Events & Seminars 2022

The Sociology Seminar Series is supported by the MacFie Bequest, named after Professor Alec MacFie, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University from 1945 to 1958.

All enquiries about the seminar series and zoom links please contact Tim Winzler

All seminars will take place on a Wednesday at 12 noon. 

21 September 2022
Tripta Chandola (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology): Sonic Selfies - Reflections on listening as a methodological intervention

Abstract
Sonic Selfies is the last essay written in the perusal of listening as a methodological intervention to engage with the Other over a period of two-decades. If listening is the methodological intervention by which I constantly recalibrate the positionalities of the self and the other, both in the context of the slums of Govindpuri but also as a political question, Sonic Selfies puts forth a portrait of collaborative and contested sonic presences. With Sonic Selfies as a matured manifestation of pursuing listening as a methodology, I will reflect on the challenges of locating the ‘noisy’,  ‘untidy’ and ‘undisciplined’ self of the slums and its residents within the broader moral ecosystem of the middle-class morality which inadvertently assumes the voice of a disciplinarian agent. The disciplining voice of middle-class morality spills over into the knowledge production modalities informing disciplines of urban studies, developmental projects and ethnographic endeavours which can only accommodate the slum-dwellers as the ‘savage others who speak in tongues’. Reflecting on these challenges of listening into and locating the ‘noisy’ slum-dwellers, which they are, I do not insist on an equally problematic proposition of romanticising the ‘tongues spoken in’. And here I draw back to the essay, Sonic Selfies, as an intervention to listen into the sonic presences of the slum-dwellers as evidencing the loud and dystopic material realities they emanate from. And propose that the only way forward towards a politics and poetics of ethical co-existence can be arrived at abandoning the middle-class mandate of re-ordering the slums, the others and fine-tuning the tongues they speak in.

Bio
Tripta Chandola is an ethnographer and independent researcher based in Delhi, India. She completed her doctorate from Queensland University of Technology, Australia, in 2010. She has held research positions at NUS, Singapore and RMIT, Melbourne. She has also worked as a research consultant for several international and national projects. One of her long-term, sustained research engagements has been with the space and its residents of the slums of Govindpuri in Delhi. Her particular focus is on the everyday encounters, social, cultural, political, emotional and sensual, which inform the identity, rights and claims which the residents of the slums can assert in the broader materiality and imagination of the city. 

The politics of everyday encounters of marginalisation, disenfranchisement and rights of the poor are the key focus of her research. She has published in international peer-review journals and contributed to edited book collections. In 2015, BBC World Service commissioned a radio programme based on her doctoral research titled Listening into Others"

Suggested reading
Chandola, Tripta: Listening to Others: An Ethnographic Exploration in Govindpuri (Chapter 7: Sonic Selfies), available at:https://networkcultures.org/blog/2020/05/15/out-now-tod36-listening-into-others-an-ethnographic-exploration-in-govindpuri/

 

5 October 2022
Les Back (University of Glasgow): The Paradox of Home
(In Person: Adam Smith Building Room 916)

Abstract
The idea of home, or the sense of home, is sociologically compelling because it anchors our experience of social life.  One of my great inspirations is the writing of John Berger (1991), And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. That beautiful book includes a very short and useful passage where he talks about the way in which the idea of home foregrounds our sense of being in the world. The idea of home, Berger says, is rich and useful because it can be preyed upon by very different political interests. So, it can be a controlling claim like a male head of a household within the patriarchal family or a sense of property.  Mary Corcoran writes how in Ireland on how the fireplace is at the centre of that domestic order. The language of home and homeland can also be about proprietorial claims on home and things that belong within it.  The idea of home is rich because it can also be a place that is remade, reclaimed, opened, assembled, and represented differently.  In this talk I will explore these paradoxical tensions in a range of examples from Billy Connolly’s writing about his hometown in Glasgow to Toni Morrison’s portrayals of the ‘racial house’. 

Bio
Les Back has just joined the University of Glasgow as Professor of Sociology.   His main fields of interest are the sociology of racism, migration, popular culture and city life. He also writes journalism and has made documentary films and up until recently presented a podcast series called Street signs for the Centre of Urban and Community Research, Goldsmith, University of London.  He has a forthcoming book with Michael Keith, John Solomos and Kabir Shukra entitled the Unfinished Politics of Race due to be published by Cambridge University Press later this year.

Suggested reading
Working Paper distributed ahead of seminar. 

 

19 October 2022
Matthew Hughey (University of Connecticut): W. E. B. DuBois and his Strange Synthesis of Spirituality and Sociology
(In Person: Adam Smith Building Room 916)

Abstract
Scholarship on W. E. B. Du Bois now flourishes.  Despite the newfound attention, few critically engage the complicated and contradictory uses of divinity, prayers, transcendental virtues, and otherworldly dimensions that circulate within Du Boisian social theory.  This absence looms large within sociology, wherein only a fraction of Du Bois’s vast oeuvre endures.  As a remedy, I plumb lesser-engaged works like “A Vacation Unique” (1995 [1889]), “The Princess Steel” (1995 [1909c]), Prayers for Dark People (1980 [1910c]) and “The Comet” in Darkwater (1920) to illumine a “Du Boisian Sociological Spirituality”: (1) a ritualized blend of materialist instrumentalism and pedagogical idealism; (2) a pragmatist-underpinned social interactionism that sanctifies the Black self, and; (3) a sociology of knowledge predicated on otherworldly dimensions and metaphysical standpoints.  I argue that Du Bois’s poiesis animates his analysis of the color-line and his understandings of both Whiteness and White Supremacy.

Bio
Matthew W. Hughey, PhD is Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut (USA) and is affiliate faculty at the University of Barcelona (Spain), Nelson Mandela University (South Africa), University of Cambridge (UK), as well as a 2022 Fulbright Scholar at the University of Surrey (UK).  A scholar of race and racism, he has authored over eighty scholarly articles and nine scholarly books, such as his award-winning ethnography, White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race (Stanford University Press).  He also opines as an expert witness for legal cases involving racial discrimination and serves as editor of Sociology Compass—Race and Ethnicity

Suggested reading
Hughey, Matthew W.  2022. “More than Metaphors: Will Sociology Search for the Soul of Du Bois? (A Review of W. E. B. Du Bois’s Prayers for Dark People).”  Sociological Forum 37(2): 647-652: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/socf.12812?af=R

 

2 November 2022
Stephanie Chambers (University of Glasgow): Children’s right to leisure during school holidays
(Online, Zoom link shared beforehand)

Abstract
Children from families with fewer financial resources are more likely to experience school holidays differently from children from wealthier families. Concern has been raised that school holidays reproduce inequality, leading to a differential in children’s learning and health and wellbeing. Holiday hunger has had a particularly high profile. The policy response to these concerns is increased investment by national and local governments in holiday programmes. These programmes can be considered public health interventions that often offer food, physical activity and other enrichment activities. Nevertheless, school holidays are critical opportunities for children’s leisure and thus far the programmes, their potential impact and unintended consequences have not been considered sociologically. The aim of this paper is to present the potential benefits of a sociological approach to understanding school holiday programmes and rethinking children’s right to leisure during holidays. It will consider these programmes as opportunities for lived citizenship, and will caution against a strictly public health approach that prioritises health outcomes (children as becomings) but fails to consider contextual experiences (children as beings). It will consider children and young people’s agency in these social spaces, their ability to shape what is being offered, and to consider the impact of the potential loss in casual leisure that arises from engagement in structured leisure.  The paper ends by setting out potential avenues for research into school holiday leisure including participatory research to understand children and young people’s preferences for leisure during school holidays, particularly in the context of poverty.

Bio
Stephanie graduated with a BA in English and Politics and an MSc in Public Policy from the University of Strathclyde.  She has a PhD from the University of Reading examining public opinions on the causes of obesity and support for policies to address it. Following research assistant positions at the Universities of Reading and Dundee, Stephanie was awarded a Chief Scientist Office Postdoctoral Fellowship on school food education. After this she held an MRC/University of Glasgow Research Fellowship within the Institute of Health and Wellbeing’s Social Scientists in Health group, and the Complexity Programme at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit. She has expertise in qualitative and mixed methods research, research with children and young people, intervention design and evaluation, and systematic reviews.  Her research is focused on improving children’s health.

Suggested reading
Mukherjee, U., 2020. Towards a Critical Sociology of Children’s Leisure. International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure3(3), pp.219-239. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41978-020-00060-5

16 November 2022
Sam Lawton (University of Glasgow)
‘The Positivist Dispute Resolved? Sociology, Psychology and Politics after Cambridge Analytica’
Venue TBC

Abstract:
Social scientists have long pondered positivism's implications. Sociology is a largely (but not exclusively) postpositivist paradigm while psychology and politics have largely (but not exclusively) embraced positivism. The Cambridge Analytica scandal and testimony from whistleblower Christopher Wiley shows that swathes of people can be made to operate as a positivist would expect with huge political consequences, providing a natural experiment to test key positivist assumptions about society. Positivism is at its core an epistemology which posits that human behaviour and society has rules which are discoverable and predictable through the scientific method. Sociologists since Weber have rejected this position. Cambridge Analytica showed that, to a certain extent, there were underlying rules to how people behave and interact online, and that social media could be used to predict who would vote for Brexit, and manipulate this particular strata of the voting population in order to illegally influence a referendum that has had huge consequences for the nation-state in which we live. I want to ask our colleagues how we proceed as practitioners of sociology, particularly anti-positivist sociologists. This seminar will draw on a close reading of Wiley’s testimony to invite discussion of the role of positivism in the social sciences.

30 November 2022 - This event has been cancelled due to industrial action
Jason Arday (University of Glasgow): TBD

 

7 December 2022
Gustavo Gomes Da Costa Santos (Federal University of Pernambuco-Brazil): Is there no sin beneath the Equator? The regulation of gender and sexuality in the Portuguese colonial empire
(In Person: Adam Smith Building Room 916)

Abstract
Although a very small nation, Portugal created a long-lasting Empire that reached Africa, Asia and America. Regarding the regulation of gender and sexuality, academics emphasize its relaxed approach to sexual encounters between Europeans and the indigenous population and high levels of miscegenation. As elsewhere, sexual predation was inherent to the colonial enterprise and sexual disciplining through criminalization of non-heterosexual and other dissenting practices was enshrined in colonial legal frames and remained under the surveillance of the Inquisition. Later sexual and reproductive flexibility appears, therefore, to be more a result of adaptation than an intrinsic feature of Portuguese coloniality. Drawing on the existing historical literature on the Portuguese colonial experience between the 15th and 20th centuries and on original legal data, the paper re-interprets what has been described as ‘Portuguese non-racial colonialism’ in relation to Portugal’s dependent or ‘semi-peripheral’s position in global politics. Portugal institutional and economic weaknesses forced colonial authorities often to “turn a blind eye” on indigenous traditions contrary to Catholic morals to avoid a reaction of African populations and secure its limited control of colonial territories. 

Bio
Gustavo Gomes da Costa is Lecturer of sociology at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) in Brazil and scientific collaborator at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) in Belgium. He holds a PhD and a Master’s degree in Political Science from State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. He has experience in Political Sociology, with emphasis on social movements, NGOs and collective action, social participation, public policies, political parties, citizenship, homophobia and LGBT’s human rights in Latin America and Africa. He also works with issues of gender, sexuality, colonialism, and post-colonial and decolonial thought.

Suggested Reading
Gomes da Costa Santos, G., Waites, M. (2019): Comparative colonialisms for queer analysis: comparing British and Portuguese colonial legacies for same-sex sexualities and gender diversity in Africa – setting a transnational research agenda, International Review of Sociology. DOI https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03906701.2019.1641277

Gomes da Costa Santos, G., Waites, M. (2022) Analysing African Advances Against Homophobia in Mozambique: How Decriminalisation and Anti-Discrimination Reforms Proceed Without LGBT Identities. Sexuality & Culture 26, 548–567. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-021-09908-8