Friday, 28 October 2016

Rising Crime Porn and violence against women on television

dr ruth penfold mounce 1Ruth Penfold-Mounce has had a busy week with the release of her article with The Conversation on Crime Porn and violence against women on television attracting lots of media attention. She has filmed and recorded with Minster FM, and two Irish radio stations, Today FM and Newstalk Radio.

The article has also been republished in a range of online sites including which has led to a large readership in India. It has been viewed over 14,700 times so far since its publication and is continuing to be a key to public engagement with how much violence is too much.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

"Architecture Cures Cancer", But can it Cure Crime? The Architecture of Incarceration and the Architecture of Hope

Wednesday 9 November 2016, 3.00pm to 16:00

Speaker: Yvonne Jewkes - Research Professor in Criminology, University of Brighton, UK
Many countries are modernizing their prison estates, replacing older facilities that are no longer fit-for-purpose with new, larger and more ‘efficient’ establishments.  At the same time, there is growing recognition that our bloated penal systems are unsustainable and must be challenged. The notions of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ prisons have become common in academic and policy discourse, and even some politicians (including former Prime Minister, David Cameron) have referred to prisoners as potential ‘assets’, rather than risks to be managed.  But is the concept of a ‘healthy prison’ an oxymoron, or even a desirable goal? And how far could we go in incorporating healthy design elements into the prisons of the future? 
Like hospital design, the architecture of incarceration conveys clear messages about the individuals confined within and how they are expected to behave. Yet, while prisons and hospitals traditionally have shared an ethos of discipline and surveillance that dehumanises their occupants and instils feelings of fear and vulnerability, there has in very recent times emerged a different approach to designing and building such institutions – described by the architectural theorist behind Maggie’s Centres (a developing, global cancer care network), as the ‘architecture of hope’.
So what can prison architects learn from the design of Maggie’s and why is it that, in some jurisdictions, discussions about custodial architecture and design is dominated by concerns about punishment, security, control and risk management, while in other countries, the emphasis is on 'healing' damaged individuals and preparing them to be good citizens when they return to society?  Drawing on the findings of a three-year ESRC-funded research study that looks at the role of prison architects and the effects of carceral design, Professor Yvonne Jewkes will discuss the broad rationales behind the prison modernization programmes currently underway in the UK and parts of Europe, including the primary drivers behind design decisions and the extent to which top-level stakeholders are cognisant of the effects of their decisions on the everyday lives of prisoners and prison staff. 
Yvonne Jewkes
Location: Wentworth College, W/222

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

York Cares Big Community Challenge

Eeva Sointu, Darren Reed and Merran Toerien, all of the Sociology Department at York recently took part - along with other University of York staff - in the York Cares Big Community Challenge.  

We had great fun learning to edge lawns and getting our gloves dirty in the Hull Road Park.  

And it's true that a bit of fresh air and a cup of tea under a much needed gazebo (for our break and for sheltering from the downpour that greeted our arrival) can create a sense of camaraderie that will live on beyond the park!

Over three days 270 volunteers from businesses, the community and children from Osbaldwick Primary School helped to transform the park. 

Together we built 10 raised beds, planted 12 trees and moved over 30 tonnes of top soil and manure!  

This work will make a massive difference to local families and residents, particularly older people with dementia who are supported in the park by York Flourish.

For a collection of stories from the week, take a look at York Cares Twitter as well as coverage on Minster FM website. 

Jill Foster, a volunteer from Sainsbury’s also gave this interview to BBC Radio York about the Challenge: see 2:28:00

Cognitive Learning using Evolutionary Computation

Cognitive Learning using Evolutionary Computation

Associate Professor Will Browne
Victoria University, New Zealand

28 October at 13.30
Ron Cooke Hub, Heslington East - RCH/204


Artificial Cognitive Systems encompasses machine intelligence systems, such as robots, that interact with their environment. 

This talk will highlight research that enables such systems to learn and adapt to problems in their domain and in
related domains. 

The symbolic evolutionary computation technique of LearningClassifier Systems (LCSs) was conceived 40 years ago as an artificial cognitive system. The work presented shows how LCSs can utilise building blocks of
knowledge in heuristics ('if-then' rules) to transfer learnt knowledge from small to large scale problems in the same domain. Furthermore, the use of these rules enables functionality learned in sub-problems to be transferred to related problems. 

Results show that provided the human experimenter can set a rough curriculum for learning concepts, the underlying patterns/models in a problem domain can be learnt in an interpretable manner.

An interdisciplinary seminar series aimed at researchers from all disciplines
The seminar is followed by a refreshment break prior to interdisciplinary discussion 
Hosted by the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis 

Ron Cooke Hub is on Heslington East Campus – accessible by free bus services Nos. 66 and 44 running at frequent intervals from Heslington West.  The YCCSA Seminar room RCH/204 is on the second floor

Metrics and Algorithms: Two new publications from Dave Beer

Two recent publications from Dave Beer have covered developments in metrics and algorithms. His new book Metric Power was published this Autumn by Palgrave Macmillan. 

The book explores how power is deployed through metrics. In particular it looks at how Metric Power can be understood through a focus on measurement, circulation and possibility. 

The book looks at the power dynamics that reside behind bog data. 

The book is currently available with a 30% discount by using code PM16THIRTY through the publishers website . 

This book builds upon his earlier book on the cultural implications of data circulations Popular Culture and New Media: The Politics of Circulation, which is now out in paperback

More recently he has also edited and introduced a special issue on 'The Social Power of Algorithms'. This issue has just been published in the journal Information, Communication & Society. It gathers together eight articles that reflect on the potential power of algorithms to shape and order the social world. The collections also includes and introductory article by Dave.  The issue is available here

Friday, 21 October 2016

Film Screening Event coming to UoY

We've been very lucky this year in Sociology to be awarded funding from the University of York's Jim Matthews fund to bring over an award-winning filmmaker from South Africa - Rehad Desai.  Rehad will be offering a free screening of his documentary,Miners Shot Down, followed by a Q&A.  

Date: 14 November 2016 - from 6.30-8.30pm.  Please see attached flyer for more details.  The event is free but please book a ticket: 

This is a hard-hitting and thought-provoking film, focusing on the 2012 strike on a platinum mine in South Africa, which ended with 34 miners dead - killed by police in a tragedy with uncomfortable parallels to events that occurred under Apartheid.  The issues raised stretch well beyond South Africa, raising uncomfortable questions about global inequalities and capitalism that will be of relevance to a diverse audience.  All staff, students and members of the public are welcome.  

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Purity and Danger at 50 Mary Douglas since 1966 - A roundtable symposium 9th December 2016

It’s 50 years since the publication of Mary Douglas’ landmark Purity and Danger (P&D). 

P&D has had a lasting influence in guiding scholars to think about dirt, disgust, contagion, profanity, risk, pollution, cleanliness, hygiene, classification, death, sex, othering and much else. 

It ranks amongst the top one hundred most influential non-fiction works of the post-war period (TLS).

This event platforms twenty scholars presenting their research into, ‘matter out of place’ in contexts as varied as racism, terror, gender, biosecurity, antibiotics, finance, brexit, cities, risk management, drag, self-harm, menstruation, class, food, household cleaning, etc.

Time and Place: 13.00 to 18.00; Berrick Saul Building BS008; University of York

Organisers: Nik Brown and Sarah Nettleton (Sociology), Mark Jenner (History) and Philip Linsley (TYMS)

            Enquiries: email
                 Register:   email

                                   Supported through the UoY ‘Culture and Communication’ Research Theme

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Sociology has raised £50 for the 'first fiver' appeal at York

We're delighted to announce that Sociology has raised £50 for the 'first fiver' appeal at York. 

As you may have seen in the media, the #firstfiver is a campaign to encourage people to donate their first new plastic fiver to a cause of their choice; a really simple and effective idea. We have joined the University of York's appeal to donate our first fivers to the University’s Equal Access Scholarship scheme. 

This was set up to enable refugee students to study at York, and is already supporting two undergraduate scholars (with a third to arrive later this year).  We're very pleased to be able to contribute to this scheme.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Sexual Violence on Television

Following her appearance on Radio 4 'Body Count Rising' Ruth Penfold-Mounce has been featured on Minster FM relating to the 'crime porn' on television. Ruth spoke about the rise in graphic violence towards women (and men) on television and how often the visual violence could be removed and still leave a compelling story and characters.

dr ruth penfold mounce 1

Follow the link to read, see and hear more: Crime Porn

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Bodycount Rising on Radio 4

Ruth Penfold-Mounce is speaking on a new Radio 4 programme on thursday 6th October at 11.30am. The programme entitled 'Bodycount Rising' is exploring the rise in female dead bodies displayed on television. Ruth discusses the rise in violence against dead women and challenges the assumption that this is acceptable entertainment. You can catch the programme on iplayer from friday:

The Fall

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...