This is the fifth of Walter Benjamin’s thirteen rules for writing. I would love to know more about what this meant in practice to him. How often did he record his ideas? Where did he record them? How did their quantity and quality wax and wane in different circumstances? My conviction that blogging constitutes a technology of scholarly attentiveness rests on its capacity to habituate this practice.
Such a great project. Going to try and think of something to contribute to this:
All sociologists write stories – Game & Metcalfe, Passionate Sociology
The relationship between fiction and sociology is as old as the discipline itself. Sociological fiction is receiving increasing attention of late – see The Sociological Review’s blog series on sociology and fiction, and Patricia Leavy’s work with the social fictions series. As I’ve raised recently, parallel threads run between contemporary sociological and literary methods, their subject matter, and their critical approach. Fiction and sociology can do more than reciprocally illuminate understandings of social life. Sociologists can bring sociology not just to fiction, through sociological readings of fictional texts, but into fiction as writers.
I’m seeking submissions of fiction writing that strives to do just that. Bring sociology into fiction. Creatively enliven the sociological imagination. Tell a story.
The first volume of So Fi, a sociological fiction zine, is accepting pieces up to 1000 words until May 31, 2017.
Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A really fascinating discussion between Kristi Winters and The Wooly Bumblebee (HT Philip Moriarty). The latter’s experience could be seen as a model for de-radicalisation in the more toxic spaces within social media. An important reminder that platform incentives might encourage this behaviour but they don’t necessitate it. Furthermore, just because someone has come to act a given way doesn’t mean they will always act that way.
Postmodernity. Second modernity. Network Society. Late modernity. Liquid modernity. Such concepts have dominated social thought in recent decades, with a bewildering array of claims about social change and its implications. But what do we mean by ‘social change’? How do we establish that such change is taking place? What does it mean to say that it is intensifying? These are some of the questions which the Social Morphogenesis project has sought to answer in the last five years, through an inquiry orientated around the speculative notion of ‘morphogenic society’.
In this launch event, contributors to the project discuss their work over the last five years and the questions it has addressed concerning social change. The day begins with an introductory lecture by the convenor of the project, Margaret S. Archer, before a series of thematic panels presenting different stands of the project. It concludes with a closing session in which participants share three issues the project raised for them, as well as a general discussion.
At the end of the day, there will be a wine reception to which all participants are invited. There will also be an opportunity to purchase discounted copies of the books from Springer.
Margaret S. Archer
Andrea M. Maccarini
Graham Scambler (Chair)
More speakers to be confirmed.
The Social Morphogenesis project was funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation through six years of support for the Centre for Social Ontology. This support was generously extended to enable this book launch.
The term ‘curation’ has got a bad press in recent years. Or rather the use of the term beyond the art world has. To a certain extent I understand this but I nonetheless always feel the need to defend the term. There are a few reasons for this:
- In a context of cultural abundance, selection from variety becomes important within a whole range of contexts. Inevitably, it is something most people within these contexts will do most of the times. But ‘curation’ is becoming a specialised activity, even if detached from a specific social role.
- I’m prone to thinking of what I do, at least some of the time, as curation. I spend quite a lot of time each week sorting through mailing lists, newsletters, websites, blogs and social media to identify relevant content for The Sociological Review’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. This is 46 social media posts per day. I’ve also shared something on Sociological Imagination daily for almost seven years. I don’t particularly care what anyone else calls it but, as far as I’m concerned, doing it effectively is a skilled activity and ‘curation’ is the term I’ve taken to using.
- The modern sense of the word ‘curation’ rests on a specific set of institutional arrangements which are themselves relatively recent. The word has a longer history, emerging from the Latin curator (“overseer, manager, guardian“) and what many construe as a misapplication could just as easily be taken as a further shift in its use. Language is dynamic and the anti-‘curation’ rhetoric is an attempt to police its change, albeit not a particularly significant or pernicious one.
Ultimately, I don’t care if people reject this use of the term ‘curation’. I do care if people reject what the term ‘curation’ comes to designate. I don’t dispute it is often used in a vacuous way, but it is not always used this way. It is nebulous and modish but the terms which emerge in relation to socio-cultural transformations often are.
It’s the socio-cultural changes which interest me, the abundance digitalisation is giving rise to and the epistemic fog which emerges as a result. To talk of ‘curation’ is a facet of that conversation and if people want to reject its use, I hope they’ll offer an alternative language for talking about selection from abundance as an institutionalised function within digital capitalism.
Manchester Digital Laboratory
Thursday 8th June 2017
The Sociological Review Foundation is delighted to announce our forthcoming workshop using graphic novel methods to present social research.
We invite applications to take part in a Graphic Novel Workshop with Tony Lee. If your research involves incorporating graphic methods or you are simply interested in doing this to present future research, this workshop will be of interest to you.
· Introduction on graphic novels: how the medium works, different genres, how they’ve changed and the design & production process
· Story telling through graphic novels: how to develop the story, what works and what doesn’t, constraints of the medium etc
· Delegates introduce their ideas for graphic novels and get feedback
· General discussion & advice about next steps
This event is FREE but places are limited to 25 people.
This event is brought to you by The Sociological Review Early Career Researcher Board. We welcome applications for this workshop from people in all stages of their careers. However, should we receive significantly more applications than available places – priority will be given to ECRs and PGRs.
Application deadline is 17.00 GMT, Monday 2nd May 2017. Please ensure to outline your research interests in the relevant section.
I just came across this student essay in which a blog post written by Les Back was attributed to me. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and I’m unsure how to respond to it. The backlist of posts on Sociological Imagination is sprawling by this point, numbering in the low thousands. Most of these were written by me, though they vary between simple sharing of material elsewhere and substantive writing.
Regular guest-writers all have their own accounts so their authorship has been clearly marked. Our settled practice for irregular guest writer has been to have “by x x” in bold at the top of the piece, followed by a biography in bold at the bottom.
Unfortunately, it still indicates the name of the person who published the guest post on the blog, in this case Sadia Habib. Does this attribute authorship clearly enough? I’m starting to wonder if we need a different system. But I’m reluctant to create a new account for each guest author, both because it would add to the time demands of a website I already don’t have enough time for and I really don’t want to have to go back and manually add these for every previous guest post. Any alternative ideas would be much appreciated.
After Michel Foucault died in 1984 at the age of fifty-seven, Pierre Bourdieu wrote a tribute in Le Monde, reflecting on his life and what could be learned from it. Bourdieu attributed to his former colleague at the Collège de France a great consistency in his intellectual work, much more than is often assumed:
The consistency of an intellectual project, and of a way of living the intellectual life. Starting with the desire to break – which explains and excuses some of his famous apothegms on the death of man – to break with the totalizing ambition of what he called the ‘universal intellectual’, often identified with the project of philosophy; but to do so in the sense of escaping the alternative between saying nothing about everything or else everything about nothing.
Political Interventions: Social Sciences and Political Action, Pg 138
To become what Foucault described as the ‘specific intellectual’ required foregoing the temptation to speak on behalf of others. What Bourdieu admired was his ambition to “substitute for the absolutism of the universal intellectual, specific works drawing on actual sources … without abandoning the broadest ambitions of thought” (p. 138). The point was not to counterpoise a neutral expertise, content only to make claims comprehensively licensed by agreement within the community of inquirers, against the sweeping grandiosity which characterised the pronouncements of a figure like Sartre.
The specific intellectual existed in a new space, beyond this dichotomy between the epistemically timid expert working in obscurity and grandiose celebrity forever on an epistemic rampage in the name of truth and justice. As Bourdieu put it, Foucault “always stubbornly rejected the division between intellectual investment and political commitment that is so common and convenient” (p. 138). In this he represented a new kind of intellectual:
For him, the critical vision was applicable first of all to his own practice, and in this respect he was the purest representative of a new kind of intellectual who has no need to mystify himself as to the motives and themes of intellectual acts, nor to foster illusions about their effect, in order to practice them in full knowledge of their cause.
Political Interventions: Social Sciences and Political Action, Pg 139
This entailed a remarkable humility, at least relative to the general intellectuals of the previous generation. His political action, “conducted with passion and rigour, sometimes with a kind of rational fury, owed nothing to the sentiment of possessing ultimate truths and values” (p. 138). He embodied the possibility of commitment without dogmatism, action without certainty. Bourdieu described how Foucault not only “rejected the grand airs of the great moral conscience” but also found them a “favourite object of laughter” (p. 138).
This was a repudiation of the universal intellectual in terms of both politics and intellectualism. The specific intellectual rejected lofty rhetoric of truth and justice for the contingent realities of situated struggles. The specific intellectual rejected generality for specificity, forsaking an assumed right to speak for a methodologically grounded sense of what one can bring to the conversation. But crucially this was done while sustaining commitment, pushing against the boundaries of received wisdom. The specific intellectual remains orientated towards the universal, while always remaining embedded within the specific.
From Making Sociology Public, by Lambros Fatsis, pg 240:
Having already introduced Cardinal Newman’s ivory tower conception of the university, and Minister Humboldt’s equally idealistic depiction of it as a hub of culture and academic freedom, Barnett’s (2013) anthology of epithets, each of which furnishes 240 a different vision of and for the university, is indicative of definitional pluralism as it is bewildering; there is the university as a feasible utopia, the entrepreneurial university, the commodified, the civic or public goods university, the accessible university, the university as a debating society, the anarchic, the borderless, the collaborative, congested, corporate, corrupt, creative, dialogic, digital, ecological, liquid, multi-nodal, performative, socialist, soulless, technologico-Benthamite, as well as the theatrical, translucent, imaginative, imagining, first class, edgeless, capitalist and even the university as fool (sic).
Alongside this admittedly fanciful parade of adjectives, as offered by Barnett (2013), stand other visions of the university as ‘global’ (Miyoshi, 1998), ‘postmodern’, ‘virtual’ (Smith and Webster, 1997), ‘enterprising’ (Williams, 2003), ‘corporate’ (Jarvis, 2001), ‘McDonaldized’ (Parker and Jary, 1995) ‘meta-entrepreneurial’ (Fuller, 2009), public (Holmwood, 2011), ‘without conditions’ (Derrida, 2002), ‘post-historical’, ‘in ruins’, conceived as a ‘community of dissensus’ (Readings, 1996), or a ‘site of activism’ (Lynch 2010), ‘in crisis’ (Scott, 1984), ‘for sale’ (Brown and Carasso, 2013), in need of ‘rescuing’ (Furlong, 2013), defined as a public agora (Nowotny et al. 2001), a cooperative (Boden, Ciancanelli, and Wright 2011, 2012), and even a ‘science park’ embedded in the life of the city (Goddard and Valance, 2013). Following this multiplicity of interpretations of what the university is, can be, may be, should be, or no longer is, reflections on its uses (what is it for) are equally varied and perplexing, making Derrida’s (2002: 213-4) overly confident view of the university as ‘autonomous, unconditionally free in its institution, in its speech, in its writing, in its thinking’ difficult to sustain pragmatically.
What does it mean to speak and listen on social media? It’s a question which might seem to invite a platitudinous response but it’s one which increasingly concerns me. In the last couple of years, I’ve found myself increasingly sceptical that a platform like Twitter facilitates meaningful debate given the constraints it imposes on expression. I largely avoid comments discussions on blogs and websites. I won’t go anywhere near YouTube comments threads, even though I sometimes find myself drawn uncontrollably to read them, like a moth to the flame. In short, I’ve largely lost what faith I had in social media as a means to facilitate debate. The constraints of these channels multiply misunderstandings while the culture they have given rise to encourages intemperate reactions.
However debate doesn’t exhaust speaking and listening. I’m aware that much as I increasingly avoid debate, I also spend less time listening on social media than I used to. In part this is down to abundance. When I dip into my Twitter feed, I can usually find 10 strands I want to follow up within a few minutes. When I do follow these up, I immediately find even more strands to follow. The escalation dynamics of social media, if your use is calibrated to maximise access to variety, constitute a recipe for productive distraction that can at times be overwhelming. My means of processing this productive distraction is largely through writing, hence social media sends me from listening to speaking.
There’s more to it than this though. The architecture of social media rewards speaking but doesn’t reward listening. To speak and win attention for those speech acts, either positively or negatively, increases the visibility of subsequent speech acts. To listen carefully can be akin to invisibility. Hence perhaps the almost apologetic tones in which people who prefer to listen describe themselves as lurking. But what happens if ever fewer people are listening? My increasing fear is that social media too often facilitates only the pseudo-catharsis described by Winlow and Hall:
The political protest ends up continuing only for a short time as an online blog or a Twitter post, offering nothing more than a cathartic opportunity to vent one’s spleen accompanied by the sad recognition that in all likelihood no one is listening, and no one really cares.
Rethinking Social Exclusion, Pg 73
What does this mean in the context of the university? In a thoughtful essay, Jana Bacevic argues that by “sticking to critique on social media, intellectuals are, essentially, doing what they have always been good at – engaging with audiences and in ways they feel comfortable with.” But to what extent are those audiences imagined? To what extent are they ‘external’ or ‘internal’? They register numerically as ‘followers’ but the metrics of engagement often tell another story. Is this even engagement? To what extent is anyone listening? Are we simply talking amongst ourselves? Or even simply talking to ourselves and occasionally overhearing each other’s chatter?
There are many responses to these concerns. One might be to call for more organisation of this space, to provide platforms for robust and productive debate. I this would be a mistake. But we do need to think seriously about what the public expression of academics and intellectuals means in an age of social media. I found this section of Lambros Fatsis’ PhD thesis rather inspiring (pg 246):
The fourth precondition here offered for the rejuvenation of public-spirited citizenship, as opposed to self-interested demagoguery, rests on a fundamental change of approach in the way we understand public expression, suggesting that a shift from the acclamation and assertiveness of speaking to the compromise and attentiveness of listening is as vital, as it is systematically sidelined. Making our thoughts known and conveying them successfully in conversation so that they come to mean something to us depends not only on what and how something is being said, but also on what and how something is being heard, listened to and understood. Public expression therefore does not rely solely on speaking our minds, but also involves the manner in which information is taken in, and it is precisely the balance between those two communicative faculties that allows for dialogic negotiation as opposed to monologic recitation.
If we move away from ‘speaking our minds’, seeing social media as a window to the world through which we can channel our many discontents into an imagined public sphere, we can begin to preserve social media as a space for speaking and listening. It encourages us to examine our assumptions about our audience, something which can be done quantitatively (through metrics provided by platforms) and qualitatively (through assumptions we make about them and its congruence with our prior knowledge).
In fact, it can move us away from thinking in terms of ‘audience’ at all, rejecting a view of social media as a platform for speech in which we ‘earn’ visibility, instead seeking technologies for interlocution. Such technologies offer powerful affordances for what Lambros describes as a shift from intellectuals-as-speakers (“an exclusive class of spokespeople who give voice to our grievances and concerns”) to intellectuals-as-listeners.
This essay on ‘the cult of cruelty’ has some interesting points to make about the role of what danah boyd calls persistence and searchability in facilitating incivility online. It makes it possible to trawl through someone’s activity, enabling a degree of engagement with choices and representations that would not otherwise be possible:
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — the ways in which people exact their hurt. It’s common for people to subtweet about their hate-follows and hate-reads. Nothing distinguishes between the hate cultivated for people we know as opposed to strangers — we’re all fair game for someone else’s vitriol. People have no problem playing armchair therapist; they analyze our lives from a computer screen and then proceed to deliver play-by-play commentary on how we should live our lives based on how they live theirs. Many have come to believe that an online representation of one aspect of our lives is the complete story, the whole of our lives. Who we are, the content of our character, is reduced to what we choose to publish. The choices we make — from what we wear to how we parent and whom we love — should be obvious based on the collective’s personal experience and we’re admonished in text or in forums for “not getting it”. We crave authenticity yet we vilify others for their public missteps, for being human. People talk smack behind our backs to then kiss-kiss, hey, how are you? to our face. People leave hateful comments tearing apart our appearance: Why is she naked in every picture on Instagram…ugh! Who does she think she is? Why does she wear such unflattering clothes? If she didn’t want to hear about how bad she looks she shouldn’t be posting pictures of herself online. Apparently, being public is an open invitation for hate, and it’s frightening that groups exist on the Internet devoted to the care and feeding of that hate.
It also makes it possible to trawl back through the incivility that has been directed at us:
We live in a country that espouses free speech, but many are forced into silence in fear of the hate avalanche. In a private Facebook group, many women talk about not reading the comments of their published articles out of self-preservation. “Don’t read the comments” is a constant refrain. Women leave social media because they’re beaten down by people in fear of losing their privilege. A whole group of people has been reduced to a patronizing “snowflake” moniker because of their inability to toughen up, and it’s as if the Internet has become Darwinian in the sense that only those who hate, and those who can withstand and endure that hate, survive. A few years ago, I was the subject of a man’s ire, someone whom I believe I knew (or at least had come into contact with during my agency career, which makes the whole situation that much more unsettling), who wrote about how much he hated me because I stood up for women who had been ridiculed online because of their appearance. Fifteen years ago, a small circle of literary bloggers posted cruel blind items about me and I remember being at work, in front of my computer, reading these posts and my whole body going numb.t
There’s an excellent overview of ‘hate reading’ here:
Underlying all this is a weirdly common human tendency toward “hate-reading.” Call it that for short, at least, because it also includes “hate-listening” and “hate-watching.” In short, many people seem strangely drawn to material that they know, even before they’re exposed to it, will infuriate them. And hate-reading in its purest form involves not just seeking out the aggregated fodder of Media Matters or Newsbusters, but actually going straight to the source: a conservative mainlining Keith Olbermann; a liberal recklessly exposing herself to a Rush Limbaugh monologue.
A lot of us do this, but why? No one knows for sure, but there are a few potential explanations. One is that hate-reading simply makes us feel good by offering up an endless succession of “the emperor has no clothes” moments with regard to our political adversaries. In this view, we specifically seek out the anti-wisdom of whoever appears dumbest and most hateful as a means of bolstering our own sense of righteousness. “If the commentary is dumb enough, it may actually have a boomerang effect in that it reassures us that our opponents aren’t very smart or accurate,” said Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a media psychologist at the University of Texas San Antonio.
There’s a fascinating footnote in Radio Benjamin, loc 395-410, discussing Adorno’s description of Benjamin’s ideas as ‘radioactive’:
The full sentence reads, “Everything which fell under the scrutiny of his words was transformed, as though it had become radioactive,” … Although Adorno’s metaphor uses a different register of boundary crossing, the German radioaktiv, like the English radioactive, shares with Rundfunk, or radio, a connotation of atmospheric spreading, dispersal, and uncontrolled movement across and within borders and lines of containment; the airwaves, like the air or the atmosphere, represent a quasi-invisible scene or medium of transmission. While the German does not directly imply the coincidence of these two (roughly contemporary) modes of radiality, the notion of Benjamin’s gaze, and from there his work, effecting a radioactive transformation suggests the potentially dangerous, if also exciting and new, power of radio and its power to broadcast.
Radioactive ideas effect a transformation. Viral ideas simply pass through. The logic of social media platforms too easily inclines us towards a concern for virality. What we should aim for is to use their affordances to ensure radioactivity, even if this registers much less impressively on a numerical level.
T H E T E C H N O – G A L A C T I C S O F T W A R E O B S E R V A T O R Y
Worksession @ WTC25, Brussels + NAM-IP, Namur
Call for Participation / Deadline: 23 April
From 7 until 12 June, the Techno-Galactic Software Observatory will explore practices of proximate critique with and of software. This worksession has been called an ’Observatory’ because we are interested in different ways to look at software, and at the implications of how it is currently probed and scrutinized as part of its production. Techno-galactic because we want to extend the observation to include different scales of computation, of software communities and their political economies.
With the rise of online services, software use has been increasingly knitted into production, while suggesting that these roles constitute separate realms. This has an effect on the way software is used and produced, and radically alters its operative role in society. The shifts ripple across galaxies, through social structures, working conditions and personal relations, resulting in a profusion of seamless apparatuses that optimize and monetize individual and collective flows of information. The diffusion of software services affects the personal, in the form of intensified identity shaping and self-management. It also affects the public, as more and more libraries, universities and public infrastructures rely on “solutions” provided by private companies.
Given how fast these changes resonate and reproduce, there is a growing urgency to engage in a critique of software that goes beyond taking a distance, and that deals with the fact that we are inevitably already entangled. How can we interact, intervene, respond and think with software? What approaches can allow us to recognize the agency of different actors, their ways of functioning and their politics? What methods of observation enable critical inquiry and affirmative discord?
Working with theories of software and computation developed in academia and elsewhere, our priority is to ground the Observatory in hands-on exercises and experiments that might have an effect on how software is done. At the Techno-Galactic Software Observatory we will explore methods developed in the context of software production, hacker culture, software studies, computer science research, Free Software communities, privacy activism, and artistic practice to experiment with ways to stay with the trouble of software.
During three sessions of two days, we will be collectively inspecting the space-time of computation and probing the universe of hardware-software separations. We will try out various perspectives and methods to look at the larger picture of software as a concept, as a practice, and as a set of paradigms.
Worksessions are intensive transdisciplinary moments, organised twice a year by Constant. We aim to provide conditions for participants with different experiences and capabilities to temporarily link their practice and to develop ideas, prototypes and research projects together. We primarily use Free, Libre and Open Source software and material that is available under Open Licenses.
This worksession calls for software-curious people of all kinds. Constant has invited 9 participants from different disciplines and backgrounds to prepare the subject. To ask questions about software from different types of engagement will require a heterogeneous group of participants with different levels of expertise, skill and background so we are looking for an additional 16 participants to join. You can apply for one or more blocks of minimum two days [see programme below], depending on your interest and availability.
P R A C T I C A L I N F O
The Techno-Galactic Software Observatory takes place from Wednesday June 7 until Monday June 12 in Brussels and Namur.
Participation is free and Constant provides lunch and hosting for all participants. If you would like to participate (or have questions), please send an e-mail to Martino, Seda and Femke at email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> motivating your interest before 23 April. We will answer by May 1 latest.
The Techno-Galactic Software Observatory continues a series of encounters, research and situations such as:
– Testing the testbed (2017) http://www.constantvzw.org/site/Testing-the-testbed,2739.html <http://www.constantvzw.org/site/Testing-the-testbed,2739.html>
– Clouds are not an option (2017) http://constantvzw.org/site/The-Clouds-are-Not-an-Option.html <http://constantvzw.org/site/The-Clouds-are-Not-an-Option.html>
– Machine Research (2016) https://machineresearch.wordpress.com/ <https://machineresearch.wordpress.com/>
– Software as a critique (2016) https://wiki.laglab.org/Software_as_a_Critique <https://wiki.laglab.org/Software_as_a_Critique>
– The Libre Graphics Research Unit (2011-2013) http://lgru.net/ <http://lgru.net/>
P R O G R A M M E
Wednesday 7 + Thursday 8 June
The first two days of The Techno-Galactic Software Observatory will be developed in collaboration with the NAM-IP in Namur and will take place in the surrounding of their collection of historical ’numerical artefacts’. Viewing software in this long-term context offers the occasion to reflect on the conditions of its appearance, and allows us to take on current-day questions from a genealogical perspective. What is software? How did it appear as a concept, in what industrial and governmental circumstances? What happens to the material conditions of its production (minerals, factory labor, hardware) when it evaporates into a cloud?
Friday 9 + Saturday 10 June
The second two days will focus on the space-time dimension of IT development. The way computer programs and operating systems are manufactured changed tremendously through time, so its production times and places changed too. From military labs via the mega-corporation cubicles to the open-space freelancer utopia, what ruptures and continuities can be traced? From time-sharing to user-space partitions and containerization, what separations were and are at work? Where and when is software made today?
Sunday 11 + Monday 12 June
The last two days at the Techno-galactic software observatory will be dedicated to observation and its consequences. The development of software encompasses a series of practices whose evocative names are increasingly familiar: feedback, report, probe, audit, inspect, scan, diagnose, explore … What are the systems of knowledge and power within which these activities take place, and what other types of observation are possible? As a practical environment for our investigations, we will together set up a walk-in clinic in the basement of the World Trade Center, where users and developers can arrive on Monday with software-questions of all kinds.
Some cyber-optimists see the digitalisation of the archive as offering an endless abundance of cultural goods available to all. However this chapter takes a more gloomy view, arguing that the digitalised archive can in fact contribute in many ways to the disorientation and distraction of contemporary persons, rendering the process of ‘shaping a life’ more challenging than ever. Two often co-occurrent mechanisms are identified which generate this propensity towards distraction: the curatorial imperative and the algorithmic imperative. Through an analysis of their operation, profoundly conditioning the digital landscape within which ever increase tracts of social life are played out, this chapters maps the changing relation between personal reflexivity, collective agency and the cultural system under digital capitalism.
My keynote from Public sociology and the role of the researcher: engagement, communication and academic activism postgraduate conference a couple of weeks ago:
I saw the science journalist Simon Makin give an excellent talk yesterday on how social and natural scientists can make their writing clearer. He offered some excellent tips to this end, including assuming your reader is exactly as intelligent as you are, but has absolutely none of your knowledge. For this reason, clarity isn’t about being simplistic: aim to clarify without simplifying.
What struck me in the discussion of drafting and redrafting was how likely this is to fall by the wayside when rushing. If you’re working to a deadline, particularly when other deadlines immediately follow them, it’s unlikely you’ll invest the time needed to do this. His description of drafting involved careful tinkering, picking and poking at a text in a way which leads to incremental improvement. As opposed to simply trying to get it out of the door so you can move onto the next demand.
This isn’t simply a matter of time. It also reflects the moral psychology of rushing. When we rush, we close down our engagement with the objects of our attention. Things that might have been deeply meaningful to us instead become obstacles to surmount. We simply can’t care about the clarity of our writing in the same way when we’re rushing.
Creative Methods for Research and Community Engagement Summer School
6-8 July 2017, Keele University
PhD students and Early Career Researchers are welcome at this event organised by the Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre (CASIC) at Keele University.
The Summer School will be held in central England at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme (6-7 July) and Keele University campus (8 July), where you will experience the KAVE (https://www.keele.ac.uk/pharmacy/digital/kave/) and our Makerspace facilities (https://www.keele.ac.uk/make/).
The facilitator will be Dr Helen Kara, author of Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide. Speakers will include:
- Professor Mihaela Kelemen – CASIC Director
- Dr Lindsay Hamilton – Keele Management School, Keele University
- Véronique Jochum – Research Manager, National Council for Voluntary Organisations
- Dr Emma Surman – Keele Management School, Keele University
- Dr Ceri Morgan – School of Humanities, Keele University
- Professor Rajmil Fischman – School of Music, Keele University
- Sue Moffat – Director of New Vic Borderlines, New Vic Theatre
The Summer School will enlighten, inspire and guide ECRs and students at all stages of scholarly or professional doctorates. Each day will be packed with interactive hands-on sessions addressing six broad topics:
- Arts-based research
- Transformative research frameworks
- Mixed-methods research
- Knowledge co-production
- Research using technology
- Writing creatively for research
We are offering an “early bird” price of £230 for bookings received and paid by 21 April. After that date the price will be £270. The cost includes refreshments and lunches and a complimentary copy of Dr Kara’s book on creative research methods.
There will be a dinner and performance of ‘Around the world in 80 Days’ at the New Vic Theatre on July 6th, at an extra cost of £20.
For more information go to https://www.keele.ac.uk/casic/summerschool2017/
Please follow #CRMSS17 on Twitter for pre-event updates.