Facing up to Obstacles to Social Mobility

This is (most of) the concluding paragraph of Geoff Payne’s The New Social Mobility, and it warrants drawing to people’s attention: The problem is that policies that would work quickly and powerfully are politically unpalatable. Resistance to reforms aiming to improve gender equality in pay and employment, especially in the higher reaches of companies, provides… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 68 – Auschwitz

On the 1st of September, 2006, I gave a paper on ‘reducing health inequalities’ to the biannual meeting of the European Society for Health and Medical Sociology in Krakow. To be honest I was less than impressive. I recall wishing afterwords that I’d been more articulate, more on the ball, not least because old friend… Read More »

Mental Health and Tackling Stigma

The attention publicly devoted to mental illness is far from being matched by properly funded treatment and care. Nor, it seems, has it shaken off an overly long history of cultural shaming and blaming. In this brief contribution I focus in particular on the stigma that still sticks like glue to many diagnoses of mental… Read More »

Sociological Theorists: Niklas Luhmann

What to my mind Luhmann exposes, after the manner of Parsons’ structural functionalism and the American neofunctionalists who walked and still walk in his footsteps, is that key mechanisms at the level of social strata impact beneath-the-surface or behind-our-backs. As absent presences, they can escape reflexive interrogation. In his The Differentiation of Society he argued… Read More »

Paul Mason: A Postcapitalist Future?

While working on my book – Health Inequalities in a Fractured Society: a Critical Realist Account (Routledge, Forthcoming) – I found it helpful to refer to Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, published in 2015. He offers an account of how his analysis might be translated into a ‘project’ for a postcapitalist society,… Read More »

If I was Corbyn, I might say …

A speech I might give if I was in Jeremy Corbyn’s position … I want to take this opportunity to clarify what I and the Labour Party I lead stand for in what has become a tumultuous era for us all. First, I will spell out a set of pledges to which we are already… Read More »

Twitter, Blogs: 200th Blog. What!

As I approached retirement, my daughter Rebecca suggested I give thought to tweeting and blogging. I did, and they seemed infinitely better options than growing and entering shapely vegetables in the village show. My first blog, actually a year in advance of my leaving UCL, was on 30th October 2012. It was on what was… Read More »

Sociological Theorists: Max Weber

Max Weber was long called the ‘sociologist’s sociologist’, principally in acknowledgement not only of the wide-ranging reach of his scholarship and his general analyses of societal development and change, as well as of particular substantive issues, but of his work on the philosophy and methods of research. I once gave a talk in Munich directly… Read More »

Sociological Theorists: Karl Marx

If Marx would have baulked at the idea that he was a sociological theorist, his inclusion in my series cannot be gainsaid: he has been a catalyst for so much thinking about the nature of modern society. There are of course hundreds of summaries of his work, so what more might a single blog accomplish?… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 67 – All Change! UCL Through 2006

2006 was a turning point for me. When I came to what was then the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in 1978, it was John Hinton’s Department of Psychiatry I entered. After Rachel Rosser’s premature and sad death, Stan Newman climbed a short greasy UCL pole and took over. For one reason or another, he subsequently… Read More »