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Warwick Sociology Seminar Series

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

Seminars will take place via Zoom so feel free to bring your own drinks and snacks!

Please email Dr Alexander Smith (alexander.smith@warwick.ac.uk) to register for the seminar. Registration is essential to ensure you receive a link to the Zoom event on the day.

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

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Donald Trump and the Struggle over Fiscal Citizenship: The Social Limits of Neoliberal Tax Cuts in Kansas

Dr Danny Alvord (Northeastern University, Boston, MA)

Neoliberalism has eroded democracy by promoting, in part, a thin, contractualised vision of citizenship and the public. The current set of challenges to democracy - such as the rise of populist parties - raises important questions about how institutions can cultivate a renewed sense of democracy and citizen engagement. I will argue that public finances, especially when under threat, can facilitate the discovery of social interdependence and allow the public to rediscover itself as a political agent and enable collective problem-solving. In this talk, I draw upon and elaborate the concept of 'fiscal citizenship' to argue that the state’s public finances provide the institutional context to facilitate collective and democratic problem-solving. I draw empirically on the case of Kansas, which instituted an extreme neoliberal tax policy in 2012 built on supply-side economics. After cratering Kansas’ budget, the state witnessed a countermovement in which a wide range of various organisational actors - including small businesses - successfully advocated for the policy’s reversal. The paper then discusses what the Kansas case can bring to our understanding of Trump’s tax policy changes and what remains unanswered.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Revisiting Noise of the Past: A Coventry Project

Dr Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Working from the Noise of the Past project, this paper offers a case for how a call-and-response methodology can be activated—to creatively, through co-production, call out, in public, to the residual narratives of consecrated sites of memory and performative rites of remembrance, by setting them into play with disavowed sounds, documents and images, to deliver “new situations.” This presentation will revisit the Noise of the Past project and installation in Coventry cathedral in the current political and cultural moment. It will discuss creative productive possibilities and tensions for an occupation of space that allows for an altered imagination of how we hear and experience hitherto erased pasts, in the context of the move to encounter difference from within post-imperial nations today. Several pressures pose challenges, including the drive for impact, as well as the place of the multicultural in social and cultural networks. On reflection, the project continues to be situated as a case of space invading.

Linked published article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/174589311X13046098680150

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Scientific emergency or emergency for science? Alternative experts and civic dislocation in the UK’s Covid-19 response

Dr Warren Pearce (iHuman, University of Sheffield)

Public support for the UK government’s handling of COVID-19 has collapsed since March. Public trust in science, long thought to be robust in the UK, is suffering collateral damage, notably in its collaboration with government in the provision of scientific advice. In this paper, we examine the historical context for these developments. Drawing on scientific reports, press briefing transcripts and media reporting we argue that the UK has experienced increasing ‘civic dislocation’ during the pandemic, as public confidence in the country’s institutions to deliver reliable information and advice has eroded. Echoing the BSE crisis of 25 years ago, institutional responses to COVID-19 have been hindered by an assumption that the UK’s closed and consensual policy culture could deal with an emergency that was as much epistemological as biomedical. State messaging channelled the British stoicism of 'Keep Calm and Carry On' by downplaying scientific uncertainties and avoiding troubling comparisons with other countries, but found itself effectively challenged by an unruly and unlikely assortment of critics including Caprice, Sir David King and a Californian tech blogger. We locate this inability to deal with real-time public critique, intensified by new media technologies, as a new phase within the British state’s long-running knowledge crisis. As a result, alternative sources of expertise have flourished, achieving public prominence and political influence within controversies over schools, face masks and lockdown policies. The implications of these developments remain unclear, but we outline two potential directions of travel. One mirrors the US, in which public distrust enables the government to cast off the strictures of scientific advice in favour of policies driven by ‘common sense’. The other path sees the British state come to terms with its knowledge crisis, accepting that if scientific advice is to maintain legitimacy, it is an activity that must take place both in public and for the public.

Term 2

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Lawlessness with an Iron Fist: The Fight to Breathe on the Edge of the New Western Frontier

Dr Pantea Javidan (Stanford University)

This article captures a representative snapshot of this developing and deeply consequential historical moment in the United States, the epicentre of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Its analysis is situated in the San Francisco Bay Area as an exemplary location of intersecting inequalities that have come to characterise societies with advanced capitalist economies. Conceptualising the fight to breathe, this article theorises contemporary struggles around themes of racism and the Right, disaster capitalism and climate breakdown, and trauma and post-traumatic growth, from a reflexive positionality of a will to live and thrive surrounded by disease, police brutality, raging fires, heat waves, and hazardous air. It considers the role and meaning of law in a time epitomisng selective regulation—of lawlessness and laissez-faire on the one hand, and an “iron fist” of law-and-order on the other, retrenching inequalities of race, class, gender and childhood & youth.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Scouring away neoliberalism: Mrs Hinch, the rise of the ‘cleanfluencer’ and the digital domestication of crisis

Dr Emma Casey (Northumbria University) and Professor Jo Littler (City, University of London)

This paper examines the social significance of the rise of the ‘cleanfluencer’ in an age of neoliberal anxiety and crisis. ‘Cleanfluencers’ are online influencers who supply domestic household cleaning and organisation tips and modes of lifestyle aspiration via social (and ‘legacy’) media. In this paper we focus on Mrs Hinch, aka Sophie Hinchliffe from Essex, the ‘homegrown’ Instagram star with 3.9 million followers who shares daily images of her cleaning stories and family life, and has a series of bestselling books, regular daytime TV appearances and promotional tie-ins with shops including ASDA. We analyse the popular charge of Mrs Hinch and the cleanfluencers in three key ways. First, we locate ‘Mrs Hinch’ in relation to longer histories of housework and the rewriting of domestic narratives to find new ways of ensuring women’s willingness to participate in unpaid household labour both before and during Covid. Second, we analyse the contradictions of cleanfluencing as an online labour practice, suggesting its digital refractions of domestic labour can be understood - updating Maria Mies’ work - as a form of ‘Spectacular Housewifization’. Finally, and drawing these themes together, we show how ‘Hinching’ invites women to try to ‘clean away’ some of the instabilities, difficulties and threats of neoliberal culture.

Emma Casey is Associate Professor of Sociology at Northumbria University. Her books include Women, Pleasure and the Gambling Experience and with Lydia Martens Gender and Consumption: the Commercialisation of Domestic Life

Jo Littler is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London. Her books include Against Meritocracy? Culture, Power and Myths of Mobility (2018) and with the Care Collective, The Care Manifesto (2020).

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Local associations and the policing of incivility in Parisian public space

Dr Carrie Benjamin (University of Warwick)

For years, neighbourhood associations and city officials in Paris have attempted to police behaviour to reduce discourteous uses of public spaces, with a particular focus on visual, olfactory, and sonic disturbances. Among these sensory nuisances, litter, dog waste, public urination, loud groups of young people, and ‘abusive’ occupations of public spaces are all considered ‘incivilities’ that contribute to a sense of insecurity. City officials have reacted to these ‘incivilities’ with securitised responses—even creating uniformed ‘incivility brigades’ who patrol the streets. However, not all residents are content with the efficacy of this approach. In particular, local residents’ associations that seek to ‘defend’ their neighbourhood against a perceived neglect from the city argue that these measures do not go far enough, preferring instead to ‘educate’ their neighbours about proper behaviour while also lobbying for increased police intervention. Drawing on municipal archives, interviews, and participant observation with local activists, I analyse the discourse that surrounds ‘incivility’ and depicts it as a security issue. I argue that by using the discourse of incivility to combat the ‘degradation’ of their neighbourhoods and challenge ‘bad’ behaviour, local associations attempt to restore a perceived pre-existing moral hierarchy based on respect in public space.

Previous seminars

2019/2020

16th October 2019

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

Tom Vickers, Nottingham Trent University

30th October 2019

Corporate Power in Regulating the Circular Economy

Sandra Eckert, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

In collaboration with the Toxic Expertise Project

13th November 2019

Racial Regimes of Ownership: Property, Possession & Settler Colonisation

Brenna Bhandar, SOAS, University of London

22nd January 2020

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

Eva Giraud, Keele University

5th February 2020

Violence and Society: Rethinking social theory and official measurement

Sylvia Walby, City, University of London

19th February 2020

Anthropocene Markets

Daniel Neyland, Goldsmiths, University of London

2018/19

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"

2017/8

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)

2016/7

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


2015/2016

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