Category Archives: Sociological Autobiography

A Sociological Autobiography: 51 – Irkutsk

We awoke on Friday 10 August not to flat Siberian wastelands but to a largely unchanged landscape. An unannounced halt caused our toilets to be locked as breakfast approached, so we staggered sleepy-eyed to the restaurant car. This required negotiating several spaces between carriages, which always struck me as a more precarious business than it… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 50 – Boarding the Trans-Siberian Train

The Metro journey from Moscow’s Red Square to the hotel saw us back by 11pm. I adjourned to the bar to write a few postcards and read more Hosking. After midnight I was again approached by a couple of escorts. Sociologists are naturally curious, and I had after all conducted research on London’s sex industry.… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 49 – Moscow, 2001

In one of those ad hoc conversations in a local café in the autumn of 2000, two old friends invited Annette and I to accompany them on a journey on the Trans-Siberian railway, starting in Moscow, ending in Beijing. Within what seemed like moments, and somewhere in the midst of a couple of bottles of… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 48 – The 1990s Ledger

The 1990s was the last decade that I did not feel under undue institutional pressure to ‘perform’. If only I had known! Of course performing is a contested concept, although management seems since to have broken away and established a clear lead, maybe even lapping us workers. How did I fare in the last decade… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 47 – Social Class and the ‘GBH”

It has become commonplace among sociologists at the time of writing to lament the growing inequality during financial capitalism and to take the 1% to task for their greed. In 1998 Paul Higgs and I edited a book, Modernity, Medicine and Health, in one chapter of which we addressed the task of ‘explaining health inequalities’.… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 46 – Back Across America, Eastwards

The view of the Pacific from our motel on this twelfth day of our drive across the USA was expansive but disappointing. There were palms and blood-red blossoms but the Ocean’s greyness could have been that of the Atlantic. A couple of Californians with long blond hair cycled past, he exclaiming to her: ‘Gee, your… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 45 – Across America, Westwards

It was during our mid-term break that Annette and I had planned to drive our hired Buick to the Grand Canyon. We both taught our Emory classes in the morning of 6 March, 1998, filled up with bagels and by 2pm were leaving Atlanta and heading west on the I20. In driving rain we by-passed… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 44 – Visiting Professor at Emory

When old friend Terry Boswell became chair of the Department of Sociology at Emory University I suspect life for his colleagues took a turn for … well, whatever! Even his family and closest friends would admit that Terry was a bull in a china shop. He personally decided on the original artwork that should adorn… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 43 – In 1996 My Mum Died

The election of a Labour government in 1997 would not have impinged on my mother’s world in any meaningful way had she been alive to witness it. As it happened Margaret died a few months before the election, in December of 1996. ‘She wouldn’t hurt a fly’, Ron muttered as we drove in procession to… Read More »

A Sociological Autobiography: 42 – Tony Bliar

The boy who was to give the phrase ‘war games’ a cruel new resonance was born on 6 May 1953, the second son of Leo and Hazel Blair. His family background was modest but aspiring. Fettes and Oxford delivered him to party politics via a brief flirtation with the rock industry. He married Cherie Booth… Read More »