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This description of Tony Blair’s ambitions by Alastair Campbell invites a question I’ve often wondered about. What is ‘modernising zeal’? It’s such a loaded term but clearly so significant to understand centrists dispositions yet it’s rarely, if ever, defined: But he feared that unless the party adapted to the modern post-Cold War, post-Thatcherite world, it […]

For a number of years I’ve believed we urgently need a conversation about social media governance within higher education. This is a general term for a range of mundane issues which emerge from the use of social media by those within the university (academics, students, support staff, managers etc) in ways which are likely to […]

In a matter of months, the world has changed beyond recognition. Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented reorganisation of everyday life, with half the world’s population subject to lockdown measures at the peak of governmental response to the pandemic. These measures are being eased across the world, with uncertain and worrying consequences in the continued […]

From Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore’s A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things loc 2651-2699: When the United States abandoned the gold standard in August 1971,80 international capital sought refuge from this “Nixon shock” in commodity purchases. At the same time, the Soviet Union—following poor harvests—traded its oil for wheat, driving up […]

This passage from Keri Facer’s superb Learning Futures (pg 21) captures why I’m so interested in education. I wrote a PhD on what I called personal morphogenesis: how we become who we are and how personal changes are bound up in social changes. The reason I’ve moved into education is because I want to understand how […]

I found this a thought-provoking, if not entirely convincing, account by University of Bristol PVC Tansy Jessop on WonkHE: personalise learning, with students working at their own pace and thoughtfully going back to material in their own time trigger a shift from content-driven curricula (the idea of ‘covering content’) to carefully structured and selective bite-sized […]

Scott Lash interviewed by Nicholas Gane in the Future of Social Theory pg 105. I found this thought provoking in terms of its linking of the transcendent with the book form (the slow, careful, considered attempt to get outside of the issue) and the imminent with more feral forms of intervention outside the established repertoires […]

This piece by James Meadway paints a bleakly plausible future for post-pandemic labour. Firstly, the economic costs of social distancing on businesses with already thin profit margins incentivises a renewed push towards automation, something which has been stalled by the relatively cost of labour heretofore. Why risk the large capital investment in robots when humans […]

I was really pleased to discover that Sage have put this chapter from Social Media for Academics online. I’ve felt somewhat self-conscious that I deleted my Twitter account soon after publishing the second edition of a book about social media. But this chapter is what led me to the conclusion that this was the right […]

This short piece by Norman Solomon about the wealth of NYT columnist Thomas Friedman captures something I’ve often felt about the sociological value of what might otherwise be framed as lurid curiosity about the lives of the rich and powerful. For example I’ve been interested for a long time in the personal biography of Anthony […]

When I was younger, I had a bad dream The one where you run, and you run, and keep falling Thank God for the dream you’ve been to me Like a light in the long dark hall They set me on fire and I did a lot of burning Told me I didn’t know things […]

In his final book Metamorphosis Ulrich Beck contrasts two forms of social integration. As he writes on pg 168-169: If one understands the communities of world cities in this sense as ‘cosmopolitan communities of global risk’, however, one must abandon the widespread assumption in the social sciences that community-building is possible only on the basis […]

I thought Jade Lindgaard and Xavier De La Porte identify something important about the strategic issues faced by those who style themselves as intellectuals while remaining resolutely outside the academy. This is from their incisive critique BHL in Wonderland loc 4617, describing the growing rivalry between their titular nemesis Bernard-Henri Lévy and his emerging foe […]