Seminar Series 2018

Department of Social Sciences Seminar Series 2018 – 2019

All seminars are held on Wednesday afternoons. Start times and rooms vary so please check each session. Queries can be addressed to the seminar programme co-ordinator, Paul Reynolds, on [email protected].

Book Launch – ‘Theorising Childhood: Citizenship, Rights and Participation’

Tom's book - theorising

Theorising Childhood: Citizenship, Rights and Participation

Wednesday 3rd October
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

The Children, Young People and Social Change Research Network are delighted to be hosting the launch of the new book, ‘Theorising Childhood: Citizenship, Right and Participation’ https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319726724

Professor Tom Cockburn (Edge Hill University) will discuss the relevance of the book to current ideas and politics, joined by contributors to the collection: Federico Farini, Barry Percy-Smith, Nigel Thomas and Michael Wyness.

Overview

Edited by Claudio Baraldi and Tom Cockburn

Tom Cockburn

This edited collection draws on the work of a number of leading scholars in the sociology of childhood. A focus on children’s citizenship, participation and rights has had a relatively long history but how these are theorised has only occasionally been pulled together in one volume. These are linked to issues that are of concern to all sociologists. Namely, tensions between pragmatism and grand theory; revisiting the agency/structure debates in the light of children; the challenging of binary thought so prevalent in studies around `generations’ and other aspects of sociology; the manifestation of power in time and space; the application of theories into the `real’ world through NGOs, practitioners, policy makers, politicians and empirical research.

Food and Drinks will be served at this event.

Whiteness, heteropaternalism and the gendered politics of settler colonial populist backlash culture in Australia

Lucy Nicholas

Lucy Nicholas
Senior Lecturer, Sociology & Visiting Lecturer, Social Sciences
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Wednesday 17th October
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

This seminar will discuss case studies of settler colonial political discourses that are part of recent populist backlash and ‘culture wars’ to interrogate the gendered nature of settler whiteness in Australia.

Overview

Examples of backlash to Indigenous affirmative and queer affirmative politics will be used to interrogate the underpinning ethos and political strategies of Australian settler colonial culture and its ‘logic of elimination.’  In particular, it will explore how whiteness, nationhood and heterosexuality are playing out in parallel gendered ways through populist backlashes that have the purpose of containing queerness and indigeneity in respectable modes that do not challenge the ‘heteropaternalism’ of Australian political culture.

Lucy Nicholas is Senior Lecturer and Discipline Coordinator in Sociology at Swinburne, Melbourne Australia, specialising in gender and sexual diversities, social and political theory, queer theory and feminisms, and most recently critical whiteness. Their first book Queer Post-Gender Ethics (2014) was awarded a special commendation for the Raewyn Connell prize for best first book in Sociology and their second book, The Persistence of Global Masculinisms, has just been published with Palgrave. She is visiting the Department of Social Sciences during October.

Gender, Culture and Belonging in the Diasporic Space: Zimbabwean Migrant Women in the UK

Loreen Chikwira

Loreen Chikwara
PhD Student, Social Sciences

Wednesday 31st October
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

  • How do black Zimbabwean women in Britain construct and negotiate their cultural identities in England?
  • How are these cultural identities socially established in personal and social spaces?

Overview

The political and economic changes in Zimbabwe have led to what is defined by McGregor (2010) as the ‘new diaspora communities’ of Zimbabwean people who have settled in the UK. This new Zimbabwean diaspora includes a considerable population of women who migrated in the late 1990s and early 2000.

Increase in the number of women was because of targeted recruitment by UK healthcare agencies (Pasura, 2008). However, not all women migrants have used this route. Feminists argue that gender is an important aspect of diasporic experiences for women that intersects with other variables in how women construct their identities and negotiate them in the diasporic space. Thus, migrant research should focus on other identities like gender, sexuality, class and culture in theorising migrant women’s lives.

African Feminist standpoint theory and intersectionality were employed to theorise on the women’s cultural identity construction and social positioning in different spaces. African feminist standpoint theory was used because it provides an appropriate theory to explore gendered experiences within a context of colonial history, religion and culture. Intersectionality is used to examine further how gender, culture, ethnicity and social class intersect in how the women socially position themselves and are positioned by others.

Snowballing technique and social media were used to recruit participants. Five focus group interviews and eight semi-structured interviews were conducted. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) based on Palmer, Larkin, De Visser and Fadden, 2010) was sued to analyse the focus group interviews and IPA (Smith,2004) was used to analyse the semi-structured interviews.

The results show that the participants from both focus groups and individual interviews talked about a cultural identity based on a dominant narrative of the ‘typical African woman’. This narrative is about an identity that is ascribed, based on gender roles, socially and economically positions them lower than men. Not only does culture inform their identity, but it also governs other communal relationships. However, having settled in the UK, increased financial resources, contact with other people and an awareness of their other social identities challenges the dominant cultural identity narrative and their traditional gender roles. This results in tensions between the women and their spouses and the collective. Also, they are conflicted within themselves, as conformity to cultural expectations conflicts with new social identities. The women then employ different socio-cultural and religious resources to reduce the tensions and negotiate these contested spaces across transnational spaces to forge new identities. For others, social class becomes a tool to create a boundary between them and the Zimbabwe collective. For others, the diasporic space becomes about preserving what the women see as a threat to their culture.

Re-imagining politics through the prism of civil society

Dr Paul Bunyan

Dr Paul Bunyan, Programme Leader
Childhood and Youth Studies, Social Sciences

Wednesday 14th November
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE120

The seminar will look at the question of how local communities and their organisations contribute to the process of social and political change.

Overview

The focus will be on broad-based community organizing in the UK and how it informs understanding of civil society and its capacity to effect social and political change. Employing a political and philosophical conceptual framework, broad-based community organizing is understood as a distinctive political methodology, ontologically rooted in civil society and epistemologically based upon the central concept of power.

Walking with the Enlightened

Ursula Curwen

Ursula Curwen, Senior Lecturer
Social Sciences

Wednesday 28th November
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE120

Augmented reality games (ARG) involve players in a layer of imagination (world) superimposed on reality. These worlds are entered through the use of mobile devices. Players may act alone as agents within the alternate world or, more commonly, act in cooperation with others both virtually and in real life, real time, real places.

Overview

Ingress is played between two factions, The Resistance (blue) and the Enlightened (green) who seek to (re)capture game objects (portals) and territory whilst preventing the opposing team from doing the same. This is done by moving around public space as players must be in close proximity to a portal in order to interact with it.

One major concern within game studies is the question of how digital games create communities. Li et al (2015) looked specifically at the social interaction established through Ingress with mainly male participants in their early 20s. They were interested in the design of the community rather than it’s health and well being benefits. Hjorth and Richardson (2014) have indicated that some challenges within ARGs may only be overcome by acting as part of a game community. Ingress is a game about community. It invites players to work together to play and to create, local national and international short term challenges (‘mission days’ and/or ‘anomalies’) which involve players convening in a given city at a given time to play with their faction and against the opposing one. What has not been done is to look specifically at the benefits to both individuals and to the community through involvement in ARGs. This project is interested in these collaborative efforts and how they motivate adults to exercise regularly and develop supportive relationships. By adopting the methodology of a walking ethnography, this project will follow participants as they walk, talk and play.

This project is influenced by anthropological accounts of digital gaming communities (Bellstorff et al 2012; Nardi 2010; Turkle 2016; Taylor 2009). It will undertake a ‘walking ethnography’ (Ingold and Vergunst 2008), which involves the immersion of the researcher into the community (of interest) through regular meet ups and other engagement both in real life (IRL) and online. This project is different because it also focuses on the digital communities that emerge from the way gaming activities invite players to physical spaces and landmark locations (Moore 2017). These communities can be seen to provide support and encouragement for individuals to socialize and exercise providing a base for mental and physical wellbeing.  Caon, Mugellini and Abou Khaled (2013) deliberately avoided an ethnographic approach in order to remain objective. Whilst the ARGs involves interaction ‘in game’ they also involve interaction with people in real life. Players become involved in each others lives and stories.  I am already a member of the Merseyside Ingress community and, as such, am known by potential participants which will make integration into the community easier for ethnographic research purposes. Clark and Emmel (2010) and Jones et al (2008) suggest that by walking as an interview is taking place the interviewee is more likely to give a genuine opinion Therefore the research will take the form of walking with Ingress players and will involve both (auto) ethnography and participant observation.

McAdam (1985) developed a life story model of identity which suggests that modern people give themselves purpose by constructing stories. This allows interviewees to lead the conversation in telling their story (Braun and Clarke 2008) in the same way that ‘go along’ walking interviews allow them to choose the physical direction (Ingold and Vergunst 2008). Audio-recordings would be made of interviews to ensure these stories are captured accurately and photographs of participants in play would be used as an aide memoire to the researcher. Field notes would be taken and a research diary would provide additional documentation and insight adding an auto ethnographic dimension to the research (ibid).  Data recorded will be analysed through thematic analysis to make sense of the participant’s stories (Braun and Clarke 2008).

In summary the project will take the form of a series of walking interviews with players of the ARG Ingress to attempt to ascertain whether the game encourages healthy physical and social activity and, if so, whether this has wider implications for the use of ARGs in public space.

‘He’s not Rain Man’: Representations of the sentimental savant in ABC’s The Good Doctor

Dr Allison Moore

Dr Allison Moore
Senior Lecturer, Social Sciences

Wednesday 12th December
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE120

Over recent years, representations of autism have increased in film, television, and literature, including fiction and non-fiction and yet the meanings ascribed to the condition, especially in popular culture, have become restricted rather than multiplied. All too often, autistic characters embody, what Stuart Murray (2006: 27-28) calls the “sentimental savant,” a figure who displays the supposed savant abilities of the autist, especially in the realms of creativity and an understanding of supposedly core human concerns, that are seen to inform and enrich the nondisabled”.

Overview

The narrative function of the ‘sentimental savant’, therefore, is to shine a light on the behaviour, attitudes and relationships of the non-autistic and expose their deficits in communication, interaction and empathy.In September 2017, a new cultural text was added to the growing body of representations of autism. The Good Doctor, produced by Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios, follows Dr Shaun Murphy who has autism and savant syndrome, as he navigates his first surgical residency at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. There is much that is positive about the show and it does challenge some deep-rooted stereotypes about autism. However, this paper will argue that despite its progressive representations, The Good Doctor does not veer too far away from the figure of the ‘sentimental savant’.  Shaun’s autism is deployed to, not only, “inform and enrich” the lives of his non-autistic colleagues but also to reinforce compulsory neurotypicality and normative constructions of gender and sexuality. Further, his extraordinary savant skills which enable him to excel as a diagnostician reflect and reproduce dominant metaphors of autism as alien or ‘other worldly’ and, in so doing, as not fully human.

Department of Social Sciences Seminar Series 2017 – 2018

All seminars are from in CE102/103 on Wednesday Afternoons. Start times vary so please check each session. Queries can be addressed to the seminar programme co-ordinator, Paul Reynolds, on [email protected].

Collaborative Arts-based Research for Social Justice

Dr Victoria Foster

Dr Victoria Foster
Edge Hill University

Wednesday 29th September
3:15pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

 

Overview

This seminar celebrates the launch of the paperback version of Collaborative Arts-based Research for Social Justice (published by Routledge). This text focuses on the ways that social inquiry might be carried out with marginalised groups to promote social justice. The seminar includes discussion of some of the book’s themes including the power of the arts to critically explore those elements of life that are often hidden or disregarded. Drawing on a range of colourful examples, it will be argued that the arts can startle us out of complacency and enable a different way of knowing the social world.

Biography

Victoria Foster is Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences and Associate Director (External Relations) of Edge Hill University’s Institute for Public Policy and Practice (I4P). Her work is concerned with social justice issues and all her research has involved collaborations with organisations outside of the university. Victoria’s ESRC funded doctoral and postdoctoral research was carried out at a Sure Start programme in North West England and involved developing a range of arts-based methods to evaluate people’s experiences of the programme. Since then she has worked on NIHR funded participatory research with parents of babies requiring neonatal care, and evaluations of several arts programmes. These include a drama-based crime prevention programme at the Royal Court Liverpool and an innovative educational programme carried out by the European Opera Centre. She is currently developing on an arts-based research project at a local community farm, exploring the politics of food production.

Report Launch – Europe’s New Social Reality: The Case Against Universal Basic Income – Daniel Sage and Patrick Diamond

Dr Daniel Sage

Dr Daniel Sage
Edge Hill University

Wednesday 11th October
3:15pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

 

Overview

Since the economic crises of the late 2000s, European centre-left parties have tended to suffer electorally. One policy proposed as a solution to the social democratic malaise is universal basic income: an unconditional, regular payment to each citizen. This paper explores the arguments for UBI from a social democratic perspective, examining its potential to deal with structural challenges including automation, gender inequality and labour market precarity. The key contention of the paper is that UBI is an unconvincing policy remedy for centre-left parties. It is unlikely to win widespread public support, may exacerbate not solve the problems its advocates identify, and could compromise investment in other key policy areas. A more persuasive strategy is expanding welfare states while complimenting traditional redistributive measures with ‘predistributive’ approaches; a strategy that, as the surge of Labour in the UK’s 2017 general election demonstrated, still has the capacity to win widespread public support.

Biography

Daniel Sage is Senior Lecturer at Edge Hill and a social policy researcher with interests in UK and European welfare state research. He is chiefly interested in public attitudes to the welfare state, subjective wellbeing and social policy, the sociology of unemployment and basic income. In addition to his position at Edge Hill, Daniel is a Research Associate with the social democratic think-tank Policy Network. He has been the lead author on three Policy Network reports, including 2017’s The Case Against Universal Basic Income.

Thinking Citizen’s Basic income

Malcolm Torry

Malcolm Torry
Director of the Citizen’s Basic Income Trust

Wednesday 11th October
3:15pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

The presentation will

    • define a Citizen’s Basic Income (sometimes called a Basic Income or a Citizen’s Income): an unconditional and nonwithdrawable income for every individual;
    • discuss some of its likely effects on our economy and society;
    • study seven feasibility tests; and
    • describe recent research on an illustrative Citizen’s Basic Income Scheme.

 

Biography

Dr. Malcolm Torry is Director of the Citizen’s Basic Income Trust, and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics. He is the author of Money for Everyone (Policy Press, 2013), 101 Reasons for a Citizen’s Income (Policy Press, 2015), The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and Citizen’s Basic Income: A Christian social policy (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2016).

Book launch: The interface between return migration and psychosocial wellbeing

Zana Vathi

Zana Vathi
Edge Hill University

Wednesday 25th October
3:15pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

 

Overview

This talk will introduce an edited book on return migration and psychosocial wellbeing (Routledge, 2017) edited by Zana Vathi and Russell King. The book contends that the study of psychosocial wellbeing in the context of return migration uncovers essentialised assumptions on the effects of migration on people, as well as broader ideologies of power, home and belonging. The presentation is based on the introductory chapter of the book which offers a critical review of the most recent research conducted on the return migration-psychosocial wellbeing nexus included in this edited volume. Four main interlinked themes are identified: the role of context in the interface between return and psychosocial wellbeing; reassessing volition in the context of return; post-return mobilities and enabling citizenships; the effects of age, gender and intersectionalities. Overall the research presented in the book shows that the often negative outcomes for return migrants in the process of return and resettlement in the countries of origin contrast with assumptions held at state level, which inform migration policies and return and repatriation programmes. The findings have significant policy implications which should inform states’ return policies, should they wish to remain faithful to human rights conventions and their legal obligations.

Biography

Dr Zana Vathi specializes in migration studies and has been conducting interdisciplinary research in this field since 2005. She is author of 30 different publications in the field of migration, including Migrating and Settling in a Mobile World: Albanian Migrants and their Children in Europe (Springer 2015) and Return Migration and Psychosocial Wellbeing: Outcomes for Migrants and their Families (Routledge 2017, with Russell King). In addition, Zana has published widely in some of the most renowned journals in the field of migration, such as International Migration, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Mobilities, Childhood, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, etc. Zana’s research has been funded by the Marie Curie Actions of the European Commission and the British Academy. She has served as international expert in the field of migration for organizations such as MPC/EUI, Terre des Hommes and the IOM. Emerging new avenues of her research focus on complexity and the links between the spatial and the psychosocial in the context of migration.

Fat Nation? Understanding Obesity and the ‘Obesity Epidemic’ in the UK through an Analysis of Social Constructionist and Medical Perspectives

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SEMINAR HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO THE BUS AND TRAIN STRIKE. IT WILL BE RESCHEDULED IN DUE COURSE.

Dr Lorraine Green

Dr Lorraine Green
Edge Hill University

Wednesday 8th November
3:15pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

 

Overview

This paper will discuss and contrast and compare medical and social constructionist-influenced knowledge on obesity and ‘The Obesity Epidemic’, focusing on the contemporary UK, although literature from other Western and non-Western countries will supplement or be used as a comparator to UK sources. Although most medical and media informants identify overweight and obese people to be at serious risk of health problems and a drain on the country’s social, medical and economic resources, as well as individualising obesity in terms of both causes and solutions, research and literature from social science challenges such a view. It unveils the socially constructed nature of obesity and the obesity epidemic; reveals how vested interests may benefit from setting the agenda and presenting obesity in a certain way; illuminates the abject failure of societal prevention and cure social policy initiatives in most Western countries; highlights the importance of structural issues and social divisions and inequalities; and questions to what extent any health problems overweight or obese people may experience are due to their weight and to what extent they may emanate from the stigmatisation of and discrimination against overweight and obese people.

Biography

Lorraine Green has studied or worked in HE over a number of years at several universities, including the Universities of Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and Huddersfield University, Southbank University and Sheffield Hallam University. She is currently senior lecturer in Social Sciences at Edge Hill University. Lorraine is fairly eclectic in her knowledge and research interests but her key areas are the sociology of childhood, of the life course and of the body. Her most recent publications are the books Understanding the Life Course: Sociological and Psychological Perspectives, 2nd edition (2017): Polity, Social Policy for Social Work: Placing Social Work in its Wider Context (2016) with Karen Clarke, Polity – and the article ‘The Trouble with Touch? New Insights and Observations for Social Work and Social Care’, British Journal of Social Work (2017), 47(3): 773-792

‘Is there a future for freedom and creativity in higher education?’

Craig Hammond

Craig Hammond
Liverpool John Moores University

Wednesday 22nd November
3:15pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

 

Overview

The consumer-based pressure for academic providers – such as Colleges, HEIs and Universities – to produce a standardised and equitable product, belies a reductive potential to dilute and quash the creative dynamism inherent to open, creative and unpredictable learning environments.

Increasingly, a regimented, sanitised and technologically controlled type of spectator-based knowledge, cascaded through the ‘standard’ of Direct Instruction, serves to stifle creativity; the subsequent boredom and conformity can only serve to produce a disengaged army of knowledge-voyeurs.

This is a problem – and one that we all should take seriously – as this quite specific type of tightly structured and regulated knowledge, functionally churned out, is anathema to creative and critical thinking. Such standardised learning experiences, based on the delivery of tightly controlled information, stringently measured and meted out to uninvolved participants, produces a mould for uncritical conformists.
This does not bode well for the future; we are supposed to nurture and mentor the leaders, teachers’ managers and public service professionals of tomorrow. As such, we must rise to the intimidating economic and political challenges posed by consumer discourses – against a paradoxical backdrop of austerity – as critical and impassioned thinkers. If we wish to nurture, or become, radical and innovative problem solvers, independent and capable operators that can tackle projects and obstacles in new and adept ways, we must become and instigate the change that we wish to see.

Biography

Craig A. Hammond is Senior Lecturer in Education at Liverpool John Moores University; in addition to writing and publishing research papers, he teaches across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Gaining is PhD in Sociology – from Lancaster University – in 2012, he has since gained recognition as a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). His most recent book Hope, Utopia and Creativity in Higher Education: Pedagogical Tactics for Alternative Futures, addresses and develops concepts and practices associated with democratic learning and radical creativity. He is an editor and event organiser with the Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network (CDSS), a Regional Co-Convenor for the Learning Skills and Research Network, a member of the LJMU Centre for Educational Research (CERES) Steering Group and the Research Group Professional Research, Practice & Learning; he is also founding editor of the Blackburn College peer-reviewed journal Prism. https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/about-us/staff-profiles/faculty-of-education-health-and-community/school-of-education/craig-hammond

Factors affecting permanence and stability for children in care in Ireland: evidence from a Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) study in two Irish counties.

(The authors of the research are as follows; Moran, L., McGregor, C., and Devaney, C.)

Lisa Moran

Lisa Moran
Edge Hill University

Wednesday 6th December
3:15pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, Room CE102/103

 

Overview

This paper reports on qualitative findings of a collaborative research project on outcomes for permanence and stability of children in care involving social work teams from TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency in Ireland and researchers at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway. Drawing on data garnered using Participatory Action (PAR) approaches and narrative interviewing techniques (cf. Wengraf 2001) with children in care and their families (i.e. parents of origin and foster parents), this paper focuses principally on the concept of permanence which in the literature is typically delineated as encompassing three strands; legal, relational, physical and ecological permanence (Stott and Gustavsson 2010). Applying social theoretical approaches to narrative, knowledge and discourses, we argue that children and young people’s interpretations of permanence frequently embody emotive stories about family and friends and are indelibly linked to ‘place’ and concepts of ‘felt security’ and ‘insecurity’.

We argue that how and where these narratives are spatially situated is also significant for understanding how they make sense of permanence in everyday life. In other words, the routine spaces and places alluded to in their stories about relationships, people and events are necessary for understanding how children and youth (re)-create and share various meanings and discourses of permanence in everyday life. We argue that children’s narratives of permanence should be interpreted as emotive, knowledge-based and inherently spatial experiences. Such an approach to understanding permanence, it is argued, is highly significant for the effective planning and implementation of policies and programmes aimed at children and youth in care. The paper also points to the significance of PAR and narrative-based research approaches for (inter)-national policy and practice involving children and youth in care.

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