Sociology departments on twitter

We’ve compiled a list of university sociology departments and social science faculties on twitter from all over the world. We keep this list updated as more and more departments start to use twitter, so please feel free to let us know if we’ve missed any in the comments section below and we’ll add you to the list. Happy following!



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Book Review: Community Research for Participation (2012)

At a time when social scientists have to demonstrate more than ever the value and applicability of their work, community research is an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional methodologies. Central to this burgeoning methodology is the recognition that the traditional objects of social research possess skills and expertise that can make invaluable contributions to projects, generating contextualised knowledge alongside, rather than about, local communities.

Community research provides an answer to persistent entreaties for academics to climb down from the Ivory Tower and get their hands dirty, such as Clair Shaw’s recent account of ‘flipped academics’  in The Guardian. Similarly, the interest in Bent Flyvbjerg’s Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis (reviewed here by Flora Cornish) is testament to the popularity of the turn to practice that community research embodies. Despite this, there is a paucity of texts dealing with the theoretical and practical issues involved with conducting research with communities. As such Lisa Goodson and Jenny Phillimore from the Institute for Applied Social Studies at the University of Birmingham have compiled a rich and timely methodological text by drawing on a number of disciplinary backgrounds and national contexts. Continue reading

Prisons, Ivory Towers and Social Research

‘You have been told to go grubbing in the library, thereby accumulating a mass of notes and liberal coating of grime… This is called ‘getting your hands dirty in real research’… But one more thing is needful: first hand observation. Go and sit in the lounges of the luxuryhotels and on the doorsteps of flophouses; sit on the Gold Coast settees and the slum shakedowns; sit in Orchestra Hall and in the Star and Garter burlesk [sic]. In short … go get the seat of your pants dirty in real research’ (Robert Park,  Unpublished).

Academics, and in particular social scientists, are often charged with being detached from the ‘real’ world. Many social scientists are not. Yet having studied at three universities, I have bumped into a few who most definitely are. Somewhat ironically, on paper, I am against the idea of this detachment. To an extent though, I too might be guilty of this. I have studied prisons in quite some detail over the last four years. However, until very recently I had never been to a prison. This article intends to share with you part of my experience, and to share with you my confirmation that ‘ivory tower academia’ alone will not suffice in understanding the social world. Continue reading

If the Shoe Fits: Project film

This short film, produced by Sheffield Vision introduces the ‘If the Shoe Fits’ research project being conducted here in the department. The project is finding out how shoes contribute to people’s identities and the ways in which footwear enables them to move between move between identities, both on a daily basis throughout the life course. Shoes are currently high profile in advertising and they also play important roles in popular culture, as well as folklore and fairy tales. It is striking how often shoes are attributed with the capacity to change us, both men and women. Continue reading

PhD Supervision – Getting it right?

As someone who has had experience of supervising and being supervised through the PhD process in the past decade I can understand the importance of ‘good’ PhD supervision from the perspective of the supervised and the supervisor. Having heard some horror stories about students’ experience of supervision and also from staff about the difficulties in supervising certain students it is important for staff and students alike to develop strategies to make the experience as positive as possible. In this article I am going to focus on the student experience of supervision and give you some tips on managing the PhD supervision process. While many of them may be rather obvious and you may already be doing them (if so, then great), others may not be so you may be able to think about them in relation to enhancing your own supervision experience. Continue reading

Professor Richard Jenkins on Pierre Bourdieu

Professor Richard Jenkins was recently invited to join our PGR reading group discussion of Pierre Bourdieu. Using Richard’s text as a starting point, the discussion covers the enduring popularity of Bourdieu in contemporary sociology and the wider state of social theory. You can listen to the group below. Very many thanks to Richard for joining us and we hope you enjoy the discussion. Continue reading

‘I’m a graduate student, get me out of here!’ Taking a break from research

I originally wrote this piece after taking a leave of absence in October, 2011. I had been suffering with anxiety for 3 years, and in the summer of 2011 I was diagnosed with depression by my GP. Taking a leave of absence allowed me to get perspective on my work, and my academic career. I hope it will prove useful to any other graduate students in a similar position.

November, 2011
Graduate life most definitely requires a health warning, especially if you’ve never been out of education (for me, its 5 years and 3 degrees of an unceasing University education and I’m still going – just!) It will come as no surprise that embarking on a research degree has been the greatest challenge to date of my academic career; the pressure to finish such a piece of work in 3 years will undoubtedly surpass any previous test of my abilities. For those feeling similar pressures from a life of perpetual scrutiny, I hope here to offer some counsel and a perspective from academic exile. Continue reading

Towards a Digital Sociology of Cartography

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

Tattoos, Structuration and the Role of Sociology

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

Is private rented an option when there are no other options?

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’).

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