Category Archives: Events

Social Theory and the Politics of Austerity

A round table session from Discourses of Dissent, an event part funded by the Social Theory Centre, exploring how social theory can help us understand the politics of austerity. How do theoretical justifications of austerity work to constrain public debate? How does the current government’s incongruous blend of neoliberal realism and superficial progressivism relate to what went before it? What resources can we find in social theory to critique the coalition’s agenda and its relationship to the wider crisis of late capitalism?

Podcast – Exploring the Emergence of Underground Musical Worlds

From the Sociology@Warwick Seminar Series in May 2012.

Nick Crossley from Manchester University discusses his use of social network analysis to explore the early development of punk and post-punk musical worlds in the UK. Read more about this research here and here.

Spotlight on Asexuality Studies

“Spotlight on Asexuality Studies” was a groundbreaking event hosted by the Identity Repertoires/Mind the Gap research group in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK.  Academics, activists, community members, therapists and students gathered in the university library and online to discuss contemporary asexual research, with papers presented both in-person and from the United States and Canada via video-conference.

For more information about the event, see the website.

Department of Sociology Seminar Series 2012: Thursday 3rd May, 12 – 1.30pm

The second seminar in the Department of Sociology Seminar Series 2012 will be a presentation by Prof. Nick Crossley, University of Manchester on the early development of punk and post-punk musical worlds in the UK:

‘Exploring the Emergence of Underground Musical Worlds: Punk and Post-Punk in Manchester, London, Liverpool and Sheffield, 1976- 1980’

For further information on this event please see here.

Multi-Author Blogging at the University of Warwick

The word ‘blogging’ often has negative connotations. Yet blogging can be understood both as an output and as a platform. Many negative views about blogging are connected to a certain idea of what it is: a single author, using it as a forum to express their views to a world which, in my cases, isn’t particularly interested. However this is only one kind of output which the platform can be used to publish. Increasingly, popular and successful blogs are taking on a new form: the multi-author blog. As the LSE’s Chris Gilson and Patrick Dunleavy have argued,

The truth is that the single-author blog model has already gone out of fashion, and is in rapid decline. A blog is only as good as its readership and without consistently strong posts, and an easy way of finding them, there will be no readership. In the modern world of web 2.0, RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter, it simply is not very effective to have a single author, single issue, rarely updated blog; all the effort made in writing and posting will be typically wasted.

Even creating a combined blog portal for a whole university is no guarantee of success. For instance, the Warwick University blog portal lists over 7,000 blogs which in combination have over 140,000 entries. But there are no indications of which are the popular or timely blogs, nor even a separation of staff and student work.

These considerations help explain why the vast majority of popular political blogs are now multi-author blogs (MABs); that is, themed and coherent blogs run by a proper editorial team and calling on the services of multiple authors to ensure that the blog remains topical, can cumulate a great deal of content and can ensure a good ‘churn’ of high quality posts. We believe that MABs are a very important development, and they can be an assured way for an academic institution to become more effective in the context of the web.

Such websites function more like online magazines and take full advantage of the power of modern blogging platforms: free, instantaneous, collaborative publishing of a kind which has never previously been possible. While the uptake of such tools within academia is still relatively new, there are already countless examples of ongoing successes, such as the LSE Impact Blog, the LSE Politics & Policy Blog and the Sociological Imagination. As Gilson and Dunleavy argue later in the article above:

We believe that there is a huge untapped market for well-informed, continuously updated and varied academic blogging. Academics are already writing content and universities already function as huge dynamic knowledge inventories that insiders know about, but the wider public cannot access. The difficult creative job is therefore already done. Multi-author blogs are a fantastic, easy, and moreover, cheap way for academics and universities to get their research out to what is essentially an unlimited audience. From this process, we can all benefit.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of such tool is that they require little technical knowledge to utilise. If you are capable of using Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word, you’re capable of using these tools. Furthermore, the extremely sophisticated collaborative functions built into them enable projects to be maintained without the need for regularly scheduled meetings or large amounts of communication. They enable an entirely new form of academic communication: a kind of ‘middle-range publishing’ that falls between books/journals & conferences/seminars.

Over the next couple of months, the Digital Change GPP will be supporting Multi-Author Blogging activities at Warwick. There will be an initial 1 hour session on April 19th (12pm to 1pm in the Research Exchange Seminar Room 1) which will offer an overview of Multi-Author Blogging, examples of its successful use and advice on planning potential projects. If there is enough interest, there will then be a longer ‘hands on’ session in May intended for people who want to get a project started.

If you’re interested in either session or would like to know more then please get in touch:

Spotlight on Asexuality Studies

“Spotlight on Asexuality Studies” was a groundbreaking event hosted by the Identity Repertoires/Mind the Gap research group in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK.  Academics, activists, community members, therapists and students gathered in the university library and online to discuss contemporary asexual research, with papers presented both in-person and from the United States and Canada via video-conference.

For more information about the event, see the website.

Spotlight on Asexuality Studies

“Spotlight on Asexuality Studies” was a groundbreaking event hosted by the Identity Repertoires/Mind the Gap research group in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK.  Academics, activists, community members, therapists and students gathered in the university library and online to discuss contemporary asexual research, with papers presented both in-person and from the United States and Canada via video-conference.

For more information about the event, see the website.

The Prato Writing Workshop

In association with a number of other universities, the department runs an annual writing workshop for PhD students in Prato, Italy. In the feature below, Mark Carrigan and Lynn Tang, talk about the workshop that took place in June 2011. Below the conversation are some photos taken by Dr Bob Carter who is the academic coordinator for the project.

– What was your motivation for attending the writing school? What did you hope to get out of it?

Lynn: PhD study is a lonely journey. You have to focus on your own project and seldom see other fellow students. Getting away to Italy for a writing workshop and meeting other students in similar stage of writing up sound like a good idea. Instead of being told with instructions of ‘how I should write’ (boot camp style), I hope it would be like a retreat, with a safe environment to vent frustration as well as to share insights and tips about academic writing and publishing. I was told that we could get as much or as less as we wanted to – a schedule paced with presentations and individual writing time seem to be a good pace for the writing school to be a rejuvenating experience.

Mark: Like Lynn I’d started to find the PhD a bit isolating. I’d finished my fieldwork, which was very interaction intensive, leaving me with the somewhat lonely desk bound task of sorting through vast quantities of data and trying to write something reasonably cogent about the endeavour that had (part time) dominated my life for the last couple of years. I was confident about my writing in general but my head was in the wrong place for actually sitting down to work intensively on my thesis. I hoped the writing school would help me reconnect with what I was doing and why, as well as the core skills needed to actually carry it out.

– What was the venue like? How did it contribute to the experience?

Lynn: It was really nice to go outside the home institutions to have a ‘retreat’. A change of environment did help activate reflections. It was also good to see academic and fellow students from own department in a casual setting – I got a lot out from informal chats. That this workshop being held in Italy made it even more special! Needless to explain that nice food and coffee really helped thinking and writing! Prato is a nice town. It is close enough to big city Florence but laid-back enough for learning purpose. There were odd moments as being Chinese walking around in the town because of the undercurrent racial tension in the area, but on the whole it’s a welcoming town. The building of the Monash Centre is amazing, with spacious rooms decorated with beautiful art deco. The only downside was that it was too hot during the time we visited.

Mark: It’s difficult to add much to what Lynn’s said about this. As much as I like the Warwick campus, it’s still a university campus with British weather. Getting out of your everyday working environment can be enormously productive and cathartic. All the more so when you’re going to such a charming town, beautiful and unpretensious, as well as pleasingly cheap compared to nearby Florence! Likewise the Monash Centre is stunning: an environment for work which is truly inspiring in a way that is difficult to convey in words.

– Looking back at the writing school, what did you take from the experience? Would you recommend it to others?

Lynn: In addition to the supportive atmosphere and good exchange with other students as I anticipated, I learnt some very useful and practical tips about managing my writing from my assigned tutor and good practices for building an academic career from the presentations by all the tutors. We can learn about hard facts of the current academic practices or technical skills through programmes offered by the graduate school in own university. However, the fact that this writing school was run by academics who were down-to-earth and willing to engage with students offered a rare and valuable dimension. It was like an apprenticeship workshop, with experienced academics passing on wisdoms and advices to newcomers. One participant told me that she would like to become the kind of academic her assigned tutor is. So in a way the school for some participants was like a socialisation process in which we could reflect on what kind of academics we wanted to be. The tutors were honest about the current academic climate, covering the ‘good, bad and ugly’. I learnt about good (ethical) practices in co-authorship and other academic practices. I really appreciate their honesty (and courage!) to share their own bad experience and strategies they take to overcome it (e.g. taking a chocolate and stepping back , instead of knee-jerk reacting to bad reviews). I felt empowered after the writing school.

Mark: It was everything I expected it to be, as a chance to escape from Coventry into such a beautiful setting where my only concern was my thesis left me newly engaged and enthusiastic about throwing myself into the writing up process. Yet it was actually more as well. I was surprised at quite how beneficial I found it to talk to the others there, the Australian students in particular, about our respective experiences of undertaking a PhD. There was such a diverse array of people there, all with different topics and at different stages of the thesis, that it left me with a renewed understanding and appreciation of what the process as a whole does and should involve. Likewise the workshops were really useful, even though I was familiar with some of the material, as all sorts of vague bits of knowledge I’d picked up here and there about academic life (e.g. publishing, collaboration practices, cv writing) were presented in a cohesive and practically focused way. As Lynn says, the writing school as a whole was empowering and enjoyable. Plus I actually got rather a lot of writing done when I was there.

The Prato Writing Workshop

In association with a number of other universities, the department runs an annual writing workshop for PhD students in Prato, Italy. In the feature below, Mark Carrigan and Lynn Tang, talk about the workshop that took place in June 2011. Below the conversation are some photos taken by Dr Bob Carter who is the academic coordinator for the project.

– What was your motivation for attending the writing school? What did you hope to get out of it?

Lynn: PhD study is a lonely journey. You have to focus on your own project and seldom see other fellow students. Getting away to Italy for a writing workshop and meeting other students in similar stage of writing up sound like a good idea. Instead of being told with instructions of ‘how I should write’ (boot camp style), I hope it would be like a retreat, with a safe environment to vent frustration as well as to share insights and tips about academic writing and publishing. I was told that we could get as much or as less as we wanted to – a schedule paced with presentations and individual writing time seem to be a good pace for the writing school to be a rejuvenating experience.

Mark: Like Lynn I’d started to find the PhD a bit isolating. I’d finished my fieldwork, which was very interaction intensive, leaving me with the somewhat lonely desk bound task of sorting through vast quantities of data and trying to write something reasonably cogent about the endeavour that had (part time) dominated my life for the last couple of years. I was confident about my writing in general but my head was in the wrong place for actually sitting down to work intensively on my thesis. I hoped the writing school would help me reconnect with what I was doing and why, as well as the core skills needed to actually carry it out.

– What was the venue like? How did it contribute to the experience?

Lynn: It was really nice to go outside the home institutions to have a ‘retreat’. A change of environment did help activate reflections. It was also good to see academic and fellow students from own department in a casual setting – I got a lot out from informal chats. That this workshop being held in Italy made it even more special! Needless to explain that nice food and coffee really helped thinking and writing! Prato is a nice town. It is close enough to big city Florence but laid-back enough for learning purpose. There were odd moments as being Chinese walking around in the town because of the undercurrent racial tension in the area, but on the whole it’s a welcoming town. The building of the Monash Centre is amazing, with spacious rooms decorated with beautiful art deco. The only downside was that it was too hot during the time we visited.

Mark: It’s difficult to add much to what Lynn’s said about this. As much as I like the Warwick campus, it’s still a university campus with British weather. Getting out of your everyday working environment can be enormously productive and cathartic. All the more so when you’re going to such a charming town, beautiful and unpretensious, as well as pleasingly cheap compared to nearby Florence! Likewise the Monash Centre is stunning: an environment for work which is truly inspiring in a way that is difficult to convey in words.

– Looking back at the writing school, what did you take from the experience? Would you recommend it to others?

Lynn: In addition to the supportive atmosphere and good exchange with other students as I anticipated, I learnt some very useful and practical tips about managing my writing from my assigned tutor and good practices for building an academic career from the presentations by all the tutors. We can learn about hard facts of the current academic practices or technical skills through programmes offered by the graduate school in own university. However, the fact that this writing school was run by academics who were down-to-earth and willing to engage with students offered a rare and valuable dimension. It was like an apprenticeship workshop, with experienced academics passing on wisdoms and advices to newcomers. One participant told me that she would like to become the kind of academic her assigned tutor is. So in a way the school for some participants was like a socialisation process in which we could reflect on what kind of academics we wanted to be. The tutors were honest about the current academic climate, covering the ‘good, bad and ugly’. I learnt about good (ethical) practices in co-authorship and other academic practices. I really appreciate their honesty (and courage!) to share their own bad experience and strategies they take to overcome it (e.g. taking a chocolate and stepping back , instead of knee-jerk reacting to bad reviews). I felt empowered after the writing school.

Mark: It was everything I expected it to be, as a chance to escape from Coventry into such a beautiful setting where my only concern was my thesis left me newly engaged and enthusiastic about throwing myself into the writing up process. Yet it was actually more as well. I was surprised at quite how beneficial I found it to talk to the others there, the Australian students in particular, about our respective experiences of undertaking a PhD. There was such a diverse array of people there, all with different topics and at different stages of the thesis, that it left me with a renewed understanding and appreciation of what the process as a whole does and should involve. Likewise the workshops were really useful, even though I was familiar with some of the material, as all sorts of vague bits of knowledge I’d picked up here and there about academic life (e.g. publishing, collaboration practices, cv writing) were presented in a cohesive and practically focused way. As Lynn says, the writing school as a whole was empowering and enjoyable. Plus I actually got rather a lot of writing done when I was there.

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