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Warwick Sociology Seminar Series

Sociology Departmental Seminars take place on Wednesdays in weeks 3, 5 and 7 during spring and autumn terms (see dates below).


Please click on the image above to download a copy of the poster!

3-5pm in SO.19, followed by drinks and snacks.

All welcome! Come and join in the conversation...

THURSDAY 10th October 2019

***The event will be held in the research room of the Law School (room 2.09) between 1-2pm with lunch served from 12.30***

Punishing Women: the 'crisis' in the women's penal system and the case for abolition.

Linda Moore (University of Ulster) and Gillian McNaull (Queen’s University, Belfast)

In collaboration with the Centre for Criminal Justice


Gillian McNaull

Despite recommendations imprisonment should be limited to those few women who pose a demonstrable risk to the public (Corston 2007), women 'on the margins' (class; 'race'; poverty; mental ill-health; vulnerability) continue to experience custodial remand regardless of the severity of their crime. Derived in primary empirical research with women remand prisoners in Northern Ireland, this paper explores the 'liminal space' (Baldry 2010) occupied by women remanded to custody, before prison and during their incarceration. It outlines the processes of criminalisation which vulnerable women endure as their ‘criminality’ is co-produced with criminal justice agents. The paper considers that reformists such as Corston retain the discourse that women are ‘offenders’ rather than ‘offended upon’ by society, allowing the rationale for their punishment to persist. By binding women discursively to criminal justice conceptualisations, Corston in effect calls for the palatability of punishment exerted by society, while allowing oppressive practice to continue.

Linda Moore

Following a series of tragic deaths in custody, the Corston Report in 2007 recommended a radical, 'women-centred' approach to women's imprisonment in England and Wales. Baroness Corston suggested a 'fundamental re-think' about the treatment of women in conflict with the law, within custody and in the community. The report recommended a strategy of decarceration, whereby only those women who committed the most serious and violent offences would be imprisoned. This paper considers what progress has been made in reducing the use of imprisonment for women both in the UK context and internationally and asks what have been the barriers to decarceration. In doing so, the relationship between Corston's vision and a more radical abolitionist agenda is explored.

16th October 2019

Borders, Migration and Class in an Age of Crisis: Producing Immigrants and Workers

Tom Vickers, Nottingham Trent University

Abstract: Taking the global space of capitalism as a starting point, this paper considers the role of borders and border struggles in structuring that space and producing categories of labour, focusing on changes following the global capitalist crisis that has been widely acknowledged since 2007. The paper situates mobility in relation to class formation and exploitation through the concept of labour process, which highlights the importance of capitalist control over movement, at a micro and macro scale, to extract surplus value from living human subjects. This analysis is tested and further developed by drawing on a programme of empirical and theoretical research between 2013 and 2018, concerning patterns of migration and settlement, labour markets, state policy and implementation, the media, and activism.

The paper deals with Britain in particular, a national focus that has value given the persistent national organisation of capital, and the continuing significance of the nation state in governing citizenship, migration and migrants’ rights. This has added importance in the context of the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, which represents an overt turn back toward the nation, and is part of a wider international turn toward protectionism and unilateralism supported by populist movements. Yet despite this ‘inward turn’, the British economy remains heavily reliant on international investments and export of services, and key sectors are structurally dependant on migrant labour. Through an analysis of this case, theoretical insights are developed that have international relevance. The paper concludes by proposing alternative, counter-hegemonic understandings of the relationship between borders, migration and class that are informed by grassroots movements and foreground solidarity.

30th October 2019

Corporate Power in Regulating the Circular Economy

Sandra Eckert, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark and Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

In collaboration with the Toxic Expertise Project, the Research on Global Governance Network (RiGG-Net), and the Centre for Law, Regulation and Governance of the Global Economy (GLOBE).

Abstract: The Circular Economy package proposed by the incoming Juncker Commission in 2015, and withdrawing an earlier, seemingly more ambitious Action Plan of the previous Commission, is frequently portrayed as a formidable example of policy dismantling and industry co-optation. Yet we have also seen visible and decisive policy action in the form of banning single-use plastics products, with policymakers thus opting for the most stringent instrument (restriction) available in the toolbox of the Circular Economy policy arsenal. In her talk, Sandra Eckert will elaborate on power struggles in the transformative process towards a Circular Economy in the European Union (EU). More specifically, she will examine the role of diffuse and corporate interests in influencing the emerging political agenda seeking to tackle the environmental issues posed by plastics products and waste. She will present key findings discussed in her recently published book on Corporate Power and Regulation. Consumers and the Environment in the European Union (Palgrave 2019).


TUESDAY 5th November 2019

4pm – 6pm in R0.04

Piety as a Stabiliser of Patriarchy, and Sexual Subversion of the Islamic Gendered Order in Pakistan

Afiya Shehrbano Zia, Visiting Feminist Scholar and Activist

Abstract: Over the last decade, Pakistan has seen the rise of a generation that has a more candid approach to sex, is inspired by the #MeToo movement and bears a strategic reliance on social media. In this context, the role and politics of piety as an alternative form of Muslim women's selfhood serves only to stabilise patriarchy and neoliberalism in Pakistan, while sexual impropriety (often boldly expressed) continues to threaten to subvert the Islamic gendered order.

My paper tracks the trenchant popularity of Saba Mahmood's conceptualisation of Muslim women's pious subjectivities as their 'agency' and demonstrates how counter-intuitive this has been for the context of Muslim-majority Pakistan. It argues (citing cases and examples of pulp fiction) that while Muslim women's pietist agency has received celebratory attention, their sexual desires and expressions have been treated more cautiously, suspiciously, or just ignored. In such theory, women's spirituality is privileged and they are presented as disembodied subjects or dismissed as sexpositive, western, secular dupes.

The paper discusses the encounters of this turn in gender politics in the context of a new government headed by Imran Khan and that is propelled by populism and piety. I argue that sexual autonomy and secular freedoms are likely to be the combined landscape across which the next round for women’s progressive rights will be contested more openly in Pakistan. This will pose theoretical and strategic challenges for feminism and progressive movements.

***CANCELLED*** 13th November 2019

Racial Regimes of Ownership: Property, Possession & Settler Colonisation

Brenna Bhandar, SOAS, University of London

Abstract: In this presentation, I aim to explore Cedric Robinson’s concept of the racial regime, and to consider it specifically in the context of relations of ownership and possession. Based on my recently published book Colonial Lives of Property, I will draw on historical and contemporary examples of indigenous land dispossession to elaborate on how both property and race possess histories that are forged through an articulation with each other. This entanglement, haunted by the figure of the possessive individual, leads to several questions about the conditions necessary for freedom. I will speculate on whether de-propriation, or the estrangement of property from its current legal and social forms might offer some ways forward.

Term 2

5th February 2020

Violence and Society: Rethinking social theory and official measurement

Sylvia Walby, City, University of London

Abstract: Violence matters. It is a source of suffering, pain, and death. Its scale and significance are often underestimated in social theory, social science, official statistics, and public policy. Violence is gendered; a cause and consequence of gender inequality. How should violence be conceptualised to revise theories of society and transformation? The presentation will challenge social theory, including Zizek and Bourdieu, to better identify and make violence visible, rather than leaving it on the margins, obscured, or ignored. How should violence be measured, to make it more visible and to confront denial, underestimation, distortion, and prejudice? The presentation will challenge the measurement of violence by the Office for National Statistics, which underestimates the extent of domestic violent crime and violence against women. The presentation will conclude with a proposal as to how to rethink the conceptualisation of society to include violence and connect it to changes in political economy, including crisis.

19th February 2020

Anthropocene Markets

Daniel Neyland, Goldsmiths, University of London

Abstract:The term Anthropocene has been used since the new millennium to describe a geological time period in which humans are said to have had a dramatic impact on the planet, generating the current ecological crisis. The term has attracted varied comment regarding its human-centred focus and different candidate start-dates have been proposed, leading to the suggestion that we are now witnessing multiple Anthropo-scenes. At the same time, alternatives such as Capitalocene have been put forward, emphasising clearly the focus of social science interest in capitalism, neoliberalism and markets as potential instigators of ecological crisis.

In this presentation I want to engage with Anthropocene markets, but from a different starting point. Rather than begin with a critique of economists for being too narrow or industry for ignoring their impact, I will engage with markets via geology. The Anthropocene Working Group have been studying various candidates for a golden-spike in their data that might depict the origins of this potentially new geological time period. In doing so, they have considered such matters as the thickness of the earth’s surface attributable to modern human endeavour. I will suggest that it is in these attempts to measure human impact that we can begin to discern the social, political, legal and economic relations that make markets. We can start to perceive market relations embedded in material form – in the case of measuring the thickness of the earth, these can be discerned in the ground beneath our feet.

I will set out what a sociology of this geology can tell us, how it can shed light on markets in different ways and help us to think about new ways forward for engaging with our ecological crisis.

29th April 2020


Characterising the ‘pains of racism’ in young Londoners’ lives: Depth, Breadth, Looseness and Tightness.

Coretta Phillips, London School of Economics

In collaboration with the Criminal Justice Centre

Abstract: This paper applies an analytical framework developed by sociologist Ben Crewe (2011, 2015) to understand the experience of imprisonment to better conceptualise the intricacies of racialized social relations in the lives of young minority ethnic Londoners. While not assuming a straightforward parallel between systems of penal power and racial power, the notions of depth, breadth, looseness, and tightness can be used to better capture both the materiality and ontological elements of racial domination as felt and enacted by those on the receiving end. It is in the integration of structure and affect that the greatest promise for challenging racial conditions in society that harm, denigrate and degrade, can be found (Bonilla-Silva 2019).


Thursday 30th April 2020

3 pm to 5 pm in SO.10

Purity, Imperfection, and Exclusion: Shifting tensions between food activism, environmentalism, and entangled theory

Eva Giraud, Keele University

Abstract: Drawing on examples from environmental and vegan activism, this paper asks what possibilities for action and intervention might exist in the wake of theoretical narratives that have emphasised the entangled composition of the world. A growing body of work, often associated with the new materialisms, has emphasised entanglements between humans and other entities: from animals and plants, to technologies, microbes, and minerals. The purpose of centralising these entanglements is an ethical one, promising a means of moving beyond a worldview where the human is seen as exceptional, in order to find less anthropocentric ways of conceiving of and acting in the world. Recently, however, there have been growing concerns that these approaches might make it difficult to determine where responsibilities for particular environmental problems really lie, let alone how to meet these responsibilities. This problem has been compounded by the way that relational approaches have been critical of existing strands of animal and environmental activism, which have been depicted as offering insufficiently complex and overly moralistic solutions to ecological problems. This paper works to map some of the tensions between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ and draws on activist narrative to complicate particular conceptual assumptions. In doing so, I argue for the value of shifting the emphasis away from an ethics based on relationality and entanglement, towards an ethics of exclusion, which pays attention to the entities, practices and ways of being that are foreclosed as particular relations emerge at the expense of others. The paper is based on work from my recent book What Comes After Entanglement? alongside interview materials from an ongoing project about tensions surrounding contemporary vegan food politics.

Previous seminars


17th October 2018

Professor Ulf Liebe, Department of Sociology and Warwick Q-step Centre

"Multifactorial Survey Experiments in the Global South"

31st October 2018

Dr Karen Gregory, University of Edinburgh

"Negotiating the Gig Economy: How On-Demand Food Couriers Manage Risk in Edinburgh"

23rd January 2019

Dr Arshad Isakjee, University of Liverpool

"Securing the European Border: Racialised Violence and the Makeshift Camp"

20th February 2019

Dr Linsey McGoey, University of Essex

"Epistocracy and Oracular Power: Applying an Ignorance Framework to the New Authoritarianism"


18th October 2017

'Compensating or compounding effects: Can school attended alleviate the effects of family background on academic achievement?'

Jenny Chesters (Melbourne)

1st November 2017

'Biopolitcs or a chemical society?'

Andrew Barry (UCL)

15th November 2017

'Beyond Diversity: Managing Race in the Cultural Industries'

Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths)

24th January 2018

'Discuss: What would Les Back do? If generosity could save us'

Les Back (Goldsmiths) and Ros Gill (City)

7th February 2018

'Research in the age of big and open data'

Sabina Leonelli (Exeter)


12th October 2016

Does School Prepare Men for Prison?
Dr Karen Graham, Newman Criminology

26th October 2016
The Secularisation of the Environment: Darwinism as sociology
Dr Maurizio Meloni, Sheffield Sociology

9th November 2016
Tracing Autism: Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and the Affective Labor of Neuroscience
Dr Des Fitzgerald, Cardiff Sociology

23rd November 2016
The role of testimony and interviews in critical research
Dr Ian Patel, SOAS International Relations

7th December 2016
From war grave to peace garden: militarised citizenship and cultural heritage
Prof Vron Ware, Kingston Sociology

18th January 2017
Just a big sexy joke? Seriousness in women's roller derby
Dr Maddie Breeze, Queen Mary's, Sociology

1st February 2017
The Problematics of Caribbean Whiteness
Dr Shirley Anne Tate, Leeds Sociology

15th February 2017
Algorithmic architectures: craft, technologies and designing futures
Dr Daryl Martin, York Sociology

1st March 2017
What is race doing in the UK's stem cell inventory?
Dr Ros Williams, Sheffield Sociology

15th March 2017 *CANCELLED*
Race, Crisis and the Break-Up of Britain
Prof Satnam Virdee, Glasgow Sociology


17 February 2016

'Time Binds: Researching Social Suffering with Migrants at the End of Life'

Dr Yasmin Gunaratnam, Goldsmiths, University of London, Department of Sociology

24 February 2016

'Making Space at the (Queer) Academic Table?'

Professor Yvette Taylor, London South Bank University/University of Strathclyde

2nd March 2016

'Educating Radical Democracy? Theorising Counter-Capitalist Possibility in Neoliberal Social Systems'
Dr Sarah Amsler, University of Lincoln, School of Education

16th March 2016

'Habit, Power and Social Transformation'
Dr Carolyn Pedwell, University of Kent, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

'Inequality After the Crisis: Towards a Sociology of Quantitative Easing'
Professor Nicholas Gane, Warwick Sociology
14th October 2015

'Thinking Against Humanity'
Dr Ayça Çubukçu, LSE, Department of Sociology and Centre for the Study of Human Rights
28th October 2015

'The Collective Subject as Enemy: The Public between Legal Fiction and Political Potentiality'
Dr Nina Power, University of Roehampton, Department of Humanities
11th November 2015

'"Felons are our Families": The Challenges and Opportunities for Emotional Messaging in the Undocumented Migrant Youth Movement in the USA'
Dr Ala Sirreyeh, Keele University, Department of Sociology
25th November 2015