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The sociology of quantitative methods in the U.K. 

This thought-provoking article by Malcolm Williams, Luke Sloan and Charlotte Brookfield offers a new spin on the familiar problem of the quantitative deficit within U.K. sociology. Many accounts of this sort are concerned with the explanatory implications of this deficit (the phenomena that defy explanation without quantitative terms) while digital sociology […]

Erving Goffman: the rag-and-bone man of Sociology

There’s a wonderful essay by the playwright Alan Bennet in the London Review of Books, written 35+ years ago, reflecting on his fascination with Erving Goffman’s micro-sociology. His preoccupation was with the minutiae of everyday conduct, identified and described so astutely in Goffman’s work. Sociological observations in this register highlight our commonality, helping […]

Vested interests in ‘openness’

To talk of ‘openness’ conveys a sense of lightness, gesturing towards a world without self-interested boundaries. In a world dichotomised in terms of open/closed, barriers are seen as obstacles to be surmounted in order that we might have free exchange. Overcoming these obstacles becomes a moral project, imbued with a […]

Debate on YouTube: a guest post by Fred McVittie

Outline and Rationale The Youtube platform has, since its earliest inception, offered the opportunity for topics of interest to be ‘debated’.  Initially these debates were informal (i.e. not following any of the recognised structures of debates) and usually used the ‘video response’ function.  This functionality was removed from the site […]

The acceleration of social theory

There’s a section in this 1997 chapter by Roger Burrows which my thoughts have been intermittently turning to since reading it last week. On pg 235 he writes: It is not just technology which appears to be accelerating towards meltdown, so are our cultural and sociological understandings of the world. […]

The new new left meets the old new left

This is a fascinating exchange between Owen Jones and Alastair Campbell, bringing to life many of the themes I’ve been preoccupied with in the last few months. I agree with Owen’s claim that Campbell’s world view is in crisis. The promise of the modernisers rested on a basic electoral proposition: triangulation […]

Ubiquitous drone surveillance 

I’ve been reflecting on a dark but plausible prediction by Edwards Snowden in his forward to The Assination Complex by Jeremy Scahill and the team from the intercept. On loc 195 he argues that the technological barriers to ubiquitous drone surveillance are now minimal: Inevitably that conceptual subversion finds its […]

What Happened? The end of modernisation

In the last few days, I’ve been reading Hilary Clinton’s What Happened and reflecting on it as an expression of a political centrism which I suspect is coming to an end. These self-defined ‘modernisers’ sought to adapt their respective political parties to what they saw as a new reality, necessitating […]

Daniel Bell, Transgression and the Alt-Right

The important argument I took from Angela Nagle’s Kill All Normies is that the ‘alt-right’ reflect transgression detaching from progressivism. The idea that an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct is inherently progressive ceases to be tenable when progressive movements have institutionalised laws, rules and codes that serve progressive ends. […]

Defensive Elites

In the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I term defensive elites. This line of thought began with curiosity about the much-reported hyperbole with which some influential figures within the financial elite of the United States greeted what would barely count as mildly redistributive […]