"What has life been, what has it become, and what futures does it hold? Our world is characterised by transformations in science, technology and biomedicine which redefine how we see ourselves, along with others and the world at large. I work in the Sociology department, teaching and doing research on how changes in medicine and technology impact society. For example, technologies like genetic testing have offered up new ways to understand how our bodies work, but these technologies are also political and ethical. Private companies can hold patents over certain genetics tests making potentially life-saving information accessible to only some people who can afford these tests. Changes in science and technology are of concern to everyone – and bringing a sociological lens to these issues is what I do. It’s also what you will do when you undertake a specialism in 'Technologies and Markets’ in our Sociology Department here at Warwick.
In the 16/17 academic year, I am teaching a course called ‘Bodies, Property and Politics’ where we look at the entanglements of capitalism and biotechnology, such as the patenting of human cells and DNA, the recruitment of humans in clinical trials and markets human organs. Students love this course not just because the topics are often new to them, but also because the course makes these new topics accessible and fascinating to think about from different social and cultural perspectives. In our department you will learn to think globally about the political and ethical stakes of science and technology – and such perspectives are highly valued in today’s face-paced technology driven world.
In order to make change in the world, we need to understand how new forms of technology influence everything from the smallest aspects of our lived daily experiences – such as checking our phones constantly – to the ways in which new technologies promise to solve global problems, such as food shortages and the availability of medications. This is what we offer through our Technologies and Markets specialism".
"My name is Gurminder K Bhambra and I am Professor of Sociology and also Research Director in the Department. At the moment, I split my time between Warwick and the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Linnaeus University in Sweden where I am Guest Professor of Sociology and History. I have a strong background in History and am really interested in the ways in which history is used within Sociology. For example, I have been very interested in the current debates about citizenship in Britain in the context of discussions around Brexit. In particular, I have been keen to understand our contemporary politics in terms of the histories we acknowledge and those that we don’t. To this end, I have written a couple of short blog posts on the topic that you might be interested in reading in terms of finding out more about my own research:
‘Brexit, the Commonwealth, and Exclusionary Citizenship’ Open Democracy Dec 8 2016
‘Viewpoint: Brexit, Class and British ‘National’ Identity’ Discover Society #34 July 2016
Here in the Sociology Department at Warwick you have the flexibility to shape your Sociology degree according to the specific specialism that reflect your interests. We offer a variety of specialisms and today I want to tell you about the specialism in Race and Global Politics. With all the political changes that have happened in 2016, there isn’t a better time to choose this specialism and see how Sociology can help you to understand what has happened and why it might have happened.
One of the current modules that makes up this specialism is Race and the Making of the Modern World. This module looks at the way in which racialized historical processes have been fundamental to the shaping of the world. We draw on history to examine processes of dispossession, extraction, colonization, and appropriation and see how they laid the foundations of the modern world and the ways in which they continue to shape it in the present.
This is a new module that was developed, in part, to address concerns raised by students about the nature of the curriculum and what resources were to be made available to them to understand all aspects of the world we share. I’ve taught this module for two years now and am really looking forward to teaching it again next year. It’s one of my favourite modules because it enables us to go back into history and pull that history into the present in really profound ways. The feedback from the students who’ve taken this module so far has been very favourable and many of them have said that they learnt things that they hadn’t known about previously and that it really widened the scope of what they knew. That really meant a lot to me, and I hope that I will be able to share this module with you next year".