Category Archives: General Sociology

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Sociology and Stigma: An Overview

This is a revised version of an item written for Bill Cockerham’s Encyclopaedia of Medical Sociology a while back. Stigma, I noted somewhat uncontroversially, denotes the presence of an attribute that discredits its possessor. Since it is evident such attributes have varied by time and place, it is apparent that stigma and stigmatization necessarily involve… Read More »

Reflections on ‘Utopianism’

I have in previous blogs expressed strong reservations about using the notion utopianism, discerning in the use of the term a latent predilection for totalitarian blueprints. One of my blogs was challenged by Steve Hall, who argued that we precisely lack and need an injection of utopian thinking. Those who follow Steve on twitter will… Read More »

Reflexivity, Merton and Status and Role -Sets

Margaret Archer’s modes of reflexivity are ideal types. Although individuals may tend to settle enduringly into one or another mode, switches are possible and, I suspect, not uncommon. I have written and blogged quite insistently on Archer’s modes of reflexivity but cannot assume these have been picked up, so here’s a précis. In her Making… Read More »

Collaborationist Sociology?

I have been reading Patrick Baert’s excellent study, The Existential Moment, which charts Sartre’s rise to intellectual status and fame in mid-1940s France and concludes with a more general sociological account of intellectuals. In Chapter Three Baert rehearses Sartre’s analysis of ‘collaborationist intellectuals’ in the aftermath of WW2. What was it to collaborate under German… Read More »

Types of Action Sociology/Sociologist

I have elsewhere added two further types of sociology to Burawoy’s quartet. I have also suggested that each of his four and my two might be associated with a particular type of sociologist and of reasoning. Thus: professional sociology is associated with the scholar and cumulative theory; policy sociology with the reformer and utilitarian theory;… Read More »