paper offers the concept of appropriative practices as a contribution to such an ontology and applies it to the case of prosumption.

    Dave Elder-Vass is a senior lecturer in sociology at Loughborough University, where he teaches a variety of core sociology modules. He also offers an MA module on Digital Economies and an innovative undergraduate option that consists entirely of debates between students on popular recent books. He is available to supervise PhD students, particularly those with an interest in social theory, critical realism, digital social developments or economic sociology.

    Previously, he spent three years as a British Academy post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, after completing his PhD at Birkbeck, University of London. Before returning to the academic world he was a senior IT executive in a major UK retail business.

     
  • Mark 7:24 am on January 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Centre for Social Ontology Seminars: Spring Term 2015 (@SocioWarwick) 

    ​​Centre for Social Ontology Seminars: Spring Term 2015

    January 27th: Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough University) R1.15
    Prosumption, appropriation and the ontology of economic form

    February 3rd: Beth Weaver (University of Strathclyde) R1.15
    The Relational ‘We’ in Social Morphogenesis

    February 17th: Balihar Sanghera (University of Kent) R1.04
    Lay ethics, distortions and charitable giving

    March 10th: Alistair Mutch (Nottingham Trent University), R1.04
    Routines and Reflexivity: Consequences of Developments in Organizations for Morphogenesis

    See our poster for full abstracts

    All Seminars Take Place 5pm – 6:30pm in the Ramphal Building on the University of Warwick Campus

    All welcome! Contact socialontology@warwick.ac.uk with any questions.

    http://www.socialontology.org

     
  • Mark 8:32 am on January 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Prosumption, appropriation and the ontology of economic form – January 27th @SocioWarwick 

    Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough)
    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, R1.15
    Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

    Prosumption – the unpaid performance of productive work by ‘consumers’ who thus help commercial businesses to generate a profit – is perhaps the most studied of the many hybrid forms of economic practice that have proliferated in the digital economy. A number of critical accounts have analysed prosumption in terms of Marx’s labour theory of value, suggesting for example that as prosumers do useful work for free they are infinitely exploited by the firms that profit as a result. But such accounts analyse the digital economy in terms that were derived from the nineteenth century factory – and terms that were highly questionable even in that context.

    The spectacular mismatch between this model of capitalism and the case of prosumption exposes the inadequacy of the standard monolithic conception of capitalism as a homogeneous and universal contemporary economic form – a conception that at a certain level is also shared by the marketised discourse of mainstream economics. We need a new ontology of economic form that goes beyond the totalising concepts of mode of production and market economy and instead provides us with tools for understanding the sheer diversity of forms of economic practice in the contemporary economy. This paper offers the concept of appropriative practices as a contribution to such an ontology and applies it to the case of prosumption.

    Dave Elder-Vass is a senior lecturer in sociology at Loughborough University, where he teaches a variety of core sociology modules. He also offers an MA module on Digital Economies and an innovative undergraduate option that consists entirely of debates between students on popular recent books. He is available to supervise PhD students, particularly those with an interest in social theory, critical realism, digital social developments or economic sociology.

    Previously, he spent three years as a British Academy post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, after completing his PhD at Birkbeck, University of London. Before returning to the academic world he was a senior IT executive in a major UK retail business.

     
  • Mark 10:25 pm on January 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Some things about the acceleration of higher education which I would like to understand more than I do 

    1. Increasingly I think about this issue in terms of a distinction between the rate of publication and the rate of knowledge production. My hunch is that the acceleration of the former goes hand-in-hand with a deceleration of the latter. I have all sorts of speculative ideas about the causality if I’m correct but I’d like to actually try and substantiate the hunch itself. How do you measure the rate of publication (not as straight forward as I assumed it would be before I started thinking about it) and how do you measure the rate of knowledge production? The latter is very challenging and necessitates a lot of conceptual labour before beginning to look for possible indicators which could be used empirically.
    2. Can we empirically demonstrate an acceleration in the pace-of-life within the academy? What are the dynamics which are ‘internal’ to this institutional sphere? How do they relate to a broader tendency towards acceleration within the social order? One of the things that appeals to me about this topic is the possibility of using higher education as a case study to get a much firmer grip on technologically driven acceleration.
    3. If there is an acceleration of the pace-of-life within the academy then how are people responding to? What implicit and explicit strategies emerge in an attempt to cope with the ‘ratcheting up’ of demands?
    4. Whose interests are at stake in the promotion or suppression of different strategies? E.g. productivity and resilience as technologies of control within the work place.
    5. How do these strategies contribute to or resist the overarching processes of acceleration which they are in part a response to?
    6. What does all this mean for scholarship?
     
  • Mark 8:29 am on January 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Prosumption, appropriation and the ontology of economic form – January 27th @SocioWarwick 

    Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough)
    Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, R1.15
    Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

    Prosumption – the unpaid performance of productive work by ‘consumers’ who thus help commercial businesses to generate a profit – is perhaps the most studied of the many hybrid forms of economic practice that have proliferated in the digital economy. A number of critical accounts have analysed prosumption in terms of Marx’s labour theory of value, suggesting for example that as prosumers do useful work for free they are infinitely exploited by the firms that profit as a result. But such accounts analyse the digital economy in terms that were derived from the nineteenth century factory – and terms that were highly questionable even in that context.

    The spectacular mismatch between this model of capitalism and the case of prosumption exposes the inadequacy of the standard monolithic conception of capitalism as a homogeneous and universal contemporary economic form – a conception that at a certain level is also shared by the marketised discourse of mainstream economics. We need a new ontology of economic form that goes beyond the totalising concepts of mode of production and market economy and instead provides us with tools for understanding the sheer diversity of forms of economic practice in the contemporary economy. This paper offers the concept of appropriative practices as a contribution to such an ontology and applies it to the case of prosumption.

    Dave Elder-Vass is a senior lecturer in sociology at Loughborough University, where he teaches a variety of core sociology modules. He also offers an MA module on Digital Economies and an innovative undergraduate option that consists entirely of debates between students on popular recent books. He is available to supervise PhD students, particularly those with an interest in social theory, critical realism, digital social developments or economic sociology.

    Previously, he spent three years as a British Academy post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, after completing his PhD at Birkbeck, University of London. Before returning to the academic world he was a senior IT executive in a major UK retail business.

     
  • Mark 8:28 am on January 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    The Relational ‘We’ in Personal Morphogenesis – February 3rd @SocioWarwick 

    Beth Weaver (Strathclyde)
    Tuesday, February 3rd
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, R1.15
    Ramphal Building, University of Warwick

    This paper discusses my empirical application of a relational realist analytic framework to illuminate the role of social groups or collectives, as social relations, in shaping and affecting outcomes for individuals and for groups. Using the morphogenetic sequence developed by Archer, to illustrate the conceptual schema progressed by Donati (2011), this framework affords equal recognition to individual actions, social relations and social systems. To empirically capture the relational ‘we’ in social morphogenesis, however, requires taking the social relation as a central unit of analysis. This means empirically conceptualising the social relation as both context and as interaction, and it means analysing the shifting dynamics and influences on the form and shape of a given social relation. Such an analysis can reveal what triggers reflexivity, what different forms of reflexivity entail, and how social relations can shape and influence outcomes for individuals and groups as well as how such processes shape and alter the relations themselves. Using examples from my own research examining the dynamics of desistance from crime, I will show how both individual and relational contributions are interconnected, and how the manner of relating and the reciprocal orientation of individuals-in-relation towards the maintenance of a given social relation are significant in understanding the relational ‘we’ in social morphogenesis.

    Beth Weaver is a Lecturer at the Glasgow School of Social Work, University of Strathclyde. Prior to entering academia, she worked in the areas of youth and criminal justice social work in Scotland and latterly as a MAPPA Coordinator. 

     
  • Mark 7:18 am on January 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    2015 Call for Papers about Asexuality 

    2015 Call for Papers about Asexuality

    Asexuality Studies Interest Group

    National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)

    November 12-15, 2015, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    The NWSA Asexuality Studies Interest Group welcomes papers for the 2015 NWSA annual conference. These asexuality-related themes are orientated towards the full NWSA 2015 CFP which can be found here: http://www.nwsa.org/Files/2015/NWSA%202015%20CFP_Final.pdf

    If you are interested in being a part of the 2015 Asexuality Studies Interest Group panels at NWSA, please send the following information to the designated panel organizer (listed under each theme) by Friday, February 6, 2015:

    *Name, Institutional Affiliation, Mailing Address, Email, Phone

    *NWSA Theme your paper fits under

    *Title for your talk

    *50-100 word abstract

    We will try to accommodate as many qualified papers as possible, but panels are limited to 3-4 presenters. NWSA will make the final decision about which panels are accepted. Presenters accepted into the conference program must become members of NWSA in addition to registering for the conference.

    1) Sponsored Session: Disciplining Bodies, Regulating Identities: Affect/Eros and the Intersection of Asexual and Fat Identities

    This is a sponsored session of the Asexuality Studies Interest Group in collaboration with the Fat Studies Interest Group.

    The fields of Asexuality Studies and Fat Studies are two exciting areas of inquiry in the contemporary academy. Rigorous scholarly analyses and theoretical production combine with cutting-edge social activism to create new epistemologies, creative political strategies and visionary, new social paradigms. Understandings of affect and eros have informed these two academic fields and social movements by fostering knowledge about the role of affective and erotic economies, intensities and potentialities As the NWSA CFP states: “There is ample evidence of communal and collective practices that invoke alternative imaginaries, worlds, memories, mythologies, desires, cosmologies, embodiments, and yearnings and that disrupt the disciplining of non-normative emotions, desires, bodies, peoples, practices, histories, spaces, and ideas. Affect and eros can thus be considered pivotal both to understanding how precarity is structured and also contested.” This session will utilize perspectives gleaned from asexuality studies and fat studies to explore the fields’ relationship to affect/eros and the productive potential of these intersectional analyses to interrogate, deconstruct and reimagine oppressive corporeal regimes based on compulsory sexuality and the tyranny of slenderness. Topics for this session could include, but are not limited to:

    • the experiences of individuals who identify simultaneously as fat and as asexual and the vulnerability engendered by converging ideological systems based in acephobia and fatphobia; affective knowledge of uniquely fat and asexual grammars of the body
    • the ways in which affective and/or erotic work is deployed in service of fat and asexual acceptance, rights, visibility, community-building and education; the fostering of fat and asexual affective solidarity
    • the corporeal disciplining of fat and asexual bodies and the regulatory control of these identities through affective and erotic inducements in a culture of precarity
    • The construction of fat bodies as inherently asexual and the theoretical, discursive and political implications of this conflation
    • The stereotyping, bias and discrimination faced by fat and asexual communities; affective and erotic policing and regulatory surveillance of fat and asexual bodies and identities within a neoliberal cultural economy
    • The ways in which asexual and fat eros/affect intersect with multiple categories of difference including race, ethnicity, class, age, immigrant status, dis/ablity and religion

    Please submit materials for the sponsored session to organizer, Joelle Ruby Ryan (Joelle.Ryan@unh.edu).

    2) Co-Sponsored Session with Trans/Gender-Variant Caucus:

    Institutions, Containments and the Intersection between Asexuality & Trans/Gender-Variance

    This is a co-sponsored Round Table Discussion* with the Trans/Gender-Variant Caucus and the Asexuality Studies Interest Group.

    Institutions, even with the best of intentions, can create containments or confinements for those they work to serve, and exclude those outside predetermined groups. Asexuality and trans/gender-variance often fit outside institutional categories, which can cause uncertainty, insecurity, or precarity for one’s well being. This discussion will focus on the intersection of trans/gender-variance and asexuality, how their resistance to control, repression, and confinement overlap, and power imbalances between them.

    Proposals for this theme may include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

    ●How can the intersections of trans/gender-variant and asexuality studies serve as a way to critique institutional control and containment, through disability, debility, race, citizenship, sexuality, class, and gender?

    ●How are asexual and trans/gender-variant bodies positioned within hierarchies of power and what (different) avenues are available for contestation and resistance to those hierarchies?

    ●Collaborations and intersections between trans/gender-variant and asexual studies can be key to contesting the violence of institutions/containments and to addressing pervasive injustice, but how are power asymmetries addressed within such work?

    ●How do institutions promote and help asexual, trans/gender-variant, and queer communities and how do they induce precarity, marginalization, and containment?

    ●Where do trans/gender-variance and asexuality intersect and how can they work against precarity?

    ●How can asexuality and trans/gender-variant identity be a form of empowerment and not stigma?

    *As a round table discussion there may be 4-6 presenters. In addition, paper titles are not required for individuals and 50-100 words introducing your contribution to the discussion will suffice as an abstract.

    Please submit materials for the co-sponsored session to organizer Bauer McClave (Caroline) at bauer1331@gmail.com

    3) Theme 1: Debility/Vulnerability:

    The Relevance of Asexualities, Debility and Vulnerability

    This panel examines the adaptability of asexualities, debility and vulnerability, as related to both current and past issues of precarity and paradox: indifferent and varying working contexts and creative agency and voice; uncertain futures and possibilities of the present; established hierarchies and open, horizontal structures – largely organized online; old nationalism and new cosmopolitanism; individual inadequacy regarding climate change and project based alliances.

    Questions to consider for applicants:

    • In what ways are asexualities connected to, and different from, debility and vulnerability?
    • How do asexualities, debility and vulnerability represent a radical challenge to power structures rooted in heteronormativity?
    • What are working lives of lived asexualities, vulnerability and debility like, within framework of heteronormative dominant culture?
    • What are the risks, possibilities and ensuing tension implied within asexualties, debility and vulnerability?

    Please submit materials for this session to organizer Anna Lise Jensen, aaaonyc@gmail.com

    4) Theme 2: Affect/Eros

    Between Affect and Eros: Precarity and the Asexual Community

    Following the NWSA theme of Precarity and Affect/Eros this panel will explore the “embodied, political, affective, economic, ideological, temporal, and structural conditions” which construct and regulate asexuality. Precarity “draws attention to the lived conditions, structures nature, and relational aspect of systemic inequality” as an emerging and often contested sexual orientation asexuality is a precarious identity, and asexual individuals often find themselves in precarious positions. As an emerging political identity and orientation asexuality challenges established understandings of both eros and affect. What role can eros play in the politics of asexuality? How do eros and affect emerge in the daily lived experiences of asexual individuals? What expectations around affective labor does asexuality reinforce or challenge? Can eros and affect be deployed to challenge the precarious and marginalized position of asexuality? Or do eros and affect contribute to the precarious position of asexual identities?

    Proposals for this theme may include–but are not limited to–the following topics:

    ●What can be gained by attending to eros and affect together, as sites where Asexual Identity is both precarious and resisted?

    ●How have affect and eros served as sites of social control? How does Asexuality challenge these conceptions across context and over time?

    ●How has the surveillance and regulation eros and affect been differently marked in the asexual identity and across intersecting identities such as race, class, disability, citizenship status, gender, ethnicity, religion and/or spirituality and body size?

    ●How does asexuality eros and affect transform inequality and challenge hegemonic values and practices?

    ●What productive investigations can be produced by placing asexuality into conversation with affect theory?

    ●How can feminist theoretical understanding of asexuality produce challenges and knowledge about the norms of romantic love?

    ●How can asexual identities and experiences challenge, reinforce or dismantle expectations of eros and affective labor sexual relationships of all kinds

    Please submit materials for this session to organizer, Julia Rogers jerogers@ucsd.edu

    5) Theme 3: Institutions/Containments

    This theme will seek to explore how various institutions and regimes of social control have sought to contain or regulate asexual identity, as well as how asexuals might form coalitions to resist oppression and precarity. Papers might address any of the following questions, or other relevant questions:

    -What is the state of asexual institution building? Do these institutions help asexuals resist precarity or do they further reproduce it?

    -How have various institutions and regimes of social control (medical, legal, educational, cultural, carceral, etc.) sought to contain, regulate, or define asexuality across different historical and geopolitical contexts?

    -How might asexuals’ coalition building with other gender and sexual minorities contest the violence of institutions/containments and combat pervasive injustice? How are power asymmetries addressed within such work?

    -What are the possibilities and potential problems inherent in institutionalizing asexuality under the umbrella of queer identity? Is such an alliance a site of resistance or containment?

    -How does asexuality intersect with other institutionalized forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, colonization, and poverty, to produce precarity?

    Please submit materials for this session to organizer Kara French at kmfrench@salisbury.edu

    6) Theme 4: Distortion/Dispossession

    This year’s conference theme of precarity is particularly relevant to Asexuality studies and to work which intersects many fields of study including health sciences, sociology, anthropology, geography, and others. Precarity, as the NWSA 2015 CFP indicates, is intended to “draw attention to the lived conditions, structured nature, and relational aspects of systemic inequality. Focusing on diverse forms of violence, inequality, and harm pervading contemporary life, precarity names a ‘politically induced condition in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks of support and become deferentially exposed to injury, violence, and death.’”

    To address precarity and differential suffering, distortion (via representational economies and controlling images) and dispossession (structural dispersal and material deprivation) are key areas of interest. This panel will look specifically at social and material realities of Asexuality, including the effects of distortion and dispossession at both individual and collective levels and possibilities for resistance. From relationships with Queer/LGBT communities, to media representations of Asexuals using only White representatives, to the lack of legal protection for Asexual/LGBTQ people in many states, this panel is intended to build from lived experiences of Asexuality in relation to the systemic and structured nature of inequality and violence.

    Proposals for this theme may include–but are not limited to–the following topics:

    -Asexual activism as resistance to dispossession/distortion

    -Intersections of distortion and dispossession in Asexual experience/Asexual community

    -Differential suffering of/for/by Asexual people

    -Ways that structures, institutions, and systems perpetuate dispossession/distortion around Asexuality and Asexual people and the associated effects

    -How do Asexual people deferentially “experience the material, representational, environmental, political, and discursive effects of dispossession, distortion, and degradation?”

    -Solidarity with Asexual people/communities and confronting dispossession/distortion/degradation

    Please submit materials for this session to organizer Sarah Jasmine Stork, stork.sarahj@gmail.com

     
  • Mark 6:34 pm on January 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Howard Becker and Margaret Archer share a critique of Bourdieu 

    They just express it in a very different way:

    “Bourdieu’ s big idea was the champs, field, and mine was monde, world—what’s the difference?” Becker asks rhetorically. “Bourdieu’s idea of field is kind of mystical. It’s a metaphor from physics. I always imagined it as a zero-sum game being played in a box. The box is full of little things that zing around. And he doesn’t speak about people. He just speaks about forces. There aren’t any people doing anything.” People in Bourdieu’s field are merely atom-like entities. (It was Bourdieu’s vision that helped inspire Michel Houellebecq’s nihilistic novel of the meaningless collisions of modern life, “The Elementary Particles.”)

    [..]

    As Becker has written elsewhere, enlarging the end-credits metaphor, “A ‘world’ as I understand it consists of real people who are trying to get things done, largely by getting other people to do things that will assist them in their project. . . . The resulting collective activity is something that perhaps no one wanted, but is the best everyone could get out of this situation and therefore what they all, in effect, agreed to.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/12/outside-game

     
  • Mark 2:52 pm on January 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Thanks @OvoEnergy, what a lovely surprise: I’ve used a years worth of gas in 3 months & you want your money 

    I was surprised to find that Ovo have had me in ‘billing suspension’ for months without telling me. So even though I was diligently giving them monthly meter readings, these weren’t being processed and my direct debit payment (£92 per month) was beginning to build up into a surplus. When querying this, I discover that they had seemingly forgotten about me and in actual fact believe I owe them lots of money: what’s the point in giving monthly meter readings myself if they just ignore them?

    They’re now claiming that in a little under 3 months, I’ve used 12984 kWh gas at 3.31p/kWh for a charge of £429.77. The typical annual consumption figure for gas is 16,500 kWh. So in under 3 months, in the mildest winter for years, they’re claiming I’ve used close to a year’s gas. Kindly, they’re offering to check my meter but I have to pay a £140 charge if they don’t determine that it’s broken. This would all be irritating enough if it wasn’t for the ‘billing suspension’ issue and when this oversight is combined with the wildly publicised IT problems that Ovo have, I’m not really sure why I should trust any figures I receive from them.

     
  • Mark 11:03 am on January 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: diffusion, , ,   

    The role of reflexivity in explaining rather than describing technological diffusion 

    Talking about explaining rather than describing the diffusion of a technology doesn’t imply that the former is important and the latter isn’t. Not least of all because we need to describe the diffusion of a technology before we can explain that pattern. But it’s the explanatory question which interests me far more than the descriptive one: why has the technology diffused in this way rather than that way (etc). Explaining technology use (and non-use*) entails among other things, questions about reasons for use and non-use.

    Recognizing this doesn’t mean we neglect the many structural factors which account for patterns of diffusion (e.g. material and cultural barriers to access) but to really get an explanatory handle on such patterns we need to consider the personal reasons, causally operative within a structured context, which engender action tendencies over time towards a given technology. I mean ‘reasons’ here in an extremely broad sense: interconnected patterns of meaning and motivation which may only be expressed in a very partial way at the discursive level. But my point is that this isn’t just semiotic and that these reasons are causes because they can lead to action.

    Another way of putting it is to say that we need to understand social behaviour like this queue in a richly hermeneutic way but also to use that understanding to account for personal behaviour outside of this very particular social situation:

    IMG_6938

    *I hadn’t grasped the importance of non-use until talking to Deborah Lupton yesterday.

     
  • Mark 7:54 pm on January 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: interviewing, ,   

    How to be an academic and deal with stupid & hostile interviewers 

     
    • Mark Wallace 10:34 pm on January 12, 2015 Permalink

      He could maybe cut down on the appeals to authority a bit.

    • Mark 8:50 am on January 13, 2015 Permalink

      Would you under those conditions? I think that would be an obvious mistake.

    • Mark Wallace 2:54 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink

      How an obvious mistake? By all means say it once, but then try and make some substantial points, even if the interviewer seems to be uninformed and hostile, which she does. I don’t like his stance (I’m referring to the first interview) because I take such repeated appeals to one’s own personal authority as a scholar and PhD-holder as expressing arrogance and a naive (or self-serving) faith in the purity of the academic process of research as a means of reaching knowledge, and also as distracting from the actual content of Aslan’s argument, whatever it is, the terms of which both parties seemed happy not to address in the interview.

    • Mark 9:34 pm on January 13, 2015 Permalink

      He did both! I mean a mistake because academic authority is his license to speak – would he have been invited if he wasn’t an academic? It’s reasserting his expertise in the face of hostile & asinine questioning

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