Monday, 28 April 2014

New publications in Criminology by Professor Bill Dixon

Professor Bill Dixon has published two new papers, the first is in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology on the 'Aetiological crisis in South African criminology'. Here, Bill argues that South African criminology has struggled to come to terms with with persistently high levels of violent crime since the end of apartheid. He contends that this represents what Jock Young once described as an 'aetiological crisis' in the discipline and suggests that a solution should be sought in work that connects history and biography (as described by C Wright Mills in his famous book on the 'sociological imagination'), to reveal the causes, meanings and uses of violence, and point the way to a more relevant post-colonial South African criminology.

The second is a piece in the South African Crime Quarterly on the background to the shooting of 34 striking miners at Marikana in South Africa's North West Province on 16th August 2012. With the official Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the incident still to report, the paper argues that the relative autonomy of the police - a feature noted over 30 years ago in an article by Otwin Marenin - means that we should hesitate before assuming that the shootings tell us very much about about either the relationship between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and a ruling political and industrial elite, or about everyday policing on the streets of contemporary South Africa.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Playfulness and Paradox in Spanish Urban Art

From 7th May–4th June photographs from Dr Andrzej Zieleniec's (Lecturer in Sociology) visual ethnography of Spanish urban art will be displayed in the Art Gallery, Chancellor's Building, Keele University. This project was conducted in 2013 and was supported by Santander.

Graffiti or Urban Art is a universal and global urban phenomenon. It takes many forms and elicits a range of responses. It is simultaneously vandalism, social critique and commentary, anti-social behaviour, destructive and creative, enhancing or degrading the urban environment, urban blight or urban art, ugly or beautiful. Regardless it represents attempts usually by those with little voice or access in conventional means to publicly express, exhibit, convey or communicate a range of messages and meanings about identity, belonging, alienation and exclusion.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Opening address to Botswana Manual Workers' Union

Pnina Werbner, Professor Emerita of Social Anthropology, School of Sociology and Criminology, gave the official opening speech to the 41st annual delegates conference of the NALCGPWU (The Manual Workers Union) in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

She delivered her address in front of 1,500 union delegates and distinguished guests, including the leader of the opposition party, Botswana Congress Party, and long-time leader of the Ruling Party, the Botswana Democratic Party, as well as other public sector union leaders.

Her speech focused on the glaring inequalities in Botswana and the world between low paid workers and a small wealthy elite, and the recognition that unions are struggling for a living wage for their members, in the face of working poverty.

Professor Werbner's book, The Making of an African Working Class: Politics, Law and Cultural Protest in the Manual Workers Union of Botswana, is published in June by Pluto Press.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Digital Sociology at the British Sociology Association Conference 2014

By Emma Head 

As co-convenor of the BSA Digital Sociology study group, I've helped to organise a special session on digital methods and their implications for sociology.  More details of our inaugural conference session can are outlined below, do join us if you are at the BSA conference this year: 

'The Social Life of  (Digital) Methods: roundtable discussion', Conference Auditorium 2, Friday 25th, 5-6pm
This roundtable discussion explores digital methods and their implications for sociological research.  The following speakers will be taking part:  Susan Halford (University of Southampton), Deborah Lupton (University of Canberra), Noortje Marres (Goldsmiths, University of London), Mike Savage, (London School of Economics and Political Science).

All the speakers have made significant contributions to the work on the social life of methods, and to the developing field of digital sociology. Furthermore, the topics under discussion have wider purchase for sociology as a whole at a time of disciplinary uncertainty in a context of rapid social change.  The roundtable will cover a diverse range of topics under the broad theme of the ‘social life of methods’ including the ‘crisis of empirical sociology’, the significance of ‘big data’, the history of sociological methods, the digital turn in social life and the problems and prospects for a critical social science under contemporary circumstances. This session will not only address the conference theme of ‘changing society’ but will do so in a way which explores how the repertoires of social research are both shaping and being shaped by these broader changes within social life.

The session will be chaired by Evelyn Ruppert (Goldsmiths, University of London)

The following sessions might also be of interest: 

'An Invitation to Digital Public Sociology', Roger Stevens Lecture Theatre 1, Thursday 24th April, 11-12.30pm
This session asks what ‘public sociology’ entails in a world of facebook, twitter, youtube, slideshare, soundcloud, pinterest and wordpress. What affordances and constraints do these tools entail for the task described by Michael Burawoy of ‘taking knowledge back to those from whom it came, making public issues out of private troubles, and thus regenerating sociology’s moral fibre’? What implications do these tools have for the relationship between the public and private in the occupational biographies of individual sociologists and, through aggregation and collective organisation, the discipline as a whole? In addressing such questions it seeks to draw out the continuities between the emerging field of digital sociology and the longer-standing concerns of public sociology. In doing so it addresses the claim made by John Holmwood at the previous year’s conference that the task of sociology in an age of austerity is to ‘occupy debate and make inequality matter’ and argues that the digitalisation of social life entails profound challenges and opportunities for sociological inquiry.
Speakers: Jesse Daniels (City University of New York), Deborah Lupton (Canberra University), Sue Scott (University of York and University of Edinburgh)

There is a  session on the 'Quantified self and self-tracking: data, self and health', more details can be found here.