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  • Blaming migrants won’t solve Western Sydney’s growing pains

    Posted on July 20, 2017

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    Many people in culturally diverse populations in Western Sydney have lived in Australia for many years, if not several generations.

    Shanthi Robertson, Western Sydney University and Kristine Aquino, University of Technology Sydney

    Population growth has profound impacts on Australian life, and sorting myths from facts can be difficult. This article is part of our series, Is Australia Full?, which aims to help inform a wide-ranging and often emotive debate.

    Western Sydney is one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia. It’s also one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse, as a key arrival point for refugees and new migrants when they first settle in Australia.

    Various public figures and media outlets have connected asylum-seeker intake and immigration to traffic congestion and queues at hospitals in Western Sydney.

    However, this kind of reaction can pin the blame for infrastructure and affordability problems on culturally diverse populations who may have already lived in Australia for many years, if not several generations. Read more…


  • From Boomers to Xennials: we love talking about our generations, but must recognise their limits

    Posted on July 18, 2017

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    Do you remember these?

    Dan Woodman, University of Melbourne

    We all know the names: Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. Now we can add the “Xennials”, a cross-over generation between X-ers and Millennials that recently took the internet by storm.

    The “Xennials” are supposedly a group born between the late 1970s and early 1980s who entered the labour market well after the recession of the early 1990s, but before the Global Financial Crisis. They had an analogue childhood, but digital young adulthood.

    However, the “Xennials” must be taken with several grains of salt. There isn’t yet any strong academic evidence for the grouping, although clearly the idea resonates with a lot of people who felt left out by the usual categorisations.

    I am a sociologist of youth and generations, who tracks Australians through young adulthood. There is some truth to generations talk, as our lives are shaped by the times in which we grow up. But the labels are blunt, homogenising, underplay inequality, and often function as nasty stereotypes. Read more…


  • Census 2016 shows Australia’s changing religious profile, with more ‘nones’ than Catholics

    Posted on July 17, 2017

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    The 2016 Census showed major changes in the ranking order of religious groups in Australia.
    AAP/Tracey Nearmy

    Gary D Bouma, Monash University

    Every five years the census asks Australians: “What is your religion?”. Ten tick-box responses are provided, along with the option to write in some other response.

    In 2016 Census, the first box was for “no religion”. This was not a secularist plot, but an acknowledgement that those declaring they had “no religion” were very likely to be the most numerous category, followed by Catholics.

    Alongside those declaring they have “no religion”, Australia now has – in addition to a highly diverse bloc of Christian groups that are very internally diverse – five substantial religious communities (Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews). Read more…


  • Census shows increase in children with disability, but even more are still uncounted

    Posted on July 14, 2017

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    Some people with disabilities may not require government supports, meaning they wouldn’t have been counted as having a disability in the Census.

    Karen R Fisher, UNSW and Sally Robinson, Southern Cross University

    The 2016 Census has revealed an increase in the number of children with disability, up nearly 40,000 since 2011. One explanation is that the census now counts disability differently, which is more in line with the way many children and families view disability.

    But other children continue to miss out on support because they do not name their needs as “disability”. And services don’t yet have adequate funding for even the revealed number of children, so other children who require assistance are left out.

    A census that counts people who identify as having a disability, as well as those who need support, could help resolve these problems. Read more…


  • New website resource: Smart Technology Living Lab

    Posted on July 10, 2017

    TASA member Deborah Lupton led the creation of the new Smart Technology Living Lab: Co-creating solutions and ideas using social and design research


  • Long ignored, adolescent family violence needs our attention

    Posted on July 4, 2017

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    Adolescent family violence has detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of families, and is surrounded by stigma and shame.

    Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Monash University; JaneMaree Maher, Monash University, and Jude McCulloch, Monash University

    Family violence and youth justice have been subjected to an intense focus in Australia in the past year. Reviews have revealed the failure to provide effective responses to these issues. Government responses to family violence have emphasised the importance of perpetrator accountability, while in the youth justice field recent reforms have seen a toughening of legal responses.

    Adolescent family violence has implications in both of these areas. However, it has been the subject of limited inquiry.

    Adolescent family violence is violence used by young people against family members. Most often, it refers to violence occurring within the home.

    It is distinct because the adolescent requires ongoing care even when violent, which mean responses used in other cases of family violence can’t readily be applied. It has detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of families, and is surrounded by stigma and shame. Read more…


  • “Youth Participation in the Human Rights Council” (in Australian Outlook)

    Posted on July 1, 2017

    TASA member Lesley Pruitt, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Monash University, writes about young people and the UN. This article was first published by the Australian Institute of International Affairs and is republished here under a Creative Commons Licence

    Young people are often categorised as politically disengaged and apathetic. A program backed by Australia and the UN is seeking to shake this image, engaging youth and giving them a voice at the highest level of global politics.

    For at least the past several decades, curriculum designers and policymakers around the world have envisioned young people to be citizens ‘in the making’ or even blamed them for a so-called ‘democratic deficit’. However, a wide range of research has shown that youth are not as inactive or apathetic as frequently assumed.

    When young people neglect to participate in the ways adults and governments might expect them to, blame is often placed on the youth themselves. However, older adults and public institutions would do well to reflect on the ways in which they might exclude young people, fail to listen to them, or perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes: suggesting they are a selfish generation uninterested in the common good. Even when youth do try to have a say on government policies, politicians and the media often publicly shame them for not doing it the right wayRead more…


  • Filthy Rich and Homeless

    Posted on June 29, 2017

    TASA member Catherine Robinson is the Co-Host and Series Consultant on SBS’s new three-part documentary series, ‘Filthy Rich and Homeless’.  ‘Filthy Rich and Homeless’, is a three-night event, that has been airing this week on SBS (Tuesday 27, Wednesday 28 and TONIGHT, Thursday 29 June at 8.30pm). Each show is will be available to view on SBS On Demand after broadcast.



  • Applied Sociology

    Posted on June 29, 2017

    TASA member Alan Scott, is the Continuing Education Officer for the Applied Sociology thematic group. Each month, Alan writes about a topic that has caught his eye. This month’s topic is about Applied Sociology.

    For the Terry Pratchett enthusiasts, I have just finished re-reading ‘Thud’.  If there is a book for today then this is it.  It deals with two different groups of beings living in the same community who have a past history of being in conflict and what could be about to happen.  In Discworld fashion Terry shows a way to sort the conflict out.  One short sentence in this book stood out for me: “What kind of creature defines itself by hatred?”  Despite its fictitious presentation this book is about sociology at work. Read more…


  • Zines

    Posted on June 28, 2017

    TASA member and Postgraduate Portfolio Leader, Ashleigh Watson, has created a sociological fiction Zine: So Fi


  • Free textbooks for first-year university students could help improve retention rates

    Posted on June 24, 2017

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    James Arvanitakis, Western Sydney University

    Despite 20 years of focus on improving university retention rates, we are still losing one in five of our first-year students.

    And the release of a new report by TEQSA again reminds us of the challenges of retention.

    The report highlights that, on average, universities have a 20% attrition rate. This builds on an article by The Australian earlier this year which showed that one in three university students failed to complete the course they began within six years of enrolling. Read more…


  • Featured Member Profile: Erin Carlisle

    Posted on June 22, 2017

    This post was originally published on TASA’s Postgraduate website and has been republished here with the postgraduate sub committee’s permission:

    Member: Erin Carlisle

    What are you researching?
    I’m developing a new approach to a theory of collective political action by bringing political social theory into dialogue with hermeneutic phenomenological philosophy, and critically comparing the work of Hannah Arendt, Cornelius Castoriaids, and Peter Wagner.
    What drew you to this topic?
    Good question! I guess I’ve been interested in what politics ‘is’ and what political action ‘does’ for a long time, mostly in light of conversations with friends about dissatisfaction and frustration with the political process in Australia, and the rest of the world more broadly. My honours thesis focussed on the television show Q&A, and considered whether that constituted a form of political engagement. My PhD takes the question of what politics is and what political action looks like even further, as a theoretical and philosophical question.
    What have been the highlights of your Postgraduate journey?
    I was lucky to be accepted to present at the European Sociological Conference in Prague in 2015, and won a Junior Scholar award for the paper I presented there. Prague was fantastic; Bauman was a keynote speaker in the opening address, and I even asked Agnes Heller a question in her symposium (#nerdalert). I’ve also been really lucky to develop great friendships with other sociology RhD students at Flinders, I wouldn’t be where I am without their support.
    What do you wish you had known before you started?
    How f#&*ing hard a PhD is! And how isolating it can be. Although you read information and blogs about the PhD being hard and isolating etc, you kind of take it with a grain of salt and go “pfft it can’t be that hard, that won’t happen to me”. Nope – it did, and does.
    What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting post graduate study?
    First, I’d say don’t give in to the ‘impostor syndrome’, or beat yourself up too much throughout the process. You and your work are great, just push yourself further. (I don’t admit to taking my own advice, by the way).
    Second, talk to your peers and academics about the whole process, about their experiences – the good and the bad – and really think about whether undertaking higher study is something you can and want to do. And more importantly, whether it is something you can kick-ass at, because you need to kick-ass if you want to have a career in research or academia. I have said throughout my journey that “if i had known X, Y, Z, then maybe I wouldn’t have done the PhD”. Although I said that (frequently) through the (very) low-points of the research process, I’ve also learnt a lot about myself and opened an amazing pathway for my future, one where I hope to make a difference in the way we think about and participate in politics.
    What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?
    Ha, as if I have time to not be working on my research right now.. But: hanging out with friends; cartoons (classic Simpsons, Rick and Morty, South Park, etc); football (go Crows!); drinking (with friends, not alone (yet)); and travelling (next on the list is a return to Europe, to celebrate submitting my thesis).
    Thanks Erin! If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions, drop us an email at

    Read more…


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