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  • Mark 7:40 pm on December 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bsa, , learned societies, , ,   

    What function do learned societies serve in a digital age? 

    What are learned societies for? This is how Jennifer Platt answers this question on loc 119 of her history of the British Sociological Association:

    Learned societies such as the BSA are a vital part of the social structure of academic life; not every eligible person belongs to one, but nonetheless all are affected by them. However, the topic is one that has usually been neglected in general historical work on academic disciplines. That often focuses on disembodied ideas or, at most, uses social units such as schools of thought, departments or educational institutions. Learned societies deserve better than to be confined to the ghetto of commissioned anniversary organisational histories. They cut across the boundaries of those conventional historical units, organising conferences, promoting the professional development of their members, creating networks and publishing journals and books which are important to the intellectual life of the discipline. They also represent the discipline to the outside world, whether in the large political arena of major governmental decisions on education and research, or in the many smaller arenas of funding bodies, exam boards and governing bodies in higher education.

    While these organisations are rarely the object of theoretical scrutiny, we can nonetheless see their characteristics being implied in everyday conversations which practitioners have about their shared professional world. They are crucial to establishing the parameters of those worlds and their influence can be indirectly felt far more widely than it is directly encountered. It is precisely because they “cut across the boundaries of those conventional historical units” that their importance goes unrecognised, creating the conditions in which research centres, schools of thought and academic departments can thrive before fading into the background as intellectual historians focus on what are in part outputs of this work.

    However when we consider the functions of learned societies, it is easy to see how their importance might wane when communications capacity is dispersed throughout the discipline. Underlying their internal and external functions are the capacity to communicate within the discipline and to represent the discipline through communication with the external world. There were always other organisations with some capacity to do this (e.g. influential academic departments) but this was a side effect of other functions rather than an end in itself.

    It is not so much that social media decentralises communicative capacity, dispersing it throughout the discipline, as much as it allows the proliferation of other actors who can perform these internal and external functions. There are new intermediaries who can connect the discipline internally and represent it externally. This raises the obvious question: what is the point of the learned society in an age of social media? Is it to perform the internal and external communications function but to do it more effectively than the new intermediaries? Is it to leverage this function towards certain purposes (e.g. establishing ethics guidelines) which other actors lack the normative legitimacy to pursue? Is it simply as a scholarly publisher and a conference organiser? Or do they need to find a new purpose in order to avoid a slow slide into irrelevance?

  • Mark 1:13 pm on November 2, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , bsa,   

    the sociologists outside of academia group tenth anniversary meeting 

    Probably of interest to some of the people who read this blog:

    There´s a week to go until the SOA 10th anniversary meeting in London on 9 November (flyer attached). So if you´d like to join us for what should be great day, please book at


    Our speaker will be SOA founder member Keith Khan

    Harris. Keith now teaches part time at Birkbeck College and Leo Baeck College, is an associate fellow at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and writes for a wide variety of publications. Most of the other founders will also be present.

    We will also have the chance to discuss the work of the group in a short business meeting.

    Hope to see you there


    Nick Fox

    Honorary Professor of Sociology

    School of Health and Related Research


    University of Sheffield

  • Mark 11:27 am on July 25, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , bsa, open letter, professional association,   

    Closing an open letter 

    Around a year and a half ago, I got very upset with the British Sociological Association when I couldn’t afford to attend a conference for which I’d given a great deal of free labour. I was a month away from handing in my then still very much unfinished PhD thesis, I’d started two new jobs (one of which I wasn’t being paid for, due to bureaucratic problems) and the stress was getting to me. I quickly regretted the tone of the letter, though I still stand by the contents. Part of me soon wanted to remove it from the internet, because it felt like a very public meltdown, but I didn’t want to quietly delete something so contentious.

    I just discovered that the letter comes third in google, seemingly for a diverse range of people, when searching for “British Sociological Association”. This seems so needlessly rude to me that I’ve decided to delete the letter – is algorithmic rudeness a thing? This post is a note which anyone searching for the BSA (or equivalent) on my blog will hopefully be able to find, explaining where the letter has gone and why. I also wanted to be clear that my views on (certain) professional associations have not changed, if anything they’ve hardened, though any feelings of animus have pretty much dissipated. As I said at the time, I wanted to find other ways to contribute to my discipline outside the BSA. I’m doing that, I’m very happy about it and I can’t see the situation changing.

  • Mark 10:21 am on November 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bsa,   

    LAST CHANCE – BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2014 

    LAST CHANCE – BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2014

    The nomination deadline for the 2014 BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize is fast approaching.

    Nominations must be received in the BSA office by Friday, 6 December 2013.

    The prize will be awarded to the best first and sole authored book within the discipline of Sociology published between: 1 December 2012 and 30 November 2013.

    The winner will receive a prize of £1,000, one year’s free subscription to ‘The Sociological Review’ (published by Wiley-Blackwell) and an invitation to the BSA 2014 Annual Conference (conference registration fee, accommodation and travel (within the UK) will be paid by the BSA).

    Visit http://www.britsoc.co.uk/publications/PAM.htm for more information on the nomination process.

    The general criteria for eligibility are as follows:

    • ·       Nominated authors must be current, fully paid-up, members of the BSA
    • ·       Nominated authors must be ordinarily resident within the U.K.
    • ·       Nominated authors should be within the first seven years (or full-time equivalent) since starting their first academic post within the discipline of sociology
    • ·       The nominated book must be the author’s first monograph. If the author has previously co-authored a monograph they are not eligible for the prize. If the author has previously edited or co-edited a book, they are still eligible.
    • ·       The nominated book must be a sole-authored book
    • ·       The nominated book should be concerned with the discipline of Sociology
    • ·       There is an expectation that the author has observed the contents of the BSA’s Authorship Guidelines for Academic Papers (adopted April 2001)           
    • ·       Nominations should comprise the official nomination form (duly completed), a brief curriculum vitae of the author, and five copies of the nominated book
  • Mark 11:05 am on October 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bsa, ,   

    BSA Annual Conference 2014: Changing Society – Call for papers 

    BSA Annual Conference 2014: Changing Society  

    Call for Papers 
    Theory Stream Submissions
    This stream welcomes abstracts on any aspect of theory as well as abstracts for the following Study Groups:

    · Bourdieu
    · Historical and Comparative Sociology
    · Realism and Social Research
    · Weber

    The Realism and Social Research group would also like to invite abstracts under the theme “What is Realism for?”

    The group is particularly interested in papers that consider any of the following issues:

    • The relevance of realist theory to substantive social, economic and political issues.
    • The practical implications of methodologically operationalising different forms of realist thought.
    • Those from other schools of thought who wish to engage critically in a dialogue with realist theory.

    How to submit 
    All abstracts and proposals for other events can be submitted online at:
    http://www.britsoc.co.uk/events/bsa‐annual‐ conference/submissions.aspx

    The deadline for submission of abstracts is 18th October 2013.   

    For further information contact the Theory stream coordinators:
    Gurminder K Bhambra E: g.k.bhambra@warwick.ac.uk
    Tom Brock E: T.Brock@mmu.ac.uk
    Alternatively, contact the BSA Events Team E: events@britsoc.org.uk

  • Mark 12:19 pm on September 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bsa, , ,   

    CfP: Theory Stream for BSA Annual Conference 2014 

    This stream welcomes abstracts on any aspect of theory as well as abstracts for the following Study Groups:

    · Bourdieu
    · Historical and Comparative Sociology
    · History of Sociology
    · Realism and Social Research
    · Weber

    The Realism and Social Research group would also like to invite abstracts under the theme “What is Realism for?”. The group is particularly interested in papers that consider any of the following issues:

    · Consider the relevance of realist theory to substantive social, economic and political issues.

    · The practical implications of methodologically operationalising different forms of realist thought.

    · Those from other schools of thought who wish to engage critically in  a dialogue with realist theory.

    How to submit

    All paper abstracts and proposals for other events can be submitted online at:
    http://www.britsoc.co.uk/events/bsa‐annual‐ conference/submissions.aspx

    The deadline for submission of abstracts is 18 October 2013.

    For further information contact the Theory stream coordinators

    Gurminder K Bhambra E: g.k.bhambra@warwick.ac.uk

    Tom Brock E: T.Brock@mmu.ac.uk

    Alternatively, contact the BSA Events Team E: events@britsoc.org.uk

  • Mark 6:10 am on May 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bsa, , ,   

    BSA Teaching Group Conference on June 15th 

    Saturday 15th June 2013
    Nottingham Trent University
    Sponsored by the Higher Education Academy 

    The BSA’s Teaching Group is pleased to announce a regional conference hosted by the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. This event is aimed specifically at sociology teachers and will bring together a variety of guest speakers in an interesting and informative programme.


    Alongside this programme time will be allocated for networking opportunities over lunch and during an optional evening social event. There will also be an opportunity for feeding back to representatives of the BSA about the ways in which the organisation could help and support the teaching of sociology in schools and colleges more fully. 

    Confirmed speakers:

    Prof. John Holmwood (Nottingham University), Roger Hopkins-Burke (Author, An Introduction to Criminological Theory, principle lecturer, NTU), Dr. Jason Pandaya-Wood (Head of Sociology, NTU), Dr Emma Head (School of Sociology and Criminology, Keele University), Mark Carrigan (Department of Sociology, Warwick University), Helen Jones (Higher Education Academy), Dr Alex Channon (School of Education, University of Greenwich), Dr Julie Scott Jones & Dr John Goldring (Department of Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Christopher R. Matthews (School of Social Sciences, NTU).

    Lunch will be provided, along with tea & coffee throughout the day.

    Delegate fees:

    BSA Member £40

    BSA Teaching Group Member £50

    Non-member £60

    For further information and registration, please go to: http://portal.britsoc.co.uk/public/event/eventBooking.aspx?id=EVT10272

    Email: bsatg@britsoc.co.uk or Tel: (0191) 383 0839 

    For academic enquiries please contact: Dr Christopher R. Matthews, Nottingham Trent University

    Email: christopher.matthews@ntu.ac.uk

  • Mark 10:37 am on November 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bsa, ,   

    Calling BSA members: we’re trying to start a Digital Sociology study group and we need your support 

    Myself and Emma Head at Keele are proposing a digital sociology study group for the BSA. For it to be approved we need 15 statements of support from current BSA members. If you fall into this category and think the group is a good idea could you send  a quick e-mail (literally one sentence will be ok) to mark AT markcarrigan.net saying who you are, that you’re a current BSA member and that you support the group? Thanks. Also obviously please do forward to anyone you know who might be interested.

    BSA Digital Sociology Study Group, co-convened by Mark Carrigan (LSE) and Emma Head (Keele University)

    In spite of the increasing prominence of the Digital Humanities within the academic landscape, the form and practice which might come to be implied by the moniker ‘Digital Sociology’ remains strikingly inarticulate. While recent developments in computational social science and online research methods are certainly to be welcomed, it is our contention that the nascent ‘digital turn’ being witnessed in the academy has broader significance for the future of sociology than such specialisms can account for. Lupton (2012) identifies four major areas to the nascent field of digital sociology: professional use of digital tools by sociologists, sociological analyses of digital media use, sociological analysis of digital data and critical analysis of digital media and their attendant circuits of capital and power. Our proposed group would seek to represent each of these areas, drawing out the commonalities between them while taking care not to obliterate the distinctions between them.

    The proposal is made against the background of what Savage and Burrows (2007) identify as the coming crisis of empirical sociology, particularly the profound challenge which the proliferation of ‘big data’ poses for the traditional analytical repertoires of professional sociology. While recognising that important initiatives have been undertaken at a national level towards these ends (e.g. Digital Methods as Mainstream Methodology) we nonetheless contend that there are limitations to the approach adopted and that, with regards to the long term vitality of professional sociology, there is a need for a distinctly sociological exploration of these challenges. We imagine that this would involve building digital research capacity, in a manner which would draw on and complement these existing projects, while also moving beyond them to address the broader questions contemporary circumstances pose for the future of sociology. We share Back’s (2012: 18) belief that, in spite of the profound challenges faced by sociology in an age of austerity, it is nonetheless the case that “there is more opportunity to reimagine sociological craft now than at any other point in the discipline’s history”. We propose the Digital Sociology study group as an open-ended forum which seeks to explore the nature and implications of these challenges but also to collectively elaborative creative solutions to them.


    To identify and disseminate best practice in the use of digital tools by sociologists.

    To develop and promote specifically sociological modes of inquiry into digital media use.

    To develop and promote specifically sociological responses to ‘big data’, in terms of both secondary analysis and the broader methodological questions posed by this transformation in the information systems of late capitalist society.

    To develop and promote specifically sociological analyses of the broader personal, cultural and structural changes of the ‘digital turn’ in social life.

    To provide an open forum for exploration of what the digital turn entails for sociological practice, professional identity and the future of the discipline.

    Events and network:

    The inaugural event of this study group is tentatively planned to take place in London (at the BSA meeting rooms) in the first half of 2012.  This will involve invited speakers and time for discussion and networking to create wider ownerships of the developing aims of the group.

    An event is also planned for March 2014, at Keele University, which would focus on postgraduate researchers.

    The group would have its own developing online presence and the form that this takes will be discussed at our first event (and subject to BSA approval, where necessary).

  • Mark 6:39 pm on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , bsa, international sociological association, , , , ,   

    Public Sociology In an Age of Austerity – Michael Burawoy and John Holmwood in Dialogue 

    Michael Burawoy is president of the International Sociological Association and John Holmwood was recently elected president of the British Sociological Association from June 2012 onwards. In this dialogue recorded at the BSA conference in April 2012, they explore the challenges faced by public sociology in an age of austerity.

    Part 1: Neoliberalism

    Part 2: Higher Education

    Part 3: Future of Sociology

    Image courtesy of Kalina Yordanova

  • Mark 2:14 pm on April 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: britsoc 2012, bsa, , , , , sociology's moments,   

    John Holmwood on “Sociology’s ‘moments’: C. Wright Mills and the critique of professionalism” 

    John Holmwood’s talk “Sociology’s ‘moments’: C. Wright Mills and the critique of professionalism” from the C Wright Mills session I organised at the BSA conference in Leeds. Will go up on Sociological Imagination once I’ve finished editing the session and gathering the related material I want to post up with it.

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