Friday, 19 December 2014

Special Issue on Civil Society and Health Systems Reforms

With Guido Giarelli and Carlo Ruzza, Ellen Annandale has edited a Special Issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine (vol 123, 2014) on The Role of Civil Society in Healthcare System Reforms

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dave Beer review for Berfrois magazine

Dave Beer has written a detailed review Radio Benjamin for Berfrois magazine. The book gathers together translations of Walter Benjamin's radio broadcasts.

Vacancy at York: Lecturer /Senior Lecturer in Sociology

The Sociology Department is seeking to fill a Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer post. We are looking to appoint a sociologist capable of teaching criminology such as crime and criminal justice, deviance and social control.

Criminology [Image credit hashir / h3nr0 / ariii]Watch the film clip to see how criminology is taught at the University of York

For more information go the University of York vacancy website: click here or keep you eye on where the job advert will be posted soon.

York Sociology ranked 1st for Research Excellence (REF 2014)

Its official! – We are very proud to be ranked 1st in the REF2014. Congratulations to everyone. 

This outstanding outcome is the result of real team effort. But very special congratulations go to Sarah Nettleton (Research Director) and Ed Kirby (Research Administrator) who led the process.  

Ellen Annandale, Head of Sociology

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Murderabilia Data Gathering in the US

Jack has recently returned from a data gathering trip to the U.S.A at the end of the first year of his PhD. Observations and interviews were carried out over a period of two weeks in September, assisted by a grant from the ESRC overseas fieldwork fund. 

Museum observations and interviews yielded some high quality data supporting Jack’s PhD in morbid culture and the collecting of Murderabilia respectively. Many good connections were also made that are currently being followed up. This data will be complimented by a similar approach carried out in the UK in the months up until Christmas, as well as data gathered online from forums and fan-sites.

Whilst the interviews will mark the beginning of the data collection phase of Jack’s PhD, a preliminary analysis of the observations will be presented much sooner at the Museum’s Alive conference at the University of Leicester, November 2014.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Dave Beer - Theory, Culture & Society website

Dave Beer has been editing the new Theory, Culture & Society website for just over a year. The site, which can be found at, acts as an open access supplement to the journal and publishes responses, reviews, interviews, think-pieces and video abstracts. As part of this development he has also edited a special section of the Theory, Culture & Society 'print' journal that contains some highlights from the website content. This special section has just been published in the current issue of TCS which can be found here . Along with a short editorial introduction, the section includes articles on Hindi cinema, Smokey Robinson, digital power, biometrics, urban problems and a debate on neoliberalism.

The TCS website continues to publish materials on a weekly basis. Recent pieces have included work on equality, affect, interdisciplinarity, nature, energy, complexity and neuroscience amongst others. The site is entirely open access and is aimed at being a resource anyone who is teaching, learning about or researching the broad areas covered by TCS. You can also follow the activities at TCS on Twitter @TCSjournalSAGE .

Laurie Hanquinet - 13th Assembly of Experts of the Council of Europe/ ERICarts

Laurie Hanquinet will give a talk on the link between cultural participation and democracy at the next Public Forum on "Culture and Democracy" organized in parallel of the 13th Assembly of Experts of the Council of Europe/ ERICarts - Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe.

More information on the website of the Compendium:

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Feature Article in BSA Network Magazine

The Department has a feature in the latest edition of the BSA Network Magazine.  (You may wish to increase your zoom level to read the text)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Council of National Associations of Sociology, Paris November 2014

Ellen Annandale recently attended the National Council of Associations in Paris, organised by the European Sociological Association (ESA). Representatives of 20 national associations attended to share and debate concerns about Teaching and Research in Europe.

In her opening remarks, ESA President Carmen Leccardi highlighted the need to keep continuities with the classics. Quoting Whitehead that, ‘a science which hesitates to forget its founders is lost’, she raised concerns that sociological practice risks being reduced to ‘big data sets’. Drawing on the Italian situation she bemoaned that much social research has moved from the academy to market research and private companies. Horizon 2020 points to the devaluing of the social sciences and humanities, the outcome of the neoliberal technocratic reasoning that has constructed a hierarchy of the sciences.  She highlighted the ‘presentification’ of academic work as work overload and administrative challenges make it hard for us to look to the horizon as we instead are pushed to deal with everyday problems.

 Michel Wieviorka,  President of Fondation Maison des Sciences d’Homme, questioned sociology’s future in an increasingly interdisciplinary climate, remarking that if you visit some US university bookshops the sociology section is “dusty”, while next to it new areas like cultural studies flourish. The new generation of scholars, he remarked, he much better trained, but much more niche in their outlook. As sociology becomes more specialised it is less and less able to engage in wider intellectual debates.

In his Keynote address, Craig Calhoun, President of the LSE and of the International Institute of Sociology cautioned his peers that ‘memories of when we were students will be very poor guides” for the present. Globalisation involving the movement of people, interconnectedness of publications, and particularly the spread of new models of ‘best practice’ and international ranking are having major effects, “some good, many of them bad”.  League tables are problematic because they assume that all universities are doing the same thing. Unification benefits the dominant and world rankings devalue universities in most countries in the eyes of their own nations which can lead to loss of respect which then impacts on their funding. It may be better to see universities less as a hierarchy and more as an ecology.  He emphasised that social science will “commit suicide” if it does not reach out to the public, but in a way that is combined with a level of academic judgement i.e peer critique and correction.  Social science, he opined, has lost its erstwhile connections with social movements, remarking, for example, that gender sociology was much better when it involved the women’s movement.  Echoing Wieviorka’s concerns he maintained that we should speak of ‘social science’ not ‘social sciences’, and stop fighting over boundaries as this is a wasted fight over diminishing pools of money.  Finally highlighted that social science needs to better value synthesis remarking that currently we lack a system for this (except in textbooks) and that consequently high level theory regrettably appears to be in decline.

Ellen was attending as a Vice President of ESA and member of its Committee on National Associations

BSA Yorkshire MedSoc Group Event - Friday 16th January 2015

Friday 16th January 2015: 12:00 - 16:30, University of York, Tree House, Berrick Saul Building BS/104


Deborah Lupton, Canberra University, Australia 'Digital health data, big and small: some critical sociological reflections'


John Gardner, University of York, UK 'The broad clinical gaze in paediatric deep brain stimulation'

Chrissy Buse, University of Leeds, UK 'Looking out of place: clothing and the boundaries of 'home' and privacy in dementia care'

Clare Jackson, University of York, UK 'Healthcare professionals initiating decisions in labour: A pilot conversation analytic study of data from One Born Every Minute'

The meeting is open to researchers, academics and postgraduate students. We also welcome anyone who has an interest in the sociology of health and illness.

Cost of attendance

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. To cover our costs and to help with future meetings the following charges will apply:

£15 for BSA Members, £20 for Non-members, £10 for BSA Concessionary members, and £15 for Non-member students*


Study Group Page

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Paul Johnson, writing in Discover Society

Paul Johnson, writing in Discover Society, takes a critical look at the UK Conservative Party’s proposals to reform the relationship between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights

Male Rape and the Law

There is a dearth of legal literature critically discussing male rape in law and the courtroom, and Aliraza Javaid, one of the Sociology Departments Doctoral Researchers has just published an article on this topic derived from his thesis. 

The paper 'Male Rape in Law and the Courtroom' has been published in the Web Journal of Current Legal Issues and critically examines how male rape is placed in law and the courts. It focuses particularly on the jurisdiction in England and Wales, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The paper fundamentally argues that such an Act does not fully reflect male rape victims’ experiences, and also argues that the defence counsels' expectations of how a male rape victim is supposed to have suffered contradicts the male rape literature.

Aliraza has already published on feminism, masculinity and male rape and is happy to be contacted regarding his reserach on twitter, or Linkedin.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Reflections of a Teaching Fellow in Sociology

In recent years many university departments are employing teaching fellows are they are playing a crucial role in the undergraduate experience. Matt Spokes reflects on what it is to be a teaching fellow:

Trying to come up with a neat definition of what being a teaching fellow involves is, I think, a little tricky; it encompasses a number of different roles so it can be many things rather than just one. Firstly, I see it is a chance for those starting out in academia to get some working experience of the trials and tribulations of life on a day-to-day basis in a busy Sociology department; I began the fellowship as I entered the final phase of writing up my PhD, so in this sense it also represents my transition from student to academic (which is, of course, far from straightforward).
Matt Spokes
One of the necessary skills required of a teaching fellow is time and workload-management; if, for example, you’re writing-up a PhD thesis then how do you juggle that alongside your seminars, lectures, and administration roles? During my doctorate I held a number of jobs concurrently and I seemed to adapt an already-established rigidity of approach to both my thesis write-up and my teaching, but this still surprised me as I hadn’t realised how disciplined my working processes had become until I started in the role. Having said that, there is always the possibility of something unexpected coming along which means it is still a challenge to balance your time effectively.
The other fundamental aspect of the role – as the title indicates - is teaching, and again this involves a variety of different tasks, practices and expectations. Presently I lecture on, and am the module convener for, the first year Sociology of Crime and Deviance module; as a team-taught module, this requires co-ordinating with a number of members of staff (lecturers and post-graduates who teach) as well as first year undergraduates. This role is different from the work I do with second year undergraduates as a seminar leader and lecturer on the Social Research Methods and Crime, Culture and Social Change modules, so it is important to be able to modify and apply different pedagogical approaches depending on the particular needs of the teaching environment. Alongside this, as I move from finishing my PhD in to academia more fully, I am also working towards completing a couple of publications based on my thesis - as well as sketching out new research projects - and this creates additional considerations in terms of balancing the varied teaching and research schedules spread across the academic year.

            Ultimately though, the fellowship enables me to experience the upsides and downsides (relatively speaking) of working in a vibrant and engaging department: it is a great opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience of the strains and successes of making a contribution to teaching and research in a modern academic institution.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Amanda Rees awarded AHRC funding

Amanda Rees has just been awarded AHRC funding for 'Unsettling Science: expertise, narrative and future histories'. In collaboration with researchers at the Universities of Aberystwyth and Newcastle, this 3 year project will investigate the relationships between science, fiction and popular culture over the course of the long technological 20th century (1887-2007), focusing on the ways in which innovations in science, technology and medicine were used by writers, policy-makers and the general public to anticipate and think about the future.

The value of talking to different audiences: A sociologist home and abroad

Robin Wooffitt (central figure in the photograph) reflects on presenting to three very different kinds of disciplinary audiences: 
  • the Department of Sociology at the University of Leicester (as a contributor to the Department's seminar programme); 
  • members of the Society for Psychical Research (as plenary speaker at the Society's annual conference)
  • child and adolescent psychotherapists (at the Leeds-based Northern School of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, as part of their interdisciplinary seminar programme).  

My topic for each talk was a form of coincidence that occurs in everyday social interaction, where one person's unstated thought or mental imagery is reflected in another person's figurative or playful talk. The sociologists were interested in how this apparent confluence of one person's inner experience and another person's publicly expressed utterances can add to recent sociological research on the role of the private, or interiority, in social life. The Society for Psychical Research were interested in the apparent parapsychological aspects of this phenomenon - the person who first noticed it even called it an 'ESP pun', where ESP stands for Extra Sensory Perception. And the psychotherapists were interested in the ways that the phenomenon illuminated psycho-dynamic tensions that they see regularly in their clinical practice. So I was exposed to three intersecting perspectives on my research: the sociological, the parapsychological, and the psychotherapeutic. 

The questions and comments I received have been extremely useful in suggesting ways to take the research further, but in unexpected ways. A comment from a sociologist illuminated an aspect of the phenomenon that I had considered to be a more psychological issue; a psychotherapist offered an observation that touched directly on parapsychological features; and the Chair of the SPR conference pointed me to new sources of data. The various comments and questions emphasised interdisciplinary overlaps that will be significant in my future work. The experience of talking to three very different kinds of audiences has been a salutary reminder of just how arbitrary disciplinary boundaries can be. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Grant Success - Brian Loader and Sian Beynon-Jones

Congratulations to Sian Beynon-Jones who is CoIlaborator on a newly awarded AHRC network 'Regulating time: New perspectives on law, regulation and temporalities', starting in February.  

The project is led by Emily Grabham at Kent Law School.
Congratulations are also offered to Brian Loader who has been awarded a British Academy small research grant to run the following symposium, 'Streets to Screens: Mediating Conflict Through Digital Networks' on 7th November.

Sociology's future - Dr Dave Beer

Dave has written a very short piece on the future of sociology for The Sociological Review's new website. It's part of a series of pieces on the challenges and opportunities that face the discipline. 

If you do want to take a look it's available here

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Top tips on academic writing

Clare Jackson is displaying her talents again as a natural born blogger but giving insight into academic writing. Definately insightful for undergraduates, postgraduates and academics everywhere:

Write as I say, not as I do

Soon, if they haven’t already, students everywhere will be facing the blank page, aiming to express knowledge, understanding and critique in x number of thousand words.  For some, words will flow easily, for others words will remain elusive, and they will freeze under the tyranny of blankness.  Then there are those, like me, who will write and delete in equal measure, stuck in a spiral of perfection and frustration, getting no-where.
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Writing is central to academic life.  For students, it is the principal method of assessment.  For academics, it is the lifeblood of a career.   For both, the outcome of the effort is scrutinized and evaluated, held up as evidence of intellectual (un)acceptability and (in)validity.  It’s scary!

I find writing difficult, effortful and exhausting.  I write slowly and I use the delete key as often as any vowel or consonant.  I know my bad habits.  These include hours of procrastination, in which there is much tidying of desks, searching of the net for inspiration and lots and lots of coffee.   I write linearly, from beginning to end, trying to perfect each paragraph as I go in a futile attempt to circumvent the dreaded editing.   This means I often get stuck in paragraphs for hours, unable to move on until I’m satisfied that what I’ve written. I write with a loose plan but the reality is that the plan emerges from my efforts to write.  I refuse to start writing unless I have several hours to dedicate to it.  Bad, bad, bad.  Well, not bad, but not good either.  I know my writing habits sufficiently to be able to manage them.  I allow weeks to write a few thousand words, and I would never ever begin to write within hours of a deadline.  Still, what I really need to do is change my habits, not merely make adjustments for them. 

Intellectually, I know what good writing habits are:
·         Plan your time
o   As obvious as it sounds, panning your time is crucial.  A last minute hurried attempt will produce at best a first draft and it will show!
o   By planning your time, I mean actually scheduling it into your diary.  Do not leave blanks in your diary where you plan to be working towards, or actually writing.  Put it in and stick to it.
o   If you have only an hour on a particular day, use it.  Do not wait for the vast expanse of ‘free’ time to begin writing.
·         Plan your writing
o   You will overcome the blank page if you know what you are going to write.
o   Make a detailed plan that sketches out the entire content.  Planning often starts with diagrams or lists.  Play with them until you have a coherent ordering of ideas and a sensible structure.  Then, when you open the blank page, copy and paste your plan onto it. 
o   A good plan will support you actually beginning to write at any point in the essay.  You do not have to start at the beginning and work to the end.  If you are stuck in one section, start writing the next.
·         Be flexible
o   Ideas will occur to you as you write and this is one of the pay-offs of the creative effort in writing.  Adapt your plan as you go.
·         Embrace editing
o   Never submit a first draft.  Most writers go through several drafts before showing something publicly.  The editing process is as important as getting the words out in the first place.  It is in the editing that a poorly structured, wordy, descriptive piece can be transformed into great work.  Trusting in the editing process means that you can be freer at the early stages of writing – just get the words out and know that you’ll be coming back to shape the whole thing up.
·         Embrace feedback
o   Writing does not have to be a solitary activity.  There are ample opportunities for feedback along the way.
o   Share your plan with a tutor.  Tutors are not permitted to read drafts but we are allowed to comment on plans.  Many a wayward essay has been put back on track with gentle nudges from people who will read the final version.  Please do use this opportunity.
o   The writing centre can help at any stage of the writing process.  They can help you to organize your ideas or comment on your final draft.  They will not offer advice on content but they will help you to present your arguments and to tighten up your style.
o   You will get feedback once your essay has been marked and submitted.  Read the comments objectively and draw on them to help shape your future writing.

There are other useful pointers.  Have a writing goal for every writing session – numbers of words, complete a section, add citations.   Try not to end a session with a final point.  Instead, begin the next section, so that when you come back you know where you are going.

So, these are the things I wish I’d known thirty years ago, when I was an undergraduate.  I share them with you now, in the hope that you’ll write as I say and not as I do.

Male Rape and Feminist Theory Review

Aliraza Javaid's article on male rape and feminist theory which this blog postedabout
about last week has already made an impact and been written about in
Science Daily

Follow the link

Friday, 17 October 2014

Clare Jackson reflects on: Is pursuing an academic career worth it?

Over the next few weeks the blog is going to run a series of 'Meet the Staff of the Sociology Department' posts. In this first post Clare Jackson reflects on her the trials and tribulations of pursuing a career in academia as a mature student:

'So what should you do when you are the mother of four children aged sixteen to one, have a full-time job and up against the challenges of mid-life?  Do a PhD.  Of course!  Then, two years in to the part-time doctorate, decide that you love it so much that you’re going to throw in your nice secure full-time job, sell your house, move your family across the country and take up temporary work to pay the bills.  Insane?  Probably.  Worth it?  Definitely!

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So it was that in 2005 I came to the Department of Sociology at York to start a part-time PhD using Conversation Analysis to study how gender is made relevant in talk.  In 2007, I moved from Carlisle to York, embracing a very uncertain future of temporary contracts as a Teaching Fellow in the department.   Another four years of study followed as well as a number of anxious summers when I wondered whether my contract would be renewed.  It was.  In 2012 I got to wear the silly floppy graduate hat of doctor-ness and earned the right to use a non-gendered form of address; Dr. Jackson.  In 2013, I was appointed lecturer in Sociology, and now have four children, a full-time job, and am still facing challenges of (late) mid-life… and I have a crazy, wonderful dog named Alfie.  I still do not earn what I did in 2007 when I gave up that nice, secure job.  But, I’ve been on an amazing journey and have inspired my four brilliant daughters to believe that anything is possible, and that achievement is not only for the young. 

The rewards of being Dr someone are many.  I got to completely terrify my new GP, who had assumed I was a medic of some kind.  I’ve never been treated with such respect in a medical encounter!  I did confess… eventually. I get to teach subjects I am passionate about, especially Conversation Analysis.  For the uninitiated, this involves listening to conversations, transcribing them in great detail and analysing them, searching for regularities so that we can describe how talk is organised in a way that permits us to make sense to each other.  It’s amazing!  The sheer orderliness of interaction is a beautiful thing.

I also get to research topics I am passionate about.  My current research focusses on decision-making that gets done in talk between healthcare professionals, women and their birth-partners in the labour ward.  We know that labouring women often want to be involved in decisions about how they give birth but that this does not consistently happen.  My research team are intending to record and analyse the interactions that take place during labour in order to describe how decisions are initiated, who initiates them and how they are responded to.  In preparation for making a bid for funding, we have been working on the data available from the Channel 4 programme, ‘One Born Every Minute’.  A clear finding from this (admittedly small and heavily edited) dataset, is that one way in which decisions are initiated by Healthcare professionals is through use of the phrase ‘we need to ….’.  In a sense, this formulation closes down the opportunity for women to decline whatever is being asserted as a ‘need’.  However, women can and do resist.

Oh, and I also get to do lots and lots of admin.  I am leader of the pathway for Sociology with Social Psychology, Chair of Mitigating Circumstances Committee and the departmental Exams officer.  This means that I am involved with almost all aspects of students’ progress from admission to graduation.  I am new to the exam role, and have quickly discovered that it’s not going to put me at the top of any popularity poll; I seem only to write demanding emails to colleagues stressing the urgency of some very tight deadline.  This means, many of emails begin with ‘we need to…’.  My colleagues can and do resist… for a while.'

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Before I Die:Video of the Festival of Death and Dying

Festival of Death and Dying - Before I GoBack in May this year, Celia Kitzinger arranged a week long Festival of Death and Dying. This event included death cafes, panels of experts speaking about death and dying, poetry and plays, to name but a few of the events.

Filming throughout the festival took place and the end result is

Before I die

It provides a taste of the events that took place and the issues that were discussed

Andrew Webster Retirement Reception

Prof Andrew Webster retired on 30 September 2014 and a retirement reception was held in Wentworth College on Wednesday 15 October.

Whilst Andrew has retired from teaching and departmental roles he is still going to spend time in SATSU working on the numerous projects that are ongoing in SATSU.

About 30 colleagues and friends attended the reception and this was followed by a dinner in York in the evening.

Both Nik Brown and Phil Stanworth both spoke of Andrew's enthusiasm and endless energy and cast serious doubts on his ability to stop working altogether unless summonsed to do so by Helen.

We wish him a long and happy retirement.

More photographs are available at: 

Graduate of 2014 Research Job Success

Jeremy Bushnell one of our graduates in July 2014 has been in touch to let us know how he is getting on since graduating:

"I loved my three years at York so much that I've decided to come back and live here! The staff were so enthusiastic and inspirational and as a result I've managed to get an executive job at a social and market research firm. The Social Research Methods module has given me the perfect platform for a career in research and is one of the many reasons I so enjoyed my degree."

Many congratulations to Jeremy!

Sociology Department PhD Student publishes on Male Rape

Aliraza Javaid is a PhD student at the Department of Sociology. His journal article “Feminism, Masculinity, and Male Rape: Bringing Male Rape ‘out of the Closet.’” has recently been published in the Journal of Gender Studies.

The paper critically examines feminism, masculinity and male rape collectively. It argues that, although feminist explanations of rape are robust and comprehensive, male victims of rape have largely been excluded from this field of research. As a result it contributes to current knowledge through critically evaluating the social constructions, stigma and phenomenological realities associated with male rape (by both men and women), arguing that there has been neglect in this area that functions to support, maintain and reinforce patriarchal power relations and hegemonic masculinities.

Aliraza’s PhD from which the article is drawn focuses on state and voluntary agencies’ responses to, and attitudes toward, male rape and the conception of hegemonic masculinity fundamentally underpins both the thesis and his publication. It helps to explain and understand why some societies, feminists, state and voluntary agencies are overlooking, disbelieving, or inadequately dealing with male rape victims. For instance, arguably, men are expected to be strong, powerful, invulnerable, unemotional, insensitive, heterosexual, tough, and self-reliant; but if you are none of these things, you are automatically frowned upon, not just by other men, but also by ourselves.

Aliraza has more plans to published including on whether the masculine police subculture influences the treatment that male rape victims get, and whether the Sexual Offences Act 2003 accurately reflects male rape victims’ experiences of rape.

PhD Student Lecture Series

After the PhD away day, it was decided amongst the PhD students that we should showcase our own research contributions to the department through a PhD lecture series. After approaching PhD students in our department, Alex Simpson, Piotr Maron and Holly Steel all offered to contribute to the first "PhD Open Lecture Series" which all are welcome to attend. We also intend to have all lectures chaired by PhD students. 

Ros WilliamsThe point behind this was to try and give ourselves experience of giving lectures beyond the seminar experience we get through leading seminar groups. It also demonstrates to the department and the wider university how active, diverse and - most importantly - interesting our own research contributions are.
Depending on the success of this term's lecture series, it may be feasible to add extra lecture slots in. Currently, though, the endeavour is incorporated into the Sociology PhD curriculum along with our PhD seminars in which we spend time with academics in the department who offer advice on topics such as the REF, authoring articles, and preparing for Confirmations. 

I hope over the academic year that those PhDs involved more generally in social sciences across campus might like for their own work to be show-cased in the PhD Open Lecture Series. If they are interested, they can email me at

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Nick Hardwick speaks at Jim Matthew Fund Public Lecture

The long awaited Jim Matthew Fund Public Lecture organised by the Sociology Department was successfully delivered last night. The lecture was delivered by Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Prisons who came to campus to talk about the nations prisons. Around 500 people braved the pouring rain to attend the talk including members of the public, staff from various departments and a range of postgraduate and undergraduate students.

Nick was eloquent and at times funny in his delivery but what underpinned this was the fact that the nation’s prisons are struggling. Prisoners are facing 22-23 hour days in their cells shared with another inmate and an open unscreened toilet. They get to enjoy a nutritionally balanced but dull diet that is limited by having only £1.92 to spend on each prisoner a day. Being in prison is not the luxurious holiday camp environment it is sometimes portrayed to be in newspapers. The prison service’s budget cuts have had a serious impact on prisoner conditions and the 126 UK prisons are currently running at 99% capacity. It would seem that prisons are stretched to the point where inmate violence is on the increase as the conditions in which they are incarcerated are creating a stressful pressure cooker environment. The one sign of hope and success according to Nick is the big decrease in young offender incarceration which has dropped by 2/3’s although this raises issues as it means the most troubled young people are housed together in centralised institutions often a long way from their homes.

Nick provided thought provoking stories of his experiences in visiting prisons balanced with insight into the limitations facing the prison service which the general public are not always aware of. On leaving the auditorium it was clear that the audience was left with much to ponder regarding what the state of the UK’s prisons says about the society in which we live. For as Nelson Mandela said: “no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

New Socio-Legal Publications by Paul Johnson

In the last few weeks, Paul Johnson has published the following new articles in academic journals:

1. Making Unjust Law: The Parliament of Uganda and the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014, Parliamentary Affairs
This article provides a critical analysis of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 and the process by which it was enacted by the Parliament of Uganda.

2. Sociology and the European Court of Human Rights, The Sociological Review
This article offers a sociological analysis of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

3. Pornography and the European Convention on Human Rights, Porn Studies
This article considers the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the former European Commission of Human Rights in respect of human rights complaints, brought under the European Convention on Human Rights, about issues relating to the possession, production or distribution of materials classified as pornographic or obscene.

In addition, Paul has written a case comment for the European Courts website, on E.B. v Austria, which concerns the denial of a conditional release for a prisoner in Austria who alleged sexual orientation discrimination.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

California (day)dreaming by Alicja Heisig (Undergraduate SPS Student)

California (day)dreaming  by Alicja Heisig

If somebody told me a year ago that in June 2014 I would be going to California to present my own paper during an international conference at UCLA, I would have never believed it. At the time, I was still in the final year of my undergraduate degree in Social and Political Sciences, so was overjoyed just to be accepted to speak. When I was also informed, a couple of weeks later, that I had been awarded the Santander International Connections Award to pay for my conference fees, travel and accommodation, I felt like the luckiest person in the world. This was rapidly followed by some anxiety and doubt! Was there really anything new I could report to a roomful of experienced academics? As it turned out I was the only bachelor student there, most probably the youngest, quite likely the most nervous but definitely the most excited. And soon after I arrived this feeling of excitement overrode all the others. The 7 days that I spent at the International Conference on Conversation Analysis at UCLA were an unforgettable experience for me. In a vibrant, international environment of scholars, social scientists and professors from all over the world including a team from York, I had a chance to talk to my CA “celebrities” whose articles and books I had read and studied, I was able to network and make a lot of inspiring acquaintances and, most importantly, I managed to interest some conversation analysts and other participants in my research, which I was truly delighted about. The take home message is: even if you’re at the very start of your career, it’s worth a little bit of dreaming – sometimes those dreams can become a reality more readily than you’d think.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

PG Uni Fair - Saturday 11th October

Dr Xiaodong Lin will be representing the Department of Sociology at the UniFair in London ( If you are interested in studying Sociology, Criminology, Culture, Society & Globalization, or Social Media and Management/Interactive Technologies, and would like to know about the Department of Sociology and the postgraduate programmes we offer at York, please come along to talk to Dr Lin on Saturday 11th October. 

 He will be at the University of York stand.

Time: 12:00-17:00 on Saturday 11th October 2014

Venue: Monarch Suite, Hilton London Metropole Hotel, 225 Edgware Road, London W2 1JU

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Dr Xiaodong Lin - Marginalized masculinities: rural men in urban China

Dr Xiaodong Lin gave a talk on 'Marginalized masculinities: rural men in urban China', at the European Research Network meeting on ‘Men, Masculinities and Gender Equality: exploring masculine subjectivities at the margins’ on 25th September, at Newcastle University.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Dave Beer Interview - Figure/Ground on his Punk Sociology book

David Beer is senior lecturer in Sociology and his research is mainly in the fields of culture and media in the everyday context, social and cultural theory, and methods and empiricism in social and cultural research. 

He has recently been interviewed by Figure/Ground about his Punk Sociology book. They also discussed academia and disciplines.

The full interview is available online at

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Jerry Booth and the Phil Strong Memorial Prize

In September last year Jerry Booth was fortunate to be awarded the Phil Strong Memorial Prize by the Medical Sociology section of the British Sociological Association. The purpose of the prize is to contribute to the advancement of medical sociology by supporting post-graduate research and is awarded to unwaged PhD students not in receipt of a grant on the basis of an application setting out how the prize money will be used. Jerry used it to attend meetings of the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) to rehearse aspects of his thesis and to explore how his work might best be communicated to an audience of medical educators.

He attended events and contributed to ASME workshops on professionalism and research in medical education and rounded off the year by presenting a paper to ASME’s annual conference. Entitled Tomorrow’s Doctors: from manifesto to manual it used sociological approaches to standardisation as a way of understanding the evolution of the three editions of Tomorrow’s Doctors, the General Medical Council’s template for undergraduate medical education.

The paper was a contribution to medical educators’ nascent recognition that they need theoretical approaches if their thinking is to develop further, and the year’s experiences should also add a bit of ethnographic colour to what would otherwise be a rather dry literature review of the development of medical education in the thesis.

The work it financed gave a chance to show how sociology can contribute to a fuller understanding of the history and progress of the field of medical education.

Monday, 15 September 2014

York and Cardiff academics launch new resource for family members of people in vegetative or minimally conscious states

Media Information: Saskia Angenent +44 (0)1904 323918

York and Cardiff academics launch new resource for family members of people in vegetative or minimally conscious states

A unique online resource for family members and others involved in the care of people with severe forms of brain injury is to be launched this week.

Featuring over 250 in-depth interview film clips, the resource explores family experiences of having a relative in a vegetative or minimally conscious state. It explains key terms, reflects on the challenging choices families confront and outlines the clinical and legal context of decision-making about medical treatment.

Compiled by Professor Celia Kitzinger and Professor Jenny Kitzinger, Co-Directors of the York-Cardiff Chronic Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre, the research has been made into a new section on the award-winning charity website, due to launch in London on 17 September.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Health Experiences Research Group (HERG), Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, the resource presents findings from nearly four years’ research, featuring interviews with 65 different family members as well as talks from leading medical practitioners in the field of serious brain injury.


An exhibition featuring artwork, poems and postcards from family members will also be on display during a drinks reception. Entry is free but strictly by ticket only. For further details and to register for the event, visit:

Dr Nisha Kapoor wins ESRC Future Research Leaders Award

Lecturer in Sociology, Nisha Kapoor has recently been awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders Award to look at ‘Race and Citizenship in the Context of the War on Terror’.

This will be a three-year project beginning in January 2015. The research will investigate the growing insecurity of citizenship in the context of the War on Terror with a particular focus on different forms of citizenship removal and exclusion and their racial dimensions. In the post 9/11 context the use of extradition, citizenship deprivation and charter flight deportations have been promoted, assisted in part by changes to the law, yet little is known about the full extent of these forms of removal; who it is that is being extradited, having their citizenship deprived and being deported en masse; what the conditions are in which these removals occur; and what the justifications are for their use. This research aims to address these issues.

Friday, 12 September 2014

CAPACITIE Project Newsletter

CAPACITIE Project Newsletter

Newsletter Issue 2, September 2014

Read the latest edition of the CAPACITIE Project newsletter via this link

It includes an update of what our PhD Student Rina Siyengwa has been working on in the past few months.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Landmarks and future adventures: celebrating 50 years of conversation analysis

On the 29th July, the Language and Social Interaction Research Cluster in the Department of Sociology at York held a symposium to mark the significance of 2014 in the history of conversation analysis (CA). 

It is 40 years since the publication of the highly influential paper, A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-Taking for Conversation (Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson, 1974); 30 years since the landmark publication of edited collection, Structures of Social Action(Atkinson & Heritage, 1984); and, as we were recently reminded at the world’s largest ever CA conference – held in June at the birthplace of CA (UCLA) – it is now 50 years since Sacks gave his first lecture on conversation analysis. 

Capitalising on this moment in time, we held the symposium to celebrate and reflect critically on the accomplishments, challenges, and future possibilities created by the field’s exponential growth over the last five decades. 

With invited facilitators from Europe (Dennis Day, Simeon Floyd, Trine Heinemann, Anssi Peräkylä) and the US (Galina Bolden), the event was based around semi-structured discussion sessions aimed at creating space for reflection that is often absent from our busy working lives. 

We were delighted by the creative way in which participants entered into the spirit of the day, generating exciting ideas for future collaborative working.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Laurie Hanquinet - New book published

Laurie Hanquinet new book 'Du musee aux pratiques culturelles' has just been published by the University of Brussels.

This book identifies six different ‘cultural profiles’ of visitors, each synthesizing a particular relationship to modern and contemporary art museums. A visit to an art museum can reflect a love of art, a search for new experiences, a certain classicism, an opportunity to see friends, a window on the world or an exceptional outing to see beautiful things. Moving away from clichés, this book provides a nuanced picture of the audiences of modern and contemporary art museums, while discussing current major sociological theories of cultural participation.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

International Sociological Association Congress 2014

Congress poster

Written by Ros Williams and Alex Simpson

In July the International Sociological Association (ISA) held its 2014 Congress in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. For one week the city hosted 6,087 sociologists who came from all of over the world to contribute to this global, quadrennial sociological event. As two PhD students who had been given the opportunity by the Department of Sociology to attend, it was hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the conference. Organised into ‘research committees’ which further divide into small panels on specific themes, the innumerable papers and sessions demonstrated the span of research being undertaken by sociologists from across the globe today. 

One hundred and four countries were represented and, because of this, there was incredible international scope. Examples from the Health and Clinical Sociology research committee included papers on the recent emergence of Clinical Sociology in Iran, to the governance of Thailand’s public health system. Within the Institutional Ethnography research committee, presentations explored the various uses of ethnography to explore institutional contexts within Chile, Canada, France and the United Nations. Papers also demonstrated wide methodological variety, including the use of visual sociology to better understand the embodied experience of disability as well as how ethnography can be used to understand the nuanced contexts of rural life. This incredibly wide tapestry of research meant there were innumerate opportunities to attend papers that either directly spoke to our own research or, equally valuable, to simply follow our interests as sociologists.

On the Saturday of the conference we both had to opportunity to present from two papers from our own, ongoing doctoral research projects. Ros’ paper on collaborative governance in provision of regenerative medicine was part of a panel organised by the Sociology of Health Research Committee. As a ‘distributed paper’, a written piece was produced to circulate and present. Along with this style of paper, there were various different presentation approaches, including traditional papers and round table sessions with groups of shorter papers. Alongside this, Alex’s paper explored how ethnography can be used to better understand the normative and cultural assumptions of market life within the City of London. As part of the ‘Institutional Ethnography’ research committee, this oral presentation was able to pool together some of the themes emerging from a preliminary data analysis and to gain invaluable feedback from others engaging in a similar field.

Presenting our PhD work at a conference of this size was a thoroughly worthwhile experience. Both papers were well received and new contacts made which will hopefully lead to the opening of further opportunities and outlets for our work. Beyond our presentations, attending the ISA gave us both the crucial professional opportunity to meet other sociologists working both within and outside our areas of research. Overall it was a hugely enjoyable and worthwhile experience and our deepest thanks go to the Department whose funding and support made all of this possible.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

ESA PhD Summer School held at York

The ESA PhD Summer School ‘A Sociological Imagination for the 21st Century’ took place at York University between August 27th-29th.

The Summer School was opened by Dr Wes Lin who welcomed students studying in 18 different countries to York and to a drinks reception hosted by the Sociology Department. We then enjoyed two full days of discussion of draft articles prepared by students as well as keynotes talks and a panel presentation. 

The Summer School was organised by Prof Ellen Annandale who also taught at the event alongside Prof Ricca Edmondson (National University of Ireland), Prof Robert Fine (Warwick University) and Prof Tally Katz-Gerro (University of Haifa).

Some feedback from students:
  • “It was marvellous. I am assured that I am going the right way. Had the possibility to hear a critique (in a positive manner) from people who really wish to help”. 
  • “Very good event – useful topics, great organisation’. 
  • “Great, very nice and interesting people. "Overall I was delighted with the quality of the papers”.
  •  “I can't think of any other opportunity I've had to engage with fellow researches with quite as much intensity (sociology for breakfast!), and it was nice to be able to forget for a short while about all the institutional and political issues surrounding academic work at the moment and just focus on the intellectual side”.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Nathan Manning published in Discover Sociology

The Great Meeting Place: Bradford’s City Park and Inclusive Urban Space

An article written by Ala Sirriyeh (University of Keele), Anna Barker (University of Bradford) and Nathan Manning (University of York) has been published in this month's edition of Discover Sociology.

BSA Postgraduate Forum Event: The Promise and Perils of Researching Sensitive Issues

20 November 2018 (09:00-17:00) Call for papers Research concerning sensitive and emotionally demanding issues is vital but challenging...