Digital technologies are now integral and to everyday life. Some, are more overt – the alarm clock that wakes us. Others are less so – automated water pressurisations systems ensuring clean running water reaches our home in the morning, ready for the kettle. In the Social Sciences, we have engaged with them in various ways.
Human geographers have (at times) taken broad technocentric perspective. For example, Rob Kitchin & Martin Dodge (2011) theorise our increasing reliance on software code and algorithmic calculation in everyday life. They argue the infrastructures of our world are increasingly encoded within complex algorithms. From bedside alarm clocks to automated traffic light control systems, from water pressurisation systems to airspace management, software code keeps life ticking along. Even global economic markets are manipulated, controlled, and managed through algorithmic high frequency trading (presumably to remove the potential human error of open outcry systems). Not to mention that awful EdgeRank algorithm in Facebook, which dictates the ‘friends’ feeds I can, or cannot see. It sorts me into an order, of which I have no say and no understanding of the logic. Continue reading
Is it enough for social research to be interesting to merit its conduct? Undoubtedly the social world produces weird and wonderful phenomena with which sociologists can engage. However, we live in a world in which there are multifarious crevasses of inequality, both material and symbolic, in which the global economy operates in a perpetually risky manner, to the extent that chaos is the new norm, and in which human rights violations are all too common, and all too often perpetrated by nation-states. As such sociology should refrain from seriously researching the facets of social life that are interesting, but unimportant. Continue reading
Research has highlighted that in recent years the risk of homelessness has surged in all tenures (CIH, NHF, Shelter, 2012); perhaps unsurprisingly, this has been linked to the economic downturn (Homeless Link, 2010). The Government’s spending reforms in respect of housing and welfare has been described as ‘radical fiscal retrenchment’ whereby public outlay has decreased to its lowest rate since 1945 (Nevin and Leather 2012).
Housing Options Survey
In November last year I forwarded a survey to all Local Authority Housing Advice Services (hereafter referred to as LAHAS’s) in England, just over two thirds responded. In a nutshell, LAHAS’s deal with statutory homeless applications, housing advice, and homelessness prevention services. To be owed a main housing duty a service user must satisfy the LAHAS that they are vulnerable in some way, for example due to a serious health issue or dependent children (usually referred to as being in ‘priority need’).
I recently attended an excellent seminar at Birkbeck, University of London discussing the emergence of the ‘new’ localism agenda in UK politics. The panel considered some interesting questions concerning the nature of the state/citizen relationship, and whilst there was predictable disparity between the views on offer, it became increasingly clear that under the Coalition government, the UK is well on a path to localism. This article discusses some of the emerging issues and considerable challenges with implementing the localism agenda.
Phillip Blond, director of the think tank ResPublica, began with the increasingly popular view that representative democracy is failing. In Blond’s opinion this has come about in part because the New Labour project of centralisation prioritised the unobtainable goal of universal provision, encouraging a non-responsive and rigid system of service supply. The answer to this in Blond’s view is to establish ‘hyper local’ institutions that can develop accountability at community level. The problem here is that the Big Society – a set of initiatives that Blond was instrumental in developing – is predicated on just such a system, and it has already failed. Continue reading
The PGR conference committee is pleased to invite postgraduate researchers to our annual social science conference entitled Translation and Transformation, to be held on Wednesday 5th June, 2013 here in the Department of Sociological Studies at The University of Sheffield. We are pleased to announce that this year our key note speaker will be Professor Richard Jenkins.
Call for submissions
We are inviting proposals for papers and posters aimed at exploring your research to date and encourage your presentations to be innovative in their delivery, organisation and range of topics – with special emphasis on how they might convey your message to other doctoral students. Continue reading
Charlotte Jones and Jennifer Kettle, convenors of the Postgraduate Gender Research Network, have organised a one-day interactive conference about intersectional feminism. The conference, entitled Troubling Gender: The Question of Multiple Identities will be held on Friday 24th May, 2013 at ICOSS, University of Sheffield, and will be open to academics and activists from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds to share ideas and research in a friendly and supportive environment.
Keynote speakers will be Dr. Bridget Byrne (University of Manchester) and Professor Avtar Brah (Birkbeck, University of London). Details of workshops will also be announced soon.
The deadline for submitting abstracts is 24th February, 2013. For more information, please take a look at the conference website.