Updates from March, 2016 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Mark 10:52 am on March 29, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: self-branding, self-marketing, ,   

    Self-pimping as the prevailing social and business imperative 

    From This Town, by Mark Leibovich, pg 56:

    One of the stubborn truths of Obama-era Washington is that everyone is now, in effect, a special interest, a free agent, performing any number of services, in any number of settings. It goes well beyond the technical classification of “registered lobbyists.” Self-pimping has become the prevailing social and business imperative. “The firstnamelastname-dot-com syndrome” is how a Republican media consultant, Kevin Madden, described the phenomenon. Or, as the Onion once described it, it’s like being “the CEO of the company called ‘Me.’”

  • Mark 6:48 pm on March 28, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , journal editors, , , ,   

    Social Media for Journal Editors 

    This is a really useful reflection by Andy Miah on social media in academic life. It leads to a focused discussion about the significance of social media for editors of academic journals, but it has some more general reflections prior to this.

  • Mark 2:15 pm on March 28, 2016 Permalink

    The End of You Too 

  • Mark 2:12 pm on March 28, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    An Archerian reading of Bourdieu: the reflexive imperative as the normalisation of hysteresis 

    I’ve just cut this out of a paper I’m working on. It’s not up to scratch and it doesn’t really contribute anything to the development of the paper. But it’s an idea I’m planning to return to in future, so I’d be interested in any thoughts people have about it. I hadn’t actually compiled the bibliography for this yet but get in touch if you’d like info about a reference in the text. 

    In this section I provide an overview of Archer’s (2003, 2007, 2012) account of reflexivity, focusing upon the role of cultural variety in shaping reflexive deliberation. To do this, I wish to borrow a metaphor from the Bourdieusian theorist Will Atkinson and use this to consider the role of categories in internal conversation. Atkinson invokes the metaphor of a flashlight to illustrate the disjuncture between the objective and subjective fields of possibility which confront a subject. His phenomenological reconstruction of habitus[1] seeks to explain “the limits of the conceivable range of possibilities” in terms of the power of habitus for “illuminating in consciousness, like the beam from a torch, only a circumscribed arc of social space and leaving the rest in the unknown, unthinkable darkness” (Atkinson 2010: 104). My contention is that this metaphor can be usefully be reclaimed from the use made of it here and that what Atkinson (2010: 52) describes as “the full weight of accumulated categorization” can usefully be reconceptualised in terms of the generative mechanism through which cultural variety influences reflexive deliberation. If we understand culture, following Archer (1985, 2011: loc 3696), as the “repertoire of ideas for construing the situations in which [subjects] find themselves”, we are left with the question of how their ensuing influence accumulates biographically. Atkinson’s (2010) metaphor of the flash light nicely captures this as a synchronic relation, in which the subject’s perception of the possibilities available to them are filtered through a prism of ‘accumulated categorization’[2], but it lacks an account of the diachronic i.e. past ideas which subjects have incorporated into their mental representations of the natural, practical and social orders[3] exercise a conditioning influence upon present action, one result of which will be the reproduction or transformation of the stock of mental representations influencing future deliberations. 

    The question remains however as to how this ‘categorization’ accumulates. As Atkinson (2010: 52) admits, the “precise contents of the habitus and how it generates conscious thought and intention … is never really elaborated in a systematic way, leaving it open to the charge of being an explanatory black box”. I’d suggest that Archer’s (2003, 2007) account of communicative reflexivity cracks open this black box by elaborating upon how the stock of mental representations is reliably reproduced through the dynamics of external conversation: trusting similar others, circumscription of internal dialogue and privileging the shared present (Archer 2007: 270-281). The decline of the contextual continuity necessary for communicative reflexivity[4] progressively erodes the shared mental representations which are necessary for internal conversation to be externalised, seeking confirmation and completion by trusted others, in a manner experienced as subjectively worthwhile (Archer 2007: 84-85). The decline of contextual continuity exercises an independent influence upon the likely stock of potential interlocutors, given the time taken for relationships of this sort to be established and the relative immobility likely necessary for them to be retained[5]. This accounts for the fragility of communicative reflexivity in contemporary circumstances. Even were someone is born into circumstances precipitous to it, the likelihood of those circumstance both remaining stable and a subject remaining within them is increasingly low. As Archer (2012) and Carrigan (2014) both illustrate, one important vector of change is the transition of students to university, leading to a transformation of the students themselves and implications for their web of familial relations and ‘home’ friends at the time of entry.

    With the decline of communicative reflexivity comes the necessity of recognising the different modes through which cultural structures are mediated at the level of personal reflexivity. The failure to do this can be seen in debates out the ‘split habitus’ and ‘intra-habitus’ contradictions. For instance Mouzelis (2007) invokes the ‘intra-active processes’ then can ensue when a subject finds themselves under the influence of a habitus with ‘two fundamental aspects’. Friedman (2015) discusses Bourdieu’s ambivalent treatment of ‘long-range social mobility’ and its implications for reflexivity, something which he recognised in his own life when writing in an auto-ethnographic mode but relegated to the periphery of social analysis in the lives of others in his description of ‘hysteresis effects’: mismatches between habitus and field, a disjuncture between objective demands and subjective capacities, leading to negative sanctions from others within it. The notion of hysteresis has natural scientific origins, gifting the term with connotations of change and time lag (Grenfell 2014: 128). As Friedman (2015) notes, Bourdieu began to explore hysteresis effects at the level of personal life in his later work, leaving it an open question as to whether this investigative thread might ultimately have led to a revision of the concept of habitus. After all, Archer’s (2007) account of the ‘demise of routinisation’ could be translated into Bourdieusian terminology as a thesis about the normalisation of hysteresis[6]. Rosa’s (2013) notion of an intra-generational pace of change describes the same trend. In Archer’s words: “change is now too rapid and appropriate practices now too evanescent for inter-generational socialisation to take place” (Archer 2007: 41).

    While Bourdieu implicitly maintains the stability of the field and relegates a mismatch to an ‘effect’ at the level of subject, Archer (2003, 2007) instead conceives of changing characteristics of the social context (continuity, discontinuity and incongruity) and their relation to the different modes through which the reflexive capacities of subjects can be exercised. In doing so, the relation between the objective and subjective is opened up in  way much more amenable to investigating their interplay than is the case when a homology is assumed and its absence is regarded as an outlier. Under conditions of contextual continuity, there tend to be a mutually reinforcing relationship between cultural variety and social circumstances. Our repertoire of ideas for construing our situations find confirmations in the characteristics of those situations and in the ideas of those with whom we discuss the choices faced in them. Dependence upon concepts does not entail determination by concepts and so there’s not necessity here but rather conditioning influences operative via a number of pathways (structural, ideational, relational, biographical). The result is that our access to cultural variety is heavily circumscribed, something which practitioners of communicative reflexivity are liable to accept and work to reinforce[7]. With the emergence of contextual discontinuity, this mutual reinforcement between the socio-cultural and the cultural system begins to loosen, as novel opportunities force subjects to look beyond interlocutors for guidance. Furthermore, the influence of established variety within a stable context diminished because of the growing tendency for subjects to move beyond and between milieu as they sought to take advantage of these opportunities. In some cases, new ideas encountered might support established ways of doing things within a milieu, but in others cases they might lead a subject to feel they have no choice but to move beyond it. Under these circumstances, cultural variety may still be circumscribed within a particular milieu but subjects are more likely to move between milieus and thus ‘take’ variety with them when they move. With the growth of contextual incongruity, cultural variety began to be encountered within a milieu, such that subjects are confronted with the necessity of evaluating mutually incompatible ideas. Archer (2012) investigates the implications of this for the development of reflexivity but what I wish to stress here is how this encourages some subjects to look towards the cultural system in order to find ideas which help reconcile the conflicts they face. Increasingly, the activity of subjects within a context contributes to an expansion of cultural variety, as opposed to being something brought about by moving between contexts.

    This is a brief sketch at a high level of abstraction, conducted in a micro-sociological register. My focus is on how changes in contextual features generate different modes of mediation of cultural variety which subjects then orientate themselves towards in variable ways. To return to the flashlight analogy: the ‘default’ setting of the beam is heavily circumscribed under conditions of contextual continuity, unevenly circumscribed under contextual discontinuity _ and highly expansive under conditions of contextual incongruity. But why does this matter? It matters because how cultural variety is mediated for any given subject shapes how their objective field of actual opportunities contracts into a subjective field of perceived possibilities. As Archer (2012: 62) notes, increasing cultural variety leads to a greater stimulus towards innovative commitments. But it also increases the challenge of choosing from available opportunities, developing sustainable courses of action and committing to ongoing projects. The wider the ‘beam’ of the ‘flashlight’, the more work that is required to make choices about one’s own future, a predicament generated by the process of cultural morphogenesis described here, to which subjects contribute in turn when they seek more variety in order to resolve it.

    [1] Resulting in something which looks even closer to Archer’s (2003, 2007, 2012) account of reflexivity than that seen in Crossley’s (2001) parallel attempt to use the intellectual resources of phenomenology to open the ‘black box’ of habitus. However Crossley (2001) takes reflexivity more seriously than Atkinson, who ultimately dismisses it as ‘faux reflexivity’ representing “nothing more than mundane consciousness operating within the subjective field of possibilities given class positions and dispositions but masquerading at the narrative level as action without limits of history.” (Atkinson 2010: 114). He essentially concludes that the concept of ‘reflexivity’ necessarily entails taking professions of agency at face value, as Thomson et al (2002) put it, oddly drawing this conclusion with little scrutiny of how concepts of reflexivity are actually operationalised in empirical studies.

    [2] Though even then the interruption of contingency can lead to outcomes which lead the subject to look beyond the beam of their present flashlight. Brock and Carrigan (2012) analyse a case study in which the highly contingent unfolding of a ‘riot’ will likely lead to personal change for those involved. For more on personal morphogenesis see Alford (1995) and Carrigan (2014).

    [3] See Archer (2000) for a full account of these concepts. My intuition would be that mental representations of the natural, practical and social orders exhibit ascending degrees of durability from the former to the latter, though the unfolding reality of intra-generational climactic change might falsify this assumption.

    [4] Something which begins to fragment with what Harmut Rosa’s (2013) describes as an intergenerational rate of social change and is largely absent with the advent of an intragenerational rate of social change, beyond pockets of sub-culture which have (reflexively) sought to shield themselves from social morphogenesis, as with the religious sub-cultures invoked by Gorski (2016).

    [5] Though of course personal connections can be established and reproduced through digital technology (Baym 2010). Nonetheless, many would raise questions about the meaningfulness of these connections, such as Hill (2015), Keen (2012, 2014), Slade (2012), Turkle (2011) and Zimbardo (2015). Perhaps unsurprisingly, ethnographic accounts paint a more nuanced picture of digitally mediated social relations. See Miller (2013), Miller and Slater (2000), Miller and Sinanan (2013).

    [6] Though this would gloss over other relevant differences, such as a preference for the concept of ‘routine’ given it has no comparable connotation of the social getting ‘inside’ of us.

    [7] By seeking out the similar and the familiar and, to varying degrees, turning away from the dissimilar and disfamiliar. The more contextual continuity recedes, the more active this process by necessity becomes.

  • Mark 7:16 pm on March 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    A contagion of pivots reveals the hollowness of the sharing economy 

    Interesting analysis of the difficulties that many platform firms are facing now that venture capital is starting to dry up. I also love the phrase “a contagion of pivots” more than I can express:

    A contagion of pivots began happening among other sharing economy startups. Companies like Cherry (car washes), Prim (laundry), SnapGoods (gear rental), Rewinery (wine), HomeJoy (home cleaning) all went bust, some of them quietly and others with more headlines. Historical experience shows that three out of four startups fail, and more than nine out of 10 never earn a return. My favorite example is SnapGoods, which is still cited today by many journalists who are pumping up the sharing economy (and haven’t done their homework) as a fitting example of a cool, hip company that allows people to rent out their spare equipment, like that drill you never use, or your backpack or spare bicycle—even though SnapGoods went out of business in August 2012. It just disappeared, poof, without a trace, yet goes on living in the imagination of sharing economy boosters.


    The rather provocative conclusion drawn is that the so-called sharing economy ultimately amounts to nothing more than a series of digitally mediated niche temp agencies:

    A pattern has emerged about the “white dwarf” fate of many of these once-luminous sharing startups: after launching with much fanfare and tens of millions of VC capital behind them, vowing to enact a revolution in how people work and how society organizes peer-to-peer economic transactions, in the end many of these companies morphed into the equivalent of old-fashioned temp agencies (and others have simply imploded into black hole nothingness). Market forces have resulted in a convergence of companies on a few services which had been the most used on their platforms. In a real sense, even the startup king itself, Uber, is merely a temp agency, where workers do only one task: drive cars. Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, compares the businesses of the gig economy to old-fashioned labor brokers. Companies like Instacart, Postmates and Uber, she says, talk as if they are different from old-style employers simply because they operate online. “But in fact,” she says, “they are operating just like farm labor contractors, garment jobbers and day labor centers of old.


  • Mark 7:04 pm on March 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    Plutocrats being absurdly defensive: please share any examples you come across! 

    A great round up plutocrats being absurdly defensive about their social position: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-12-20/bankers-join-billionaires-to-debunk-imbecile-attack-on-top-1-

    If anyone encounters further examples of this, I’d love it if you were willing to share them with me. I’m in the early stages of trying to systematically catalogue this stuff.

  • Mark 4:20 pm on March 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    The Defensiveness of Elites 

    From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 255-256:

    The quality of blind self-absorption is not confined to our national security elites. Many Wall Street and Valley billionaires, living a hermetically sealed existence surrounded by sycophants and coat holders, appear genuinely surprised that their public reputation is not that of heroic entrepreneurs selflessly creating jobs for employees and value for shareholders, but rather of greedy buccaneers who are not above exploiting labor and shortchanging investors or depositors. 

    Since these superrich elites are beyond reproach in their own minds, they interpret the criticism as victimization. When Obama suggested eliminating the “carried interest” loophole so that hedge fund managers would have to pay the same federal tax rates on their income that ordinary Americans pay, Stephen Schwarzman, the Blackstone Group CEO, said, “It’s war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” 5 Pretty strong stuff, considering that Obama’s suggestion went nowhere, nor did he even push it very hard. Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins continued with the Nazi trope, writing a letter to the Wall Street Journal to “call attention to the parallels to fascist Nazi Germany in its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’” 6 Oh, the humanity!

  • Mark 11:41 am on March 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Relational Traces 


  • Mark 8:21 am on March 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , primaries,   

    How depoliticisation and political polarisation co-exist in American politics  

    From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 231. This strikes me as a really important point: politicians are insulated from external pressures while nonetheless having their behaviour shaped all the more by internal pressures, driving a political polarisation which can seem prima facie like the intensification of politicisation rather than its diminuation:

    Thanks to the scientific gerrymandering of House districts and the voluntary “social sorting” of people with similar political beliefs into the same zip codes, incumbents are roughly 96 percent safe in general elections. So it is highly unlikely that a Tea Party Republican will ever be defeated by a Democratic candidate in the general election. The Economist has pointed out that House members, both Democratic and Republican, are safer in their districts than the crowned heads of the European monarchies, who have had a higher rate of turnover through death or abdication. The only threat to an incumbent Republican is a primary challenger who stands even further to the right. Thus has ideology replaced money, by no means in all races, but in the contests for a crucial fifty or sixty seats in the House of Representatives.

  • Mark 8:02 am on March 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   

    A capitalism-friendly version of social mobility 

    A really enticing analysis by Evgeny Morozov of the “eventual depoliticization of extremely political and contentious issues by wrapping them up in the empty, futuristic language of technology and innovation”. Silicon Valley increasingly dominates the discursive representation of our global future, with the amelioration of social problems limited to a technologically-driven intensification of consumption:

    Like many in Silicon Valley, Ross believes in what has become known as the Varian Rule—named after Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian—which states that the kinds of luxuries enjoyed by billionaires today will eventually be provided, albeit in a somewhat modified, heavily technologized form, to the poor and middle classes. You won’t get a chauffeur, but you will get a self-driving car; you won’t get a secretary, but you’ll get Siri or Google Now. The only benchmark of success is access to goods and services, while the actual terms on which this access is provided—for Google Now to work, for example, you need to let Google monitor you pervasively—are never discussed. Here is a capitalism-friendly version of social mobility, whereby consumption, rather than the dissolution of existing power relationships, becomes the sole goal of emancipatory struggles.


  • Mark 7:49 am on March 27, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    RoboPresident: Politics in an Algorithmic World 

    This contains a really interesting idea that hadn’t occurred to me previously: bots can be seen as user-driven tactics to evade and overcome the limitations of platforms. There’s a really interesting paper about bots in the Sociological Review here.

  • Mark 5:56 pm on March 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    There are many ways to keep a digital research journal other than blogging 

    At a talk I did earlier in the week, I was asked about my focus on using social media to work ideas out in public. This is something I find myself talking about a lot, not least of all because it has been such a consistently valuable experience for me. But as the questioner observed, this isn’t appropriate for everyone. For instance, many people do research that it would be unsuitable, imprudent or unethical to rehearse in this way. Furthermore, it might simply be an approach that some people are uncomfortable with and there’s nothing wrong with this.

    The question made me wonder if I overemphasise blogging as a platform for ‘continuous publishing’. My underlying point is as much about the regularity of writing as it is about doing this writing in public. I came across a lovely post by Jon Rainford recently that captured this nicely. He talks about ‘part-time studying but full-time thinking’ as something he’s been able to do through the habitual use of Evernote:

    Often it is in the midst of my day job, or during my drive to work that the things I have been struggling with suddenly make sense. This is also something that needs to be capitalised upon as often these thoughts go and fast as they come. For this, Evernote has been a life saver, acting as a multimedia notepad that is with me 24/7. Sometimes, I write a note by hand and capture it with my phone’s camera, sometimes I do the same with a document and other times I type direct into it. This mental scrapbook, however, is what I believe has been the key to moving forward in my thinking even when I’m not technically working on my PhD project.


    The way Jon is using Evernote is directly equivalent to how I’m suggesting blogs can be used. The peculiar value of blogging comes, in my experience, from the pressure it engenders to fully elaborate upon an inchoate idea i.e. you have to develop a line of thought in order to ensure others can read the post. But there are downsides as well, which I perhaps don’t stress enough.

    Tools like Evernote, as well as apps like Day One journal, offer really effective means through which it’s possible to keep a research notebook. The point is to write regularly, most of all when the inspiration strikes you. When you enjoy what C Wright Mills called ‘the feel of an idea’. Mobile computing makes this possible in a way that would have previously been difficult, allowing you to keep a file where ever you are. More over, it’s one that can so easily incorporate multimedia, allowing you to capture artefacts of the world around you as part of this process of systematic curiosity.

    Options like Evernote might be best for those whose research topics are at all sensitive. But this doesn’t mean blogging isn’t something that should be considered. After all, it’s possible to be a blogger without having your own blog. Such established platforms for guest blogging are particularly valuable to those doing research on sensitive topics because their specialised editors will be able to offer advice on potential issues the topics raise and be able to discuss any anxieties the author has about them.

  • Mark 12:51 pm on March 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , Claude Shannon, information theory, ,   

    Claude Shannon – Father of the Information Age 

    Thanks to Mark Johnson for introducing me to the intriguing figure of Claude Shannon:


  • Mark 8:00 am on March 26, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    The Internal Immigration of the American Elite 

    From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 123-125:

    By secession, I do not mean physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that does happen from time to time. Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related by marriage to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2011; and some Republicans, who are so quick to say “America, love it or leave it,” showed a remarkable sense of latitude when Eduardo Saverin, a Facebook cofounder, renounced his citizenship. When Democrats introduced a bill to make expatriate tax dodgers pay a 30 percent tax rate on all future U.S. investments and ban them from the country, Republican operative Grover Norquist likened the bill to the actions of Nazi Germany against Jews. 1 

    These examples apart, what I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from concern about its well-being. Our plutocracy, whether the hedge fund managers in Greenwich, Connecticut, or the Internet moguls in Palo Alto, now lives like the British did in colonial India: ruling the place but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; to the person fortunate enough to own a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension, and viable public transportation doesn’t even compute. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

    There’s a great anecdote later on that page about the strange worldlessness of economic architect of neoliberalism Robert Rubin:

    I once discussed this syndrome with a radio host who recounted a story about Robert Rubin, the former treasury secretary. He recalled that Rubin was being chauffeured through Manhattan to reach some event whose attendees consisted of the Great and the Good such as himself. Along the way his limousine encountered a traffic jam, and on arriving late to the event, he complained to a city functionary with the power to look into it. “Where was the jam?” asked the functionary. Rubin, who had lived most of his life in Manhattan, a place predominantly of east-west numbered streets and north-south avenues, couldn’t tell him.

  • Mark 10:03 am on March 25, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , defensiveness, , , ,   

    The defensiveness of contemporary elites  

    From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 86-87. I’m beginning to try and catalogue public examples of this defensiveness because some of the over-reactions seem fascinatingly unbalanced:

    It is surprising how much fear his timid policies have generated among the big-money boys. There are no rational grounds for the hyperthyroid reactions of hedge fund bosses like Steven Schwarzman when Obama is largely a champion of the status quo who raises much of his money among Schwarzman’s colleagues. Nevertheless, the neoliberal mandarins at the venerable Economist say Obama has an image as one “who is hostile to business.” 36 It is one thing to shake our heads at the behavior of gun nuts who fear Obama will take away their firearms and send them to a FEMA concentration camp in Montana and quite another to consider that many canny Wall Street operatives, whose business model is based on a reptilian calculation of their own material interests, have succumbed to the irrational idea that totalitarian socialism is just around the corner and that Obama is going to usher it in, when he is only a more hesitant version of his predecessor. 

    That such a weak reed, who has acceded time and again to the entrenched interests of the permanent state, should incite so much negative passion among so many in the billionaire class suggests they are displacing their fears of the simmering discontent among the 99 percent onto a convenient political symbol. Their touchy defensiveness reveals the contradictions within the political system they dominate. President Obama, who appears to administer that system without enthusiasm or belief, has dissatisfied key constituencies of the Deep State even as he has alarmed the traditionalists who defend the remnants of the constitutional state.

  • Mark 9:23 am on March 25, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    The Political Socialisation of Presidents and Politicians 

    Barack Obama quoted in The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 63. The demands of fundraising for US politicians are exceptional but I assume a similar process can be found elsewhere, as an elite gradually becomes one’s reference group if this was not already the case. How else to explain the belief of UK MPs that they are poorly paid?

    Increasingly I found myself spending time with people of means—law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. . . . I found myself avoiding certain topics during conversations with them, papering over possible differences, anticipating their expectations. . . . I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population—that is, the people that I’d entered public life to serve.

    And intelligence agencies contribute to that socialisation as well. From pg 87 of the same book:

    Perhaps the most telling example of the relationship between President Obama and the Deep State comes from a March 2015 interview of John Brennan, his frequently embattled CIA director. Obama has shown Brennan great loyalty through two presidential terms. How did Brennan repay that loyalty—with a humble demonstration of gratitude and respect, perhaps? Obama, he said, did “not have an appreciation” of national security when he came into office, but with tutelage by himself and other experts “he has gone to school and understands the complexities.” The tone of headmasterly condescension is unmistakable, giving the listener ample grounds to wonder who is really in charge, the president or his national security complex. It is the inner workings of that national security complex that we shall turn to next.

  • Mark 8:08 pm on March 24, 2016 Permalink
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    Early Career Researcher Event: Sociological Review Writing Retreat 

    The Sociological Review Foundation is delighted to announce that we have commissioned Rowena Murray to deliver a Writing Retreat for sociologists.

    Murray has devised and delivered structured writing retreats to support academics by providing dedicated writing time done in a group setting. To find out more about this approach see:http://www.rowenamurray.org/aims/references/

    The retreat is for academics at all stages of their career, but we especially encourage early career scholars to apply.

    The retreat venue is the Black Bull Hotel in the village of Gartmore, near Aberfoyle, in Scotland. All writing sessions and meals (provided) are in the hotel. Minibus transport will be provided between Glasgow train station and the hotel.

    14 places are available. The retreat will be free of charge, and there are a number of travel bursaries available for early career researchers.

    As places are limited attendance will be by application. We invite applications via this online form:http://goo.gl/forms/WB2LDFXPa1

    Please note that due to the cost of each place, successful applicants will be required to make a refundable deposit of £50 to secure their place. ECR means PhD students or postdocs (within 3 years of award of doctorate)


    For academic inquiries related to this event, please contact Brigit McWade (b.mcwade@lancaster.ac.uk)

    For any other queries, please contact Jenny Thatcher (events@thesociologicalreview.com)

    Important Dates

    • Call for applications: 1st March
    • Applications deadline: 30th April
    • Notify successful candidates: 30th May
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