The notion of a frame is central to the conceptualisation of social justice and the grounding of social justice claims. Influential theories of social justice are typically grounded in national or cosmopolitan framings. Those entitled to raise claims of injustice are identified as citizens of states or the globe, respectively. The re-visioning of understandings of space and belonging, incumbent in the processes of globalisation, problematises static geographical framings. We offer an alternative lens and argue for the inclusion of sociological data in accounts of social justice to identify the relevant framing of the community of entitlement. Drawing on secondary analysis of a qualitative dataset, we explore the case of multinational seafarers caught at the intersection of competing appeals to nationality and commonality as an exemplar of transnational workers. And, argue that there are compelling grounds to treat this group of multinational seafarers as a community of entitlement.
This article makes the case for a sociological engagement with kindness. Although virtually ignored by sociologists, we tend to know kindness when we see it and to feel its absence keenly. We suggest there are at least four features of ‘ordinary’ kindness which render it sociologically relevant: its infrastructural quality; its unobligated character; its micro or inter-personal focus and its atmospheric potential. This latter quality is not the ‘maelstrom of affect’ associated with urban living but can subtly alter how we feel and what we do. We illustrate these features through a study of everyday help and support. In doing so, we argue that – as much as Simmel’s blasé outlook – small acts of kindness are part of how we can understand city living and that, despite the cultural trope of randomness, a sociologically adequate account of kindness needs to recognise the ways in which it is socially embedded and differentiated.
This article critically engages with Savage et al.’s conceptualisation of ‘elective belonging’. Drawing on research in a case study site in central Salford, it argues that historical processes of deindustrialisation, slum clearance and social housing residualisation have been compounded by the subsequent strategies of gentrification and impact upon the forms of ‘belonging’ that can be constructed by marginal working-class people. Correcting for the predominance of research on belonging from the perspective of middle-class incomers, findings are organised around the themes ‘the local/incomer distinction’, ‘perceptions of and orientations to the neighbourhood’, ‘the power of economic capital’, ‘social others and social distance’ and ‘tectonic communities’. It is argued that the privileging of attracting inward investment into such locales necessarily entails that the elective belonging of the privileged is secured at the expense of the prescribed belonging of the marginal.
This article draws on a large qualitative study (N = 123) to develop an understanding of young people’s financial lives as constituted through experiences of time and temporality. Extending recent accounts of temporality as experienced and lived through our embedded location in the life course, we develop the concept of financial timescapes as a means of focusing on the ways that individual and personal financial capacities are situated in broader economic and cultural topographies of youth. The findings focus on the acquisition, deployment and consequences of financial lives as temporally situated and experienced by 16–26-year-old Australians. By doing so, we draw attention to how financial timescapes influence the constitution, navigation and cohering of young people’s financial lives. Understanding the significance of financial timescapes to young people’s experiences and socially embedded capacities thus helps to inform a sociological understanding of monetary decision making, financial behaviours and financial trajectories across the life course.
This article examines citizen participation in health research, where funders increasingly seek to promote and define ‘patient and public involvement’ (PPI). In England, the focus of our study, government policy articulates a specific set of meanings attached to PPI that fuse patients’ rights and responsibilities as citizens, as ‘consumers’ and as ‘lay experts’. However, little is known about the meanings those who take part in PPI activities attach to this participation. Drawing on ethnographic data of PPI in three clinical areas (stroke, cancer and pre-term birth) we investigate citizen participation in health research as political ritual. We identify tensions between policy-driven and ground-level performance of citizenship, and use ritual theory to show how such tensions are accommodated in participatory structures. We argue that the ritual performance of PPI neutralizes the transformational potential of citizen participation, and we draw wider sociological implications for citizen participation beyond the health arena.
Lay perceptions of social structure and economic distribution have a particular salience in the current era of widening inequalities which has characterised Britain since the 1980s. Research into subjective beliefs has generated puzzles: people underestimate the extent of inequalities, see themselves as being situated ‘near the middle’ irrespective of their objective position, and allegedly hold an a-social view of the underpinnings of socio-economic inequalities. This article presents a new qualitative analysis of lay perceptions of inequality. It does so with a particular focus on context, biographical experience and social change. The qualitative and temporal perspectives reveal that people are more sophisticated analysts of social process, and of their own situatedness within the wider social structure, than often thought. This has implications for sociological understanding but also holds relevance for renewing political options for intervention. Additionally, the evidence offers insights into lived experiences of inequality through a period of significant restructuring.
Despite the pitfalls identified in previous critiques of the evidence-based practice movement in education, health, medicine and social care, recent years have witnessed its spread to the realm of policing. This article considers the rise of evidence-based policy and practice as a dominant discourse in policing in the UK, and the implications this has for social scientists conducting research in this area, and for police officers and staff. Social scientists conducting research with police must consider organisational factors impacting upon police work, as well as the wider political agendas which constrain it – in this case, the ways in which the adoption of evidence-based policing and the related ‘gold standard’ used to evaluate research act as a ‘technology of power’ to shape the nature of policing/research. The discussion draws on semi-structured interviews conducted with police officers and staff from police forces in England.
Street-level bureaucrats implementing nation states’ migration policies increasingly find themselves in a structural tension between providing social assistance and regulating the flows of people entering and leaving the national territory. As a result, doing migration work involves a wide range of difficult, ambivalent situations. This article examines how and under which conditions these tensions translate into moral and political dilemmas in street-level bureaucrats’ everyday work. In doing so, it draws upon original qualitative research with street-level bureaucrats working in the Belgian programme for assisted voluntary return. The article concludes by proposing an approach centred around the notion of immunisation so as to understand the social context in which ambivalence and its contraries are produced.
Drawing on qualitative research on housing aspirations in Scotland, the objectives of this article are threefold. Firstly, this article will contextualise the subject of housing aspirations within relevant research literature and situate it within wider debates which revolve around the relationship between housing and social class. Secondly, in order to understand the implications of the research, this article uses Bourdieu’s notion of ‘sociodicy’ to help explain the ‘social’ reasons which incline people to have housing aspirations. Thirdly, the data will be analysed to understand the differences in ‘aspirations’ between groups, concluding that the generational differences, which correspond to the epochal changes in the economy, are more important than class differences when understanding the uneven distribution of housing outcomes and housing wealth in developed societies. The article concludes that the Bourdieusian concept of hysteresis explains the gap between the subjective expectations of young ‘professionals’ and the objective chances of their realisation.
There has been much recent scholarship on the nature of neo-liberalism. What follows develops these connections by examining early neo-liberal and management thought. The article explores the foundations of neo-liberal and management theory to argue they share fundamental features – namely active intervention, prioritising competition and the necessity of elite leadership. The purpose of all three is to reshape subjectivity and social relations. This exploration argues both projects share similar origins and that the objective of neo-liberalism, wherein subjectivity and social relations are changed along competitive lines, lies at the heart of the management programme.
Recent debates in sociology consider how Internet communications might catalyse leaderless, open-ended, affective social movements that broaden support and bypass traditional institutional channels to create change. We extend this work into the field of leisure and lifestyle politics with an empirical study of Internet-mediated protest movement, Stand Against Modern Football. We explain how social media facilitate communications that transcend longstanding rivalries, and engender shared affective frames that unite diverse groups against corporate logics. In examining grassroots organisation, communication and protest actions that span online and urban locations, we discover sustained interconnectedness with traditional social movements, political parties, the media and the corporate targets of protests. Finally, we suggest that Internet-based social movements establish stable forms of organisation and leadership at these networked intersections in order to advance instrumental programmes of change.
This article seeks to re-invigorate debate about how we theorise inequalities in higher education. The work of sociologist Basil Bernstein has not yet been brought to bear in this area, despite the affordances it brings in teasing out the implicit rules that perpetuate inequalities in higher education. Drawing on empirical findings from a qualitative study into the impact of university-led ‘outreach’ work in the UK context, the article applies and tests the work of Bernstein. It is argued that his framework offers the analytical precision to expose the implicit rules and principles that underlie young people’s encounters with higher education.
Using the findings of ethnographic fieldwork conducted at an inner-city football club, the article examines the relationship between superdiversity and understandings of human variation. It is argued that club personnel relied on what I have termed ‘granular essentialisms’ to make sense of their superdiverse surroundings. These were assertions about ethnicity and ‘race’ that resulted from sustained engagement across various categories of difference and saw these categories intersected in various ways, with notions of space and place being invoked in the process. This granular approach is compared with the attitudes to migration-related diversity encountered outside the inner city. I conclude that proponents of superdiversity should take greater account of the inequalities, tensions and prejudices evident in and around superdiverse areas if they are to construct a more comprehensive picture of the lived realities of contemporary cities and the understandings of ethno-racial difference which take hold there.
This qualitative research examines the influence of pornography consumption on young men with non-exclusive sexual orientations. Drawing on 35 in-depth interviews with young men from an elite university in the north-eastern United States, we examine how pornography was experienced as a leisure activity to be consumed in free time. Rather than focusing on the potential harms of pornography, we use an inductive analytic approach to explore the broader range of experiences that participants had, since the time they first consumed pornography. We demonstrate that pornography had educational benefits for these young men, related to their sexual desires, emerging sexual identities and for developing new sexual techniques. This study is part of a growing body of research that seeks to develop a holistic understanding of pornography in society, addressing the absence of the lived experience of the consumer in most pornography research.
This article asks why and how governments keep secrets from publics, journalists and politicians using the strategy of ‘cover storying’. To develop a theory of cover storying, insights are drawn from political sociologies of state secrecy and from recent sociological examinations of secrecy and deception in organisations. This theory is illustrated by analysing Cobra Mist, a secretive and deceptive Anglo-American Cold War intelligence operation. Examining recently declassified documents, this article develops a framework for the analysis of five interrelated narrative conditions that shape social processes of cover storying: correspondence; plausibility; accountability; constraint; and durability. In conclusion this article reflects on the broader implications of this analysis for contemporary state and organisational theories and understandings of secrecy.
Despite the increasing push towards interdisciplinarity across the physical and social sciences, little is known about the realities of working across such diverse disciplinary boundaries. This article provides empirical insight into the challenges of collaboration from the perspective of a sociologist working on an interdisciplinary project focused on developing a medical device. Findings suggest the effective contribution of sociological research is affected by the framing of interdisciplinary projects. From the beginning, the project pursued a narrow framing focused on scientific development, pushing the sociological research outside the relevance of the project. Reframing is negotiated in shared spaces between disciplines, and fieldwork became important in reframing the project to include the sociological research. However, without commitment to addressing a societal problem, it was impossible for sociology to contribute effectively. Sociologists embarking on similar endeavours should ensure there is shared commitment towards a social issue to prevent the marginalization of sociological research.
This article examines whether the existence of a secondary higher education admission system honouring more qualitative and extra-curricular merits has reduced the social class gap in access to highly sought-after university programmes in Denmark. I use administrative data to examine differences in the social gradient in the primary admission system, admitting students on the basis of their high school grade point average, and in the secondary admission system, admitting university students based on more qualitative assessments. I find that the secondary higher education admission system does not favour first-generation students; further, the system serves as an access route for low-achieving children from the privileged professional classes. Drawing mainly on theories in the social closure tradition, I argue that children with highly educated parents will be favoured when qualitative merits are honoured, and that professional-class families will be especially vigilant in pursuing educational pathways that will secure the reproduction of their class.
This article applies Norbert Elias’s ‘processual-relational approach’ to an empirical case: the influential Leicester Department of Sociology between 1954 and 1982. Based on 42 qualitative interviews and extensive archival materials, we identify two phases: the early phase of cohesion is characterised by a strong sense of purpose and a growing influence on British sociology. The second phase is characterised by social and intellectual fragmentation. In explaining this reversal, we argue that a critical juncture of youth rebellion around 1968 provided the portents of an anti-authoritarian civilisational trend, which increasingly put strains on the established power nexus: the autocratic leadership model embodied by the department’s inspirational leader, Ilya Neustadt.
This article shifts focus from an individualised and anthropocentric perspective on obesity, and uses a new materialist analysis to explore the assemblages of materialities producing fat and slim bodies. We report data from a study of adults’ accounts of food decision-making and practices, investigating circulations of matter and desires that affect the production, distribution, accumulation and dispersal of fat, and disclose a micropolitics of obesity, which affects bodies in both ‘becoming-fat’ and ‘becoming-slim’ assemblages. These assemblages comprise bodies, food, fat, physical environments, food producers and processing industries, supermarkets and other food retailers and outlets, diet regimens and weight loss clubs, and wider social, cultural and economic formations, along with the thoughts, feelings, ideas and human desires concerning food consumption and obesity. The analysis reveals the significance of the marketisation of food, and discusses whether public health responses to obesity should incorporate a food sovereignty component.
This article extends Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital in relation to ‘race’ and ethnicity by exploring the significance of black cultural capital among middle class black Caribbean young people in a large state school in south London. Black cultural capital is here defined as the appropriation of middle class values by black ethnics. Based on a 14-month-long ethnography, with specific attention to three focus group and 13 in-depth interviews with middle class black Caribbean young people, this piece outlines the benefits of and backlash to black cultural capital that students encounter from white middle class teachers for deploying black middle class tastes and styles in the classroom. The findings suggest that while black middle class pupils draw on black cultural capital to access advantages in formal school settings, they are also invested in challenging the terms of class privilege that marginalise the black working classes.
Extensive research has demonstrated that neighbourhood ethnic diversity is negatively associated with intra-neighbourhood social capital. This study explores the role of segregation and integration in this relationship. To do so it applies three-level hierarchical linear models to two sets of data from across Great Britain and within London, and examines how segregation across the wider-community in which a neighbourhood is nested impacts trust amongst neighbours. This study replicates the increasingly ubiquitous finding that neighbourhood diversity is negatively associated with neighbour-trust. However, we demonstrate that this relationship is highly dependent on the level of segregation across the wider-community in which a neighbourhood is nested. Increasing neighbourhood diversity only negatively impacts neighbour-trust when nested in more segregated wider-communities. Individuals living in diverse neighbourhoods nested within integrated wider-communities experience no trust-penalty. These findings show that segregation plays a critical role in the neighbourhood diversity/trust relationship, and that its absence from the literature biases our understanding of how ethnic diversity affects social cohesion.
In studies which analyse the social distance between spouses at the moment a couple is formed, and which attempt to understand the role of the family, and in particular of marriage, in crystallising social divisions, the concept of homogamy has often been purely descriptive. This article questions this static approach and seeks to pinpoint the changes which social homogamy undergoes in the course of conjugal life, addressing women’s decisions on work–family articulation. Drawing on a critical approach to the concept of rational choice, the article intends to demonstrate the merit of an interpretative approach by analysing how members of a sample of 27 university-educated Portuguese partnered mothers take their decisions in the context of an interdependency framework in which the dynamics of family interaction tend to thwart individual career path development, rendering spouses dependent on each other.
This article applies the concept of intimacy to examine relationships between adult children and their parents in rural China – an area which has been predominantly located in an obligatory framework. I reveal a qualitative difference in support between relationships built on intimate ties and those bound by duty and obligation. A unilateral emphasis on obligation-based relationships can deprive both the parent and adult child generations of agency and autonomy, which can be disempowering for both. The complex relations between intimacy and obligation are the product of local socio-economic circumstances and gender norms. Although traditional patrilineal and patrilocal culture excludes married daughters from the filial discourse surrounding their own parents, they are often considered to have the most intimate relationship with their parents. Paradoxically, the practices of intimacy between aged parents and their married daughters strengthen the natal ties that facilitate modifications to patrilocal and patrilineal customs.
This article explores how our understanding of the graduate labour market can be improved by re-assessing some of the insights of the conflictual tradition within sociology. In particular, its theorising of ‘social closure’ and the use of educational credentials within the labour market remain highly relevant. Yet these ideas need to be modified to better deal with the current social, economic and educational contexts. This article extends the social closure literature to deal with some of the changes within the graduate labour market by turning to Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas on symbolic violence. I will argue that ‘symbolic closure’, the reliance on exclusion through categorisation and classification, becomes of greater importance in a graduate labour market that no longer offers any clarity about what graduate skills, jobs and rewards constitute and signify.
This article contributes to the growing sociological concern with body pedagogics; an embodied approach to the transmission and acquisition of occupational, sporting, religious and other culturally structured practices. Focused upon the relationship between those social, technological and material means through which institutionalized cultures are transmitted, the experiences of those involved in this learning, and the embodied outcomes of this process, existing research highlights the significance of body work, practical techniques and the senses to these pedagogic processes. What has yet to be explicated adequately, however, is the embodied importance of cognition to this incorporation of culture. In what follows, I address this lacuna by building on John Dewey’s writings in proposing an approach to body pedagogics sympathetic to the prioritization of physical experience but that recognizes the distinctive properties and capacities of thought and reflexivity in these processes.
This study examines the mechanisms that create a paradox of marginality among middle-class Arab-Bedouin professional women in Israel by applying an intersectional analysis of their everyday professional life. It shows that the paradox of their marginality – despite their possessing high educational capital in their society, comparable to that of highly educated professional Jewish (men and women) and Arab-Bedouin male colleagues – is reproduced through the differential validation of embodied cultural capital based on women’s cultural roles solely as a symbol of their professional inferiority. The study indicates that when their professional capital intersects with other power axes within the public sphere – for example, ethnicity/racism, gender, religious norms and tribalism – it is not accorded recognition or legitimacy by male Arab-Bedouin professionals or by Jewish professionals, colleagues and clients, thus giving rise to representational intersectionality.
In response to recent calls for further cross-disciplinary research on austerity and a deeper sociological understanding of the impact and aftermath of the economic crisis on individuals and societies, this article builds on extant austerity literature through an exploration of its effects on European men. Informed by theories of liminality and rites of passage, this qualitative investigation examines the experience of austerity from the perspective of 11 men through the three liminal stages of separation, transition and reaggregation and investigates its impact on their identity, responsibilities and expectations. Our findings reveal the negative experiences of alienation and outsiderhood alongside positive experiences of communitas, solidarity and comradeship. The study provides a nuanced understanding of modern male Europeans and their ‘rites of passage’ through austere times.
There is currently widespread concern that access to, and success within, the British acting profession is increasingly dominated by those from privileged class origins. This article seeks to empirically interrogate this claim using data on actors from the Great British Class Survey (N = 404) and 47 qualitative interviews. First, survey data demonstrate that actors from working-class origins are significantly underrepresented within the profession. Second, they indicate that even when those from working-class origins do enter the profession they do not have access to the same economic, cultural and social capital as those from privileged backgrounds. Third, and most significantly, qualitative interviews reveal how these capitals shape the way actors can respond to shared occupational challenges. In particular we demonstrate the profound occupational advantages afforded to actors who can draw upon familial economic resources, legitimate embodied markers of class origin (such as Received Pronunciation) and a favourable typecasting.
Emerging affordability problems in British housing have accentuated the role of parental support in facilitating entry to homeownership, with financial transfers and in-kind support smoothening transitions for many. This article explores housing trajectories, focusing on how dependency and autonomy are negotiated within and across generations in relation to gifts, loans and in-kind transfers for home purchase. It draws on the experiences of a group of young adults aged 25–35 and those family members who supported them in acquiring a home. We consider the nature of support, and how those giving and receiving it understand this exchange. We show that gifting for homeownership is an ‘ideal gift’, allowing givers to exercise moral control over the receivers by supporting a normalized tenure choice. Managing relationships of indebtedness between kin presupposes negotiations in which the maintenance of autonomy is paramount. The article examines four types of negotiations and their impact on intergenerational relations.
We argue that consilience, or the unity of all knowledge, is an important goal for all researchers to pursue. The philosophical foundations of this position are explored, and then an empirical study is presented that illustrates what could be gained by melding behaviour genetic, sociological and other perspectives on politics. Twin data are analysed to examine the extent to which sociological factors can explain the variation in three dependent variables: left/liberal versus right/conservative political orientations; party identification; and interest in politics. The results indicate that large amounts of the variance in these variables are not explained by the sociological predictors, so the residual variance is tested for genetic influences, which yields fairly high heritability estimates. We conclude that analyses that are informed by both genetic and sociological insights are essential for understanding the phenomena examined, and explore the implications of this conclusion for conventional research paradigms and for consilience.
This article proposes that an understanding of transphobic ‘honour’-based abuse can be employed as a conceptual tool to explore trans people’s experiences of familial abuse. This conception has evolved by connecting a sociology of shame, Goffman’s work on stigma and ‘honour’-based ideology. The discussion draws upon findings of a qualitative study which explored trans people’s experiences of domestic violence and abuse. Narrative interviews were undertaken with 15 trans people who had either experienced abuse or whose perceptions were informed experientially through their support of others. Transcripts were analysed using the Listening Guide. Findings indicate that trans people can experience abuse as a result of a family’s perceptions of shame and stigma. This article offers a novel way of conceptualising trans people’s experiences of family-based abuse, but it also holds potential for understanding other relational contexts, for example, those of intimate partnerships.
Following recent calls for a more self-aware and historically sensitive sociology this article reflects on the concept of deindustrialisation and industrial change in this spirit. Using EP Thompson’s classic The Making of the English Working Class and his examination of industrialising culture with its stress on experience, the article asks how these insights might be of value in understanding contemporary processes of deindustrialisation and work. Drawing on a range of sociological, cultural and literary studies it conceptualises the differences and similarities between two historic moments of industrial change and loss. In particular it draws on the literary concept of the ‘half-life of deindustrialisation’ to explore these periods. The article has important implications for how we think about contemporary and historical industrial decline.
Citizenship tests are designed to ensure that new citizens have the knowledge required for successful ‘integration’. This article explores what those who have taken the test thought about its content. It argues that new citizens had high levels of awareness of debates about immigration and anti-immigration sentiment. Considering new citizens’ views of the test, the article shows how many of them are aware of the role of the test in reassuring existing citizens of their fitness to be citizens. However, some new citizens contest this positioning in ‘acts of citizenship’ where they assert claims to citizenship which are not necessarily those constructed by the state and implied in the tests. The article will argue that the tests and the nature of the knowledge required to pass them serve to retain new citizens in a position of less-than-equal citizenship which is at risk of being discursively (if less often legally) revoked.
This article examines the interaction of women from Muslim communities with British majority society, the ethnic group and the Muslim group to ascertain enabling factors and obstacles to their autonomisation. It explores how the women navigate through the tensions underpinning the three reference groups to develop their life plan in the private and public space. The empirical research included Touraine’s methodology of sociological intervention.
In recent decades a critical sociology and politics of difference has been at the forefront of the study of normality. Key aims of this are to contest hierarchies of privilege and to question appeals to sameness as the basis for inclusion. Analysing data from two studies carried out in the north east of England (one with disabled youths and one with lesbian and gay youths), this article responds to this work by examining young people’s negotiations of ableist and heteronormative constructions of normality. The article shows how the young people sought to disrupt the privileges of this normality whilst also claiming a sense of ‘likeness’ to others. The article concludes by discussing the need to consider the use of a language of likeness and inclusion in young people’s everyday politics of belonging.
Owing to globalisation processes, foreign language skills and familiarity with foreign cultures and institutions, along with similar skills and dispositions which we call ‘transnational cultural capital’, have gained in importance, affecting the positional competition between classes. Drawing on Bourdieu and based on semi-structured interviews with parents of adolescents, some of whom spent a school year abroad, we reconstruct class-specific differences in the acquisition of transnational cultural capital via a school year abroad. We show how, for upper middle class families, this acquisition is embedded in specific child-rearing practices and facilitated by their endowment with different forms of capital. For the same reasons, lower middle class families tend to find the acquisition of transnational cultural capital much more difficult. However, we also identify ways and conditions under which these families can enable their children to embark on a school year abroad.
This article examines the role of migrant workers in meat-processing factories in the UK. Drawing on materials from mixed methods research in a number of case study towns across Wales, we explore the structural and spatial processes that position migrant workers as outsiders. While state policy and immigration controls are often presented as a way of protecting migrant workers from work-based exploitation and ensuring jobs for British workers, our research highlights that the situation ‘on the ground’ is more complex. We argue that ‘self-exploitation’ among the migrant workforce is linked to the strategies of employers and the organisation of work, and that hyper-flexible work patterns have reinforced the spatial and social invisibilities of migrant workers in this sector. While this creates problems for migrant workers, we conclude that it is beneficial to supermarkets looking to supply consumers with the regular supply of cheap food to which they have become accustomed.
This article focuses on the meanings and repertoires of action associated with money in low-income and poverty circumstances. Based on interviews with 51 people, the analysis reveals how people on a low income actively engage with money as a way of situating themselves in their complex worlds. Money is investigated at two levels: praxis and orientation regarding spending, and as part of self-identity. In regard to spending, people displayed two main repertoires: one was functional (viewing money as a way of meeting material need) and the second relational (with money interpreted in regard to relationships and upholding of personal and familial values). These repertoires in turn link into self-understanding and world view. For people in poverty and low income, money can be a disabler, detracting from a valued identity and sense of future but a counter, more positive, orientation normalises lack of money, by reference to skills and character development and core values and relationships. The research as a whole underlines the complexity of money in low-income or poverty settings, the agency and creativity which people bring to its use and the diverse meanings they invest it with.
Within the emerging sociology of sleep, researchers have, for strategic reasons, been mainly concerned with the sleep of human beings. But of what benefit is it to understand sleep as a trait of non-human entities? The aim of this article is to establish why it is worthwhile to expand how sleep is theoretically construed in sociological circles, so that sleep is more than just a property that human beings possess. In particular, I explore why it is fruitful to consider the sleep of non-human animals from a sociological perspective. I also examine the value of understanding sleep as a property ascribed to some technological devices. I then use the remaining part of this article to reflect on what it means to study sleep in these expanded ways. I relate non-human sleep to the emergence of the new materialism and explore how the concept opens up new areas for sociological inquiry.
This article explores the relationship between technology and occupational identity based on working-life biographical interviews with older telecommunications engineers. In the construction of their own working-life biographical narratives, participants attached great importance to the technology with which they worked. The article contends that workers’ relationship with technology can be more nuanced than either the sociology of technology literature or the sociology of work literature accommodates. Adopting the concept of affordances, it is argued that the physical nature of earlier electromechanical technology afforded engineers the opportunity to ‘fix’ things through the skilled application of tools and act as autonomous custodians of ‘living’ machines: factors that were inherent to their occupational identity. However, the change to digital technology denied the affordances to apply hands-on skill and undermined key elements of the engineering occupational identity. Rather than simply reflecting the nostalgic romanticizing of the past, the biographies captured deterioration in the material realities of work.
In this article I explore the dimensionality of the long-term experiences of the main ethnic minority groups (their adaptation) in Britain. Using recent British data, I apply factor analysis to uncover the underlying number of factors behind variables deemed to be representative of the adaptation experience within the literature. I then attempt to assess the groupings of adaptation present in the data, to see whether a typology of adaptation exists (i.e. whether adaptation in different dimensions can be concomitant with others). The analyses provide an empirical evidence base to reflect on: (1) the extent of group differences in the adaptation process, which may cut across ethnic and generational lines; and (2) whether the uncovered dimensions of adaptation match existing theoretical views and empirical evidence. Results suggest that adaptation should be regarded as a multi-dimensional phenomenon where clear typologies of adaptation based on specific trade-offs (mostly cultural) appear to exist.
Over the last two decades sexuality has emerged as a key theme in debates about citizenship, leading to the development of the concept of sexual citizenship. This article reviews this literature and identifies four main areas of critical framing: work that contests the significance of sexuality to citizenship; critiques that focus on the possibilities and limitations of mobilising the language of citizenship in sexual politics; analyses of sexual citizenship in relation to nationalisms and border making; and literature that critically examines western constructions of sexuality and sexual politics underpinning understandings of sexual citizenship. In order to progress the field theoretically, the article seeks to extend critiques of sexual citizenship focusing on two key aspects of its construction: the sexual citizen-subject and spaces of sexual citizenship. It argues for a critical rethink that encompasses a de-centring of a ‘western-centric’ focus in order to advance understandings of how sexual citizenship operates both in the Global North and South.
By using the classic works of Durkheim as a theoretical platform, this research explores the relationship between legal systems and social solidarity. We found that certain types of civil law system, most notably those of Scandinavia, are associated with higher levels of social capital and better welfare state provision. However, we found the relationship between legal system and societal outcomes is considerably more complex than suggested by currently fashionable economistic legal origin approaches, and more in line with the later writings of Durkheim, and, indeed, the literature on comparative capitalisms. Relative communitarianism was strongly affected by relative development, reflecting the complex relationship between institutions, state capabilities and informal social ties and networks.
Despite its centrality in Blumer’s conceptual framework, the notion of joint action remains theoretically underdeveloped and empirically underutilised. To fill this void, the present article focuses on the dynamics inherent to the formation of joint action, and highlights actors’ deployment of available symbolic rules and resources for constructing the legitimising accounts that normally accompany their lines of action. The construction of such accounts, or stories, is viewed here as the prime means of reducing the intrinsic contingency of joint action and determining its content and terms as well as its direction and prospects. The article concludes by underscoring the importance of the suggested theoretical input for tapping some of the potential of Blumer’s approach, especially the one regarding its capacity to address subtle forms of power.
In this article, we consider the implications of the ‘Prevent’ strand of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy for the UK state’s engagement with Muslims. We argue that the logics of Prevent have been highly problematic for state–Muslim engagement. Nevertheless, we suggest that the characterisation of state approaches to engaging Muslims as a form of discipline is incomplete without an analysis of: first, differences in practices, habits and perspectives across governance domains; second, variations in approach and implementation between levels of governance; and third, the agency of Muslims who engage with the state. Through this approach we show how attention to the situated practices of governance reveals the contested nature of governing through Prevent.
This article considers the social logic of maternal anxiety about risks posed to children in segregated, post-conflict neighbourhoods. Focusing on qualitative research with mothers in Belfast’s impoverished and divided inner city, the article draws on the interactionist perspective in the sociology of emotions to explore the ways in which maternal anxiety drives claims for recognition of good mothering, through orientations to these neighbourhoods. Drawing on Hirschman’s model of exit, loyalty and voice types of situated action, the article examines the relationship between maternal risk anxiety and evaluations of neighbourhood safety. In arguing that emotions are important aspects of claims for social recognition, the article demonstrates that anxiety provokes efforts to claim status, in this context through the explicit affirmation of non-sectarian mothering.
The current political economy imposes cost-saving rationalisation within home care work. In this context, a key question is whether home care aides act with indifference to clients or whether home care aides continue to espouse and act out of the caring self, which centres on the desire to give meaningful care to clients. This article assesses the thesis of the caring self within a context of rationalisation in relation to home care aides in three organisations. The article brings qualitative and quantitative research to bear on this question. It finds that despite the processes of rationalisation occurring in home care work, home care aides’ overall satisfaction with client relations, and their ability to satisfy clients continue to have significant links to their job satisfaction, and discretionary effort. This offers support for the thesis of the caring self within the context of rationalisation.
This article examines Russian human service non-profit organisations (NPOs) to investigate the nature of civil society in a managed democracy. Specifically the focus is on emerging vertical ties between NPOs and ruling and governing elites. Drawing on qualitative data collected from health and education NPOs in three industrial regions, we find that in establishing such vertical ties the role of organisations and individuals within is changing – they have moved away from ignored outsiders towards accessing the circles of power and being tasked with managing the boundary between the state and civil society. In exploring these arrangements this article highlights that in the post-Soviet space, NPOs and the state are closely intertwined resembling co-optation. As a result the democratisation potential of human service NPOs is constrained. In discussing these insights we also draw parallels to contexts in which the state has outsourced welfare service to human service NPOs.
As a topic in its own right, political non-participation is under-studied in the social sciences. While existing approaches have tended to focus on the gaps between engagement patterns and public policy, or the rational disincentives to an individual’s participation, less attention has been paid to the explanatory power of socio-cultural factors. Taking its lead from studies by Oegema and Klandermans and Norgaard, this article uses recent student protests in the UK as a case study for exploring non-participation. Drawing on survey and interview data, findings indicate that whereas network access and collective identification are commonly seen as helping produce and sustain political participation, networks of collective dis-identification might help to produce and sustain political non-participation.
In some of the sociological production of recent decades, the popularity of individualisation theories has resulted in conceptually undifferentiated notions in the analysis of social change. De-standardisation, de-institutionalisation and pluralisation, on the one hand, and reflexivity, agency and action, on the other, are concepts that are frequently used interchangeably, self-evidently and without differentiation. In the social science literature, they often assume the almost incontestable status of a premise, instead of that of an object or empirical hypothesis. Rebutting this approach, in this article, the hypothesis that the process of de-standardising the life course as a growing mass phenomenon has little empirical evidence to support it, is postulated and confirmed. The exercise of reflexivity as an exclusively contemporary practice, mobilised homogeneously by all social groups is also questioned. On the basis of European and Portuguese samples, both statistical and content analyses of biographical sequences and narratives are employed.
‘Generations’ have been invoked to describe a variety of social and cultural relationships, and to understand the development of self-conscious group identity. Equally, the term can be an applied label and politically useful construct; generations can be retrospectively produced. Drawing on the concept of ‘canonical generations’ – those whose experiences come to epitomise an event of historic and symbolic importance – this article examines the narrative creation and functions of ‘generations’ as collective memory shapes and re-shapes the desire for social change. Building a case study of the canonical role of the miners’ strike of 1984–85 in the narrative history of the British left, it examines the selective appropriation and transmission of the past in the development of political consciousness. It foregrounds the autobiographical narratives of activists who, in examining and legitimising their own actions and prospects, (re)produce a ‘generation’ in order to create a relatable and useful historical understanding.
This article investigates the influence of personal networks on changes of occupational rates of men and women becoming parents. It discusses and measures the effects of various interconnected dimensions of network structures and compositions, such as density, degree of overlap between partners’ networks, geographical distance between network members, and types of relations (family, friendship, or others). A set of longitudinal analyses on 235 couples becoming parents in Switzerland shows that for women, higher density in emotional support triggers a reduction in occupational rates once the first child is born, while for men, a higher density in practical support is associated with an increase of occupational rates, with a resulting increase of gender inequalities in the division of paid labour. Results are valid both for intended changes and for changes observed in the transition, and they hold when controlling for parents’ educational level, income and personal values about gender equality.
While understanding values of bureaucratic work has been a fundamental concern of organizational sociology, research has remained divided over the nature of the values that underpin it. Examining the more generalized sociological insights on the values of bureaucratic work using a rigorous approach to value measurement, this study contributes to the reconciliation of the divergent conceptual insights on these values. Using the European Social Survey data of highly rationalized societies, this study finds employed senior managers to place systematically higher value on self-enhancement and openness to change and lower value on self-transcendence and conservation than their self-employed, entrepreneurial counterparts. The study also contributes to the understanding of the values of bureaucratic work, by examining the value implications of the duration of the employment of senior managers in bureaucratic organizations, and the organizational and the managerial bureaucratization of their work.
The recent economic recession has impacted substantially on the graduate labour market, with many graduates now struggling to find secure employment in professional careers. In this context, temporary, unpaid ‘internships’ have emerged as increasingly important as a ‘way in’ to work for this group. Yet while there has been much media and policy debate on internships, academic consideration has been scant. This article begins to address this knowledge gap by drawing on a study of interns in a third sector environmental organisation. The research findings reveal that unpaid internships were rationalised through a complex mix of political motivations, career ambitions and lifestyle aims, but these intersected in important ways with social class. These findings are not only of empirical interest, contributing to our knowledge of graduate negotiations of precarity, but also of theoretical value, extending our understanding of young people’s agency and motivations in transitions into work.
Assimilation of migrants is assumed to happen through acculturation, which is depicted as neutral, unintended and invisible. In most accounts the role of social actors is pushed into the background, and the conditions that shape and determine the direction of the acculturation are ignored. A further critique of the acculturation concept is that the content of the conveyed culture is not disclosed nor are the outcomes hinted at. We argue that the concept of norm images redresses these criticisms by eliciting the cultural content and specifying the role of actors, that is, professionals, in the conveyance of culture. Using the example of the Amsterdam police force, we demonstrate that police officers impose crucial elements of the Dutch nationalistic discourse, specifically language and loyalty, on migrant citizens and migrant colleagues alike. Thus these police officers operate as reproducers of the social order cemented by Dutch nationalism.
Transnational migration flows have revitalised the interest in ethnicity in social sciences. The ethnic boundary approach (Barth, Wimmer) argues for a non-essentialist understanding of ethnicity and calls for detecting the factors that turn migrants into ethnic minorities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Dutch police officers between 2008 and 2013, this article presents three factors that together constitute a structural framework that produces events of ethnic boundary construction (salient ethnic identity plus ethnic closure) between migrant and non-migrant officers: (1) ethnicised precarity; (2) ethnic conflicts triggered by the ethnicising discourse in Dutch media and politics on migrants and migration; and (3) the quasi-therapeutic management style applied in the police organisation. It further calls for a differentiated understanding of migrants’ precarity, questions explanations of ethnic closure in terms of stereotypes and critically scrutinises socio-psychological approaches of ethnicity and diversity management.
Alcohol consumption in 21st-century Britain is of significant interest to government, media and academics. Some have referred to a ‘new culture of intoxication’ or ‘calculated hedonism’, fostered by the drinks industry, and enabled by a neoliberal policymaking context. This article argues that the ‘carnivalesque’ is a better concept through which to understand alcohol’s place in British society today. The concept of the carnivalesque conveys an earthy yet extraordinary culture of drinking, as well as ritual elements with a lack of comfort and security that characterise the night-time economy for many people. This night-time carnival, as well as being something experienced by participants, is also a spectacle, with gendered and classed dynamics. It is suggested that this concept is helpful in making sense of common understandings of alcohol that run through the spheres not only of alcohol consumption but also production and regulation.
Increasing ethnic and social diversity in cities does not translate into diverse networks of urbanites. Particularly for white middle-classes in gentrified neighbourhoods, there is evidence on boundary drawing to ‘unwanted groups’ such as ethnic minorities and lower-classes. Rarely have these studies focused on the networks of ethnic minorities, the actual diversity-bringers. I will contribute to the understanding of why and under what circumstances diversity in neighbourhoods gets translated into people’s daily practices, hence also networks, by analysing those of middle-class Turkish-Germans in Berlin. Based on interviews and network analysis, I will show that a neighbourhood’s ethnic diversity, fellow residents’ attitudes towards diversity and the built environment play an important role in building category-crossing ties. Owing to a lack of reciprocity in establishing ties, Turkish-Germans in neighbourhoods with a high share of native-Germans actually have more ties to Turks than those in a more diverse neighbourhood.
This article concerns workfare and especially mandatory work activities for the unemployed. It focuses on the UK government’s Work Programme and recent challenges regarding its lawfulness. Drawing on the resources of actor network theory, and especially the economization approach to the study of markets, it outlines how the Work Programme is configuring a market for the labour of the unemployed, including a space of calculation in regard to that labour. The argument advanced is that the law and its instruments are part of the process of market making, contributing to both its design and calibration. This article therefore locates the law as an actor involved in the assembly of a market for the labour of the unemployed. It also foregrounds what is missing from recent debates on workfare, namely, an account of how the activities of the unemployed are configured and framed as labouring activities.
We examine how male breadwinning and fatherhood relate to men’s overwork and underwork in western Europe. Male breadwinners should be less likely to experience overwork than other men, particularly when they have children, if specialising in paid work suits them. However, multinomial logistic regression analysis of the European Social Survey data from 2010 (n = 4662) challenges this position: male breadwinners, with and without children, want to work fewer than their actual hours, making visible one of the downsides of specialisation. Male breadwinners wanting to work fewer hours is specifically related to the job interfering with family life, as revealed by a comparison of the average marginal effects of variables across models. Work–life interference has an effect over and beyond the separate effects of work characteristics and family structure, showing the salience of the way work and life articulate.
This article asks why middle-class Israeli seculars have recently begun to engage with Jewish religiosity. We use the case of the Jewish New Age (JNA) as an example of the middle class’s turn from a nationalised to a spiritualised version of Judaism. We show, by bringing together the sociology of religion’s interest in emerging spiritualities and cultural sociology’s interest in social class, how after Judaism was deemed socially significant in identity-based struggles for recognition, Israeli New Agers started culturalising and individualising Jewish religiosity by constructing it in a spiritual, eclectic, emotional and experiential manner. We thus propose that what may be seen as cultural and religious pluralism is, in fact, part of a broader system of class reproduction.
This article concerns an insufficiently studied link in cultural class analysis, namely that between class-structured lifestyle differences and social closure. It employs a modified version of Michèle Lamont’s promising, yet under-theorised approach to the study of symbolic boundaries – the conceptual distinctions made by social actors in categorising people, practices, tastes, attitudes and manners in everyday life. Drawing on 46 qualitative interviews with people from the city of Stavanger, Norway, the analysis focuses particularly on a horizontal boundary-drawing dynamic between middle-class interviewees. It is argued that entanglements of different types of status judgements work both to construct and reinforce social boundaries between class fractions. The findings draw attention to what Pierre Bourdieu has termed the capital composition principle of social differentiation. Though fundamental to Bourdieu’s model of the social space, such systematic intra-class divisions have seldom been discussed in detail in contemporary cultural-stratification research.
When maintaining status-bridging friendships, people encounter inequalities in the context of their most intimate relationships. Using interview data on how people manage friendships with significantly poorer and richer friends in Hungary, this article explores lay discourses of inequality and justice, and the processes through which they lead to the decay (or the preservation) of income-bridging friendships at the micro level and to social segregation at the macro level. It shows, first, that different – egalitarian versus meritocratic – lay conceptions of inequality and justice translate into different everyday strategies of managing income-bridging friendships, focused on the hiding versus legitimization of inequalities, respectively. Second, it traces how both of these strategies, which are aimed at maintaining income-bridging friendships, eventually lead to their decay and to growing segregation between social classes.
The understanding of social reproduction, from a Bourdieusian perspective, is that the dominant typically reproduce their position in social space through various apparatus, such as the education system, to the detriment of the dominated group, who are unable to leave their own position, characterised by inequality and suffering. A key tool in achieving social reproduction is the process of symbolic violence; however, this article considers the effects of inverted symbolic violence. By following the trajectories of two middle class university graduates, this article will demonstrate the detrimental effect inverted symbolic violence has on their graduate employment trajectories. Respondents are depicted as having inflated subjective expectations incompatible with current objective realities within the labour market, resulting in a relatively downward, or unsuccessful, trajectory.
In the context of the economic recession and welfare reform in the UK there have been ongoing political debates regarding food insecurity. Food has an important role in defining people’s identities, yet the rapid growth in the number of food banks and food donation points in supermarkets and schools suggests a normalisation of food aid. Moreover, an estimated three million individuals are thought to be at risk of malnutrition in the UK. We examine: the discourse of food aid and the demonisation of those living in poverty, the scale of malnutrition, and the experiences of food bank users by drawing on survey data and case studies. Substantial numbers of people were constrained in their food choices, whilst food bank users had concerns about the social stigma of food aid. It is questionable whether the present policy approach is economically and politically efficient given the impact on people’s health and well-being.
The visual environment has increasingly been used as a lens with which to understand wider processes of social and economic change, with studies employing in-depth qualitative approaches to focus on, for example, gentrification or trans-national networks. This exploratory article offers an alternative perspective by using a novel method, quantitative photo mapping, to examine the extent to which a particular socio-cultural marker, the nation, is ‘flagged’ across three contrasting sites in Britain. As a multi-national state with an increasingly diverse population, Britain offers a particularly fruitful case study, drawing in debates around devolution, European integration and Commonwealth migration. In contributing to wider debates around banal nationalism, the article notes the extent to which nations are increasingly articulated through commerce, consumption and market exchange, and the overall significance of everyday markers (signs, objects, infrastructure) in naturalising a national view of the world.
This article explores the paradox of shy performativity, whereby people who identify as shy in everyday life can nevertheless give confident displays on stage. Professional performing artists’ accounts reveal that this is both enabled and complicated by transformations in consciousness concerning the Meadian social self. While taking on a fictional persona can provide liberating opportunities for the transcendent subject ‘I’, the critically self-doubting ‘Me’ reappears at certain moments, such as stage fright, transitions in and out of character, and disruptions of a scene’s dramatic frame. Managing the shifting boundaries between contrivance and reality creates ontological dangers, the brave pursuit of which presents a thrilling challenge for the shy performer. Symbolic Interactionist and dramaturgical theories are therefore applied alongside concepts of edgework and flow to analyse shy performance art as voluntary risk-taking action.
The article presents the emergent concept of social anchoring. The proposed concept represents a new theoretical approach to analysing the notions of identity and social integration in contemporary increasingly super-diverse and ‘fluid’ societies. The conceptual framework of anchoring links the issues of identity, security and integration. It enables the limitations of subjectively defined identity to be overcome by allowing the inclusion of objective aspects. It focuses on the role of identity for adaptation and ways in which individuals, especially migrants, establish essential footholds in their lives in a complex and changeable society. The development of this theoretical approach can enable identification of the source(s) of socio-psychological stability which individuals need for societal integration.
In this article we explore, through in-depth interviews, young adults’ experiences of depression and antidepressant use in contemporary neoliberal society. We show that medication initially brings relief and an ability to function. However, in the longer perspective the dominating experience of antidepressants is emotional numbness. We suggest that this functioning yet numb subject is well suited to neoliberal demands, where the informants respond to outer demands without challenging them. Inspired by Chantal Mouffe we suggest that depression as a diagnosis is depoliticising, and with Ian Craib, we can see a denial of disappointment that surfaces in how depression is related to contemporary society. As a possible form of resistance we identify the strong positive emphasis on emotions as giving direction, motivating the interviewees to stop medicating. Still, we see a tension between functioning – expected from adults – and emotionality – linked to adolescence as a phase that should pass.
This article investigates how culinary taste contributes to the formation of middle class identity in a working class context in the UK. We explore practices of food consumption among a group of individuals working at a UK university located in a working class city. We find a rather limited and discrepant cosmopolitanism, in which culinary practices are evaluated in terms of those worth engaging in, and those not worth engaging in, based on their ‘user friendliness’ for cosmopolitan middle class dispositions. Depictions of the local food culture as lacking are also dominant, used as a negative ground against which these dispositions are hierarchically formulated. Here middle class culinary tastes seem to be driven by disengagement with the wrong sort of place and a relatively closed alignment with the ‘proper’ and the ‘safe’ rather than by any open creative individuality.
Drawing on scholarship around academic freedom and new public management, this article explores the way in which research ethics committees in UK universities (URECs) can come to exhibit behaviour – common in their US equivalents – that prioritises the reputational protection of their host institution over and above academic freedom and the protection of research subjects. Drawing on two case studies the article shows both how URECs can serve to restrict research that may be ‘embarrassing’ for a university and how, in high profile cases, university management come to use such committees as mechanisms for internal discipline.
This article analyses the process whereby members of new classes in Turkey mobilize their resources so that their children receive US citizenship at birth. Following the actors’ self-perceptions and motivations, we argue that US citizenship acquisition is a new capital accumulation strategy, aimed to forestall against risks in intergenerational transmission of class privileges. With this article, we aim to contribute to cultural class studies in the following ways: we suggest that the unpredictable nature of classification struggles becomes more evident in contexts where transition to neoliberalism is accompanied by dramatic political shifts. We situate the desire for US citizenship within class anxieties in Turkey, informed by historical meanings attached to the binary of ‘the West’ versus ‘the East’. Finally, we break down the boundaries between different country-cases by drawing on citizenship as capital, rather than as a backdrop that actors share. We explain the new ways in which class distinction strategies are transnationalized in the contemporary period.
Cash is one of the most widespread and enduring symbolic resources for the accomplishment of social action. Yet the sociology of money has never paid much attention to cash, let alone practical uses of cash in actual transactions. The present article analyses this topic: how people project and recognise the actions, plans and understandings of market actors using cash. Communicative functions of cash are realised, it is shown, in and through the way it is held, moved, positioned and indexed. The flexibility of cash, compared with other monetary media, is demonstrated and explored. With respect to making payments, paying for others and reimbursing people, activities are described which can only be accomplished with cash, which cannot be done with bankcards or transfers. The article at least suggests why cash might endure in a digital age.
Medical sociologists and anthropologists have studied the social significance of obstetric ultrasound for families but little is known about how women and families make use of commercially available ultrasound scans. This article draws on interviews with women who booked a scan with a commercial company in the UK. For some women, commercial ultrasound can be understood as a family practice. We investigate this theme by examining who accompanies women to commercial scan appointments, how scan images are shared and how sonograms are used as prompts to resemblance talk. We argue that commercial scans are more than an additional opportunity to acquire ‘baby’s first picture’ and offer a flexible resource to do family, creating and affirming family relationships and rehearsing roles as parents, siblings and grandparents. Our findings confirm the importance of imagination in doing family and raise questions about the role of technology and commercial interests in shaping family practices.
Hong Kong has been represented as a politically indifferent, capitalist utopia. This representation was first deployed by British colonial elites and has since been embroidered by Hong Kong’s new political masters in Beijing. Yet, on 15 October 2011, anti-capitalist activists identifying with the global Occupy movement assembled in Hong Kong Central and occupied a space under the HSBC bank. Occupy Hong Kong proved to be the longest occupation of all that was initiated by the global Occupy movement. Situated in a space notable for previously having been the haunt of Filipina domestic workers, the occupation conjured a community into the purified spaces of Hong Kong’s financial district. I describe this in terms of an eruption of the sacred that placed conventional norms of Hong Kong city life under erasure, releasing powerful emotions into spaces once thought to be immune to the ritual effervescences of the transgressive.
Based on empirical research with participants from working-class backgrounds studying and working in higher education in England, this article examines the lived experience of shame. Building on a feminist Bourdieusian approach to social class analysis, the article contends that ‘struggles for value’ within the field of higher education precipitate classed judgements, which have the potential to generate shame. Through an examination of the ‘affective practice’ of judgement, the article explores the contingencies that precipitate shame and the embodiment of deficiency. The article links the classed and gendered dimensions of shame with valuation, arguing that the fundamental relationality of social class and gender is not only generative of shame, but that shame helps in turn to structure both working-class experience and a view of the working classes as ‘deficient’.
This article offers a sociological analysis of the migration motivations of highly skilled people who left Spain after 2008. Based on in-depth qualitative interviews, I map the role that the crisis played in highly skilled individuals’ migration narratives. Using the recently emerging migration flow between Spain and Norway as a point of departure, I analyse migration from one of the most crisis-stricken regions of Europe to one of the least affected regions. This analysis establishes that the migrants’ educational and occupational resources help to protect them from the threat of unemployment. Their reluctance to use the crisis as a reason to leave is further analysed as part of their symbolic and social boundary work. The article concludes that what Durkheim conceptualized as anomie provides an apt label for the particular set of societal problems cited by people who migrated from Spain after 2008.
The cultural elite are believed to be under siege due to significant changes in the ‘workings’ of cultural capital. Despite such changes, there is very little information about the class subjectivities of the ‘cultural elite’ themselves. The present article seeks to contribute to this shortcoming by taking advantage of in-depth qualitative interviews with individuals possessing great levels of cultural capital in a highly egalitarian country, Norway. This study shows that while the interviewees experience lack of recognition and honour from ‘the people’, they are far from passively descending. The main demarcation to other groups seems not to be cultural taste, but instead the orientation towards culture, broadly defined. While egalitarian sentiments are voiced, this does not hinder cultural elite awareness, but rather dampens how this can be expressed in public – merged into a form of elitist egalitarianism.
This paper reports on a quasi-experiment in which quantitative methods (QM) are embedded within a substantive sociology module. Through measuring student attitudes before and after the intervention alongside control group comparisons, we illustrate the impact that embedding has on the student experience. Our findings are complex and even contradictory. Whilst the experimental group were less likely to be distrustful of statistics and appreciate how QM inform social research, they were also less confident about their statistical abilities, suggesting that through ‘doing’ quantitative sociology the experimental group are exposed to the intricacies of method and their optimism about their own abilities is challenged. We conclude that embedding QM in a single substantive module is not a ‘magic bullet’ and that a wider programme of content and assessment diversification across the curriculum is preferential.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain was established in 1841 to represent the interests of its members, many of whom were small chemist and druggist retailers. Throughout the century this institution attempted to influence new policies designed to control the sale of poisonous substances routinely held by these shopkeepers. Using its in-house publication, the Pharmaceutical Journal, the Society argued for recognition of chemists and druggists as experts in the storage and distribution of poisons. This article examines the discursive strategy adopted by the Pharmaceutical Society in its attempts to retain control over the sale of chemicals. Its activities are analysed both in respect to the complex and socially embedded nature of chemical products, and to the technocratic nature of its claims.
In this article we critically consider the widely held conception that the public intellectual is in decline. We present a more sanguine fate of this figure, arguing that today we observe a flourishing of intellectuals. One such figure is the academic intellectual who has often been looked at with suspicion as a technical specialist. This conception suggests that university intellectuals are diluted versions of the historical conception of the ‘true’ public intellectual – that is, an ‘independent spirit’ that fearlessly challenges unjust power. In this article, we contest this view, arguing that this historical conception, idealised as it may be, nevertheless can inform scholastic activities. By resituating the public intellectual as a kind of temperament rather than a title, we examine its pressing – but at the same time uneasy – relevance to contemporary academic life. Counterposing this with contemporary instrumental conceptions of research impact, we suggest that where possible the intellectual academic should aspire to go beyond academic institutional norms and requirements. Hence, the academic public intellectual refers to a temperament, which is in but not of the academic profession.
On the basis of an ethnography of a group of boxers, this article questions pugilism as an experience of confrontation with the other, the reasons and effects of which lie beyond the ring. Using the boxers’ words to explain their everyday struggles, this article seeks to describe fighting figures by placing them in the full depth of their biographical paths. These boxers share the experience of immigration and their life stories have all been marked by profound feelings of strangeness, understood as a social disqualification of otherness that causes deep and private wounds. Like the shadow of the other, hanging over the ‘conversations of gestures’, the boxers’ wounds and the violence of their biographical paths can help explain how they experience their fights, through the idea of a bodily response to all the hardships they have endured, well beyond the ring and its rounds.
Understanding everyday social practices is challenging as many are mundane and taken for granted and therefore difficult to articulate or recall. This paper reflects on the challenges encountered in a qualitative study underpinned by current theories of practice that incorporated visual methods. Using this approach meant everyone in a sample of 20 household cases, from children through to adults in their 80s, could show and tell their own stories about domestic kitchen practices. Households co-produced visual data with the research team through kitchen tours, photography, diaries/scrapbooks, informal interviews and recording video footage. The visual data complemented and elaborated on the non-visual data and contradictions could be thoroughly interrogated. A significant challenge was handling the substantial insight revealed about a household through visual methods, in terms of household anonymity. The paper reflects on the challenges of a visual approach and the contribution it can make in an applied sociological study.
This article explores the intersection of asexuality and disability by means of a qualitative study with asexual-identified disabled persons. The article discusses the ways in which the asexual community is normatively constructed. Although figured as disabled-friendly, the findings suggest that this is conditional on the denial of any causal links between asexuality and disability, and that this can be thought of in terms of the construction of the ‘Gold Star’ asexual. The article also examines how coming to identify as asexual is constrained when one is already marked as ‘disabled’, and more broadly argues that alternative identities or orientations are reliant on a pre-existing ‘normality’. Looking at asexuality in tandem with disability also allows us to interrogate the asexual subject of existing asexuality research and writing, and uncover the implicit privileges being assumed.
While grounded theory involves many iterations between concept-building and concept-testing, the overall direction of analysis proceeds from loosely related concepts to tightly interrelated theoretical systems. Such a ‘bottom-up’ logic of analysis may lead to a number of problems, for example descriptiveness or missing out on large-scale general patterns. This paper proposes to alleviate these problems by adopting a ‘top-down’ methodological strategy. Such a strategy begins from highlighting the most general patterns in the data. With each step of analysis the patterns are gradually broken down into more specific models. Through this process the gap between the generality of concepts and the specificity of data is reduced, eventually resulting in a middle-range theory. The historical narrative of the construction of a Soviet Estonian personal computer, Juku, is used to demonstrate the strategy in practice.
This article offers an outline of a pragmatic sociology of the book. Whilst ubiquitous, books have received relatively little attention from sociologists. I propose to remedy this situation by drawing upon the ideas of GH Mead, namely his neo-Hegelian theory of the subject–object relationship. Mead’s chief insight is that objects such as books are first social and only then physical entities. They have agency not because of their thing-ness, so to speak, but because of their sociality. After reviewing the existing literature on the book, I discuss Mead’s most relevant contributions. In the proposal for a pragmatic sociology of the book that follows, I combine pragmatism’s focus upon the materiality of meaning-production with genealogy’s concern with power and violence. I conclude with an illustration of the approach: the simultaneous decanonization of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America among sociologists today and its canonization in political science.
Many sociological studies to date have explored the role of food in marking distinctions between groups. Less well understood is how ‘alternative’ means of food consumption become figured in such relations. Drawing on accounts of food practice derived from 20 in-depth interviews and a two-year period of participant observation, this article considers the role of class culture in the practice of alternative food consumption. As participants speak their position, expressions of class arise through discussions of food practice. Having explored how food plays a part in marking boundaries of distinction between foods ‘for us’ and ‘for them’, we are reminded that in reproducing certain ideas about proper eating, we confine our imagining of alternative food futures to a limited politics of the possible. The article highlights implications for future development of equitable alternatives to conventional foodways.
The article sheds light on the mediating role of social networks on consumption behaviour, a significant facet of social mobility and well-being. Based on the Indian Human Development Survey, the article explores to what extent households across India participating in social networks have increased their consumption levels. While participation in formal social networks does result in improved household consumption levels, the type and number of networks are pivotal to this change. Nevertheless, not all networks lead to similar effects, although the number of social networks per se has a positive effect on consumption. Furthermore, the networks based on homogeneous groups, such as women’s self-help groups, have a negative or lesser effect on smoothing consumption, while those affiliated with heterogeneous networks have a positive effect on increasing consumption.
The starting point for this article is a contribution to qualitative research methodology published in 1981 called ‘Interviewing women: A contradiction in terms?’ This was based on the experience of interviewing women in a longitudinal study of the transition to motherhood – the Becoming a Mother (BAM) study (1974–79) – and was subsequently much cited as helping to establish a new paradigm of feminist research. This article re-appraises the arguments put forward in ‘Interviewing women’, discusses its incorporation into a narrative about feminist methodology and presents and comments on new data collected in a follow-up to the BAM study conducted 37 years later. It argues that the complex political and social relationship between researcher and researched cannot easily be fitted into a paradigm of ‘feminist’ research, and that the concepts of a gift and of friendship as components in this relationship deserve more attention.
Scholarship on homophobia has been critiqued for being individualistic and psychological, failing to account for structural inequalities, experiences of homophobia and discursive manifestations of homophobia. This Economic and Social Research Council funded study attempts to address some of these concerns by focusing on the experiences of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals (LGBs) in relation to bullying, harassment and discrimination in the British workplace. We examine what homophobia is understood to be and how psychological and organisational discourses make it difficult to make sense of negative experiences and how anti-homosexual attitudes and work environments are sustained and left unchallenged through the claim ‘it’s not personal’. Drawing on theories of selective incivility and modern discrimination, we illustrate how ambiguous anti-homosexual sentiments are, and argue that the term ‘homophobia’ not only prevents people from challenging negative experiences, but it further masks inequalities based on sexuality at work.
The 2008 financial crisis initially appeared to challenge the sustainability of neoliberal finance capitalism. However, the focus of political and public debate soon shifted to state spending and the need for austerity. This research examines how this shift took place in the British press during 2009. The article begins by charting the rise of neoliberalism and its role in financializing the economy. It then examines how such developments impacted news production and made neoliberal perspectives more prominent in the media. This meant, as the data in this article demonstrate, that the key definers of the crisis in the media were among the strongest advocates of neoliberalism. Reporting of the deficit was characterized by fear appeals, the presentation of misleading data and false comparisons. Finally the article notes the consistent endorsement of austerity measures, by almost all newspapers, despite their consistent history of policy failure during recessions.
Quantitative social science has long been dominated by self-consciously positivist approaches to the philosophy, rhetoric and methodology of research. This article outlines an alternative approach based on interpretive research methods. Interpretative approaches are usually associated with qualitative social science but are equally applicable to the analysis of quantitative data. In interpretive quantitative research, statistics are used to shed light on the unobservable data generating processes that underlie observed data. Key tenets of interpretive quantitative methodology are the triangulation of research results arrived at by analysing data from multiple perspectives, the integration of measurement and modelling into a more holistic process of discovery and the need to think reflexively about the manner in which data have come into existence. Interpretive quantitative research has the potential to yield results that are more meaningful, more understandable and more applicable (from a policy standpoint) than those achieved through conventional positivist approaches.
In this article, I argue that the emerging field of the sociology of naming should recognize the fundamental importance of bodies in the range of social practices through which individuals come to have, and to be identified by, names. I introduce the concept of ‘embodied named identity’ to describe the outcome of identificatory practices of naming fundamentally orientated around and rooted in the body. I argue that the concept addresses the neglect of the body within the sociology of names and the neglect of naming within both the sociology of identity and in the sociology of the body. In my elaboration of the value of the concept of embodied named identity for enhancing sociological understanding, I focus on evidence on naming practices in relation to sexed and gendered bodies, racialized and ethnic bodies, bodies, nicknames and characterization, ‘nameless’ bodies and ‘body-less’ names.
This article examines the ways in which cosmopolitanism is imagined and planned for by 91 young women attending four private (elite) schools in one area of England. Despite many study participants coming from families where parents travelled internationally for business, few had a strong desire to reproduce such orientations in their own futures. Moreover, the elite schools attended placed relatively little emphasis on cosmopolitanism and transnationally mobile futures. For the few English young women doing the International Baccalaureate and/or actively considering higher education abroad, the decision to do so was driven by individual rather than family or social ambitions. Through our analysis we consider further whether cosmopolitanism is a form of (cultural) capital or a quality more embedded within the girls’ habitus. The relatively ambivalent attitude to cosmopolitanism found in the study schools ties in to an ethnocentrism which sees an ‘English education’ as among the most prestigious in the world.
Here we present an analysis of young people’s orientations to the future in the context of intergenerational relations. We draw on qualitative interviews to examine how young people from less privileged backgrounds use their family as an anchor when mapping the landscape of possible futures. Further, we use extensive quantitative material from structured surveys to provide contextual information on how young people’s imagined futures are shaped by the earlier generation. The study shows that the ingredients with which young people concoct their futures are in many ways grounded in their families’ attempts to provide the most favourable support they can manage within the structural constraints and on the basis of the affordances that are available to them, but largely regardless of their class background. Our analysis also emphasises that there is a wide range of trajectories between academic careers conventionally understood as ‘successful’ and the careers resulting in ‘social exclusion’.
This article examines British Mass Observation Project (MOP) accounts written by people who say that they have struggled with belonging. The main focus lies on acts of misrecognition that occur within everyday relationships, and the impact that the ensuing relational non-belonging has had on the MOP writers’ sense of self. The concept of ‘invisible strangers’ is developed to account for experiences of misrecognition that are perceived to be the result of individualised characteristics such as personality rather than categorical membership such as ethnicity. The process does not, however, end with the self; being misrecognised engenders feelings about others, which play an important role in how people experience relational non-belonging. I therefore propose extending social interactionist accounts of the relational self by exploring self–other feelings that involve not only how a person believes s/he is viewed and judged by others, but also how that person evaluates the selves of others.
This article examines the forms and impact of violence against people identifying as members of alternative subcultures. It draws upon the findings from interviews and focus groups undertaken with over 60 participants from a range of alternative subcultural backgrounds, conducted as part of a broader two-year study of many different strands of targeted hostility. The article presents evidence to show that ‘alternatives’ are subjected to a wide range of violent and intimidatory behaviour, from ‘everyday’ abuse such as verbal insults through to more extreme acts of brutality. This can affect their physical and mental health, causing them to change the way they conduct their routine activities. However, the article suggests that some of this victimisation forms part of ongoing conflict with a group that participants describe as ‘chavs’, that has hitherto been unacknowledged. This ‘little war’ is characterised by mutual hostility and antipathy flavoured by class antagonism that can escalate into violent confrontation.
This article analyses national university applications and admissions data to explore why ethnic minority applicants to Russell Group universities are less likely to receive offers of admission than comparably qualified white applicants. Contrary to received opinion, the greater tendency of ethnic minorities to choose highly numerically competitive degree subjects only partially accounts for their lower offer rates from Russell Group universities relative to white applicants with the same grades and ‘facilitating subjects’ at A-level. Moreover, ethnic inequalities in the chances of receiving an admissions offer from a Russell Group university are found to be greater in relation to courses where ethnic minorities make up a larger percentage of applicants. This latter finding raises the possibility that some admissions selectors at some Russell Group universities may be unfairly rejecting a proportion of their ethnic minority applicants in an attempt to achieve a more ethnically representative student body.
Some social scientists are sceptical of the explanatory power of ethnicity and seek to explain ethnic differences by references to non-ethnic factors such as discrimination. We challenge this scepticism by considering two theoretical objections: there is no such thing as ethnicity and ethnic categories are unable to explain social processes; and by showing how ethnic strategies affect outcomes that cannot be captured in standard ethnic penalty analyses, we offer a new way to examine ethnic penalties in unemployment. We calculate a set of net ethnic penalties and then analyse longitudinal labour-force data to examine how strategies such as self-employment change ethnic penalties in unemployment amongst six different ethnic groups in Britain. The results show that self-employment reduces the ethnic penalty for Indians, Pakistanis-Bangladeshis and others, but not for Blacks, White-Others and White-British. This supports the argument that ethnicity can provide an explanation for some of the ethnic differentials in the labour market.
It has been argued that middle-class parents engage in the ‘concerted cultivation’ of their children with a view to securing their future status. One aspect of this ‘concerted cultivation’ entails the enrolment of children in organised enrichment activities. While scholars have focused on the ‘enrichment’ market for school-aged children, few have examined the preschool market. This article presents an analysis of a Sydney-based Australian parenting publication with a focus on advertisements for enrichment and entertainment activities targeting preschool-aged children. Many of these advertisements promote the message that future educational success is predicated on parental investment in the preschool years and mothers/parents are urged to do all they can to give their child a ‘head start’ on learning. This analysis highlights how these activities are promoted as a strategy for class reproduction, suggesting that anxiety about children’s future status has seeped into the preschool years.
The life course has become a topic of growing interest within the social sciences. Attempts to link this sub-discipline with life span developmental psychology have been called for but with little sign of success. In this paper, we seek to address three interlinked issues concerning the potential for a more productive interchange between life course sociology and life span psychology. The first is to try to account for the failure of these two sub-disciplines to achieve any deepening engagement with each other, despite the long-expressed desirability of that goal; the second is to draw attention to the scope for enriching the sociology of the life course through Erik Erikson’s model of life span development; and the last is the potential for linking Eriksonian theory with current debates within mainstream sociology about the processes involved in ‘individualisation’ and ‘self-reflexivity’ as an alternative entry point to bring together these two fields of work.
This article aims to discuss the possibility that cohousing communities might combine both civil engagement and governance systems in order to simultaneously generate three forms of social capital: bonding, bridging, and linking social capitals. Cohousing communities intend to create a ‘self-sufficient micro-cosmos’, but struggle against the relationships of ‘anonymous’ neighbourhood. Cohousers build their bonding social capital through the creation of a supportive (formal and informal) network within the community; while at the same time they develop bridging social capital when they try to integrate with the wider context, by organizing activities and making available spaces towards the outside. Finally, when cohousers try to collaborate with external partners (e.g. non-profit organizations and public institutions) they build linking social capital in relation to the ideas, information and advantages obtained through the collaboration with these institutions.
This article, based on semi-structured interviews, addresses masculinity in the international division of reproductive labour through an analysis of the impact of gender and class on the outsourcing of elderly care services to migrant care workers. In the Italian context, characterised by a limited provision of long-term care services and by cash-for-care benefits, the strategies of men as employers of migrant care workers are shaped by class and gender. The outsourcing of care to migrant workers reproduces hegemonic masculinity in so far as male employers are able to withdraw from the ‘dirty work’. At the same time, men engage with tasks which are, in principle, kept at a distance. The employers’ family status, combined with their class background, are crucial factors in shaping the heterogeneity of men’s experiences as employers and managers of care labour, and the ways in which they make sense of their masculinity.
Bullying among school-aged children and adolescents is recognised as an important social problem, and the adverse consequences for victims are well established. However, despite growing interest in the socio-demographic profile of victims, there is limited evidence on the relationship between bullying victimisation and childhood disability. This article enhances our understanding of bullying experiences among disabled children in both early and later childhood, drawing on nationally representative longitudinal data from the Millennium Cohort Study and the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England. We model the association of disability measured in two different ways with the probability of being bullied at ages seven and 15, controlling for a wide range of known risk factors that vary with childhood disability. Results reveal an independent association of disability with bullying victimisation, suggesting a potential pathway to cumulative disability-related disadvantage, and drawing attention to the school as a site of reproduction of social inequalities.
This study analyses data obtained from the UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2002–2013 to examine the ethno-religious differences in the gross hourly pay within the British salariat occupational class. It explores the extent to which these differences are associated with ethnicity, religion or both. The findings suggest that substantial between-group differences do exist, but these differences cannot be attributed to a pure religious or ethnic discrimination. Although two of the Muslim groups experience a greater penalty than many of the other groups, there was no evidence for an overarching ‘Muslim penalty’. There also was no evidence for an overarching ‘Black penalty’. It is possible that within the salariat class, mechanisms other than pure colour and cultural racism are at work.
Drawing on a 2011 national survey and 50 semi-structured interviews, we explore the differing ways in which those in living apart together (LAT) relationships discuss and experience notions of commitment. We found that sexual exclusivity in LAT relationships is expected by the large majority, regardless of their reasons for living apart. The majority of the interviewees also expressed a high degree of commitment to their partner in terms of love, care and intimacy, alongside an appreciation of the increased freedom and autonomy that living apart has to offer. Respondents were divided into four groups according to their perceived commitment: 1. Autonomous commitment, 2. Contingent commitment, 3. Ambivalent commitment, and 4. Limited commitment. Despite differing degrees of commitment, however, the overall finding was that the importance of relating and making relational decisions was central, even in the lives of those living in such unconventional relationship styles.
Drawing on qualitative interview data, this article examines how grandfatherhood relates to the assertion and transformation of masculinities in later life. Recent attention to ageing and masculinities has identified how older men are challenged to succeed in maintaining connections to hegemonic masculinity in light of altered family and life circumstances. We consider men’s engagement with grandfatherhood as a means for so doing, illustrating how men make sense of the role through continuity with hegemonic masculinity. While grandfathers describe emotionally intimate and affectionate relationships with their grandchildren, their accounts reflect desires to re-affirm previous connections to masculinities. Attention to the way individualised masculinities are re-negotiated in later life can help to explain how men are making sense of the new family opportunities that arise from being a grandparent. Such an analysis of grandfatherhood, we argue, also offers significant critique of hegemonic masculinity and its distinction to non-hegemonic masculinities intersected by old age.
This article aims to understand the pathways through which financial vulnerability affects children’s social, emotional and behavioural (SEB) well-being and whether that impact is directly experienced or, as hypothesised, indirectly through their mothers’ emotional well-being. It uses data from Growing Up in Scotland – a longitudinal birth cohort study of 5217 children born in 2004–2005. The results show that maternal emotional distress is strongly associated with financial vulnerability, more so than with income, and that child SEB well-being is negatively associated with financial vulnerability and maternal emotional distress, with two-thirds of the effect of financial vulnerability being experienced indirectly through maternal emotional distress. While the qualitative evidence shows that financial vulnerability adversely affects older children directly, through the comparisons they make to their reference group, the quantitative finding is that young children are also negatively affected but predominantly via the effect of financial vulnerability on their mothers’ emotional distress.
This article considers how people involved in the zine subculture in the UK negotiate a sense of subcultural belonging through their participation at zinefests – radical marketplaces that facilitate the exchange of independently produced, not-for-profit media known as ‘zines’. The primary contention of the article is that contemporary subcultural networks are implicit in producing, via a multiplicity of entrance points, a ‘subcultural subject’ who negotiates both ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ subjectivities at various times. This point is exemplified throughout the article through the exploration of qualitative data collected via interviews and ethnographic work at zinefests between October 2009 and July 2011.
Within sociology a burgeoning literature on class identities and politics has developed during the past 20 years. One area of analysis which has yet to be fully investigated concerns the ways class politics are imbued within debates about human–animal relations. Focusing on the case study of dangerous dog legislation in England and Wales, this article develops the literature on class to locate the ways political framings and legislative responses to the issue of dangerous dogs have been enacted. Analyzing historical accounts of responses to rabies and hydrophobia in dogs and humans, through to contemporary debates about the biological dangerousness of certain dog breeds, the article discusses the sociological implications of these class constructions within the establishment of dangerous dog legislation and associated social control powers.
In this article we re-evaluate Fritz Schütze’s biographical interview method with its orientation towards the analysis of social problems experienced by the individual. We used Schütze’s method in a study of repeat offenders in a Polish prison, and on the basis of this experience we believe that we make two contributions – one to social science enquiry in general, and one to prison sociology. We argue that in social science research this method offers unique insights into the process of identity formation. These insights are made possible because of the ‘triple bind of narration’ inherent in Schütze’s method, that is to say the requirement to close, the requirement to condense and the requirement to provide detail. In relation to prison research we argue that Schütze’s method has rehabilitation value in making the interviewee/narrator re-evaluate their life through biography work. We also offer practical advice on how to conduct such interviews.
The sociological study of music consumption has tended to focus on general and typical experience instead of discrete or extraordinary experiences, consistently with a wider lack of biographical analysis. However, a popular topic among music fans is the phenomenon of peak music experiences: specific experiences involving music that are especially memorable, influential and even pivotal for the individuals involved. Drawing on the results of a pilot study conducted in Brisbane, Australia, this article shows that participants in the city’s indie music scene cite peak music experiences as central to their biographical narratives of inspiration, influence, conversion and motivation. These experiences make visible the more subtle processes by which musical meaning, taste and identity are constantly made and remade, as well as showing how encounters with music can affect subjectivities in an enduring way. The listeners are conscious of these processes, reflect on them and even try to create them.
This article examines how Romanians in London use native contacts for occupational advancement. Contrary to common associations of ‘bridging’ ties with ‘weak’ ties useful for upward mobility, it illustrates the differentiated nature, role, and resources of native contacts. Drawing on Bourdieu’s capital theory, it shows how weak bridging ties with natives facilitate migrants’ access to better jobs within lower-skilled sectors, whereas strong ties with natives generate distinct cultural resources often required for high-skilled occupations. I consider two strategies of converting strong bridging ties into cultural capital, signalling some limitations of weak ties in facilitating career advancement: mobilizing British friends to act as ‘cultural brokers’, and immersion in British professional networks to acquire and demonstrate local cultural capital. The findings enhance our understanding of bridging social capital and its variable role in enabling upward mobility.
Based on research with middle-upper class 12–13-year-old school girls, we discuss how femininities were embodied and discursively reconstructed in class-based ways. The data suggests the girls understood class antagonisms within the boundaries of neoliberal discourses of responsibilization, self-discipline, self-worth, and ‘proper’ conduct and choices. With social class stripped of any structural or structuring properties, instead imparted to the fleshy sinews of the (excessive) body, the data reveals how social class was made visible and manifest in various mechanisms of, and meanings about, inclusion, exclusion, pathology and normalization. Thus, in explicating the ways in which the school girls embodied middle-upper class femininity (as the epitome of localized and everyday neoliberalism) we highlight how, in turn, ‘others’ (‘chavs’) were pathologized and deemed in need of regulation, management and governance.
The expansion of creative and cultural industries has provided a rich source for theoretical claims and commentary. Much of this reproduces and extends the idea that autonomy is the defining feature of both enterprises and workers. Drawing on evidence from research into Australian development studios in the global digital games industry, the article interrogates claims concerning autonomy and related issues of insecurity and intensity, skill and specialisation, work–play boundaries, identity and attachments. In seeking to reconnect changes in creative labour to the wider production environment and political economy, an argument is advanced that autonomy is deeply contextual and contested as a dimension of the processes of capturing value for firms and workers.
This article considers changes in the association between educational attainment and occupational prestige in Germany over time. We argue that the link between attainment and occupational prestige has become weaker over time because of compositional changes in graduate occupational destinations. Prior to higher education expansion, the small elite group of graduates tended to access the occupationally closed and thus more prestigious professions on graduation. As higher education participation expanded, however, an increasing proportion of graduates found employment in less prestigious and more diverse graduate jobs. The results confirm our theoretical expectations. The association between educational attainment and occupational prestige has decreased over time as graduates entered a broader range of jobs and their relative advantage over those with lower levels of qualifications decreased. This can, in fact, be attributed to a merely compositional change among graduates’ occupational destinations from prestigious professions towards less prestigious free-market graduate occupations.
The concept of relationality has recently found widespread favour in British sociology, particularly in the emergent sub-field of the sociology of personal life, which is characterized by its attachment to the concept. However, this ‘relational turn’ is under-theorized and pays little attention to the substantial history of relational thinking across the human sciences. This article argues that the notion of relationality in the sociology of personal life might be strengthened by an exploration of the conceptualization of the relational person and relational processes offered by three bodies of literature: the process-oriented thinking of American pragmatism, specifically of Mead and Emirbayer; the figurational sociology of Elias; and psychoanalysis, particularly the object relations tradition, contemporary relational psychoanalysis, and Ettinger’s notion of transubjectivity. The article attends particularly to the processes involved in the individuality, agentic reflexivity and affective dimensions of the relational person.
On the world’s most utilised video-sharing social networking site, YouTube, Charlie McDonnell (Charlieissocoollike), Dan Howell (Danisnotonfire) and Jack and Finn Harries (JacksGap) are Britain’s most popular video-bloggers (vloggers). With more than two million regular subscribers to each of their channels, along with millions of casual viewers, they represent a new form of authentic online celebrity. These young men, whose YouTube careers began as teenagers, do not espouse a traditional form of masculinity; they are not sporty, macho or even expressly concerned with being perceived as heterosexual. Instead, they present a softer masculinity, eschewing the homophobia, misogyny and aggression attributed to boys of previous generations. These behaviours are theorised using Anderson’s Inclusive Masculinity Theory. Drawing on analysis of 115 video-blogs (vlogs), along with an in-depth interview with Charlie McDonnell, this article examines how these young men developed and exhibit their inclusive masculinities and attitudes, which we postulate are a reflection of dominant youth culture.
Goldthorpe’s class theory suggests that social class arises from employment relations in industrialised societies. This article assesses whether class in urban China can be approached from the same perspective by addressing three issues: (1) whether employment relations can capture China’s class structure; (2) how differently class is shaped by occupational structure in China; and (3) how useful class is to help us understand income inequality. Based on a recent Chinese social survey, the analysis finds three clusters of Chinese employees that fit into the ‘service’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘labour contract’ class typologies suggested by Goldthorpe’s class theory. Also, there is evidence that class links to occupational structures in a similar way between Chinese and western societies. Finally class, when directly measured from employment relations, displays a reasonable degree of explanatory power for inter-class income inequality whereas the Goldthorpe class classification fails to differentiate between intermediate and labour class positions.
This article analyses the impact of social class on families’ and teachers’ decision-making within an institutionalized family–school dialogue in France. The dialogue decides which upper secondary school track a student will attend and consists of three main steps: (1) family’s school track request; (2) staff meeting’s subsequent school track proposition; and (3) family’s optional rejection of the staff’s proposition. Using national longitudinal data, I find that parents’ cultural capital importantly mediates secondary effects (i.e. social class effects that remain after controlling for school performance) on families’ requests and their rejections of staffs’ propositions. Social class effects on staffs’ propositions are accounted for by families’ requests and student school performance. Moreover families and teachers appear to choose grade retention to avoid enrolment in a lower track.
This article explores the field of homelessness research in relation to the dynamics of contemporary inequality and governmentality, arguing that the dominant perspectives within this field have developed in ways that can converge with the demands of neoliberal governance. The article discusses the causal focus of much homelessness research, the emergence of the ‘orthodoxy’ of homelessness research and new approaches emphasising subjectivity and arguing for a ‘culture of homelessness’. We suggest that homelessness has been constructed as a discrete analytical object extraordinary to the social relations of contemporary inequality. The authority to represent homelessness legitimately has been constituted through positioning ‘the homeless’ outside of a community of valorised and normatively legitimate subjectivities. The article concludes with reflections on an alternative politics of homelessness research that moves towards a critical engagement with the position of homelessness within the structural dynamics of late modernity.
This article draws on interview material to analyse the ways in which heterosexual ‘couple practices’ interface with friendship practices (outside the couple). Focusing on the qualitative detail of participants’ experiences of friendship and of coupledom, I analyse the relationalities of gender, heterosexualities and friendship. Rather than focusing on gender as a variable in friendship variance, I examine the ways in which friendships ‘do’ gender and heterosexualities. In this dynamic, intimacy is practised by participants as a zero sum game and its distribution is strongly bounded. I argue that this distribution acts to create and reinforce boundaries of ‘friendship’ and ‘sexual couple’ bonds, and I examine the implications of these findings for analysing the relational qualities of the friendship tie.
This article introduces the ‘Pink Agenda’ as a set of judicial, social and political instruments employed by both nation-states and international human rights institutions, such as the Council of Europe, to achieve some socio-political goals: on the one hand, the proactive promotion of specific lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities beyond Europe; on the other, the creation of a dichotomy between tolerant and intolerant countries within the borders of Europe. The successful enactment of the ‘Pink Agenda’ is achieved by building and reinforcing a concept of European Sexual Citizenship that is strongly homonationalist in nature. Through an analysis of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, the article emphasises the way in which the homonationalist paradigm of sexual citizenship is applied to strengthen the divide between tolerant and intolerant member states and to suggest the existence of a difference between a queer-friendly ‘West’ and homophobic and transphobic non-western countries.
Studying kinship has involved doing family, displaying family and ‘displaying family’ as a sensitising concept to understand modalities troublesome to display. Fathers at antenatal screening clinics for sickle cell are faced with pressures to produce multiple displays – of family, illness knowledge, the good father and the model citizen – often in the face of racialised identities. Such fathers emphasise the importance of hypervisibility in gendered spaces and hypervigilence, lest pressures to adopt the ‘right’ disposition have adverse consequences for themselves, partners or their children. The displays of fathers, as well as displays they decline, are orientated to repair of social relationships. Where displays are provoked by social relations – resisting racist or gender stereotypes, navigating citizenship uncertainties, negotiating work and family lives – displays become problematic. Family display becomes troubled where the preferred social relationships fathers seek to constitute are ones that are not readily accommodated within extant social relations.
The traditional male breadwinner model, where men are responsible for economic provision while women are responsible for the home, is in decline across the western world as women are increasingly taking up paid employment. However, the meaning of breadwinning in the context of people’s everyday family lives has received little academic attention. Based on qualitative interviews, this article analyses how the adult children of Pakistani immigrants in Norway understand and justify women’s employment, with particular attention to how the economic aspect of women’s work is conceptualised. The study finds that women’s employment is accorded distinctively different meaning, and it is argued that the key distinctions are captured in two analytical dimensions: (1) the extent to which the economic contribution of women’s work is recognised; and (2) the ideal gender division of participation in paid work. The male breadwinner ideal is more explicitly challenged along the second dimension, than the first.
This article examines how parenting practices popularly classed as ‘good’ are related to poverty, education and time pressure. Using the 2012 UK Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) survey we argue that parenting practices such as reading, playing games and eating meals together are not absent among those who are less well educated, have lower incomes or are more deprived of socially accepted necessities: therefore, political claims of widespread ‘poor parenting’ are misplaced. Further, we suggest that the dominant trope of poor people being poor at parenting may arise because the activities of the most educationally advantaged parents – who do look different to the majority – are accepted as the benchmark against whom others are assessed. This leads us to suggest that the renewed interest in sociological research on elites should be extended to family life in order that the exceptionality of the most privileged is recognised and analysed.
Drawing on core principles of public sociology, this article discusses the creation of four theatrical vignettes about living with early onset dementia (symptoms of dementia pre-65). The vignettes were developed through an Image Theatre workshop, involving families living with early onset dementia. They were designed to capture key themes, issues and experiences that emerged from the group’s collective experience. While the content of the vignettes speaks to a range of key sociological debates (especially in relation to the lived experience of time, risk, social exclusion and stigma in dementia) the process of creating and using the vignettes represents the first empirical application of a (public) sociological approach to ‘person-centredness’ in dementia; which views persons as ‘dividual’ and selves as transactive. We conclude by advocating for a rich and diverse public sociology of dementia in the 21st century.
Friendship, sociologists suggest, is defined by institutionalized rules to a lesser degree than other important relationships. Hence it must be sustained through specific friendship-making practices. Social science literature tends to conceptualize friendship as enhancing the pleasures of alcohol use rather than as central to friendship production. This article examines alcohol as a technology in contemporary young adults’ friendship-making. Interviews with 60 drinkers aged 18–24 years in Melbourne, Australia demonstrate that drinking builds intimacy, particularly when similar levels of intoxication are achieved. Fear in night-time entertainment precincts underlines trust in friends. To manage uncertainty about responsibilities involved in friendship, young adults negotiate how they will care for each other when they are drunk. Providing this care occasionally jeopardizes friendship, in different ways for women and men. Understanding the import of friendship-making in alcohol use helps explain the persistence of heavy drinking and suggest opportunities for harm reduction.
In 2012, the group ‘Friends of Science in Medicine’, mostly comprising academic doctors and scientists, lobbied to remove teaching in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) from Australian universities. Seemingly inspired by an earlier UK-based campaign, the group approached vice-chancellors and the media, arguing that CAM degrees promoted ‘pseudo-science’ and ‘quackery’. Although epistemological disputes between biomedicine and CAM are well documented, their emergence in a higher education context is less familiar. This article explores the position-taking of those on each side of the debate, via a thematic analysis of stakeholders’ views as reported in news articles and other outlets. Bourdieu’s concepts of capital and autonomy are used to sketch out the stakes of the struggle. It is argued that the debate is significant not only for what it reveals about the current status of CAM professions in Australia, but for what it suggests more broadly about legitimate knowledge in the university.
Postcolonial theory has tended to focus on those spaces where European colonialism has had a territorial and political history. This is unsurprising, as much of the world is in this sense ‘postcolonial’. But not all of it. This article focuses on Poland, often theorised as peripheral to ‘old Europe’, and explores the application of postcolonial analyses to this ‘other’ place. The article draws upon reflections arising from a study of responses to ethnic diversity in Warsaw, Poland. In doing so we conclude that postcolonialism does indeed offer some important insights into understanding Polish attitudes to other nationalities, and yet more work also needs to be done to make the theoretical bridge. In the case of Poland we propose the ‘triple relation’ be the starting point for such work.
This article extends contemporary debates surrounding drug taking and employment through exploring the importance of economic participation in UK anti-drug policy. Specifically, we undertake a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of recent drug-taking policy documents to demonstrate how key ideological repertoires position drug consumption as the antithesis of economic potential and the productive subject. Engaging with recent critiques of neoliberalism, we develop the concept of the ‘employable citizen’ to (i) capture the increasing regulation of working identities deemed viable or appropriate, and (ii) foreground the connections between the spaces of drug taking and employment. After analysing the taxonomies that connect drug taking and the employable citizen, we discuss how our findings inform the broader regulation of drug-taking policy. We then conclude by examining the implications of the employable citizen as an ideological position and its consequences in terms of influencing policy and organizational discussions surrounding drug taking and employment.
This article contributes to the debate on the relevance of subculture as a theoretical concept for understanding groups in contemporary Western societies. Utilising data from a virtual ethnography of body modifiers, the article challenges the dominance of post-subcultural approaches. The body modification subculture discussed in this article has not only formed along socioeconomic lines, it has developed alternative work opportunities that enable and promote continued involvement in the subculture beyond one’s youth. While scenes and (neo-)tribes maintain their relevance for scholars investigating groups with a more temporary nature, the data presented herein show that subcultures did not vanish as society transitioned from post-War to postmodernity.
Using qualitative and quantitative data, this article explains how South Asian women’s attendance at university in Britain went from being exceptional in the 1970s to routine in the present century. Focusing upon the reflexivity of young South Asian women around issues of education, subject choice, marriage and careers in relation to their parents and their communities offers a better understanding than currently dominant social capital explanations of South Asian educational success. We show that conceptualizing reflexivity in a variety of forms following Archer better accounts for the different educational trajectories at the intersection of relations of ethnicity, class, gender and religion. The educational and career outcomes and transformations entail complex forms of resistance, negotiation and compromise across intersecting identities. These developments are transforming class and gender relations within South Asian ethnicities.
Key elements of discourse on the recent economic crisis are attributions of crisis responsibility. Such attributions are assumed to have consequences for audiences’ thoughts and actions in domains relevant to the crisis. Although studies have suggested ways to conceptualize attributions of responsibility, their effects on social action remain poorly understood. This essay develops an empirically grounded theoretical model and methodological tool to reconstruct ideal-typical attributions of responsibility from discourse along the dimensions of attribution targets and attributed logics of action. It further proposes that combinations of these ideal types constitute affective framings that influence how the crisis is perceived and how an audience may act in crisis relevant domains.
This article responds to the critical reception of the arguments made about social class in Savage et al. (2013). It emphasises the need to disentangle different strands of debate so as not to conflate four separate issues: (a) the value of the seven class model proposed; (b) the potential of the large web survey – the Great British Class Survey (GBCS) for future research; (c) the value of Bourdieusian perspectives for re-energising class analysis; and (d) the academic and public reception to the GBCS itself. We argue that, in order to do justice to the full potential of the GBCS, we need a concept of class which does not reduce it to a technical measure of a single variable and which recognises how multiple axes of inequality can crystallise as social classes. Whilst recognising the limitations of what we are able to claim on the basis of the GBCS, we argue that the seven classes defined in Savage et al. (2013) have sociological resonance in pointing to the need to move away from a focus on class boundaries at the middle reaches of the class structure towards an analysis of the power of elite formation.
While the lives and works of many sociologists have now been well documented, numerous sociologists at the ‘coal face’ of social research remain ignored. Consequently, beyond the contributions of those more ‘well-known’ scholars, considerably more needs to be done to examine the history of our discipline and reassess the significant contributions made by ‘other’ researchers so that we may reappraise what can be learnt from these ‘pioneer scholars’. In this article we focus on Pearl Jephcott (1900–1980), who in a research career spanning 40 years, but now largely forgotten, was at the forefront of methodological innovation in the 1960s. We offer an introduction to her work, focusing on questions such as why were her methods innovative and why is she now ignored within sociology?
This article contributes a global perspective to the emerging literature on girlhood in western contexts by examining the changing shape of transitions to adulthood amongst working-class young women in St. Petersburg, Russia. As in many western countries, new forms of service sector employment and an increasingly accessible higher education system appear to offer young women new prospects for social mobility. In contrast to the increasingly impoverished and denigrated traditional pathways into work, the young women in the study derive significant value from these new opportunities, constructing narratives of self-actualisation and approximating notions of respectable femininity. Nevertheless, actual social mobility is elusive, as familiar patterns of classed and gendered stratification limit their prospects. Despite its specificity, the case thus further illustrates the limited nature of the transformations available to young women through the new forms of education and work characteristic of global neoliberal contexts.
This article draws on data from qualitative interviews with ethnic enclave and ethnic economy business entrepreneurs from Chinese, Bangladeshi and Turkish-speaking communities in London. Routes into business and worker recruitment practices are explored, demonstrating the centrality of social capital in the form of family and other social networks within these processes. The article investigates what employers consider the desirable characteristics of workers: trust, kinship, gender, social networks, language compatibility and the needs of the business intersect with racialised notions of workers’ strengths and characteristics. Finally, we consider changing practices in relation to the employment of undocumented migrants, in the context of an increasingly punitive legislative regime. The complex and variable impact of policy alongside the ways in which other obligations and positions outweigh the fear and risks of sanctions associated with non-compliance is revealed.
In recent years violent knife crime has attracted attention in the UK from government and media. This qualitative article utilises Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to theorise and describe the aetiology of urban knife crime. ANT embraces the potentially causal properties of physical places and culture to explain social phenomena. The article attempts to understand violent crime by applying ANT to empirical data in the form of life stories provided by incarcerated white male teenagers. ANT’s metaphysics elides the modernist split between the human realm and brute nature. This techno-social analysis extends our notion of causality, challenging our understanding of delinquency and legal culpability. By foregrounding embedded human and non-human actor networks the causes of reoffending are illuminated as interlocking.
In this article, we explore the cultural-political tensions and ambiguities of urban ecology, by way of following how activists move and translate between ‘familiar’ and ‘public’ engagements in the green city. Empirically, we locate our exploration in and around Nordhavnen (The North Harbor), a large-scale sustainable urban development project in Copenhagen. Invoking Laurent Thévenot’s pragmatic sociology of ‘regimes of engagement’, we sketch a culturally sensitive approach to urban ecological activism, highlighting the critical moral capacities involved in building new forms of ‘commonality in the plural’ in the city. In particular, we stress the role assumed in such engagements by various image-making practices, as means for activists to express, share and render publicly visible a range of embodied urban attachments. Pragmatic sociology, we conclude, may contribute to a novel understanding of urban politics as inclusive learning processes, more hospitable to a wider diversity of familiar attachments to cities and their ecologies.
This article explores the role of transcripts in the analysis of social action. Drawing on a study of the interactional processes in optometry consultations, we show how our interest in the rhythm of reading letters from a chart arose serendipitously from our orientation to transcription conventions. We discuss our development of alternative transcription systems, and the affordances of each. We relate this example to constructivist debates in the area of transcription and argue that the issues have been largely characterised in political terms at the expense of a focus on the actual processes of transcription. We show here that analytic affordances emerge through an orientation to professional conventions. The article ends by suggesting that a close reflection on the design of transcripts and on transcription innovation can lead to more nuanced analysis as it puts the researcher in dialogue with the taken for granted ideas embedded in a system.
Isaiah Berlin’s ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ was a milestone in the development of modern political theory, with his advocacy of negative freedom supporting the neoliberal demand for ‘freedom from’ the state. This article defends the conception of positive freedom by calling on the neglected insights of the sociological tradition. I demonstrate how Marx, Durkheim and Simmel all understood freedom to be a socially conditioned phenomenon, with ‘freedom from’ being an idealist fiction (Marx), and a recipe for anomie (Durkheim) and loss of meaning (Simmel). I argue, however, that positive freedom as it was theorised by the classical sociologists must be distinguished from the more fashionable idea of individual self-realisation and self-identity, a notion equally susceptible to idealist constructions, and one increasingly targeted by Foucault-inspired critics. Instead I draw on Hannah Arendt and André Gorz to show how positive freedom should be theorised as a worldly, conflictual, and pre-eminently political affair.
Analyses of UK higher education have provided compelling evidence of the way in which this sector has been affected by globalisation. There is now a large literature documenting the internationalisation of British universities, and the strategic and economic importance attached to attracting students from abroad. Within the schools sector, it has been argued that parents are increasingly concerned about the acquisition of valuable multicultural ‘global capital’. Nevertheless, we know little about whether ‘internationalism’ and/or the inculcation of ‘global capital’ is an explicit focus of UK schools. To start to redress this gap, this article draws on an analysis of websites, prospectuses and other publicly available documents to explore the extent to which internationalism is addressed within the public face that schools present to prospective pupils, and the nature of any such messages that are conveyed.
This article examines the patterns and political implications of Jewish settler violence and vigilantism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Rather than viewing these attacks as deviant social behaviour and a by-product of the political chaos in the West Bank, this article sees settler violence as an informal political mechanism that structures and reproduces political control in the service of the state. The analysis presents the structural and agential dimensions of this mechanism, and evaluates its political significance in the overall Israeli control system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It concludes that the informal cooperation between the settlers and the Israeli soldiers represents a unique instance of state collusion and vigilantism, wherein the very same structural forces that undermine state authority also generate casual mechanisms that compensate it.
This article focuses on how ex-combatants in South Africa remain militarised. Identities which were forged through resistance continue to be reproduced in different ways in post-conflict society. Military identity is a source of status and recognition in the everyday lives of ex-combatants, either as ‘defenders of the community’ or for individual gain. While some may argue that there is no such thing as military identity, the group of ex-combatants interviewed remained attached to such an identity and saw themselves as having a particular role in their communities. While studies, particularly in Africa, present ex-combatants as if they can be easily transformed into civilian life, this article considers the difficulties of such a process. The argument is that it is a complex matter to demilitarise ex-combatants’ minds in a highly unequal and militarised community. Sixteen life history interviews were collected, 11 with APLA ex-combatants and five with Zimbabwean army deserters.
This article addresses issues of class-based collective action. Through an ethnographic case study examining migrant workers’ political engagements, the article discusses the current relevance of class politics and the role that culture, identity and intersectionality seem to play in it. By focusing on the collective political practices observed among Latin American migrant workers in London, it seeks to contribute to the ‘new sociology of class’, an emerging strand within the discipline which has begun to explore the identity and cultural dimension of class. In particular, it aims to broaden the scope of this strand beyond the individual so as to include the collective and contentious dimension of class and to enhance its sensitivity to new migrants and to the ‘super-diverse’ nature of contemporary society.
Drawing on a European cross-national biographical-narrative study of intimate life, this article discusses the complexity of experiences of ‘togetherness’ and ‘apartness’ amongst people in living apart relationships. We explore the five main ways in which interviewees spoke about and understood their current living apart relationships (as: chosen; temporary; transitional; undecided; and unrecognisable), which we argue shows the need for a broader conceptualisation of this form of intimate relationship than is suggested by the established notion of ‘living apart together’. The article points to interviewees’ varying experiences of receiving or being denied recognition and acceptance by others as belonging to a couple, as well as to their differing degrees of desire for, or rebellion against, expectations that living apart relationships should ‘progress’ towards cohabitation.
It is not easy to name racism in a context in which race is almost entirely denied. Despite a recent focus on the ‘silencing’ of race at a macro level, little has been done to explore the effects of living with these processes, including how they might be resisted. Drawing from a study with 20–30 year olds in Manchester, this article addresses this gap. It examines how respondents disavow racism they experience when to do so is counter-intuitively understood to be associated with being racist or intolerant. These narratives demand that we ask the question, why is racism denied? Or, why is it difficult to articulate? To do this, the article argues we must access narratives in ways that reveal the embeddedness of race and contradictory levels of experience and bring attention back to the meanings and effects of race in everyday life in order to challenge racism and white privilege.
This article uses theories of practice to offer new lines of analysis of distinction through food. Middle-class households typically consume more vegetables than lower-class households. We examine aspects of vegetable consumption practices that might explain this fact. After briefly presenting theories of practice, we define vegetable consumption as a practice. We use household purchase data collected in 2007 for 2600 French households to address two questions: (1) is this theoretical framework relevant in accounting for the determinants of fresh and processed vegetable purchases, and (2) how do commitments to cooking and shopping intervene in the relationship between class position and vegetable consumption? We conclude that distinction occurs through modes of engagement in vegetable consumption. Because the practice’s teleoaffective structure is consistent with middle-class notions of health and proper food, these households engage more in fresh vegetable consumption, even though their commitment to cooking is rather low.
The emergence of Big Data is both promising and challenging for social research. This article suggests that realising this promise has been restricted by the methods applied in social science research, which undermine our potential to apprehend the qualities that make Big Data so appealing, not least in relation to the sociology of networks and flows. With specific reference to the micro-blogging website Twitter, the article outlines a set of methodological principles for approaching these data that stand in contrast to previous research; and introduces a new tool for harvesting and analysing Twitter built on these principles. We work our argument through an analysis of Twitter data linked to political protest over UK university fees. Our approach transcends earlier methodological limitations to offer original insights into the flow of information and the actors and networks that emerge in this flow.
This article contributes to the ‘cognitive turn’ in the study of ethnicity and national identity, which focuses on how individuals construct ethnic identity categories pertinent to social cohesion. Using Mannheim as a methodological and analytical guide, we show how examining ethnicity as a relational enactment devoid of a priori categorisations allows situational identities that intersect with classical sociological concepts other than ethnicity – namely generation, class, and citizenship – to emerge within and across typical ethnic categorisations. We draw on an analysis of micro-level interactions among 40 aging ‘black and minority ethnics’ (BMEs) engaging in small-group discussions and a large deliberative assembly held in London in 2011.
This article examines bisexual men’s experiences of coming out across three age cohorts, and documents generational differences in the reception from friends and family regarding this disclosure. Drawing on in-depth interviews with an ethnically diverse sample of 60 openly bisexual men from the United States, we find that the oldest cohort encountered the most stereotypical views and prejudiced behaviour, while those of the youngest cohort expressed predominantly positive coming out stories. We attribute the cohort differences in these experiences to a decrease in cultural homophobia, alongside changes in the social organisation of masculinities.
Much sociological research using Bourdieu’s theory to analyse intergenerational reproduction tends to focus on the educational rather than the familial aspect of this process. Instead, this article explores habitus and the family field within South Asian Muslim communities in the UK as the site of intergenerational transmission and seeks to understand how these parents pass on values to their children. Based on 52 semi-structured interviews with 15 South Asian Muslim families, the findings suggest that Islam was mobilised by parents to inform the transmission of a sense of morality, support children’s education and reinforce family ties. The concept of ‘Islamic capital’ was developed to add specificity to Bourdieu’s ideas of family spirit and cultural capital in order to capture the dynamics between parents and their children. In the context of multicultural Britain, these findings shed light on the diversity of parenting to inform family support grounded in the understanding of different communities.
Recently, there has been a proliferation of studies investigating the relationship between diversity and outcomes such as social cohesion and civic mindedness. This article addresses several common problems in this field and, using data for British neighbourhoods, elaborates on the experiences of both white British and ethnic minority respondents. We conclude that, if anything, diversity should be encouraged to cement the integration progress of migrants and foster stronger identification with Britain in the second generation. Deprivation at the neighbourhood level along with individual factors such as fear of crime is a much stronger predictor of deterioration of the civic spirit than diversity. Bridging contacts have the expected strong positive association with cohesion outcomes; and contrary to policy concerns no strong negative impact is observed for associational bonding among minority ingroupers.
This article argues that the three most popular versions of constructionism in social problems research fail to eliminate social conditions as causal variables. Strict constructionism fails to empirically ground its analyses without reference to social conditions. Contextual constructionism ‘ontologically gerrymanders’ out social conditions as causal variables of social problems. Finally, debunking constructionism depends on the assumption that objectivism is true and then uses a negative theory of objectivism as constructionism in order to conduct investigations. That being so, the study of social problems should again investigate the way social conditions, as contextual to claims-making processes, create social problems. The ways in which opportunity structures affect the timing of the prominence and form of social problems is presented as a fruitful alternative.
Drawing on the Israeli ‘Immanuel Affair’ (also called the ‘Israeli Brown Affair’), we examine the complex relationship between governmentality and population compositions. In the town of Immanuel, the State attempted to establish a homogeneous population of ultra-orthodox Jews by opening it to unrestricted settlement. Rather than homogeneity however, this strategy produced a divided community, whose Ashkenazi and Mizrahi residents barely interact, and the State responded by withdrawing from its governance. Contrary to the perception prevalent in the literature on governmentality, which refers to the governed population as a homogeneous body, this case invites inquiry into forms of governing in multi-population situations whose radical heterogeneity resists the State’s homogenization attempts. We argue that examining governmentality through management of events (or Foucault’s notion of ‘the milieu’) – like the Immanuel Affair – allows for greater appreciation of the interaction between complex governance mechanisms and heterogenic populations.
This article explores suggestions made by the contemporary mainstream left in England that reinvigorated English national identities could be an important resource for constructing a progressive sense of social solidarity and community in England. Analysis of semi-structured qualitative interviews undertaken in a South London area finds that English identifiers do associate Englishness with a sense of social cooperation and community. However, for most participants, the expectations they have of Englishness are experienced as disrupted. Focusing on white participants’ accounts, the article demonstrates how such disruptions are crucially related to the discourses of ‘race’ and class that seem to underpin English identities and thus severely if not fatally undermine the progressive potential of English nationalism.
A growing number of ‘return migrant children’, who have lived in cities where they had access to the compulsory education system, are sent back to their rural hometowns to prepare for higher education in China. This study explores the resources that are available to return migrant students for further educational development and examines their difficulties with activating their educational capitals and translating them into human capital, in the form of academic knowledge and educational success after their remigration (a change in their field of practice). Using a framework based on the work of Bourdieu, this article conceptualizes the educational resources available to migrant families in terms of economic, social and cultural capitals. This article contributes to a better understanding of the transformation and deployment of educational capitals by revitalizing the importance of the concepts of ‘habitus’ and ‘field’ inherent in Bourdieu’s work.
This article argues that neoliberal thought initially positioned itself in relation to classical sociology by developing an economic epistemology in response, on one hand, to Max Weber’s methodological writings, and, on the other, to the positivist sociology of figures such as Auguste Comte. These points of contact between early sociological and neoliberalism are addressed in detail in order to consider the challenges that the latter poses to sociological thought. It is argued that because the neoliberal project developed out of an epistemological and political critique of classical ideas of the ‘social’, this places sociology in a position of strength to advance a critical response to the intellectual basis of neoliberalism.
This article explores how affective relationships between humans and animals are understood and experienced. It argues that, although the context of close relationships with pets has changed, affective relationships between humans and animals have a long history. The affinities between people and their pets are experienced as emotionally close, embodied and ethereal and are deeply embedded in family lives. They are understood in terms of kinship, an idiom which indicates significant and enduring connectedness between humans and animals, and are valued because of animals’ differences from, as well as similarities to, humans. Kinship across the species barrier is not something new and strange, but is an everyday experience of those humans who share their domestic space with other animals. Rather than witnessing a new phenomenon of post-human families, multi-species households have been with us for a considerable length of time but have been effectively hidden from sociology by the so-called species barrier.
Humour and laughter have been regarded as suitable topics for research in the social sciences, but as methodological principles to be adopted in carrying out and representing the findings of research they have been neglected. Indeed, those scholars who have made use of humour – wit, satire, jokes etc. – risk being regarded as trivial and marginalised from the mainstream. Yet, in literature the idea that comedy can tell us something important about the human condition is widely recognised. This neglect of the potential of humour and laughter represents a serious omission. The purpose of this article is to make a sensible case for the place of humour as a methodology for the social sciences.
In recent years, post-feminism has become an important element of popular media culture and the object of feminist cultural critique. This article explores how post-feminism is domesticated in Russia through popular self-help literature aimed at a female audience. Drawing on a close reading of self-help texts by three best-selling Russian authors, the article examines how post-feminism is made intelligible to the Russian audience and how it articulates with other symbolic frameworks. It identifies labour as a key trope through which post-feminism is domesticated and argues that the texts invite women to invest time and energy in the labour of personality, the labour of femininity and the labour of sexuality in order to become ‘valuable subjects’. The article demonstrates that the domestication of post-feminism also involves the domestication of neoliberal capitalism in Russia, and highlights how popular psychology, neoliberal capitalism and post-feminism are symbiotically related.
This article is based on qualitative research with men who voluntarily attended a ‘dads only’ parenting programme. The article explores men’s motivations to attend and demonstrates some of the challenges relating to masculine identity that fathers face when seeking support regarding their children. It also highlights how aspects of masculinity may shape men’s limited knowledge concerning the needs of their children and their capabilities as ‘involved’ fathers. The article then explores how men made sense of their changing thoughts and practices regarding fathering and fatherhood within the context of their conceptualisations of masculinity. Whilst men appeared to embrace parenting qualities more commonly associated with women they did not completely distance themselves from traditional fathering templates. Moreover, although they gained a sense of mastery over childcare, the ways in which men care for their children is inevitably context dependent and some demonstrations of involved fathering may clash with certain masculine ideals.
Merton’s early work on the ambivalence of scientists illustrates the productivity of importing a psychological concept to sociology. For commentators on the experience of modern societies, ambivalence describes the contradictory affective dimension of late modernity. In this article, our aim is to understand the extent to which sociological ambivalence reveals the contradictory relations between two orders of scientific knowledge: the epistemic and the social order. We illustrate several sorts of ‘value tensions’ in psychiatric genetics, a domain where the search for biological causes has led to several important shifts in scientific reasoning. For scientists working at a major UK research centre, we show how these tensions have transformed the organization of the scientific community; ambivalence is both a reflexive and uncomfortable response to a new way of producing knowledge. We argue that tension and ambivalence are intrinsic aspects of science-making and may reflect processes other than revolution and totalizing transformation.
The epistemology of the life sciences has significantly changed over the last two decades but many of these changes seem to remain unnoticed amongst sociologists: both the majority who reject biology and the few minorities who want to biologize social theory seem to share a common (biologistic) understanding of ‘the biological’ that appears increasingly out of date with recent advances in the biosciences. In the first part of this article I offer an overview of some contemporary importations of biological and neurobiological knowledge into the sociological field. In the second section I contrast this image of biological knowledge circulating in the social sciences with the more pluralist ways in which biology is theorized in many sectors of the life sciences. The ‘postgenomic’ view of biology emerging from this second section represents a challenge for the monolithic view of biology present amongst social theorists and a new opportunity of dialogue for social theorists interested in non-positivist ways of borrowing from the life sciences.
Domiciliary carers are paid care workers who travel to the homes of older people to assist with personal routines. Increasingly, over the past 20 years, the delivery of domiciliary care has been organised according to market principles and portrayed as the ideal type of formal care; offering cost savings to local authorities and independence for older people. Crucially, the work of the former ‘home help’ is transformed as domiciliary carers are now subject to the imperative of private, competitive accumulation which necessitates a constant search for increases in labour productivity. Drawing on qualitative data from domiciliary carers, managers and stakeholders, this article highlights the commodification of caring labour and reveals the constraints, contradictions and challenges of paid care work. Labour Process Theory offers a means of understanding the political economy of care work and important distinctions in terms of the formal and informal domiciliary care labour process.
This article analyzes two social movements in France: the ‘Mouvement des Indigènes de la République’ [Movement of the ‘Indigenous’ of the Republic], and the ‘Réseau Éducation Sans Frontières’ [Education without Borders Network]. It explores the kinds of borders and underlying struggles that these social movements bring to light, and how their actions redraw borders. In these borderlands, actors in the two French resistance movements oppose exclusions and attempt to delegitimize the collective understanding of ‘la République’ that underpins them. This analysis builds on previous research demonstrating that social movements can succeed instrumentally in mobilizing participants when they resonate with and draw on participants’ ‘lifeworld’ (Edwards, 2008; Habermas, 1987). Moreover, I insist on the expressivist quality of these actions as performances of democratic freedom (Beltrán, 2009; Drexler, 2007). Finally, I consider some limitations and the broader lessons for border challenges.
An explosion in the production of cultural data reflects the increasing influence of calculative reason in the cultural sector, a situation criticised as the ‘instrumentalisation’ of culture. This article argues that this criticism concedes too much to the logics of calculation, and that power and political agency are being worked out in the sector in more complex ways in the wake of calculation than simply acquiescing to it. This is illustrated through an ethnographic account of the work of a new stratum of calculative cultural expertise that has emerged in the sector as calculation has become more important. These experts construct political agency through relational work that is concerned with both calculative and non-calculative matters, including the performance of objectivity, the mobilisation of various effects, and the construction of coalitions of actors.
Despite a sustained preoccupation with crime scene investigation in policing and instructional literatures, government reviews and media accounts, the crime scene examiner has received scant sociological attention. Focusing on scientific support personnel in an English police force, this article analyses how embedded actors who routinely facilitate the provision of crime scene examination reflect on their role and position in the investigative process. The analysis draws on data collected in a small number of semi-structured interviews with stakeholders at different levels of seniority, in order to map an understanding of the inter and intra-professional interactions, exchanges, dependencies and negotiations employed by those working at the coalface of investigative practice. Hoping to illuminate some of the sense-making practices behind the enactment of forensic activities, the discussion examines the articulation of professional identities and the conclusion reflects more broadly on the processes of professionalisation and discourses of professionalism that accompany standardised forensic accomplishments.
Policy makers tend to think that residential ‘mixing’ of classes and ethnic groups will enhance social capital. Scholars criticize such ‘mixing’ on empirical and theoretical grounds. This article argues that the critics may focus too much on neighbourhoods. Mixing within neighbourhood institutions might work differently, we argue, drawing on data from a mixed school in Berlin, Germany. While class boundaries are constructed, we also find class-crossing identifications based on setting-specific characteristics, highlighting the setting’s importance and the agency of lower/working and middle-class parents. Parents create ties for exchanging setting-specific resources: child-related social capital. Institutional neighbourhood settings can hence be important for boundary work and social capital. Criticism of social capital and social mix should not overlook the role of networks for urban inequality.
In recent developments in the realism-constructionism debate, attempts have been made by individual scholars on both sides to assimilate the other side’s insights into one’s own position. With respect to epistemology, such attempts have so far failed. Situated in this context, this article proposes a general approach in which valid insights from constructionism, discourse theory, and pragmatist critique of realism are integrated into realist epistemology. Discourses are distinguished along two dimensions; interrelating these two dimensions, the interplay between epistemic and extra-discursive factors along them in discursive contention are analyzed under different categories of situations across the entire discursive spectrum. The balance between the determinative effects of epistemic and extra-discursive factors varies from one type of situation to another. Our approach enables the retention of the critical edge of skepticism, shows realist epistemology to be useful in sociological research in ways previously unrealized, and provides heuristic guidelines for conducting sociological research.
This study examines the relationship between social capital and labour market integration of new refugees in the UK using the Survey of New Refugees (SNR). Our findings suggest that length of residency and language competency broaden one’s social networks. Contacts with religious and co-national groups bring help with employment and housing. The mere possession of networks is not enough to enhance access to employment. However, the absence of social networks does appear to have a detrimental effect on access to work. The type of social capital appears to have no significant impact on the permanency or quality of employment. Rather, language competency, pre-migration qualifications and occupations, and time in the UK are most important in accessing work. Our findings also have clear implications for both asylum and integration policy. The unequivocal importance of language ability for accessing employment points to a clear policy priority in improving competency.
This article attempts to bring into focus a sociological aspect of financialization that has evaded theoretical attention. Integrating the findings of a growing body of literature on the sociology of finance, it assembles evidence that financial markets entail a particular awareness of, and perspective on, the social. This perspective is characterized by three attributes: a ‘reflexive social distancing’ whereby financial actors observe social processes in the market in a socially attentive but self-detached way and through which they recognize financial market prices as socially constituted; a ‘social forgetting’ inherent in stochastic configurations and engagement with financial chance; and ‘social dissociation’ with regard to the outcomes and implications of financial decisions. Taken as a whole, these elements constitute ‘financial risk-taking’ as a type of ‘sociological gamble’. The article discusses the importance of studying the social perspective inherent in financialization as a means of furthering our understanding of its character and implications.
Through analysis of two social issues that held the potential for anti-UNESCO campaigning by the American Radical Right in the 1950s – UNESCO’s much publicized Statements on Race and the use of UNESCO textbooks in public schools and libraries – I argue that micromobilization contexts can create conditions of path dependency whereby the initiation of one campaign hinders other campaigns from developing. Specific micromobilization factors – past campaigning on similar issues, tactical expectations, an available pool of skilled activists, frame resonance, a national conservative media, and amenable polities – created favorable initial conditions for anti-UNESCO censorship campaigning, while competition from activists in another social movement restricted campaign development in response to UNESCO’s Statement on Race. The micromobilization context from which the censorship campaign emerged created conditions of path dependency which limited further the viability of American Radical Rightists developing a campaign in reaction to UNESCO’s Statement on Race.
In this article we provide a timely account of how sustainable technologies become entangled with cultural practices and thus co-evolve, influencing energy consumption. In doing so, we critique the approach current UK policy takes towards energy renewal and carbon reduction. We investigate the effectiveness of the social housing sector’s efforts to implement environmental policy initiatives that use a technology-driven approach. By looking at how social housing residents consume energy as part of domestic practices, we identify tensions between strategies to influence energy consumption by a housing association, and the ways residents incorporate sustainable technologies into everyday practices. Our findings reveal how sustainable technologies become enrolled in established practices: residents creatively develop novel routine strategies to accommodate new technologies to their daily routines. We contend that policy efforts to engender ‘behaviour change’ through a technology-driven approach have limitations. This approach ignores how practices become entangled, affecting energy consumption.
This article develops the concept of affinity as one means available in understanding how citizens make, or fail to make, connections with politics and politicians. It is argued that the disappearance of class from much political discourse has led to more emotional ways of relating to politics. We claim that the reflexivity involved in political deliberation must take account of people’s emotional responses to the political. We argue that one key element in these emotional responses is a feeling, or lack of feeling, of affinity. We propose that citizens often use feelings of likeness in their (dis)engagement with politicians, policies and parties. Understanding the emotional aspects of political (dis)engagement in this way is crucial in dealing with concerns about widespread disengagement from, and dissatisfaction with, electoral politics.
Drawing on two qualitative studies, we report evidence of pervasive black markets in confectionery, ‘junk’ food and energy drinks in English secondary schools. Data were collected at six schools through focus groups and interviews with students (n = 149) and staff (n = 36), and direct observations. Supermarkets, new technologies and teachers’ narrow focus on attainment have enabled these ‘underground businesses’ to emerge following increased state regulation of school food and drink provision. These activities represent a new form of counter-school resistance to institutional constraints within the context of enduring, although less visible, class-based stratification in British secondary schools. These black markets also appear to be partly driven by the unsafe and unsociable nature of school canteens, which was a recurring theme across all schools. These findings highlight how new school food ‘bans’ ignore the complex, ecological drivers of poor diet in youth and the potential for iatrogenic effects which exacerbate health inequalities.
Changing attitudes towards animals in modern industrialised societies has triggered new lines of scholarly enquiry. The emergence of Human-Animal Studies (HAS) is part of the turn towards animals within the social sciences. Although sociology is a relative newcomer to multispecies scholarship, more than three decades ago a sociologist anticipated that the discipline might benefit from attending to the ‘zoological connection’ (Bryant, 1979). Bringing to the fore what usually remains in the shadowy background, i.e. our symbolic and material relations with nonhuman animals, has started to unearth underexplored areas of social life. This is a noteworthy retrieval, because it reminds us of the multifaceted and entangled nature of interspecies interfaces, networks and encounters. This article suggests that seeing life through a multispecies lens not only allows scholars in cognate and non-cognate disciplines an opportunity to engage in innovative scholarship, it also lays the groundwork to animalise the sociological imagination and sociologise HAS.
This article examines the relationship between religious factors and opposition to abortion in Britain. It provides a detailed analysis of public opposition towards abortion undertaken for different reasons, as well as general views on whether abortion is justified or not. It assesses the relative influence of religious faith using the multi-dimensional ‘belonging, behaving and believing’ framework for micro-level analysis, as well as the impact of personal salience. It also accounts for the impact of socio-demographic factors and political partisanship. It uses data from two nationally representative social surveys and multivariate estimation techniques. The main finding is that opposition to abortion is not solely based on differences in faith or denominational affiliation but that greater religious involvement or commitment, as measured by attendance at services and personal salience, and more traditionalist beliefs underpin opposition. These findings generally hold across surveys, different estimation techniques and different specifications of the dependent variable.
Bourdieu’s Distinction (1984) has been highly influential in sociological debates regarding cultural inequality, but it has rarely been considered a theory of aesthetics. In this article we explore empirically how the modernist framing of Bourdieu’s aesthetics needs to be rethought in the context of contemporary aesthetic change. Drawing on a survey of museum visitors in Ghent, Belgium (n = 1195), we use Multiple Correspondence Analysis to analyse what aesthetic dimensions are important when people contemplate works of art. We find that the familiar Bourdieusian opposition between popular (based on beauty and harmony) and highbrow aesthetics is still important. However, the content of highbrow aesthetics has changed, now privileging ‘postmodernist’ dimensions over modernist ones. We can also detect another dimension that favours a socially reflexive art compared to a detachment of art from social preoccupations, which is not recognized in Bourdieu’s account.
This article uses longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Study to examine trends in the level of membership in a range of voluntary associations from 1991 to 2007. It has been suggested that the membership of voluntary associations is in decline in western societies and the analysis examines the trajectory of the number of memberships with age for four 10-year age cohorts born between 1935 and 1975. The results for men show lower levels of membership over time for the 1955–1964 and 1965–1974 cohorts in comparison to those of earlier born cohorts. For women, levels of membership were only notably lower for the 1965–1974 cohort. The differences in the probability of belonging to an organisation between cohorts were similar in magnitude to those between categories of social class and education. Cohort differences in the membership of voluntary associations are interpreted to reflect primarily the impact of changing social and economic conditions on individual’s capacity for involvement.
The idea that social inequality has deleterious consequences for population health is well established within social epidemiology and medical sociology (Marmot and Wilkinson, 2001; Scambler, 2012). In this article, we critically examine arguments advanced by Wilkinson and Pickett in The Spirit Level (2009) that in more unequal countries population health suffers, in part, because of the stress and anxiety arising from individuals making invidious or shame-inducing comparisons with others regarding their social position. We seek to extend their arguments, drawing on sociologically informed studies exploring how people reflect on issues of social comparison and shame, how they resist shame, and the resources, such as ‘collective imaginaries’ (Bouchard, 2009), which may be deployed to protect against these invidious comparisons. We build on the arguments outlined in The Spirit Level, positing a sociologically informed account of shame connected to contemporary understandings of class and neoliberalism, as well as inequality.
Both Rational Action Theory (RAT) and Bourdieu’s habitus theory are employed to explain educational decision-making. RAT assumes that decision-making involves cost-benefit analysis, while habitus theory sees educational pathways as shaped by dispositions reflecting familial class of origin. These theories are often seen as conflicting, but we argue that they can fruitfully be used together.
Proponents of these theories often employ different methods. RAT advocates usually employ survey data, while those favouring habitus theory often use case studies. If cost-benefit reasoning does partly explain educational decision-making, then we should expect to find evidence of it at the micro-level. Drawing on interviews conducted in Germany and England, we show that young people do indeed talk about their educational choices in ways which fit RAT accounts. Their class-based habitus often, however, provides upper and lower boundaries for their aspirations, thus conditioning the nature of the cost-benefit analysis entering into decision-making.
Increasing social mobility is the ‘principal goal’ of the current Coalition Government’s social policy. However, while mainstream political discourse frames mobility as an unequivocally progressive force, there is a striking absence of studies examining the long-term impact of mobility on individuals themselves. In British sociology the most influential research was carried out by Goldthorpe 40 years ago and argued that the mobile were overwhelmingly content with their trajectories. However, using a critique of Goldthorpe as its springboard, this article calls for a new research agenda in mobility studies. In particular, it proposes a large-scale re-examination of the mobility experience – one which addresses the possibility that people make sense of social trajectories not just through ‘objective’ markers of economic or occupational success, but also through symbols and artifacts of class-inflected cultural identity. Such enquiry may yield a richer account that explains both the potential social benefits and the costs of mobility.
In this article theories of gender hegemony are utilized to assess how changing norms impact upon the binary construction of gender. Transformed gender ideals have materialized in the figure of the ‘empowered’ and autonomous yet reassuringly feminine woman. Despite the assimilation of key attributes associated with masculinity this particular expression of idealized femininity does not necessarily rework dominant perceptions of gender difference and their organization into a relation of hierarchical complementarity. Through the review of key empirical studies which have examined identity work undertaken by young women and young men as they negotiate idealized gender norms, this article examines how hegemonic relations are reproduced alongside the production of plural femininities and masculinities. This analysis is discussed in relation to changes associated with a move from a private to a public gender regime, a perceived feminization of the public sphere, and the complication of contradictory gender ideals.
This article examines redeployable special event public camera surveillance in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We show how a policy discourse of situational awareness simultaneously adheres to and subverts principles articulated in the provincial privacy commissioner’s privacy protection policy framework on public surveillance. Drawing from interview and observational data, we analyse how understandings of situational awareness inform policy design and how policymaking and implementation processes diverge as local policymakers tailor an imported policy framework to address tacit knowledge about public safety. Our findings contribute to the sociology of policymaking by developing empirical insights into policy meanings, mobilities, mutations, and myths.
The state is often viewed as part of the impersonal public sphere in opposition to the private family as a locus of warmth and intimacy. In recent years this modernist dichotomy has been challenged by theoretical and institutional trends which have altered the relationship between state and family. This article explores changes to both elements of the dichotomy that challenge this relationship: a more fragmented family structure and more individualised and networked support for children. It will also examine two new elements that further disrupt any clear mapping between state/family and public/private dichotomies: the third-party role of the child in family/state affairs, and children’s application of virtual technology that locates the private within new cultural and social spaces. The article concludes by examining the rise of the ‘individual child’ hitherto hidden within the family/state dichotomy and the implications this has for intergenerational relations at personal and institutional levels.
In recent years the public discourse around drink spiking has evolved from that of an ‘epidemic’ to an ‘urban myth’. This article examines the narratives of 35 young women interviewed in relation to the contested issue of drink spiking. The suggestion that young women invoke the drink spiking discourse to provide a feminine framework for the masculine practice of binge drinking is challenged. It is argued that, on the contrary, young women’s accounts of drink spiking are characterised by uncertainty, minimisation, self-blame and a reluctance to disclose their experiences. Further, young women’s fear of drink spiking represents a contemporary extension of the conventional gendered fear of sexual violence. Hence a gendered lens, sensitive to the fear and reality of sexual violence, is a prerequisite to a nuanced interpretation of young women’s accounts of drink spiking within the sexualised environment of the night-time economy.
The meaning of kinship received little sustained attention for some time in British sociology. However, we are now beginning to see a shift, and Jennifer Mason’s (2008) conceptualisation of kinship affinities makes an important contribution to emerging debates. In this article I seek to add to such debates and also provide original data from the field of donor conception and lesbian motherhood, a particularly rich field in which to explore the meaning of kin. I investigate stories about becoming parents, and demonstrate that the issue of bringing kinship into being is a key concern in that process. I develop the argument that kinship is a multilayered and malleable resource with an exceptional capacity to encompass difference. This leads me to suggest that we need to be sensitive to the multitude, shifting ways in which connectedness is experienced in personal life.
This empirical study investigates the phenomenon of secular and traditionalist (masorti) Israeli Jews who consult orthodox rabbis on personal matters. The study was conducted using a combined methodology: analysis of data from a large survey (N = 6056) and conducting 50 in-depth semi-structured interviews. We found that of the 24 percent of the Israeli Jewish population who regularly consulted rabbis, 43 percent defined themselves as secular or traditionalist. People from all social strata regularly consult rabbis. Their socio-demographic characteristics and experiences are presented here. The phenomenon of secular and less religious Jews who consult orthodox rabbis on personal matters indicates the current relevance of religion and spirituality as resources for empowerment when dealing with various kinds of existential and personal difficulty. The study contributes to the ongoing discourse on the secular age and post-secular societies by examining the middle ground between traditional-religion and secular-modernity. It indicates a contemporary blurring of these categories.
This article explores concerns about, and experiences of, ageing amongst men during the early years of fatherhood. Despite acknowledgement of the interconnectivities between age and gender, accounts of ageing masculinity have been relatively overlooked, particularly in relation to younger and middle-aged men’s perceptions of ageing. However, some evidence suggests that despite a general trend towards increasing longevity, anxiety about ageing is occurring at ever younger ages. Drawing on data from a qualitative longitudinal study, this issue is considered here through a parenting lens in light of the wider social trend towards delayed fatherhood. The article focuses on the experiences of men aged 29–54 whose accounts indicate widespread concern about ageing, regardless of their actual chronological age. The analysis foregrounds how these concerns are linked to the continuing association between fathering and physical activity, which highlights the need to consider the implications of advanced paternal age for father–child relationships.
This article considers the role of public discourses in biographical narratives by focusing on discourses of integration and migrant narratives in a contemporary Swedish context. In particular, it explores how public discourses that emphasise migrants’ agency and responsibility to ‘integrate’ help frame the ways in which migrants present themselves. While recognising the importance of biographical research for exploring migrants’ experiences and bringing their voices to the fore, the article argues that we need to pay more attention to how public discourses constrain narratives. It proposes that migrant narratives studied in their social and political context can be used to understand inequalities not only by gaining knowledge of lived experiences of inequalities, but also by considering how dominant discourses help to normalise some of those experiences, and as such may contribute to the reproduction of inequalities.
This article examines the development of different forms of spectator violence in terms of the socio-temporal structure of situational dynamics at Gaelic football matches in Ireland. The nature of violent encounters has shifted from a collective form based on local solidarity and a reciprocal code of honour, through a transitional collective form based on deferred emotional satisfaction and group pride, towards increasing individualization of spectator violence. This occurs due to the shifting objects of emotional involvement. As the functional specialization of the various roles in the game is partially accepted by spectators, the referee becomes the target of anger. Violence becomes more individualized as ‘mutually expected self-restraint’ proceeds within the context of relative state pacification beyond the field of play and the formation of a less volatile habitus. We use Elias’s figurational perspective on violence over the micro-interactional approach of Randall Collins, but support Collins’ emphasis on state legitimacy.
This article revisits the individualization debate in the context of Polish migration to the UK. Drawing on empirical research with young Polish migrants in Scotland and Poland, I argue that as new opportunities for migration have shaped Polish family life, the family plays ideological, affective and practical roles in shaping and supporting young people’s mobilities. The pursuit of an apparently individualistic, mobile life in the context of post-accession Polish mobility is confounded by the persistence of family structures and relations that underpin and shape individual decisions and mobility pathways. I discuss three ‘ruptures’ to the individualization thesis (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 2001) that relate to the process of migration over the lifecourse: ‘moving out’, ‘keeping in touch’, and ‘coming back’. Through these discussions I argue that individual mobility is a relational process and one that can, and should, be analysed alongside family structures rather than separate from it.
There is developing interest in the role of social networks in migratory experiences of highly skilled migrants. While there is some research on the networking of single economic actors, there is less focus on the social ties associated with family life and parenting among highly skilled migrants. The limited research that has been undertaken, mainly in the USA, points to the role of ‘trailing wives’ in building local social relationships. This article draws on a study of French highly skilled families in London, and explores the role of women in negotiating access to local social ties. Following Eve, we use social network theory to explore the composition, function and dynamism of these social relationships and develop a ‘sociological explanation’ of networking strategies. We contribute to understanding the ‘human face’ of highly skilled migrants, by examining the opportunities and the unanticipated obstacles they encounter in building new social ties.
Research emphasising the importance of parenting behaviours and aspirations for child outcomes has been seized on by policymakers to suggest the responsibility of the worst off themselves for low levels of social mobility. This article provides a critique of the way in which research evidence has been used to support the dominant policy discourse in this area, as well as an empirical analysis. We use the Millennium Cohort Study to interrogate the relationship between social class and attainment in the early years of schooling. We investigate the extent to which social class inequalities in early cognitive scores can be accounted for by parental education, income, family social resources and parental behaviours. We conclude that social class remains an important concept for both researchers and policymakers, and that the link between structural inequalities and inequalities in children’s cognitive scores cannot be readily accounted for in terms of individual parenting behaviours.
What allowed eight siblings from a politically disadvantaged rural family to overcome institutional barriers and achieve upward mobility during Maoist China? What then restricted their children’s chances of upward mobility during the Reform era, when both family background and institutional environment were more favourable? In studying this anomalous case, whose experiences contradicted the well-documented effects of state policies and yet cannot be explained by parental influence, this study examines how adult siblings influenced each other’s status attainment processes, an issue largely neglected in the literature. Through comparing the micro-level mobility processes of the two generations in this family, I propose that, in times of rapid social change, sibling influence is more effective in generating status gain than parental influence, because the extensivity of sibling ties allows people to mobilize more relevant and heterogeneous social resources to facilitate social mobility.
Rock climbing, collecting, role-playing, backpacking, and many other complex activities are part of the expanding cultural repertoire of modern societies. Participants in such game-like pursuits occasionally find themselves contributing to public concerns beyond their own interests; altruistic motives and/or oppositional identities develop among them by virtue of the actors being enmeshed in a specialized activity apart from political organizations or social movements. The aim of the article is to contribute to an understanding of why and how such communities stretch their commitments into the real world. The contention is that complex leisure constitutes a democratically important but somewhat concealed political channel that fits modern citizens’ way of life. The analysis is essentially theoretical but relies on empirical materials for illustration.
Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach to social justice has helped to form UN millennium goals as well as other policy expressions of both national and international political agencies. It has had a major influence on many researchers across a range of disciplines, from economics, politics and philosophy to development studies and social policy. However, despite the relevance of Sen’s approach to sociological concerns – inequality, after all, is at the core of the discipline – sociology is the one discipline that has remained relatively immune to his influence. It is also the case that Sen makes very few references to sociological research despite it having clear relevance to his interests. In this article I want to consider some of the reasons for this state of affairs and its consequences. These include consequences for Sen’s own approach, but more important is what it reveals about current sociological reasoning and its limitations.
Paediatric genetics involves multiple visually based diagnostic processes. While examining the external features of a child plays an important role, of increasing importance are biochemical analyses of blood, which produce digital diagrams that display variations in the shape and composition of chromosomes. The level of magnification and detail that can now be captured is allowing new patterns of variation to be ‘seen’ and possible diagnosis to be made, which were not possible before. However, this generates questions about whether these forms of genetic diagnosis and digital visualisation are increasing the scope of medicine to define the body as ill – regardless of whether symptoms are present. This article, drawing from research in a paediatric genetic service, cautions against giving too much power to digital imagery. It does so by arguing that the imagery is only one source of visualisation relevant to how the child’s body is read and understood.
This article describes a new research method called the Imitation Game. The method is based on the idea of ‘interactional expertise’, which distinguishes discursive performance from practical expertise and can be used to investigate the relationship between groups that diverge culturally or experientially. We explain the theory that underpins the method and report results from a number of empirical trials. These include ‘proof of concept’ research with the colour blind, the blind and those with perfect pitch, as well as Imitation Games on more conventional sociological topics such as the social relationships between men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, and active Christians and secular students. These studies demonstrate the potential of the method and its distinctive features. We conclude by suggesting that the Imitation Game could complement existing techniques by providing a new way to compare social relationships across social and temporal distances in both a qualitative and a quantitative way.
Young adults in the UK are increasingly dependent on family support to offset the costs of living independently. This article explores these complex intergenerational exchanges from the perspective of a group of single young adults in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties who had been in receipt of various forms of financial and material support from family members since leaving the parental home. We outline the nature of this support and then consider how these forms of assistance are understood by those in receipt of them. We conclude that the co-existence of a sense of both gratitude and discomfort which is often generated by these exchanges is managed but by no means resolved by a blurring of the boundaries between gifts and loans, a set of negotiations which may not even be an option amongst less advantaged young adults.
This article is based on qualitative research that took place with 89 11- and 12-year-olds in Glasgow to find out their understandings of men’s violence against women. The research found that young people’s position within childhood directly impacts on how they conceive of, construct and understand violence. These positions within childhood are constituted and experienced differently. Therefore, young people’s understandings of men’s violence need to be theorised within a framework that illuminates the gendered, temporal and spatial elements of their accounts. This was achieved by developing a transitory framework to illustrate what young people define and name as ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ violence. Young people use gender but also space, childhood, temporality and age to frame their understandings of violence.
Despite significant achievements in empirical research, considerable unease exists about the lack of conceptual and theoretical debate within the sociology of work. One potentially significant problem is the uncritical use of concepts that have their origins in Marxism and purport to explain the essential features of the employment relationship. Using evidence from a systematic review of four highly ranked British journals I chart the growing influence of the concept of contradiction, notably within the labour process perspective where it has become a key concept, especially in relation to the problem of labour control.
In spite of its popularity, I argue that the concept contains two sets of flaws. The first set, which relate to its utility as a concept, include problems of logic, differentiation and operationalization. The second set relate to the substantive use of the concept, especially its dependence on supporting assumptions, and its expectation of social change. The article concludes by calling for a moratorium on further usage.
This study examines how a mother being the main or an equal earner impacts the relationship stability of heterosexual couple parents, using the UK’s Millennium Cohort Survey. Various theories alternatively predict that such couples experience a higher or lower risk of divorce than male-breadwinner couples. Alternatively the characteristics of these couples may predispose them to relatively higher or lower relationship stability than male-breadwinner couples. Using piecewise constant exponential event history models, we test these propositions between key stages in a child’s life: baby, toddler, school entry and age seven. In some periods, a mother being the main or an equal earner is associated with a lower risk of relationship breakdown than for male-breadwinner couples, and more so within cohabiting than married couples. However, there is a strong tendency for couples to shift over time from mothers being main or equal earners to a male-breadwinner arrangement.
Why do the poor spend more on lottery tickets than their wealthier and better educated peers? While social scientists generally agree that there is an inverse relationship between socio-economic position and patterns of lottery play, there is debate on what factors cause lottery gambling. Using survey data from a nationwide probability sample, we test three sociological approaches – socio-structural, cultural and social network accounts – to explain why the poor play the lottery. While controlling for cognitive bias theory, we find that peer play, educational attainment and self-perceived social deprivation have strong effects on lottery play. Culture, the study finds, plays a much lesser role. Although lottery players demonstrate fatalistic value orientations, it is not a lack of a ‘Protestant’ work ethic that makes the poor spend proportionally more on lottery tickets. The findings of this study generally point to the importance of social structures in explaining lottery gambling.
There is a growing incentive for sociologists to demonstrate the use-value of their research. Research ‘impact’ is a driver of research funding and a measure of academic standing. Academic debate on this issue has intensified since Burawoy’s (2004) call for a ‘public’ sociology. However, the academy is no longer the sole or primary producer of knowledge and empirical sociologists need to contend with the ‘huge swathes’ of social data that now exist (Savage and Burrows, 2007). This article furthers these debates by considering power struggles between competing forms of knowledge. Using a case study, it specifically considers the power struggle between normative and empirical knowledge, and how providers of knowledge assert legitimacy for their truth claims. The article concludes that the idea of ‘impact’ and ‘use-value’ is extremely complex and depends on the policy context of knowledge power struggles, and on how policy makers want to view the world.
‘Youth’ music and style cultures, such as the punk, goth, metal and club scenes, are often regarded as opposed to the institution of the family and the values it symbolises. Yet significant numbers of the participants of such groups are now remaining actively involved into their thirties and beyond alongside the taking on of permanent cohabitation, marriage and parenthood. This article explores the increasing importance of family life for ageing members of ‘youth’ cultures in relation to the case study of the goth scene, a dark-themed grouping whose average age is rising. I emphasise the collective nature of the embrace of family among older goths and the implications of this for the values and environment of the group itself and the trajectories of individual members. Amongst other things, I explore whether the drift towards family and parenthood amongst goths might be understood as a collective assimilation into dominant adulthood.
Although the business elites in western societies have a very privileged social background in common, there are substantial differences in the reproduction mechanisms and social trajectories leading to a position within this elite group. These differences are explored by comparing the career paths of the top 100 CEOs in Britain, France, Germany and Denmark. In France and Britain, this reproduction is mediated through degrees from elite universities. In Germany, the principle of admission is the incorporated cultural capital acquired through an exclusive bourgeois origin combined with any university degree. Elite universities also hold little importance for Danish top CEOs, partly due to the institutions’ historic decline; instead, reproduction is mediated through time spent in the economic field, placing the case of the Danish CEOs between that of their British and German counterparts. Specific trajectories of Danish executives, in particular sales people, are identified using Multiple Correspondence Analysis and cluster analysis.