• Dave Elder-Vass on Normativity

    Although only a single chapter of this book deals explicitly with normativity, it is a credit to Elder-Vass that much of the book either supports or proceeds from his arguments about norms. In this post I will only engage with this one chapter but it’s worth noting that the book as a whole is excellent, […]

  • Domain Analysis (draft #2)

    This is a second attempt to visually represent the ontology I’m working within in my PhD research.  One of my key aims is to try and offer an emergent account of psychobiography, able to capture the complex multidimensional causality which shapes a particular person’s unfolding biographical trajectory. The top half of the diagram represents the […]

  • Domain Analysis (draft #1)

  • The self to itself

    In his Emotion in Social Life Derek Layder (2004: 13) argues that there are three main objects which individuals seek to control through the exercise of their agency: “the self as object of its own control, other people and the individual’s current life situation”. Through an understanding of our own characteristics – our needs, desires, capacities […]

  • Why I like blogs

    Blogs are often seen as a somewhat unglamorous medium. Witness BBC journalist Andrew Marr’s dismissal of bloggers at the Cheltenham Literary Festival last year:  “A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting.” However in conversations about blogging, the product is often […]

  • Two new podcasts

    Stephen Turner on Normativity and Steve Fuller on the Future of the University.

  • Orthorexia Nervosa?

    Eating disorder charities are reporting a rise in the number of people who suffer from a condition known as orthorexia nervosa – which derives from the Greek word meaning ‘right’ or ‘correct’. Unlike anorexia, orthorexia is not recognised as a medical term but instead classed as a mental health condition because criteria vary so much […]

  • Reflections on a year spent studying asexuality

    I was a little confused when I first encountered the term asexual. The person who used the term defined as asexual and yet, living with him at the time, I knew he had sex. Or at the very least that he sometimes brought people home who then spent the night. In common with most people, my […]

  • The Future of the British City? A review of Ground Control by Anna Minton

    The reconstruction of Manchester’s city centre after the IRA’s 1996 bomb stood as the background to my teenage years and, as is often the case with such things, I never really scrutinised or questioned the direction it took. I was 11 at the time of the bombing and had been watching cartoons on a Saturday […]

  • The Sex Drive Hypothesis

    Characteristically, the scientist confronts a complex interaction system – in this case, an interaction between man and opium. He observes a change in the system – the man falls asleep. The scientist then explains the change by giving a name to a fictitious ’cause’, located in one or other component of the interacting system. Either […]

  • Romance yields to ‘friendship with benefits’?

    An interesting article in today’s Times (which I can’t link to because of the paywall) about the growth of ‘friendship with benefits’. It reports findings of research in the US which suggests that such relationships are becoming a lot more demographically varied (rather than being the preserve of university students) and that “unexpectedly … both […]

  • Biological Determinism

    Young chimps play make-believe games in which they pretend that a favourite stick is a baby for nurturing and even putting to bed, according to a 14-year study of the animals in Uganda. Biologists watched the chimps in the forests of Kibale National Park in Uganda and found intriguing differences in the way young males and […]

  • Commonality and Difference

    Lada Adamic, a researcher at HP Labs, studied the users of an online student centre at Stanford called Club Nexus and found that two students were likely to be friends if their interests overlapped, and that the likelihood rose if the shared interests were more specific. (Two people who like fencing are likelier to be […]

  • Solitude and Interiority

    The historians taught us long ago that the King was never left alone. But, in fact, until the end of the seventeeth century, nobody was ever left alone. The density of social life made isolation virtually impossible, and people who managed to shut themselves up in a room for some time were regarded as exceptional […]

  • Student Fees, Common Goods and Moral Imagination

    “Why should those who are less well off subsidize the education of people who’ll earn a lot more money as a result of getting a degree?” An interesting parallel to the issue raised by this question can be found in the relationship of smokers to the NHS. Why should non-smokers help ‘subsidize’ the additional health costs of […]

  • Welcome to my new blog. For a number of years now I’ve had a personal blog and a research blog but as my PhD has progressed they have got increasingly neglected. The former went into decline because I started to find it much more fun to turn what would be blog posts into articles for […]