The ‘Living with the cuts’ event: THE report, Ray’s blog post, and the abstracts

This was a really engaging and – the recordings will be on the British Library site shortly. In the meantime, for those who didn’t make it, below is a link to Matthew Reisz’s Times Higher piece on the event, a blog post from Ray Campbell, who helped with the event, on his site Guy Debord’s Cat, and the set of abstracts from those taking part.

Thanks to everyone who was there!

‘The scholars who put ‘useless’ scholarship to work’:http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/the-scholars-who-put-useless-study-to-work/2013857.article

Guy Debord’s Cat: Culture for the future: http://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/culture-for-the-future/

Living with the cuts: Policy, politics and everyday lives
Friday 30th May 2014, 9.30-17.30
Auditorium, Conference Centre, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Abstracts and biographical notes

9.30-10.00: Tea and coffee; registration; introduction

10.00-11.30: Panel 1: Policies, stories and realities of recession living.

Child well-being: How are children in the UK faring?
Anita Tiessen, UNICEF UK

UNICEF’s 2007 comparative child well being report caused a political storm by ranking the UK bottom of the international league tables and later this year UNICEF will release its first comparisons about the impact of austerity and policy responses on children’s well being. In this presentation, I will set out the concepts of child well being at the heart of the Report Card series, and outline the well being story told by these reports from 2007 to the present. And while internationally comparative data inevitably lags behind today’s reality, I will show through UNICEF and other data that in the UK and throughout developed countries the economic crisis and austerity responses are leading to a dramatic deterioration in child well being.

Anita Tiessen is Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF UK, responsible for the organisation’s public affairs, programmes and communications work. She leads on the organisation’s efforts to embed children’s rights in the UK, which ranges from work to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in law and policy through to rights based programmes in communities, schools and health settings. She has led several successful campaigns on child exploitation, HIV and AIDS, and led UNICEF’s participation in the inter-agency campaign on food and hunger issues in the run up to the UK hosted G8 meeting in 2013.

Narratives of negotiating are not enough: Children, families and consumption in straitened circumstances.
Ann Phoenix, NOVELLA, TCRU, IoE

The question of what it means to ‘live with the cuts’ very much depends on the context within the cuts are experienced. As children in the global north and in affluent families in the south is increasingly constituted through the provision of consumer goods, so children whose families are subjected to cuts have to negotiate contradictions that exclude them from normative constructions of childhood . This paper considers different ways in which children and families actively negotiate these contradictions, but are subject to socioeconomic constraints, ranging from youth cultures to government policies.

Ann Phoenix is a professor at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Her research is mainly about social identities and the ways in which psychological experiences and social processes are linked. Processes of intersectionality and narrative analysis in relation to racialisation, gender and social class are central to her research, which includes work on racialised and gendered identities; consumption, mixed parentage; young people and their parents; the transition to motherhood; serial migration and language brokering. She co-directed the Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, funded by the DfE and is the Principal Investigator on Narratives of Varied Everyday Lives and Linked Approaches (NOVELLA), a National Centre for Research Methods research node, funded by the ESRC.

‘I’m beyond caring’. The failure in social systems to support staff and the patients they care for: A response to the Francis report.
Marcus Evans, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

The Francis Report outlined the way a group of staff had systemically become detached, cruel, and disengaged from their responsibilities. The report highlighted the lack of compassion from nursing staff for their patients. In this presentation I will describe a fragmented management system that fails to authorise and support clinical staff. The target culture and NHS Trusts anxieties about survival has created a top down management system that pushes anxieties about survival down the hierarchy into front line clinical staff. This persecutory environment can undermine the thoughtful relationship between management and clinical staff necessary for good clinical care to thrive

Marcus Evans is Associate Clinical Director of Complex Needs, Consultant Adult
Psychotherapist and a Registered Mental Health Nurse, at the Tavistock and Portman NHS
Foundation Trust. He has published widely on psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and on the role of psychoanalysis in mental health services.

Discussant: Janet Boddy, NOVELLA and Sussex University

Janet Boddy is Co-Director of the interdisciplinary Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth at the University of Sussex CIRCY (www.sussex.ac.uk/esw/circy). Her research is concerned with family lives and with services for children and families, in the UK and internationally. Her recent research on family services includes Beyond Contact, a four-country European study of work with families of children placed away from home (www.nuffieldfoundation.org/), and research on the health needs of families involved with intensive support services (for the UK Department of Health). She leads a study within the ESRC’s National Centre for Research Methods node NOVELLA (Narratives Of Varied Everyday Lives and Linked Approaches, http://www.novella.ac.uk), using a multi-method narrative approach understand Family Lives and the Environment in India and the UK. Her recent publications from her NOVELLA research include a chapter in Disclosures of health and illness (Routledge 2014) on disclosure in narratives of everyday family life, and two methodological working papers for the National Centre for Research Methods, on ethics in secondary analysis (http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/3301/), and on combining narrative and thematic approaches to secondary analysis (http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/3269/).

Chair: Rebecca O’Connell, NOVELLA, IoE

Rebecca O’Connell is a Senior Research Officer at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, UK. She is a social anthropologist whose research interests focus on the intersection of care and work, particularly foodwork and childcare. She is currently Principal Investigator on two studies: ‘Families and Food in Hard Times’, a subproject of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods ‘Novella’ node, which is based at the Institute of Education and ‘Families and Food Poverty in three European Countries’, a five-year project funded by the European Research Council (Starting Grants, 2013). She is also co-convenor of the British Sociological Association Food Study Group

11.30-11.45: Tea and coffee

11.45-1.15: Panel 2: Inequality, poverty and division.
Class divisions in contemporary Britain: insights from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey. Mike Savage, LSE

This paper will argue for the need to place the issue of social deprivation and disadvantage within the context of growing social polarisation. Drawing on research from the Great British Class Survey, and the National Child Development Study I will argue that the growing role of elite classes is central to the generation of inequality. I will also argue that the disadvantaged are not usefully understood as part of a deprived ‘underclass’ and will suggest that the concept of precariat is a better tool to render their situation.

Mike Savage is the Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, where he is also Head of Department. He has previously been Professor at the University of Manchester (where he directed the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, CRESC) and at the University of York. He has explored the cultural aspects of inequality in a number of recent publications including ‘Culture, class, distinction’ (co-authored, 2009) and ‘Identities and social change in Britain since 1940: the politics of method’) (2010) .

Insecurity, poverty and inequality – a temporary blip or here to stay? Faiza Shaheen, New Economics Foundation
The Great Recession followed by a prolonged period of economic stagnation and austerity have undoubtedly caused more insecurity, poverty and inequality. However, it is wrong to think that as economic growth returns and austerity measures wane these trends will reverse. The root drivers of poverty and inequality, which lie in the labour market, financial and welfare systems, were growing in force even before the financial crash and have been further fuelled by the economic and social policies employed post 2008. Without a sea-change in our approach high and growing levels of poverty and inequality will become a permanent feature of our society.

Dr Faiza Shaheen is a Senior Researcher in the Economic Inequality team at the New Economic Foundation. Faiza co-ordinates NEF’s work on economic inequality and conducts research on why inequality matters, the factors that have caused economic divides to grow and the policies that will help reverse trends and create greater equality. Faiza is particularly involved in NEF’s work on labour markets and has published a range of reports on job quality, regional employment trends, migration and youth unemployment. Prior to working at NEF Faiza worked as an Analyst for Centre for the Cities where she led work on urban labour market policy and research. Faiza holds a PhD and MSc from the University of Manchester and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from St John’s College, Oxford University.

Living wage campaigns Tim Hall, University of East London

In this paper I look at what is innovative politically and organisationally about living wage campaigns. The living wage campaign was launched in the UK in 2002 by London Citizens. The campaign itself was based on a model developed in Baltimore in the US in the early 1990s. Since then it has been taken up by trade unions, political parties and a range of civic engagement groups. Drawing on my own experience as an organiser in east London and research conducted with Ana Lopes (UWE), I consider how this affects our understanding of political mobilisation and its significance for trade unions and ‘left’ politics more generally.

Tim Hall’s main areas of interest are in social movements, political philosophy, and community organising. He currently undertakes research and teaches on justice, rights, ethics and the politics of work. He is actively engaged with local community organisations such as London Citizens and is involved in both campaigning and in capacity building through training on leadership and community organizing. He is currently active in London Citizens Living Wage and Just Money campaigns and is project manager for Enhancing Financial Awareness – a university funded project designed to improve financial skills amongst students at the university and local schools. Forthcoming publications include (with Alice Sampson) ‘Paying through the nose: the use of high cost credit by students at the University of East London’, Social Policy & Society and (with Dr Ana C. Lopes) ‘Cleaning up: The Living Wage Campaign at UEL’, Journal of Industrial Relations.

Discussant: Nira Yuval-Davis, Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging, UEL

Nira Yuval-Davis is the Director of the Research Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) at the University of East London. She has been the President of the Research Committee 05 (on Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations) of the International Sociological Association, a founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism and the international research network of Women In Militarized Conflict Zones. She has been a member of the Sociology panel of the UK 2008 RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) and is currently on the 2014 REF (Research Excellence Framework) Sociology panel. Currently she is a partner in a major EU research project on ‘Borderscapes’, leading an international team which is examining everyday bordering in metropolitan cities and different European border zones from an intersectional situated gaze perspective. Among her written and edited books are Woman-Nation-State, 1989, Racialized Boundaries, 1992, Unsettling Settler Societies, 1995, Gender and Nation,1997, Warning Signs of Fundamentalisms, 2004, The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestations, 2011.

Chair: Gavin Poynter, London East Research Institute, UEL

Professor Gavin Poynter has widely published on ‘London 2012’, the economics of the service industries ,and urban regeneration. He has completed several studies on the East London region, including for the OECD/DCLG, GLA, and local boroughs. In 2009, he published (with I. MacRury) Olympic cities (Ashgate). His ‘From Beijing to Bow Bells’ was published in Portuguese by the Ministerio do Esporte, Brazil as part of that government’s analysis of major sporting events and their socio‐economic legacies. He co‐authored ‘A lasting legacy?’, a report for the GLA (2007) on ‘London 2012’ and has recently completed a new publication (with MacRury and A. Calcutt) that focuses upon London’s economy in the wake of the credit crunch and the global economic recession – London after Recession – a fictitious capital? (Ashgate, 2014).

1.15-2.15: Lunch; tea and coffee

2.15-3.45: Panel 3: Everyday lives and the cuts.
Living in areas of disadvantage in an age of austerity: what can we learn from those who use food banks?
Angie Voela, Myrto Tsilimpounidis and Alice Sampson, UEL (Centre for Social Justice and Change and Psychosocial Studies Research Group)
Whilst public debates about the rise of food banks has centred on their use by ‘scroungers’ and ‘cheats’ these accusations masque some disturbing everyday realities for many hungry people who are living in disadvantaged areas of East London and turning to food banks through no fault of their own. Many are living on a ‘knife edge’, a delay in benefit payments means that there is no money to buy food; others have longer term problems, as a result of cuts in benefits and ‘hard working families’ on low incomes, rent and bills cannot be paid; and, there are signs that the welfare state is being dismantled, that we are no longer a caring and compassionate society – users of food banks include people who have long term illnesses, survivors of domestic violence, the homeless and unemployed.
Angie Voela is a senior lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, UEL. She has published on aspects of contemporary identity, gender and culture. She is currently working on the notion of the charitable subject and feminist and psychoanalytic approaches to neoliberal subjectivities.

Myrto Tsilimpounidi is a social researcher and photographer; a post-doctoral fellow at the University of East London and the co-director of Ministry of Untold Stories. Her research focuses on the interface between urbanism, culture, and innovative methodologies. Her current projects focus on street politics, landscapes of belonging, and the new aesthetics of crisis in Southern Europe.
Alice Sampson is a criminologist and community researcher. She is co-director of the Centre for Social Justice and Change, School of Social Sciences, UEL, and her current research includes researching with young people living in violence-prone areas and those living in stressed low-income communities and assessing the effects of government policies on extremism, particularly for women.

Living with HIV: Precarity and para-liberalism
Corinne Squire, NOVELLA and CNR

Drawing on a study conducted in 2011 with people living with HIV in the UK, this presentation examines the effects of medical and social service cuts and marketization on people’s stories of their day-to-day lives; the precarity and sequestering of such HIV positive lives in this context; people’s accounts of resistance and resourcefulness; and many participants’ tangential, para-liberal relations with medical and social services.

Corinne Squire is professor of social sciences and co-director of the Centre for Narrative Research at UEL and a partner in the NOVELLA research methods node. Her research interests are in HIV and citizenship, popular culture and subjectivities, and narrative theory and methods. Among her publications are Living with HIV and ARV s: Three-letter lives (Palgrave, 2013) and Doing narrative research (edited with Andrews and Tamboukou, Sage, 2013).

Austerity, social media and mental health communities
Ian Tucker, UEL (CNR and Psychology and Social Change Research Group)
Mental health communities are feeling the full extent of current austerity measures due to the redistribution of social care services and significant closure of physical community spaces. This results in less provision of ‘real world’ peer-support initiatives that are known to enhance a greater sense of life satisfaction, social inclusion and belonging (Hodges, 2007). Mental health communities are consequently subject to radical transformation, with digital media increasingly recruited to ‘fill the gaps’ left by reductions in physical community spaces and the support services that can occur within them.
Ian Tucker leads the Psychology and Social Change Research Group at UEL. He is currently PI on an EPSRC Communities & Culture Network+ funded project exploring the impact of digital technologies on mental health communities in a culture of austerity. His research interests span digital media, space, community mental health, and affect.

Austerity media, ‘poverty porn’, and welfare reform
Tracey Jensen, UEL
Accompanying the present austerity regime has been an explosion of media representations (and misrepresentations) which present those at the bottom of the labour market as responsible for their own poverty. What has become known as ‘poverty porn’ TV plays a significant part in procuring public consent for austerity economics. This short talk will reflect upon the fast media production of poverty porn and how the figures of failure, waste, excess and indiscipline produced by it are held up as evidence of a bloated welfare state. It will also examine forms of resistance to poverty porn and austerity media; where viewers have ‘talked back’ to poverty porn, and more recently where residents of neighbourhoods being scouted as potential locations for poverty porn have refused access to poverty porn producers.
Dr. Tracey Jensen is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of East London. Her research looks at neoliberal formations across policy, social life, media and culture, especially around families, motherhood, thrift culture, austerity, food, and welfare reform. She is currently writing a book called Parenting the crisis.

LiveElse[W]here
the drawing shed, Institute for Health and Human Development, UEL:

Sally Labern and Bobby Lloyd (the drawing shed) will present their current work co-produced with residents, moving between Twitter as a performative space and LockUpNumber11. This is against the backdrop of ‘austerity’ on Britain’s social housing estates. In this context, austerity works by stealth, creating obstacles that can shape-shift to block active participation, even on people’s own doorsteps.

the drawing shed is a contemporary arts project led by visual artists Sally Labern and Bobby Lloyd. Based on two housing estates in London E17 since 2009, its mobile studios – the drawing shed, ClayOven and PrintBike – alongside their project space, LockUpNumber11, form central platforms for their work across London and further a-field. the drawing shed is supported by a diverse range of local, regional and national partners with regular funding from Arts Council England and Waltham Forest Council. Labern and Lloyd are Fellows of the Institute for Health and Human Development at UEL.

Discussant: David Harper, UEL (CNR and Psychology and Social Change Research Group).

David Harper, PhD is Reader in Clinical Psychology at UEL and Joint Programme Director (Academic) of the Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Before he moved to UEL in 2000, David worked as a clinical psychologist in the NHS mental health services in the North West throughout the 1990s. His research interests are in critical psychology and social constructionist approaches in mental health. He is particularly interested in the effects of social inequality and he has written about both attributional and discursive approaches to lay explanations of the causes of poverty. He is a co-author of Psychology, Mental Health and Distress (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012).

Chair: Cigdem Esin, CNR, UEL

Cigdem Esin is Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, and Research Fellow of the Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London. Her research interests are in interactions between individual stories and grand socio-cultural narratives within historically specific contexts. Currently, in addition to analysing the personal narratives of academic immigrants in London, she explores the possibilities that narrative-led visual methods create for research on the link between identity and location in multicultural and multilingual settings.

3.45-4.00: Tea and coffee

4.00-5.30: Panel 4: Reframing the future.

Austerity and the fate of the humanities
Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago

Among the areas most threatened by cuts, all over the world, is the humanities. Derided as useless to national economic growth, it is regarded as a frill that need not be supported in hard times. My talk will make three arguments for strengthening rather than cutting the
humanities: (1) an argument from democratic citizenship, (2) an argument from the needs of a healthy business culture, and (3) an argument from the meaningful life. I shall also discuss the value and the dangers of private funding, in the quest to keep the humanities strong.

Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, appointed in the Law School and the Philosophy Department. Among her books are Not for profit: Why democracy needs the humanities (2011) and Political emotions: Why love matters for justice (2013). She is currently delivering the John Locke Lectures in Oxford, on the topic of Anger and Forgiveness.

Against Quietism Michael Rustin
So far, the deficit-reduction and austerity programmes in Europe which have followed the 2007-8 Financial Crisis have met with little effective opposition. In Britain, the Coalition Government has taken the crisis to be an opportunity to lay waste to the state, and to all collectivised forms of social protection and provision. Elsewhere in Europe, the responsibility for deficits has been ascribed even more than in the UK to overspending by governments. It is held that only if government expenditures and wage levels are drastically reduced can the peripheral countries of Europe (which now include France,Italy and Spain!) be ‘competitive’ in the global market economy. The ‘Euro’ is now the equivalent of the ‘gold standard’ (an inflexible and overvalued currency) which condemns most economies to contraction. Conservative economic policies which contributed to the rise of Nazism in Germany are having effects reminiscent of an earlier history in Europe, We will shortly have a European Parliament filled with representatives who in hating immigrants in effect say that they hate each other, as well as the institution to which they have been elected, since much migration is now between the countries of Europe itself. What durable alliances this strange situation will produce remains to be seen.

I believe we have to think not so much of ‘living with the cuts’, as of imagining how the system which has produced them can be discredited, and an alternative constructed in its place. Probably the recreation of a measure of economic growth is indispensable to this process – depression does not usually generate radicalisms of the left – and since even the owners of property have some interest in prosperity, we may hope that some economic recovery will return. What needs to be examined is what forms of political and social reconstruction can be envisaged and worked for, in a context which is very different from the period of ascendancy of organised labour in the 1960s and1970s.

Michael Rustin is a founding editor of Soundings, with Stuart Hall and Doreen Massey, in 1995, and is a co-editor of After Neoliberalism: the Kilburn Manifesto
http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/soundings/manifesto.html

Discussant: Meera Tiwari, UEL

Dr Meera Tiwari is Reader in International Development specializing in multidimensional poverty, the Capability Approach and sustainable human development. Her research interests are – exploring social and economic poverties within the Capability Approach, exploring deprivation in both Northern and Southern contexts, the MDGs and the post 2015 discourse, and how can globalization be made to work for the most vulnerable communities.

Chair: Ian Tucker, Psychology and Social Change Group, UEL

Participants from community groups and the voluntary sector
Some conference participants have sent us details about their community involvement.

James Beckles: I’m a trustee and member of the executive committee with Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham. Like a lot if charitable organisation my organisation had been affected by the cuts, and I would like to hear about perspectives for dealing with it.

Hannah Berry: I work as a freelancer for Gap Unit, a community organisation based in Manchester. The website is here: http://www.gapunit.org (under construction). I’m about to start running a ‘popular education’ project for women who live in Hulme, supporting them to tackle issues affecting the local community

Ray Campbell is a founding member of Left Unity and is the newsletter editor for Left Unity’s West London Branch. He is an active member of West London Save Our Hospitals campaign, which is now fighting the closure of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals. Ray has also been a past member of the All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Union. He is a regular blogger and is the owner of the political polemical blog, “Guy Debord’s Cat”, which can be found at http://buddyhell.wordpress.com/ He is currently finishing a PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of East London.

Liam Crosby: At Community Links we have recently completed an in-depth qualitiative piece of research, looking at the overall cumulative impact of the welfare reforms on people in our community; see: http://www.community-links.org/our-national-work/publications/tipping-the-balance/

Helia Lopez: I support (in various ways) a couple of NGOs working with migrants. I ran a Community Saturday School and a Theatre Company for children od refugee and immigrant families in London in the past. Last year, I volunteered for the Children’s Society Scheme working with refugee children in mainstream schools in Oxford.

Penny Wilson: I work for the Play Association Tower Hamlets. I am currently working on estates in mile end which are undergoing massive redevelopment. I am using Playwork theory and practice as a community development tool. In the play world we have pressure to evaluate using numbers. But it is impossible to demonstrate the role play has in the life of a child with a graph. For this reason we have been using play memories and anecdotes to research and monitor our work. http://www.playtowerhamlets.or.uk/gallery/stringofbeads

Ayath Ullah: I work in government and have an interest in how reforms are impacting citizens and communities. I also do some voluntary work at Home Start within strategy and capability building.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Law and Social Sciences newsletter

After something of a hiatus, we are invigorating this blog. To start us off, here’s the Law and Social Sciences 2014  newsletter – full of interesting material from colleagues whose work we may not always know about or have time to read about, presented here in condensed form!

http://www.uel.ac.uk/wwwmedia/schools/lss/documents/LSSResearchNewsletter2014.pdf

Good reading for the holidays….

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Bourdieu conference and workshop: From Jenny Thatcher

November 24, 2011 Leave a comment

A Successful Bourdieu’s Key Concepts: Postgraduate/ Early Career Conference and Workshop

The University of East London in conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast and University of Bristol recently sponsored a two day Postgraduate/ Early Career event that focused on the application of Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical concepts to empirical research in the field of sociology and anthropology, with a substantive focus on the concepts outlined in Michael Grenfell’s (2008) edited book: Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts. The conference was hosted at the University of Bristol on Wednesday 28th – Thursday 29th September 2011

The two day event was centred on the presentations of five renowned academics who apply the theoretical concepts of Bourdieu to their work. The academics included: Prof. Michael Grenfell (Trinity College, Dublin), Prof. Diane Reay (University of Cambridge), Dr. Will Atkinson (University of Bristol), Prof. Derek Robbins (University of East London) and Prof. David James (University of the West of England). The four latter academics also conducted workshops over the two days with an average of eight participants in each. The participants were placed into four groups giving each group a chance to have a tutorial style workshop with all four academics at various points during the two days. This gave the participants an excellent opportunity to discuss their research as well as seek advice on their own research and gain valuable feedback from some of the country’s leading academics with international reputation specialising in Pierre Bourdieu.

At the end of the first day the academic and participants attended an organised dinner, providing  the opportunity for the postgraduate students/early career researchers to develop their network contacts with other researchers using Bourdieu in a relaxed and friendly environment.

The two day event was a great success and was an enjoyable and beneficial experience for all those that attended.  Although we had initially only advertised for applications from UK, we had postgraduates and early career researchers applying from all over the world. Therefore, we opened it up to an international audience and had attendees travelling from as far as America and Brazil. This event highlighted the increasing popularity of the application of Bourdieu’s concepts to current research internationally. We were inundated with applications and unfortunately had to turn many people away. The number of people applying to attend confirmed the need for more events centred on Bourdieu particularly for postgraduates and early career researchers. Some feedback from the conference included:

‘The conference was stimulating and has helped me to refocus on the theoretical concepts which inform my PhD. The key speakers were excellent and it was highly unusual to be able to have workshops with people who are so eminent in their field…excellent! I will be able to use the discussions that I had in my teaching as well as in my research.’

Tamsin Bowers-Brown, PhD student and lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University.

Prof Derek Robbins hosting a small workshop

The Bourdieu workshop was a great reminder of how much we can still develop his theories for contemporary use. It was an extremely valuable experience and has provoked deep thinking amongst everyone who participated. I would love to see this grow into an annual event.’

Billy Wong, PhD student, Kings College London.

Audience waiting for a keynote speech

‘For young researchers, it was a great possibility to hear from more seasoned researchers, some of their practical and theoretical experiences and understandings of working with Bourdieu’s ideas. The nature of the workshops also allowed individuals to ask about their own work and how it could be strengthened through more expert understandings of Bourdieu. It was therefore an excellent example of intellectual field communications.’

Adam Sales, PhD student and early career researcher, University of Bristol.

Prof Mike Grenfell’s keynote speech

‘I’d like to say thank you very much for the Bourdieu conference/workshop. I could not have had a better experience, the organisers were so helpful, organisers had put on a fantastic conference. I’m so impressed with the academics you had at the conference as they are the top people in our field. They were exactly as I thought they would be, i.e supremely knowledgeable and experts at what they do. They were also so friendly and approachable. The venue was fantastic! The conference has helped me immeasurably: I have a clearer understanding of Bourdieu’s Key Concepts, I feel I am part of a community and I have gotten a little more confidence. Thank you and well done! I’d be happy to attend a conference like this again. Thank you to all the funders’

Teresa Crew, PhD student, Bangor University

Following on from this event and because of the large demand from PhDs students, the organisers: Nicola Ingram (University of Bristol), Ciaran Burke (Queen’s University Belfast) and Jenny Thatcher (University of East London) established a British Sociological Association (BSA) Bourdieu study group http://www.britsoc.co.uk/specialisms/Bourdieu.htm. The aims of the Bourdieu Study Group are:

  • To encourage and support the discussion and application of Bourdieuian social theory within sociological research.
  • To bring together researchers interested in a range of substantive areas to generate and consolidate theoretical knowledge.
  • To facilitate networking and discussion through organised activities.
  • To support postgraduate students who are engaging with Bourdieu.

As the convenors of the study group, we would like to arrange meetings/activities twice a year and hopefully have an annual Bourdieu conference.

The Bourdieu Key concept’s Team would also like to thank the University of East London, Queen’s University Belfast and University of Bristol for sponsoring Bourdieu’s Key Concepts: A Postgraduate/ Early Career Conference and Workshop

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‘Media and the Inner World’: From Candida Yates

 

What is the Media and Inner World Network?

 Media and the Inner World (MIW) is a research network run jointly by Dr. Candida Yates (Psychosocial Studies, UEL) and Dr. Caroline Bainbridge (Cultural and Media Studies, Roehampton University). It was funded between 2009-11 by the AHRC and the directors have applied for ‘Follow-on funding’ in order to extend the life of the network. MiW brings together academics, psychoanalysts and media practitioners with the aim of exploring themes of emotion and therapy in popular culture. The network reaches outside the realm of the University in order to provide public spaces of exchange and discussion. Its’ virtual community provides a wiki forum for further debate: (www.miwnet.org).

 The network was launched in March 2009 with a symposium at Roehampton University, which included speakers from the spheres of academia, psychotherapy and media (Prof. Valerie Walkerdine, Prof. Robert Young, Prof. Michael Rustin, Margaret Walters, David Aaronovitch and Brett Kahr). Since then we have organised a number of events, in the form of round table events for public debate, bringing together familiar names to discuss a wide range of topics ranging from ‘The Reparative Work of Radio’ and ‘Paranoia and Television’ to ‘Taste and Hunger in the Media’ and ‘Advertising, Disappointment and Desire’.

 The network also held a major international conference on the theme of ‘Psychoanalysis and Television’ in partnership with The Freud Museum in October 2010.  The conference included academic speakers (Candida Yates and Caroline Bainbridge); psychotherapists (Carol Leader, Brett Kahr and Valerie Sinason); television producers and filmmakers from Blink Films and Love Films and Channel 4, journalist and broadcaster Tom Sutcliff and award winning TV comedy writer Laurence Marks.

In February 2011, the MiW Network held an international symposium at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust on the theme of ‘Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture’. The symposium attracted a packed audience with speakers from the spheres of psychotherapy, academia and the media including ex England cricket captain and president of the institute of Psychoanalysis Michael Brearley; group analysts Jon Adlam and Chris Scanlon; journalists and broadcaster Suzanne Moore and Krishnan Guru-Murphy; academics Jeremy Gilbert, Prof. Michael Rustin and Prof. John Storey.

A Psycho-Cultural Approach to Media and the Inner World

 A central aim of the network has been to develop a ‘psychocultural’ approach to the study of media, culture and the unconscious that combines theories and methods from psychoanalytic studies with those from media and cultural studies. The application of psychoanalysis to culture can be traced back to Freud himself. In cultural and media studies, the work of Freud and Lacan often informs the critical analysis of culture and identity. There has been a concentration in such work on matters related to representation and subjectivity. By contrast, in the sociological context, psychoanalysis is used to illuminate the relationship between politics and society. Some of this work draws on a specifically British frame of psychoanalytic theory embodied in the ‘object relations’ work of Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott amongst others. This network takes as its starting point the idea that academic approaches to popular culture can benefit from a return to psychoanalysis because of the increasingly important role of the media in shaping a sense of identity and culture. The relationship between the media in the inner world is central here.

 With a few exceptions, most applications of psychoanalysis to culture tend to dwell on ‘high’ cultural forms: novels, art, theatre etc; popular culture tends to be ignored. ‘Media and the Inner World’ aims to develop a new psycho-cultural method to analyse current media trends and popular cultural texts, examining the fantasies that circulate through media forms and the relationship of audiences to them. It pays attention to the fears, anxieties, pleasures and desires at play in contemporary media contexts. Against a backdrop of ‘therapeutic culture’ and concerns about emotional governance and regulation, the Western media increasingly utilise psychological discourses and images of both emotional suffering and development, manifesting a deeper cultural desire for therapeutic understanding. Such images include scenes of emotional breakdown in reality TV; the depiction of psychotherapy as a tool of the self in TV dramas and chat shows; themes of emotional and psychological development in fly-on-the-wall documentaries and radio phone-ins. The implications of such representations for audiences need discussion, as do the fantasies and cultural responses they are likely to evoke.

 Despite the prevalence of emotion in today’s media, psychoanalysis has fallen out of fashion in academic media studies and charges of universalism abound. Yet paying attention to the cultural and historical specificities of media, it is possible to apply psychoanalytic ideas in a way that takes account of the psychological complexities of contemporary cultural experience. A key focus of the MiW psycho-cultural project is to put the case for psychoanalysis in helping to understand the often-irrational emotions, anxieties and desires of everyday life. To this end, it adopts a nuanced approach to academic criticism, establishing the importance of dialogue with clinicians and media practitioners.

 A number of publications will emerge from the work of the network, including a MiW Special Edition of the online journal Free Associations: Psychoanalysis and Culture, Media, Groups, Politics in August 2011.

(www.freeassociations.org.uk)

 There will also be a Media and Inner World book series with the international publishers Karnac Books. If any readers would like to submit proposals for inclusion in that book series, please contact Candida Yates, c.yates@uel.ac.uk

 For further details of the network and its activities, please contact

Dr. Candida Yates: c.yates@uel.ac.uk

 August, 2011.

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The Campaign for a Living Wage at UEL: Migrant Workers and Political Opportunities

July 28, 2011 Leave a comment

What opportunities exist for low paid workers in the cleaning industry, drawn largely from migrant communities, to improve their pay and working conditions? On the face of it, the current circumstances appear unfavourable. Following the financial crisis of 2008 the UK economy is currently experiencing low growth. This creates pressure on the incomes of poorer families and puts particular pressure on the wages of low paid, non-unionised contract workers. There is also little sign in the reversal of the trend towards outsourcing. Both public and private organisations continue to seek savings through outsourcing services like catering, cleaning and security.

Despite this unpromising environment there has been a number of high-profile and successful campaigns to achieve a living wage for contract staff in the last decade. These campaigns have been led by community organising groups such as London Citizens and Trade Unions (T&G, Unite and Unison). The campaigns achieved their first notable successes with Homerton and St Clements (Mile End) Hospitals in June 2003. This was followed by striking successes in Canary Wharf and the City of London when Barclays Bank, HSBC, Deutsche, Lehmann Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, KPMG, RBS, PWC all agreed to pay a living wage to their externally contracted staff, between January 2004 and September 2005. This was followed by campaigns in the HE sector with first Queen Mary, then the LSE, SOAS, Birkbeck and UCL agreeing to pay a living wage. UEL became the first post-92 university to agree to pay the living wage in November 2010 after a six month campaign led by TELCO and Unison. This was finally implemented in August 2011 with cleaning staff receiving £8.30 per hour and achieving union recognition.

Our primary concern in this research project is to gauge what social and political capital organisers were able to ‘tap into’ during the campaign. Those involved in the campaign were struck by how easy it was to ‘organise’ contract staff, to turn up to meetings, to attend actions and speak to the media. Doubtless this could be explained to some extent by their interest in increasing their pay and improving their working conditions. It also suggested that organisers were able to draw upon existing resources, possibly specific to close-knit migrant groups.

This project examines these hunches. Through questionnaires and interviews with those who were centrally involved in the campaign we explore the social and political capital of the migrant workforce at UEL. Participants are asked about their experience of migration and the membership of community groups or associations like churches and community associations. They are also asked about their experience of involvement in the campaign.

The purpose of the project is to understand the success of the campaign at UEL with a view to informing future campaigns. Insofar as the project constitutes a piece of action-research we are working closely with London Citizens and the Hidden Workforce Unit at Unison. Those involved in the research project Dr Ana Lopes, Dr Tim Hall and Dr Erika Cudworth were all involved in the campaign and have close links with the cleaning staff. Carlos Velez a student at the school of Health and Biosciences is also working on the project as a student intern.

A number of outputs are envisaged: an article on the Living Wage Campaign at UEL by Ana Lopes and Tim Hall and an article on the significance of living wage campaigns in the contemporary landscape of political activism by Tim Hall and Erika Cudworth.

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Talking about surveillance

June 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Project researchers

Darren Ellis (School of Law & Social sciences): d.ellis@uel.ac.uk
David Harper (School of Psychology): d.harper@uel.ac.uk
Ian Tucker (School of Psychology): i.tucker@uel.ac.uk

Overview

The first stage of this project consisted of a small qualitative pilot study. Two research assistants (Dr Hugh Ortega-Breton and Dr Chrysanthi Nigianni) interviewed 31 adults in London and the South East of the UK in the Spring of 2010 and then transcribed the interviews. Over the last year the project researchers have been analysing the data and presenting elements of the study. A book chapter and a journal article are currently under review and two other articles are in preparation.

Outputs so far
Harper, D. (2011). Paranoia and public responses to cyber-surveillance. Paper presented at Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life: An International Workshop, 12-15 May 2011, University of Toronto.

Ellis, D., Harper, D., Tucker, I. (2010). The organisation of life: Everyday experiences of surveillance and dataveillance technologies. Paper presented Political Economy of Surveillance workshop, Hilton hotel, Milton Keynes, 9-11 September.

Methodology

We designed an interview format that consisted of a semi-structured interview schedule (see below). Later in the interview participants are asked to read a short information sheet on surveillance and dataveillance (also below). They are then asked about their responses to this material. We’re happy for other researchers to use this format provided acknowledgement is given. We’d be interested in hearing the results of such studies. The format was designed in a methodologically open manner and it can be analysed using qualitative analytic methods (e.g. discourse analysis, thematic analysis etc.) or hybrid quantitative/qualitative methods (e.g. content analysis).

As well as the UEL study, this format has also been used by Arsalan Butt, PhD student & Professor Richard Smith (School of Communication, Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, Simon Fraser University):

Arsalan Butt homepage: http://sfu.academia.edu/ArsalanButt
Richard Smith homepage: http://www.sfu.ca/~smith/

Work-in-progress presented by Butt and Smith at Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life workshop at the University of Toronto, May 2011: “I might not scratch my ass if I think there might be a camera taping it”: Public Perception of Surveillance Technologies in Everyday Life:

http://www.digitallymediatedsurveillance.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Butt-I-might-not-scratch.pdf

Semi-structured interview schedule
Opening questions

• What systems of surveillance (e.g. CCTV) and personal data storage (e.g. DVLA) are they aware of?
• Kinds of information they are aware of and who has access it
• Thoughts about the collection and use of data?
• Benefits of data collection (e.g. for crime etc)
• Some people say that Britain has become a “surveillance society”. What do they think this means? Do they agree?
• Any concerns about surveillance and data collection (e.g. data being lost on laptops, disks etc).
• Does level of concern vary according to the type of information or use to which it is put?
• How do they balance the right to privacy against other things like fighting crime or convenience (e.g. when shopping on the internet)?

Impact on daily life

• To what extent, if any, are they aware of surveillance or data collection in everyday life (e.g. CCTV, databases etc).
• If they are aware at various times, what triggers this (e.g. speed cameras, crime programmes on TV etc)
• Does it have an impact on the way they go about their everyday lives?

GIVE INFORMATION SHEET ABOUT PERSONAL DATA TO PARTICIPANT

Effect of information about surveillance and personal data

• Give list of surveillance and personal data held
• Any on the list they were not aware of?
• What information do they think these agencies hold?
• What do they think of the kind and extent of information held?

Information sheet: The use of personal data

Please read this leaflet – it should only take 5-10 minutes

What kind of information is held on you? By whom? What is it used for?

Name and address details: Most organisations you deal with. Details from the electoral register are also sold to businesses by your council unless you have asked to be left out. This is one of the ways they get addresses for ‘junk mail’.

Health information: Your GP and dentist and local health Trusts. Also your health insurer if you have one. The NHS is moving its records onto a computerised system.

Driving licence details: These are held by the DVLA in Swansea. They too sell information (e.g. to wheel clampers). They will also give out your details if someone tells them they have had an accident with a car with your number plate.

Car number plate: Across the country your number plate is read by cameras which are linked to the police. If a car is tagged as of interest by the Police National Computer then it will be stopped by the police. Police note down car number plates at political demonstrations. There have been cases where drivers who have previously attended demonstrations have been stopped by the police as a result of these number plate cameras.

Video: Every day it is likely that your image will be caught on a CCTV camera. These are run by shops and businesses, the council, public transport and some residents. No-one knows how many cameras there are in the country but there are at least 25,000 in London. Nationally the number of council-run CCTV cameras has trebled over the last ten years. London councils have about 7,500 cameras. In addition, Transport for London has over 8,000 cameras on tube trains, another 8,000 cameras at stations, 400 congestion charge cameras and over a thousand traffic enforcement cameras. The London borough of Wandsworth has as many CCTV cameras (1,113) as Dublin City Council, the Police departments of Johannesburg and Boston and the City of Sydney authority combined. Video images are held for different periods of time – longer if they portray a criminal offence. Unless you are of interest to the police it is not likely that they will be linked to you as a named individual. There is a debate about whether CCTV prevents crime or simply moves it to other areas. A 2008 report by the Metropolitan police suggested only 1,000 crimes were solved that year by CCTV. However, supporters say it tends to be used most intensively on serious cases like murder or terrorism.

Your shopping habits: Shops collect information on what you buy from them. If you have a store loyalty card like Tesco Clubcard or Nectar it collects information on what you buy. On the internet, stores like Amazon and Ebay install ‘cookies’ on your computer. Cookies are small programmes that identify who you are and your shopping preferences. They mean you do not need to re-enter your details every time you visit the website.

Your finances: Your bank or building society and tax office stores information about your finances. In addition to this there are businesses called ‘credit reference companies’ like Experian that sell information about your credit history to lenders. Fraudsters try to get hold of credit card and online banking details. In 2009 about £440 million was lost through Credit Card fraud. Another £60 million was lost through fraud of online bank accounts.

Travel details: These will be stored by your airline, travel agent and travel insurer. Airlines will also share information about you with US and European travel authorities. Border and immigration authorities share information with one another.

The police and courts: The national DNA database stores details of all those arrested not just those who are found guilty by a court. Details of five million people are held on it. About 30,000 of these are victims and witnesses who gave their DNA to help identify suspects. In addition, the Police National Computer stores details on people, driving licences and vehicles and has about 97 million records on it. Individual police forces also hold separate intelligence databases.

Other personal information: Generally, any information you enter about yourself on the internet is stored somewhere and is linked to the computer you use by its identification number. If you use websites like Facebook or Myspace then all the information you enter about yourself and the links you have with other people is stored by those companies. Emails are also stored for a period as are any search words you have entered into sites like Google. Mobile phone companies store information about who you call for several months. Also, if you use an Oyster card, information about your travel is stored. The police and a number of other government bodies can request data from all these companies.

Is information shared? Generally, companies cannot share information about you with other companies without your permission. However, government bodies can request such information. These government bodies also share information with each other to try to prevent fraud (e.g. benefit fraud), crime and tax evasion and to investigate offences.

How securely is it kept and what controls are there?

In general, information about you and your family is stored securely. There are a number of legal safeguards like the Data Protection Act. This means you can usually access information held about you and usually correct it if it is wrong. You can also sue for damages in serious cases. You can generally opt out if you do not want your details to be shared with or sold to other organisations. The Information Commission is an independent watchdog which monitors the use of information and the commissioner can recommend cases for prosecution. However, there have been a number of incidents where computer disks and laptops containing information have gone missing or where they have been sold illegally:

• In 2007 two computer discs holding details of 25 million child benefit claimants was lost in the mail. It included name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and bank details.
• In May 2008 a computer disc containing the medical records of more than 38,000 NHS patients was lost by the courier company.
• In November 2009 the Information Commissioner reported that staff at mobile phone company T-Mobile sold details of thousands of customers to brokers. These brokers then sold the data to other phone firms to use in ‘cold calling’.
• In 2009 there were 60,000 criminal acts of impersonation – so-called ‘identity theft’ where a person tries to pass themselves off as another person using that other person’s details (e.g. name, address etc).

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A rights issue

October 7, 2010 1 comment

I recently returned to normal duties after an enjoyable and I hope productive period of research leave. The sabbatical was granted in order for me to carryout research into the strategies which have enabled the music business to survive in the first decade of the twenty-first century despite the prevalence of online peer-to-peer file-sharing. Concentrating principally on EMI, which is the most interesting of the ‘major labels’ in this regard for various reasons (as well as being the only UK one), I built up a research database and did some writing. I wrote and proofed a chapter on an EMI music producer, for a book which is theoretically ‘in press’ but which probably won’t be out for another year or so. An article is nearing completion, and I have had discussions with a publisher about a book, which I would hope to deliver in late 2011.

But that’s only part of the story. Just before the sabbatical began I was commissioned to write an article for a forthcoming issue of the Contemporary Music Review, which will be devoted to the relationship between words and music. I began talking to the editor about writing something on heavy metal lyrics, and needless to say by the end of the conversation I had agreed to write about the libretto in contemporary opera! I am particularly interested in the ways in which librettists adapt existing texts. No-one else is, so I had firstly to invent a typology, taking as my starting point various discussions of adaptation from text to film or television. The resulting article will appear early in 2011. I am to give a paper on contemporary operatic adaptations at a conference in the autumn, and I hope to follow it up with at least one more article on the subject.

Quote unquote? Unquote, actually, unless you’re a rights holder

Researching and writing this article was fun up to a point, and the point was one it might be worth sharing some thoughts about. These days publishers of academic journals demand much of their authors (while giving them little or nothing in return), and the most troubling demands, it seems to me, are that we should obtain copyright permissions and/or otherwise absolve them of any liability in that regard, while they insist on taking copyright of our articles for themselves. Obtaining copyright permission to quote from libretti either took forever, or proved impossible. In the case of one opera by a major American composer with a libretto to her own text by a well-known contemporary novelist, after three months of enquiries I managed to obtain permission to view the work, but –specifically – not to quote directly from it. As a result of this and similar exchanges the content of the article changed markedly from first draft to current version, and as one or two enquiries are still outstanding it may have to be significantly amended again at proof stage.

Have any of you suffered similar inconvenience? If so I’d like to hear from you. There is a vital issue of the definition of ‘fair use’, if we are to investigate and comment on contemporary work, which strikes me as being at least as important as the reform of the libel laws (which finally seems to be on the political agenda). Do get in touch.