Author Archive

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’:

Guy Debord’s Cat: 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 ( 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 (, 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,, 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 (, and on combining narrative and thematic approaches to secondary analysis (

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.

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

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: (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 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:

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.

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.

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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!

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 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: (

 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.


 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,

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

Dr. Candida Yates:

 August, 2011.

Categories: Uncategorized

What are research participants doing?

December 27, 2009 Leave a comment

I thought I’d use this blog as an opportunity to ask myself what social research participants are doing in social research when they are clearly doing something other than, or as well as, research. Research participants’ involvement in research is a rather obvious example of the co-research to which the blog title refers. Of course there are research approaches – such as participatory action research, or PAR – which explicitly require and address such participant involvement. But what happens when that involvement is manifestly and necessarily distinct from that of the researcher? And might the answer to this question have something to say about contemporary characteristics of social research itself?

 Recently I have been doing some research with Chila Kumari Burman, Leverhulme Artist in Residence in our School and with the school’s Centre for Narrative Research ( ) Chila has been running workshops on visual autobiography with groups of people in different East London locations, using life size shapes drawn round their bodies as a starting point, and a mixed media approach involving collage, painting and drawing.  I’ve been doing interviews with the workshop participants afterwards about how they put these visual autobiographies together – what they put in, what they left out, what the process was, what they liked about it, how they might do it differently next time. Cigdem Esin, CNR’s Research Officer, has been helping out, and so has Abu Maruf, a Masters student on our Narrative Research module. You can see examples of Cigdem’s and Maruf’s own visual autobiographies below.

The workshops happened in an art gallery, a cultural center and and a supplementary school in Spitalfields, an area that is economically, educationally, ethnically and culturally highly diverse. A lot of work has already been done on historical, socioeconomic and cultural formations within this locality.  For me, the interest was not so much in diverse participant identities, but more in what participants brought to the workshops from the locality and from outside it, from across the city and across the world. Researching participation in a cultural activity like an art workshop is a good way to go beyond everyday socioeconomic identities because the activity is exceptional; some people will see the workshop happening in their regular environment and ignore it, others will hear about it from outside and travel to it. At the same time, researching, by individual interview, the subjectivities expressed in the images, allows a breaching of everyday identity formations, since a wide range of subjectivities – past, present and future, actual, reconstructed and imagined, your own and those of others close to you, from East London, the whole city, the country and the world – all find a place. 

 What about in the art itself and the making of it? Most people constructed autobiographies mainly within the shape of the body, using materials at the workshop that they liked, drawing, painting and writing alongside and over them, sometimes  – like Cigdem – bringing materials in to add to the images or adding things later at home. Some images  – like Maruf’s – were entirely made up of their own images, written in this case, though using the paint materials in the workshop.

 The most obvious visual difference was in the name and postcode tags that dominated some of the children’s images, picturing a concern with local identities that’s quite common across London and in other cities. Visually, these tags crossed and sometimes completely shattered the boundaries of the body maps, writing names, postcodes and localities around and over individual bodies.

But these tagged images also emblematiseda broader issue: the taking over of the research by the participants. The children who made these images started off following the guidelines for the workshop and then, realising they didn’t have to, invented some of their own, about what to tag, where, and who could tag whose work. Some of them made separate, poster-sized tag pieces as well.

 This kind of journeying away from research within the research itself, is always going to happen to some degree, especially when research is being done in people’s regular leisure, cultural and educational settings. It’s particularly feasible when, as in this case, research piggybacks onto the making of art, which all the participants understood as at least partly their own creation – not subsumed by curriculum or aesthetic tradition. Also, when people work in groups, as here, it’s possible that at times the researcher will become just another citizen of the research world, outnumbered, outperformed and outspoken, in the art and the interviews, by the research participants. And when, as in this case, the research is also supplementary to art, and is happening in educational or cultural institutions, the researcher may even be less researcher, and more a co-citizen of the artmaking, educational or cultural worlds of the research context. The researcher may end up writing the research, but even without PAR the resultant work is going to be determined by contributions not of their making and often not even known about by them.

 It was very clear in the art and the interview elements of this project that people’s participation was functioning in a lot of ways independently of the research and even of the art. In interviews, they said variously – and sometimes self-contradictorily – that in the workshops they were having fun; doing something they were good at; spending time on an activity they used to love but now had less time for; enjoying art in a non-judgemental context, large-scale art, the lengthiness of the project, or materials they hadn’t used before; trying to develop their artistic practice; interacting within families; interacting between friends; exploring the content and histories of their lives; thinking about their futures. Since these participants were so active in determining the research, these participant activities and drives must shape it. But it seems salutary to imagine research itself as a hybrid of drives and activities like these: as fun, as social activity, as historical exploration, and as explorations of the future and of change. One of the children who had made an artwork dominated by name and place tags looked at it later, in the interview, and considered aloud whether that was how he always wanted to draw himself.  This research made me wonder something similar.