Thursday, 27 March 2014

Contesting ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ difference in emotions through music use in the UK

A new article, written by Dr. Sam de Boise, published in the Journal of Gender Studies, looks at claims which have emphasised gender and sex differences in emotions. Such disparities in experience have often been explained with reference to either biological differences or socialisation into discrete 'gender roles'. 

Analysing quantitative and qualitative survey data about personal experiences of music from 914 respondents (male = 361; female =553), it outlines the particular problems associated with both ‘hardwired’ and ‘socialisation’ accounts.

 In looking at music listening, which is often so explicitly concerned with emotional experience, the article demonstrates how context, age and experience intersect with gender to produce a much more complex picture of emotions than most accounts which treat gender as static or singular.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Public lecture to be delivered by Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prison

Ruth Penfold-Mounce with David Honeywell has been awarded money from the Jim Matthew Fund to support a public lecture to be delivered by Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons. 

Nick will be speaking on 8th October 2014 at 6pm in the Auditorium, Research Centre for the Social Sciences. Drinks and canapes will be served after the lecture.

The lecture will focus on: Nelson Mandela: “It is said that 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.”

How do we know what happens inside our jails? This talk will describe the history and role of HMI Prisons and set this in the context of the UK's obligations arising from its status as a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). It will argue for the importance of independent, human rights based inspection not just as an accountability mechanism but as a preventative process. 'Knowing' what happens changes what happens. The talk will also discuss current inspection findings, focussing mainly on the adult prison estate and consider the impact of current policy including 'Transforming Rehabilitation' polices, resource constraints, population pressures and restrictions on prisoners' regime and privileges. It will assess the extent to which the system is coping with the pressures these factors create.

Shades of deviance marketing

Rowland's new book 'Shades of Deviance' has just been released. This is a key reading for his second year undergraduate module - Crime, Culture and Social Change and for anyone interested in crime and deviance. Follow the link for a full author interview: or visit the the Routledge website: Criminology and Criminal Justice homepage

Garden Cities of the Future

Daryl Martin offers a response to the recent announcement of a new garden city at Ebbsfleet. In an article for The Conversation, Daryl measures the aspirations for the Ebbsfleet development against the ideals of the original garden cities.

The article is available on line at

Thursday, 13 March 2014

New Video - Criminology at the University of York

The Sociology Department has had a new short animated film made to help you get some more insight into what it is like to study criminology at the University of York. This is not just for our BA Criminology applicants but also for those interested in the Sociology with Criminology route. The film gives you an idea of the sorts of topics that come up within our various modules and also gives you a taste of what the academics who teach the degree programme are interested in.

The video is online at:

Sociologists at York and same-sex marriage

Written by Dr Paul Johnson

Today, 13th March 2014, is a very significant and special day for one of my colleagues, Celia Kitzinger: it’s the day that she will be married. As a result of the commencement of provisions in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the marriage that Celia solemnized with her partner, Sue Wilkinson, in Canada (British Columbia) on 26th August 2003 will become recognized as a marriage in English law. For those of us who have longed for and dreamed about equal access to marriage for same-sex couples, today will be a day to celebrate. And, for us as sociologists, it will also be a day to reflect back on the social and legal conditions that resulted in Celia and Sue’s marriage finally being recognized in their home country.

As is now well known, when Celia and Sue returned to England from Canada their marriage was not recognized under English law (although it was, eventually, as a result of the enactment of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, deemed to be a civil partnership). Supported by the human rights organization, Liberty, Celia and Sue took legal action and, in July 2006, the President of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir Mark Potter, rejected various arguments about why their marriage should be recognized. In doing so, Potter made a number of statements about marriage that, to the sociologist, are especially interesting. For example, Potter stated that ‘the majority of people, or at least of governments, not only in England but Europe-wide, regard marriage as an age-old institution, valued and valuable, respectable and respected’ and to accord same-sex relationships the title and status of marriage would be to ‘fly in the face’ of international law and to ‘fail to recognise physical reality’. Just 7 years after Potter’s judgment, Parliament changed English statute law so that it does recognize the ‘physical reality’ of same-sex relationships and accords them the title and status of marriage (although this doesn’t hold true of Church of England canon law, which maintains that marriage is an exclusively heterosexual union).

For sociologists, this transformation is dramatic and interesting! Over the coming decades much will be written about how the hegemonically heteronormative interpretation of marriage that underpinned Potter’s judgment could give way to a counter-view subscribed to by enough Parliamentarians to enable a change in the law. There are many ways of understanding such a change, and I’m sure that many voices will emerge on the subject over the years ahead. There will be those who will see the change as the final victory in the progressive development of gay and lesbian rights. And there will also be those who see it as the further ‘co-opting’ of same-sex couples into heteronormative and/or patriarchal structures. For those sociologists long critical of marriage, the introduction of same-sex marriage will be regarded as the evolution of an undesirable social institution. And for sociologists like me, who are interested in law and human rights, the focus will be on examining how the human right to marry that is currently enjoyed by opposite-sex couples (like that found in Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights) might be extended to same-sex couples.

Aside from the social and legal research that will continue to be done, there is also the question of how we, as sociologists, personally react to this social change. We are, after all, ‘ordinary’ people and, to paraphrase a now famous line by my colleague, Stevi Jackson, even sociologists get married. Personally, I see the question of whether same-sex couples should have a right to marry as very different to questions about the social, cultural and moral value of marriage. I make this distinction in a similar way to the one I would draw if an individual were deprived of an opportunity, on the grounds of their sexual orientation, in some form of employment of which I was critical (I’m a life-long vegetarian, but I'm pleased that abattoirs can’t refuse to give people jobs because they are gay). In addition to that, my view of marriage is, like everyone else’s, bound up with my own biography: having lived through various changes to the criminal law relating to what were once called ‘homosexual acts’, the rise and fall of ‘Section 28’, the battle over adoption by same-sex couples, the resistance to equalities legislation in respect of sexual orientation, and many other legal changes, I can’t see the end of discrimination in marriage as anything but positive. It saddens me (and sometimes annoys me) when I hear or read so-called ‘radical’ voices that are critical of same-sex couples who want to marry and suggest that ‘homonormativity’ should be resisted. Like most sociologists, I understand these views and the politics on which they are founded. But the costs of maintaining social differences based on sexual orientation, especially when they are established in law, are high and I’m very happy to see them go. Taking the ‘hetero’ out of the ‘normativity’ of marriage is a welcome day for me.

Whatever sociologists say about marriage over the years ahead, I think the one thing that the vast majority of us will agree upon is that excluding couples from marriage on the grounds of sexual orientation is fundamentally wrong and today, for same-sex couples like Celia and Sue, that wrong has been put right.
Sociologists at York have produced a wide range of research relating to sexual orientation/identity and marriage, including:
The Sociology Department will host the event ‘Celebrating Same-Sex Marriage Equality: Sociologists and social change’ on March 28th. Full details here

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The failure of civic education

Nathan Manning’s collaboration with Kathy Edwards at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, has continued with a new publication. Their article in Sociological Research Online builds on the findings of their previous research into civic education to explore some of the reasons why civic and citizenship education has not increased young people’s electoral participation. The article draws upon more sociological research which highlights the range of barriers and obstacles young people confront when trying to participate in politics. At the same time, young people have been involved in various activities which are reshaping the meaning and practice of politics, making electoral participation just one way (an increasingly unattractive way in the eyes of many young people) of doing politics. Assuming that policy makers desire to promote genuinely meaningful political participation amongst young people, rather than use citizenship education as a tool of governance, to impose a narrow definition of politics and blame young people for voting with their feet, there is much they could learn from the sociological literature, or, put differently, much that sociology could teach.

Prof Nik Brown: LENDAL BRIDGE DEBATE: The car is squeezing the life out of spaces

Nik Brown has discussed the biggest issue to exercise the citizens of York in the past few years: should Lendal Bridge be handed back to cars?

Read his article in the York Press:

Xiaodong Lin shortlisted for BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize

Dr Xiaodong Lin’s monograph, entitled ‘Gender, Modernity and Male Migrant Workers in China: Becoming a "modern" man’, is among the five finalist titles for this year’s BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize.

Nisha Kapoor - Extradition and the Question of Citizenship

On Friday, 7th March, Nisha Kapoor will be speaking at an event discussing ‘Extradition and the Question of Citizenship’ along with Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims are Comingand Hamja Ahsan, from the Free Talha Ahsan campaign. The event is hosted by Just West Yorkshire and White Spaces Network and supported by Bradford Student’s Union. It starts at 5.30pm- come along if you’re in the area.

Narratives of Hope: Science, Theology and Environmental Public Policy (SATSU)

Date and time: Wednesday 10 April 2019, 1pm to 2pm Location: W/306, Wentworth College, Campus West, University of York ( Map ) Audie...