Category: Sociological Imaginations

Sociology: The Basic 2nd Edition

Sociology: The Basics 2nd edition will be published on May 31st This lively and compact introduction to sociology provides a stimulating and critical guide to the ideas and debates that shape the discipline. The reader is invited to develop a sociological imagination relevant for today’s troubled world. It introduces theory, methods and the history of…

A Poetic for Sociology

The Haunting Of Social Things

We live the social electric
The air we breathe is social.
The tiny things and the major things.
The social haunting of life in vast time and space.

The social is natural and the natural is social.
We do things together, drenched with people,
attuned to others: there is always the other.
And the haunting of social things.

We make social life stuffed full of the possible
yet we dwell in our habits, the patterns and structures,
the predictable positions we trap ourselves in.
The prisons that engulf us, a daily haunting.

Pounding patterns of structure and wobbly worlds of meaning.
We are prisoners, puppets, and people. Always fragile.
World making actions, and resistance, rebellion-
in worlds not of our making that haunt till we die.

Ubiquitous differences, divisions,dominations: the inhumanities of people.
A haunting ‘matrix of inequalities’: generations at war,
gendered classed races, sexy nations disabled.
And the troubled pathways of excluding and exploiting, dehumanizing and disempowering.

At the brink of a change- a world seething with gushing movements.
Pasts, presents and futures collide in the moment.
Where did it come from and where is it headed?
Cyber capitalisms in global ferment haunting the world.

Standing amazed at this chaos and complexity
of the humanly produced social world;
and its joys and its sufferings,
we celebrate it and we critique these hauntings.

Yet the dreadful dullness of professional knowledge.
Its earnest desire for respectability and order,
abstractions to kill you. Standards to die for.
A dark cloak thrown over the mind.

We need ‘the tricks of the trade’ : practical questions with practical answers.
Rich descriptions and explanations of dense social life.
An intimate familiarity through all the senses.
Explore and respect the empirical world. And look for it hauntings.

We dwell in social tensions, conflicts and contradiction.
Observing schisms, thinking paradox,
and struggling with opposing paths: living with the contradictions.
The hard trick of dealing with them in our lives.

The vast multiplicities of social life: Contested. Contingent. Creative.
And thriving. Progressing. Regressing. Sometimes surviving.
Incorrigibly plural. Intransigently vast.
The complex tales how we order our past.

And the blindness of human beings?
The taken for granted need not be taken for granted.
Doubting the familiar;
living with radical doubt.

Yet all we know is incomplete and open,
Necessarily provisional, partial, perspectival.
Reality is inexhaustible, too complex and dense to be fully comprehended
No finality.  Or closure.

The dream of a better world haunts sociology.
Empowering lives and imagining utopias.
More justice in each generation?
A flourishing life for all?

A dialogue: being personal, being  political?
Passionate knowledge? A garden to cultivate?
A quiet catharsis of comprehension? With the other?
Haunted by doubt, love and hope.

Remembering John Gagnon

  On Thursday February 11 2016, my dear friend, mentor and guru John Gagnon died at the age of 84. He had experienced problems with his leg and his eye, but the final period starting in October brought a terminal pancreatic cancer. He has been an inspiration and will be loved and missed by many.…

A book to start the year with……

STRANGERS DROWNING LARISSA MACFARQUHAR     This has to be the best book I have read so far this year! It is the story of ‘extreme do – gooders’, obsessed altruists who push their lives to ‘moral extremity’, wanting above all to solve the world’s problems in a directly practical way – and to be…

Liberating Generations: a new paper in a new book

        A new book has been launched this week. The Ashgate Research Companion to Lesbian and Gay Activism provides scholars and students with a comprehensive and authoritative state-of-the-art review of the current research in this subject. Each of the twenty-two specially commissioned chapters develops and summarises their key issue or debate in…

Telling Sexual Stories Twenty Years On

Last week I attended an exciting Summer School at Durham University for the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities Centre. Here is the abstract of the lecture I gave. More details can be found at Telling Sexual Stories Twenty Years On: Narrative Power and Narrative In this lecture I will briefly revisit my study Telling…

ESSEX SOCIOLOGY 50th ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE: PROGRAMME

Sociology Department’s 50th Anniversary Conference: 24th June, 2015 NEW DIALOGUES AND DIRECTIONS   Ivor Crewe Auditorium 9.15-9.50 Registration and Refreshments 9.50-10.00 Conference Introduction (Nigel South)   10.00-12.30 Past Excitements New Dialogues A panel of distinguished members of the Department reflect on what was thought to be most exciting about Sociology in the past (both as…

Cosmopolitan Sexualities: Hope and the Humanist Imagination

Cosmopolitan Sexualities is now published My latest book was published in May 2015 by Polity Press. You can find details and a study guide for it by clicking here or the tab at the top: Cosmosexualities It is reviewed in the Times Higher Education here, along with my ‘full profile, at: Review’ From the cover:…

IMG_4943University Towers

The 50th Anniversary Conference of the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex

Wednesday 24th June, 2015

 Ivor Crewe Hall, 9.30 start.

 The Essex Sociology Department has helped to shape sociological thought and practice across Britain and around the world. In our 50th year, a panel of distinguished former and current members offer their own critical reflection on this contribution.

 In the morning, we discuss its legacies and the new dialogues it continues to foster (Ted Benton, Joan Busfield, Diane Elson, Ken Plummer, John Scott and Paul Thompson).

In the afternoon, there will be three thematic sessions (social theory, civic challenges and new terrains) that will explore some of the Department’s contemporary research challenges and collaborations. These include: theorizing excess, moral selfhood, hacker ethics, countering austerity and urban security (Michael Halewood, Linsey McGoey, Sandya Hewamanne, Michael Bailey, Neli Demireva, Isabel Crowhurst, Robin West, James Allen- Robertson, Darren Thiel, Pete Fussey).

ALL WELCOME

For further details and to reserve your place please contact Agnes Skamballis on askamb@essex.ac.uk

On the current problem of inequality: The rich are getting richer

Inequality “There’s been class warfare going on for the last twenty years, and my class has won. We’re the ones that have gotten our tex rates reduced”. Warren Buffett   Last Sunday saw the publication of the Sunday Times Rich (April 26th 2015). It showed that the wealth of Britain’s richest people has more than doubled…

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