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

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


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

17th October 2018

31st October 2018

14th November 2018

23rd January 2019

6th February 2019

20th February 2019


Previous seminars


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

Sociology seminar series poster term 1 2016_17
17th February 2016

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

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

Attention to contemporary migration is focused upon the drama of the crossing (or not) of territorial boundaries. We know comparatively little of how migration is experienced over a lifetime. In this session I will draw on narrative and ethnographic research with those migrants and refugees who have settled in Britain and are facing the end of their lives. Engaging with ideas from postcolonial, feminist, palliative care, crip theory and neuroscience research, I will argue that pain at the end of life for some migrants and refugees is not easily locatable within chrononormative time frames. The pain and trauma of past injustices and violations can haunt, fracture and drag on the present, while certain debilitating conditions can also disinter suppressed feelings and experiences. I will draw upon examples from my British Academy funded 'Case Stories' project on social pain and transnational dying in the UK. The project used stories, poems and visual images to encourage dialogue with health care practitioners and diverse audiences.

24 February 2016

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

Professor Yvette Taylor, London South Bank University/University of Strathclyde
Abstract to follow

2nd March 2016

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

In this talk, I will explore themes in a project to understand the politics of possibility in dominating social systems, with particular interest in claims that prefigurative, autonomous and radical democratic politics are effective strategies for resisting neoliberal power and appropriate methods for generating viable counter-capitalist forms of life. After briefly outlining some common endorsements and critiques of radical democracy, I will argue that in conditions of advanced neoliberal hegemony we must move beyond asking why the ‘balance of social forces is very powerfully against hope’, as Stuart Hall once described it, and towards understanding how certain kinds of political possibility are created or foreclosed through attempts to redress this balance. Drawing on research with educators who are fighting injustice and working to democratise social relations and institutions in neoliberal Brtain, I will illustrate how reading their experiences through the lens of Ernst Bloch’s critical philosophy of possibility and his category of the ‘Front’ discloses the multi-layered and multi-sited complexities of such struggle. This work, which highlights conditions of possibility for creating critical rather than repressive encounters with power in this context, suggests that critical analysis and political strategy are most powerful when part of holistic projects which valorise radical learning and unlearning, the creation of new forms of reason – particularly those that render emergent potential and possibility intelligible, and everyday experimentation with counter-capitalist modes of thinking, feeling, acting, relating and being. In other words, I will suggest that radical democratisation can be understood as a practical pedagogy of autonomy and hope rather than as a hopeless utopia or as a method for effecting radical change. I would also like to share some critiques of this argument in order to invite a wider conversation which might advance our collective understanding of the politics of possibility today.

16th March 2016

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

How might we understand the links among affect, habit, temporality and social transformation – and what might such a critical investigation imply for the ‘here and now’ of social theory and praxis? Recent (as well as much earlier) work in Sociology, Cultural Studies, and related fields has explored the vital role certain affects, emotions and feelings might play in catalyzing radical social and political change. Such narratives of ‘affective revolution’ are often rich and inspiring. My sense, however, is that some of these analyses may actually do more to obscure than to enrich our understanding of how ‘progressive’ change might occur and endure in a given context (while side-stepping the challenge of how to evaluate social ‘progress’ itself in the current socio-political landscape). As such, this paper is animated by the following key questions: Can critical work on habit provide different, and potentially more fruitful, conceptual terrain for understanding the complexities of social stasis and transformation today? And might it do so in ways that reconfigure dominant binaries of cognition/embodiment, individual/environment, and human/non-human, while troubling linear notions of time? Drawing on the work of Felix Ravaisson (2008[1838]), John Dewey (2012[1954]), Eve Sedgwick (2003) and Gayatri Spivak (2013), the paper explores how habits fold together pasts, presents and futures in complex, discursive-material ways. Bringing together Ravaisson’s and Dewey’s analyses of habits and habituation, Sedgwick’s account of ‘reparative reading’ and Spivak’s call for ‘ethical reflexes’, I argue that habit is what enables us to inhabit the present in all its ambivalence, multiplicity and complexity. Further attention to habit in social theory and praxis, I suggest, might broaden or enhance our understandings of the concepts of ‘the present’ and ‘social progress’, the complexities of contemporary power relations, and the available modes of sensing, instigating and responding imaginatively to social, political and economic change.


'Inequality After the Crisis: Towards a Sociology of Quantitative Easing'
Professor Nicholas Gane, Warwick Sociology
14th October 2015
Most sociological responses to the recent (and in many ways ongoing) financial crisis have focussed on the question of austerity. This is understandable as austerity programmes impact directly upon operation of the welfare state and thus also upon the life-chances of the poorest and most vulnerable in society, but it has led to the neglect of the other main response to the crisis: the expansion of the money supply through huge programmes of quantitative easing. Most have seen such programmes as economic or technocratic initiatives that are not a strategy of government per se and which has little, if any, connection to things ‘social’. This paper will argue otherwise. It will attempt to do so by a). providing a brief explanation and overview of QE; 2). addressing the political basis of seemingly technocratic initiatives such as QE (through a brief analysis of the relationship between the Bank of England and UK Treasury); 3). considering QE as a driver of social inequality; and 4). reflect on the broader role of central banks in the face of financial crisis. It will be argued, in the light of the above, that it is necessary for sociologists to engage critically with initiatives such as QE rather than simply describe and document the social inequalities that help they (re)produce.

'Thinking Against Humanity'
Dr Ayça Çubukçu, LSE, Department of Sociology and Centre for the Study of Human Rights
28th October 2015
In this talk, Dr Çubukçu will offer some preliminary reflections on the modern concept of humanity. Engaging with Hannah Arendt and Malcolm X in particular, she will explore the reasons and consequences of humanity’s capacity to designate a collective subject to be defended and redeemed through an ethico-political project on the one hand, and an apparently self-evident, all-embracing species on the other.

'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
The focus of my talk springs from two different conceptual approaches to a shared concern: that is how to think about collectives philosophically. At the same time, I want to approach the question of ‘mass’ subjects, where mass is understood as an elite term, a term of the state. I will examine the use made of the concept of the'public' in public order policing and criminal law as well as discuss how philosophy has dealt with the same concept. I will examine how philosophy itself has dealt with collective political subjects, bringing in Balibar, Hardt & Negri, Sartre, Carol Gould and others to reflect on how the collective troubles both philosophy and the law.

'"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

In the early 2000s a new civil rights movement - ‘the Dreamers’- emerged in the USA; part of growing migrant-led protest in the Global North, but unique in (now) being led by undocumented young people. Young people and migrants feature prominently as key populations within contemporary debates on rights, recognition and citizenship; and, viewed as incomplete citizens, they are of interest to policy makers. However, their identity as both migrant and young person means immigrant young people residing in the Global North sit at a cross section of contradictory policies, purporting to protect and include youth while excluding the unwanted migrant. Restrictive immigration and citizenship policies across the Global North mean that many in this generation who arrived in 80s, 90s and 2000s during a period of growth in international migration have grown up into adulthood in these nation states yet legally remain ‘non-citizens’.

The Dreamers began as a campaign for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people who arrived in the USA as children and grew up there. Although eligible to attend school, on graduation (prior to 2012) their pathways diverged from citizen peers as they were ineligible for social security numbers and much of the financial aid and student loans for university; an experience shared by young people with precarious immigration statuses in other parts of the Global North. In what are generally hostile times for immigrants in many parts of the world, the undocumented youth movement stands out as having made some headway in successfully campaigning for some more progressive policies for undocumented young people in a context of wider policies of immigration restriction. The ‘Dreamers’ have become noted for the use of storytelling as an important tactic for community building and mobilising within the movement, but also as a claims-making tactic through their approach of linking the ‘story of us’ to the ‘story of all of us’ (Swerts 2015). In this paper I will explore storytelling in the movement to examine how this relationship between the ‘story of us’ and the ‘story of all of us’ has been told and how this might relate to questions of citizenship. I will argue that recent debates in the movement, which critique the exclusionary dominant ‘Dreamer’ narrative and disrupt the dichotomous figures of the supposed privileged citizen and marginalised migrant, offer a valuable critique of what formal neoliberal citizenship has to offer and provide an alternative story of citizenship as a history of exclusion rather than as simply a story of increasing inclusion. I will argue that through the telling of a chronology of exclusion and struggle the potential has arisen for a ‘bordering solidarity’ (Rygiel 2011) between migrant and excluded citizen and the building of (or making visible) an alternative narrative of ties to the U.S. nation-state that have been obscured or severed through dominant narratives of formal and neoliberal citizenship.