Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Catriona Macleod, Sexuality and Reproduction

We were very fortunate to have a visit from Professor Catriona Macleod last week - a distinguished South African academic, who is simultaneously a SARChI Chair, head of a vibrant programme of Critical Studies in Sexuality and Reproduction, Professor in Psychology, and editor-in-chief of the International Journal, Feminism & Psychology.  Professor Macleod visited the Department of Sociology at York as part of a British Academy International Partnership and Mobility award, held jointly with Dr Merran Toerien and Dr Sian Beynon-Jones (both lecturers in Sociology at York).  Her visit included running a workshop on Research as a Social Activity, delivering a seminar entitled 'Adolescent Pregnancy': Feminism and Reproductive Justice, and taking part in a spirited discussion group about the promises and pitfalls of combining various forms of discursive psychology with conversation analysis.   
We are delighted to have had this opportunity both to learn from Catriona's extensive research experience and to be inspired by the way she goes about being an academic - combining intellectual rigour, careful empirical work, a critical voice and a host of strategies for getting that voice into the world beyond academia.  And despite her very busy schedule, she remains an enormous amount of fun!  

For a great commentary on the workshop from one of our recent graduates, see:

For more on the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction programme, see:

Catriona is also helping to organise the forthcoming International Society of Critical Health Psychology Conference, at which Dr Clare Jackson and Dr Merran Toerien (from Sociology at York) will be speaking.  See: http://ischp2015.co.za/  

Watch this space for more on that!

Friday, 26 June 2015

PhD Away Day 2015

On Friday 19 June all the PhD students from the Department of Sociology and Centre for Women's Studies gathered at the York Medical Society Rooms on Stonegate for the Annual Away Day.

Not only was the venue inspirational but there were some valuable sessions led by staff and students which addressed many stages and issues of PhD study.


10:00 Reception - Tea and Coffee
10:30 Opening - Wes Lin and Alison Taylor 10: 30- 11:30 – ‘Farmers Market’
We will run this session in the garden of the York Medical Society, where you will be sharing something special and you are passionate about with your fellow ‘villagers’. Most importantly, you may think it is also useful for them. It can be a theoretical idea from your reading, or some findings from your project. The content can be ‘displayed’ in any form. It can be a poster, leaflet or simply through verbal communication.

11:30-11:45 - Break
11:45-12:45 – Peer Support Session
You will be joining one of the following groups. You will be discussing any issue in relation to the themes.
Group 1: Preparing for your fieldwork
Group 2: Teaching-research balance as a PGWT Group 3: Writing up your PhD
12:45-13:45 - Lunch
13:45-14:45 – Academic Support Session: what constitutes a good PhD project, what impact can it have, and how– led by Professor Andrew Webster
14:45-15:05 - Tea/Coffee Break
15:05-16:00 - PhD Events Planning Session – led by Will Paterson & Catherine Atkinson
16:00 – Review of the day and Closing

Professors Celia and Jenny Kitzinger - ESRC 1st prize for Outstanding Impact in Society

Professor Celia Kitzinger, Co-Director of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre, won the award alongside her colleague and sister Professor Jenny Kitzinger, Cardiff University.  The award recognises their work conducted on family experiences of coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious states.

Prompting public debate, discussions of medical ethics and informing policy documents including new National Clinical Guidelines on prolonged disorders of consciousness, the two researchers also worked with Oxford University and the DIPEx charity to create a multi-media, online resource providing information and support for families and practitioners.

Launched in September 2014, the resource on healthtalk.org has reached over 4,000 people and is also being used in training healthcare and legal practitioners.

The work has also been translated into a Radio 3 programme, 'Coma Songs' which challenges common cultural misrepresentations of comas and reached around 59,000 people.
In addition to the ESRC award, the research received national recognition earlier this year coming joint runner-up in the Guardian University Awards 2015 and winning Cardiff University’s Innovation Policy Award earlier this month.

Celia Kitzinger said: “The ESRC impact awards show the importance of social science research in creating positive social change – from challenging forced marriage and domestic violence to helping families whose relatives have disappeared.  We are delighted that our own research on coma and disorders of consciousness has been recognised for its impact on practice and policy.”
-          For further information on the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre, visit: http://cdoc.org.uk/

-          To view the online resource on family experiences of coma, and vegetative and minimally conscious states, visit: http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/nerves-brain/family-experiences-vegetative-and-minimally-conscious-states/overview

There is a YouTube video about their work available at: Youtube video about their work is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RLt3P42Fzk

Thursday, 18 June 2015

New Research Centre!

Nisha Kapoor, Brian Loader and Nathan Manning are Co-Directors of the new Centre for Political Youth Culture and Communication (CPAC). The Centre is dedicated to exploring the socio-cultural factors influencing the civic engagement of young people and its means of communicative expression. Young networking citizens in many parts of the world today play a crucial role in shaping the future prospects for democratic societies. The styles, nature and means of their political engagement is therefore of increasing importance to policy-makers and academics alike. The Centre’s research is focused upon the communicative, emotional, embodied, and aesthetical modes of youth citizenship. Researchers examine the social construction of young people’s political identities within the context of widening social inequality, climate change, reflexive individualism and a networked media ecology. Find out more about the Centre by following this link - http://www.york.ac.uk/sociology/research/groups/cpac/

You can also follow CPAC on Twitter - @PoliticalYouth2

Doing Research on Gender and Farming

Part of coming an undergraduate degree in the Sociology department involves conducting a 10,000 word dissertation in the final year.

Third year Bethany Robertson who has just started her own sociology blog - Snippets of a Smiling Sociologist - reflects on her research and what she has learnt:

My topic of 'Gender in the Field of Farming' seems quite wacky to most but was a natural choice for me given that I have grown up on a farm, exposed to the social issues and witnessed the increase in women in farming. I have always questioned what it means to be a farmer since the nursery rhyme ‘Old Macdonald Had a Farm’ struck me as stereotypical for seeing women as inferior in farming. My advice for anyone deciding on a topic is that working with a personal interest or thinking outside of module work to research something you are passionate about, will give you the motivation to succeed and jump through the barriers you will inevitably face along the way!

I was supervised by Ellen Annandale, and expored the role of women in farming which has traditionally been understated in academic literature due to the predominance of men numerically and normatively in farming. Therefore, sociological research in the area has focused on farm wives and their role on farm, failing to acknowledge the increasing number of women farming in their own right, challenging the image that farming is unsuitable for women.

I conducted interviews with eight women in farming across Norfolk to determine whether women feel gender is made relevant in their work, in order to assess how far experiences and the way gender is ‘done’ reflect inequality between the sexes. Drawing on thematic analysis, my dissertation suggested that women accentuate their femininity to construct difference and position themselves as viable farmers. Instances of marginalisation were tolerated but such gender performance does little to challenge the gendered culture of farming and may contribute to maintaining an environment which undervalues women. 

I enjoyed my research and was so inspired that I was keen to engage other students and staff  with my work. Consequently I took part in the inaugural student-led lectures a couple of weeks ago as a personal challenge to increase my confidence and to share my passion for gender equality in the context of farming. This proved to be a great opportunity to attempt to curb my fear of public speaking because it felt like I was the expert in the room, as well as allowing me to gain feedback on my work and presenting style in an informal way.

I have learnt a lot about project management in organising my primary research which I can take on board in the future. This is going to be particularly useful as I am staying on within the department to embark on the Masters in Social Research to continue to develop my methodological skills which I can culminate in a project, less constrained than my undergraduate dissertation in terms of doing justice to the practical application of research methods. Perhaps I may like to adapt and broaden the scope of my current project in light of honing and reviewing my approach. Post-Masters I am keen to fulfil my passion for contributing to social understanding via empirical research and analysis in the context of a charity or research organization.

Celia Kitzinger - Why are patients in permanent comas routinely kept alive?

An article has been published in "The Conversation Today" about Celia and Jenny Kitzinger's research in the area of patients who are in a permanent coma.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Sociology - Best Uni YUSU Course Reps

Congratulations to the Sociology Course Reps for getting the YUSU 'Best Course Rep Team' award at the YUSU Awards Night! Someone said about the Sociology Course Reps: "The team have worked tirelessly to form a strong team headed by the sociology department rep. They provided more events, ports of call, support for students and student engagement in the department in two terms than any other previous set of reps or society have managed, through their positive team ethic and putting the student needs first".'

Friday, 12 June 2015

Green Impact Award 2015

We're delighted to announce that Sociology has achieved a Bronze Award from Green Impact for our efforts at greening the department.  At the awards ceremony, the Sociology team were complimented particularly on their staff induction materials, which introduce new staff members to Green Impact and the kinds of sustainability-related practices expected of all in Sociology at York.  We couldn't have achieved the award without our fantastic student helper - Ben Wright - who was trained and allocated to help us by the central Green Impact organisers.  We are excited to have two Sociology students joining the team for the next round and are aiming for silver!  For more information on Green Impact, see: http://www.green-impact.org.uk/
For more information on sustainability at York, see: http://www.york.ac.uk/about/sustainability/

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...