A Sociological Autobiography: 69 – The Norwegian Connection

I was fortunate in 2005 to be asked to give a plenary lecture at the annual BSA Medical Sociology Conference. This represents a kind of coming of age for medical sociologists in the UK. My title was ‘Social Structure and Health: A Narrative of Neglect?’ The central thesis, which I had by then addressed often,… Read More »

Disraeli’s ‘Two Nations’

I hadn’t realized that Disraeli was an accomplished novelist prior to entering parliament. Born in 1804, he didn’t go to university, instead benefiting from his father’s extensive library. He spent some time in a lawyer’s office but found neither career nor refuge there, turning instead to writing. Vivian Grey was written when he was 22 and won him a… Read More »

Sociological Theorists: David Lockwood

David Lockwood has been neglected as a sociological theorist. Babyboomers like me remember him chiefly through The Blackcoated Worker, in which he argued, albeit with important qualifications, that white-collar work was being proletarianized; and his involvement with John Goldthorpe and others in the classic studies of affluent skilled manual workers in Luton, in which it… Read More »

Sociology and Photography

I have long had an interest in photography and in its potential as a tool of sociological research. I have in mind in particular ‘deploying’ photos on cafe and bar society. Having found my copy of Bourdieu’s Photography: A Middle-brow Art amidst piles of tomes in my home study, my enthusiasm has again come to… Read More »

Assessing the ‘Social Value’ of Occupations

When reading Owen Jones’ Chavs a while back I made a mental note of a reference he made to an attempt to assess the ‘value to society’ of a range of different occupations. Belatedly I’ve followed up. The reference was to a document produced in 2009 by the New Economics Foundation (NEF). In this blog… Read More »

Bourdieu and the Structuring of Agency

I have long been of the view that theorists and theories overlap and that being overly faithful to any particular ones can constrain and even lead one astray (this notwithstanding the regular use I have made of the likes of Habermas, Bhaskar and Archer). What each theorist must do is: (a) come to terms with,… Read More »

Bourdieu in Paris: Universities and a ‘Habitus of Compliance’

There are few more amenable groups to belong to than those run by my Norwegian friends and colleagues, and few more attractive places to meet than the student quarter in Paris. My brief was open but I chose to talk about the potential for a macro- through meso- to micro-sociological analysis of the deleterious changes… Read More »

A Third Open Letter to my CLP Secretary

Dear Colleague, I appreciate that you, our local CLP secretary, will not welcome a third open letter from me, but on the other hand: (a) you do not respond to my emails; (b) despite being a fully paid up member I have had no communication whatsoever from you in 2017; and (c) nothing has changed… Read More »

Badiou on the World’s Destitute

In his latest offering, Our Wound is not so Recent, Badiou rightly insists that there is a salient, explanatory history to ‘terrorist attacks’ such as that in Paris on 13 November 2015. He writes: ‘… there are some fundamental figures that everyone should know, that everyone should have at hand, figures that underlie what we… Read More »

Clive James in Cambridge

I have been asked for my autograph once, when I travelled with a Worthing High School VII to Llanelli to participatre in a Sevens competition (we went out to a local team captained by Phil Bennett). I was embarrassed by the attention but managed a signature of sorts. I have however signed a few books… Read More »