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Plenary Sessions / Workshops

TASA CONFERENCE Plenaries and Workshops 2011

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What Should Sociology Graduates Know? A Discussion of Threshold Learning Outcomes

Convenor: Assoc. Prof. Karen Farquharson (Swinburne University of Technology)

In this session the draft threshold learning outcomes (TLOs) for sociology will be presented. As part of TASA’s processes in developing these TLOs we have been consulting with sociology lecturers across Australia. We now provide this opportunity for you to give feedback and/or have input into their further development. Under the new Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), university teaching programs will be assessed against measurable threshold learning outcomes, the minimum educational outcomes a graduate of a program would be expected to gain through their course of study. It is therefore important that the TLOs realistically cover what sociology undergraduates should know. Representatives of sociology teaching programs are particularly encouraged to attend.

 

The Limits of Economics: Reasserting Sociological Perspectives

Chair: Ben Spies-Butcher

This session aims to highlight the importance of a sociological lens when considering economic activities and relations. The GFC raised fundamental questions about the way that economies work. For a brief period there was a glimmer of hope that new approaches would be adopted to address the many environmental and social challenges that confront us. But before long it was back to business as usual. The dominance of economic explanations has serious implication for the way we live. Sociology plays an important role in understanding and explaining what we do and why we do it. This session will examine the limits of economics and call for a re-casting of how we conceptualize the economy and economic activity.

Understanding the Long-Term Persistence of Inequality between Countries: An Approach Based on Entropy Theory
Salvatore Babones, Department of Sociology & Social Policy, The University of Sydney
Viewed from a very broad perspective, the geographical structure of rewards in the modern world-economy has been incredibly stable over time. This presentation outlines a new approach to measuring the degree of structure in the world-economy based on entropy theory. Entropy is the concept that all structures will tend to decay over time unless energy is expended to maintain them. Over time, as all countries grow and decline, historical patterns should be obliterated. The fact that the regions of the world remain coherent (all of Europe is rich; all of Africa is poor) decade after decade implies that strong systemic forces are continuously working to maintain the regional structure of the world-economy. The strength of structuring forces in the world-economy is measured (indirectly) by comparing the actual rate of decay in the regional structure of the world-economy to the rate of decay that would be expected if countries were growing at random. How likely is it that the observed persistence in the salience of region occurred merely by chance? The results of multiple simulations suggest that that it is incredibly unlikely. In other words, powerful systemic forces are continually at work maintaining the structure of the world-economy.

Possibilities and Limits to Enforcing Tax Compliance Measures on Irregular Workers.
Maarten Rothengatter
This paper is a contribution to ongoing studies of tax-compliance by taxi-operators and drivers, by applying a critical sociological perspective in assessing the limits of both the currently dominant academic literature and the industry-specific legislation on tax conformity. The core premise is that social and economic activities (both legal and illicit) of cab-drivers are embedded within unique networks of social relations. Consequently, cab-drivers are subjected to a multitude of structural arrangements and social control mechanisms, which influence their attitudes and actions with regard to tax compliance.

The paper will elucidate how structural forces, historically located in the industry’s cultural, economic and social arrangements, are intimately intertwined with both economic and non-economic aspects of the job of taxi-driving. It produces insights into the ways that cabbies justify their attitudes and non-compliant behaviour, and can ‘live with themselves’. Regulatory initiatives towards diminishing non-compliance in the taxi-industry neglect the concept of “mixed-embeddedness” and the inter-relatedness between tax rules, enforcement practices, and the broader legislative framework. It will be argued that changes to the employment status of Australian taxi-drivers can produce a more expedient, cost-effective way for curtailing the enduring and deeply imbued tax non-compliant modus operandi within this particular sector of Australia’s transport-services industry.

Economy and Society: Towards a non-neoclassical synthesis?
Damien Cahill and Joy Paton Political Economy, University of Sydney
This paper argues that non-neoclassical traditions within economic sociology and heterodox economics share much common ground in their conceptions of the economy as socially embedded. By broadening the sociological focus towards heterodox economic traditions, there may be the potential to develop a useful alternative conception of the economy to that presented within orthodox economics.

Against the backdrop of the dominant neoclassical conception of the economy (voluntary market exchanges between autonomous socially decontextualized individuals), the paper outlines how economic sociological approaches, (as pioneered by Weber, Granovetter, Bourdieu and Callon), have built a conception of the economy as socially embedded. The paper then examines some of the non-neoclassical traditions, including the institutionalist, Marxist, post-Keynesian and feminist currents within heterodox economics.

In each of the approaches examined, it is argued that markets are understood as institutionally structured social relationships. This points towards a conceptualization capable of overcoming the unhelpful economy/society and market/state dichotomies which are embedded in the intellectual foundations of orthodox economics. The paper also examines some of the problems of synthesis and incommensurability between the different non-neoclassical traditions.

Global Markets and Personal Lives: A Focus on International Money Flows between India and Australia
Supriya Singh RMIT University
Sociological explanations of market phenomenon can connect global markets with personal lives, changing economic, social and political frameworks. I illustrate this connected approach through a focus on international money flows. This literature is presently divided between the developmental approaches to remittances on the one hand and the family and community dimensions on the other. Trade and investment are treated separately even though export of educational services translates to reverse remittances. In an ongoing study, I use a connected global methodology incorporating the life-history approach to examine the continuities and discontinuities between family and community remittance money, investment in housing, equities and foreign direct investment between India and Australia. This global connected approach brings together the different kinds of international money flows, changing the picture of the relationships between India and Australia. At present, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) picture of money flows between India and Australia focuses on trade and investment. Bringing two-way remittances and the accompanying investment into the picture will combine the flow of money, goods and services with the movement of people and labour. This new picture will make transparent the importance of people and relationships to the flow of global money.

A New State Turn? Security, Society and Sovereignty after Poststructuralism

Chair: Gary Wickham (Murdoch)

Participants: Grahame Thompson (OU), Paul du Gay (Copenhagen Business School), Alan Scott (UNE) and Mitchell Dean (University of Newcastle)

Over the last decades, social science and sociological theory became defined by many issues that called into question the very concept of the state. These include a focus on micro-, sub- and life politics, the motif of ‘governance without government’, themes of globalization, cosmopolitanism and risk society, and a certain valorization of cultural phenomena. However, the extensive use of executive and emergency powers, new forms of military intervention, processes of securitization, the responses to the global financial crisis and climate change, the treatment of refugees, and the transformations of public administration and social provision, have all raised the issue of the state as concept, institution and field of contestation. This plenary asks whether these developments might lead or have led to a new opportunity to consider the concept and institution of the state as central to social thought and analysis, and the relationship of such a concept to related concerns of security, society and sovereignty.

From Governance to Government – Alan Scott
The paper’s title reverses the direction of a common theme within political science and political sociology in the 1990s and early 00s. The long-standing critique of so-called state-centered approaches, claims about the ‘hollowing out of the state’ through globalization, and ‘governance discourse’ have themselves been challenged by real world events from the ‘war’ on terrorism to financial crisis from 2008. Whereas du Gay and Scott (2010) looked to a broadly Weberian defense of the conception of the ‘state,’ this paper will look to contrasting but, it will be argued, potentially complementary arguments in other areas of ‘classical’ social theory – namely Durkheim and (Karl) Polanyi – for a further support for the view that the nation state remains an necessary institution and more than merely one level within systems of ‘multi-level governance’.

Reflections on the ‘Liberal State’: Do we still need it? – Grahame Thompson
In a period of the proliferation of alternative state forms (warfare state, competition state, security state, audit state, neoliberal state, etc., etc.), and shrill declarations that the nation state is dead as globalization and transnationalism have swept the board, is there any virtue in defending the basic contours of a liberal and constitutional state conceived in a rather traditional manner? In these remarks I outline and defend several properties of the ‘Liberal-Constitutional State’ and suggest that it will remain a robust category for the Twenty-First Century.

Re-Instating an Ethic of Office – Paul du Gay
If we understand the state minimally as the political apparatus that delivers the governmental power needed to protect the members of a territorial population from each other and external enemies, then it is reasonable to say that the state has long been under intellectual siege, perhaps since its very emergence. Certainly over the last three to four decades the idea of the state and the ideals of state service have been subject to extensive and near constant political, ideological and theoretical criticism. However, despite the claims of politicians, management consultants, Human Rights activists, and social theorists, for example, that the state as a bundle of institutions, purposes and conducts is inter alia, an anachronism in a globalized world, an ideological disappointment, and a totalitarian threat to individual liberties and freedoms, it still remains practically difficult to imagine doing without it. The ongoing financial crisis makes this abundantly clear. The difficulty comes in giving positive expression to the state and state service without making either appear to be morally higher than they can actually be. This is no mean feat when the norms of contemporary ethical and political culture are, to put it mildly, deeply suspicious of, or stand in outright opposition to many of the key norms and techniques of conduct informing the activities of the state (authority, command, indifference, neutrality, detachment, impersonalism). My comments will focus upon certain features of contemporary ‘anti-statism’ and will aim to indicate some of their practical effects for conducts of state, most notably the relationship between Office and Person. In so doing, I will seek to highlight some of the consequences of ‘giving up on the state’, or seeking to ‘disappear’ it, in one way or another.

The Revenge of the Social – Mitchell Dean
Contra sociological fairytales of the death of the social, and of a borderless world which breaks the container of society, this paper argues that the genealogy of the social demonstrates the necessity, rather than contingency, of the social as a distinctive domain within societies characterized by an inequality-generating economy and legal and political equality. It further argues for the continued pertinence of a notion of society as a problematic whole that is not opposed to the state, as in the civil society traditions today embraced by liberals and conservatives, but has the territorial state as its condition. As those who sought to pose the Social Question from the nineteenth century knew, the idea of society is central to questions concerning not only social provision and patterns of health and illness, etc., but also the continued existence of liberal states themselves.

Alternative, DIY and ‘subcultural careers’: Leisure, lifestyle and youth transitions

Chair:Andy Bennett (Griffith University)

Participants: Rene Mäe & Airi-Alina Allaste (Tallinn University, Estonia), Chris Driver (Griffith University), Ross Haenfler (University of Mississippi, USA)
There is now a highly comprehensive international literature on many aspects of youth cultural practice, spanning music, fashion, sport, tourism, travel and various other forms of cultural consumption leisure and lifestyle. However, there has been relatively little attention paid to the ways in which youth cultural lifestyles impact on broader biographical trajectories. And yet, as various aspects of the research on youth culture (for example, in relation to music scenes and the emergent focus on youth cultures and ageing) suggest, the cultural practices of youth are not merely embedded in leisure and lifestyle practices but are being increasingly activated by youth and ageing members of youth cultures as viable pathways towards work, employment and career. Drawing on current research being conducted in the Europe, Australia and the USA, this panel will examines the ways in which youth leisure and lifestyle patterns are engendering new attitudes and sensibilities towards work and employment through the forging of alternative, DIY and ‘subcultural’ careers.

Small-scale Alternative Music Festival Organisers in Estonia: Creating (Sub)Cultural Boundaries – Rene Mäe & Airi-Alina Allaste
This article aims to give a sense of the small-scale cultural practitioners in Estonia. Whereas Western Societies experienced the powerful emergence of youth (sub)cultures and DIY ideology, self-organised low scale cultural production in the 1960s, in Estonia, all of these practices are relatively new and born over the last decades. This article discusses the Eastern-European specifics of (sub)cultural production. The main concepts of this study are fields in cultural production and symbolic capital according to Pierre Bourdieu, with consideration of the recent elaborations in the field of (sub)cultural studies. Interpreting the interests, motives and attitudes of the promoters serving as the basis for their activities, this paper addresses the subjects of mainstream/underground, independent/commercial and high culture/subculture, thereby contributing to the relevant discussion in studies of subcultures. The empirical part of the paper relies mainly on 5 in-depth interviews conducted by the first author (2009) and the 3 in-depth interviews conducted by the second author (2010) and developed ideas are supported by fieldwork on club-cultures 2002-2003. The data have been analysed and systematised by qualitative data analysis methods, with the help of Nvivo computer-based program. While subcultures usually create symbolic boundaries using their distinctive style, music and ideological practices, according to this study, promoters tend to create ‘independent brands’ for the purposes of participation in the small-scale cultural field. These independent brands involve a mix of the promoters’ taste in music, which is communicated through the ‘brand’ to significant others (music critics, lay audience and friends), and constitute important means for creating symbolic capital.

Hardcore bodies in the labour market: on subcultural capital and careers – Chris Driver
Sarah Thornton’s important, if problematic, work on the complexities of ‘subcultural capital’ (1995) – in the context of the internal power relations that exist in (and which in fact define) music scenes – considers a number of case studies where the symbolic capital accrued by ‘being competent’ in a particular sub-cultural field could benefit participants in certain sectors of the labour market. But Thornton’s conceptualisation of ‘cultural competence’ positions subcultural knowledge as if it were something transmitted solely via channels of meaning and representation, and then performed in the instrumental deployment of the body in symbolic ways, and this is perhaps still the dominant conceptual trope in what has become known as ‘subcultural studies’. In contrast, however, this paper considers how the very idea of cultural competence is bound by the shifting potentialities and limitations of bodies – defined as they are by their lived histories and the places they have been and, drawing on recent research into the hardcore music scene on Australia’s Gold Coast, considers how the act of competently ‘doing’ hardcore equips young people with a range of action-capacities that translate strongly in terms of their employability in a wide range of local industries.

Making a Living While Living Clean: Older Straight Edgers’ Pathways into Work and Careers – Ross Haenfler
Despite a growing body of research on “older” participants in youth cultures, little research addresses the ways in which youth transition into employment. This paper explores how older adherents of straight edge – a clean-living youth scene associated with hardcore punk music – integrate subcultural beliefs, values, and practices into their work or careers. Drawing upon eight years of ethnographic field research and depth interviews with straight edgers over 25, the paper examines three general work pathways: those who forge DIY careers, often related to the hardcore music scene; those who combine conventional and DIY work; and those who bring their subcultural values to bear in more conventional careers. Issues discussed include how youth culture affiliation impacts career opportunities and choices, subculturists’ understanding of work and career more generally, and the difficulties and rewards of maintaining a youth cultural identity into adulthood. The paper challenges the notion that youth make complete and abrupt transitions from youth cultures to “adult” work life.

Social and Environmental Change

To celebrate the publication of The Routledge International Handbook of Social and Environmental Change this plenary discusses rapid social change and environmental issues. Saskia Sassen and Stewart Lockie will present material based on their contributions to the handbook. Ted Trainer will discuss his notion of a ‘simpler way’.

Chair: Terry Leahy (University of Newcastle)

Participants: Saskia Sassen (Columbia, LSE), Stewart Lockie (ANU) and Ted Trainer (University of NSW)

Stewart Lockie – Climate, scenario-building and governance: comprehending the temporalities of social-ecological change
Avoiding and/or adapting to dangerous socio-environmental transformation requires us to engage more reflexively with the conceptual frameworks, technologies and projects through which we attempt to grasp the temporal dynamics of Earth-system processes. This paper thus argues for a shift in focus for sociological analyses of time from the critique of modernity to the temporalities implicit in specific attempts at enacting environmental governance and the knowledge practices that inform them. Climate modelling and scenario building, for example, has proven a powerful means through which to comprehend the temporality of climate change; to bring the future into the present in order to plan responses and calculate responsibilities. The focus of IPCC assessments on scenario building has generated a sense of urgency around mitigating greenhouse gas emissions that has tended to crowd out serious attention to adaptation, other disruptions to Earth-system processes such as biodiversity loss, and the possibility that climate will change in ways that undermine predominantly market-based policy responses. Scenario-dependence contributes to a disjuncture between discourses of future climate change and peoples’ experience of adapting to an already variable climate. The challenge is to bring these temporalities together in meaningful ways and thus to avoid false choices between adaptation and mitigation.

Saskia Sassen – Delegating, not returning, to the biosphere: How to use the multi-scalar and ecological properties of cities
The aim this paper is to theorize the shifting relationship between cities and the biosphere in ways that can incorporate vanguard scientific, technical and social innovations. We specify that the city (a) generates third natures – specific new environments – such as heat islands, that today are destructive of the biosphere, and (b) that the city has systemic properties that correspond to those of the biosphere, but today are mostly flattened out of action through the ruptures that dominate today’s articulation between cities and biosphere. That is to say, our specific project agrees with the problematizing of the category ‘‘nature,’’ which pertains to our presence in the biosphere. But we do not take Harvey’s more absolute statement that the city itself is nature nor do we confine our analysis only to Latourian natures–cultures. Our analysis is less centered in the work of correcting a false binary, as is the case with both Latour and Harvey, notwithstanding their different objects of study. We focus on the complex in-between space that is the site of both the transactions between city and biosphere, as well as the site of the ruptures that characterize these transactions.

Ted Trainer – Transition to a Sustainable and Just World (Envirobook)
Ted Trainer argues that the magnitude of the global problems our society is running into is not well understood. We are far beyond sustainable levels of production and consumption and the defining condition of the coming era will be intense scarcity. In addition the global economy is extremely unjust. It delivers most of the world’s wealth to the few who live in rich countries. It follows that the present consumer-capitalist society cannot be fixed. A society based on commitment to affluent lifestyles, market systems, profit maximisation, globalisation, competition and constant growth causes the problems and must be replaced if they are to be solved. A satisfactory society must therefore be some kind of Simpler Way, centred on frugal but adequate lifestyles, mostly small and highly self-sufficient local economies under participatory local control, and nonmaterial sources of satisfaction. The Simpler Way would be a delightful liberation, enabling relaxed, secure, convivial and fulfilling lifestyles for all. Clear implications for strategy follow, which contradict most of the existing theories and campaigns pursued by people in conventional, Green and Left circles.

The Digital Revolution and New Forms of Inequality

Chair:Dan Woodman (University of Melbourne)

Participants: Andy Furlong (University of Glasgow), Brady Robards (Griffith), Mary Holmes (Flinders) and Judith Bessant (RMIT)

The contemporary world is being reshaped by the micro-chip and new digital technologies. Social networking and mobile communications offer new possibilities for sociality and community. Yet they also threaten older forms and new technologies of surveillance, such as security cameras and I.D. scanners, are eroding or reshaping existing collective meeting places. This plenary session explores how the digital revolution is reconfiguring social relations and reshaping inequality.

Revisiting utopic visions of the internet: Participation, inclusion and belonging – Brady Robards
As with most revolutions, early discussions around the ‘rise of the internet’ often fell into either utopic or dystopic predictions about how new, technologically mediated forms of sociality and online communication would shape the future of our society (Wellman 2004). It has now been two decades since early web browsers rendered the internet accessible to the everyday user (Bowker 2007), with internet access currently reaching about a third of the global population (Internet World Statistics 2011). Along with this broad adoption, many of the utopic and dystopic sentiments around identity, community, civic participation, inclusion, exclusion, privacy, safety, belonging and so on continue to feature heavily in both academic and broader popular discourses around the internet. This talk seeks to revisit some of these discourses, with a particular focus on the often ‘mundane’ or ‘everyday’ nature of the internet as a middle-ground between the utopic hype and great potential often attached to the internet, and the more sceptical dystopic assumptions about the deleterious effects new technologies have on society. In exploring this middle-ground, I will consider three examples: the ‘glocalisation’ of McLuhan’s (1962) global village through social network sites like MySpace and Facebook; the rapid expansion of distance learning or off-campus study in higher education (Dreyfus 2009); and finally, the attempts being made to engage young people in civic participation through new media (Olsson & Dahlgren 2010). In considering these examples, I will also seek to highlight how new forms of sociality often reproduce existing forms of inequality.

Emotional Reflexivity and Facebook – Mary Holmes
The popular social networking site Facebook has become a part of millions of people’s everyday lives. In order to help people navigate the friendships they form and maintain on Facebook there are many websites offering advice about etiquette. This advice, and responses to it, can help reveal how contemporary emotional expression is organised, especially as it relates to friendship. This paper critically adapts the approach of other sociologists such as Norbert Elias, and Cas Wouters who have used etiquette and advice books to explore social changes in emotionality. Using online advice about Facebook etiquette, it is argued that there is less emotional restraint within a climate of greater social equality. However, it is difficult to know how to feel and how to behave within the relational complexity of contemporary life. In particular, expanded definitions of friendship form part of this complexity which promotes and requires an ‘emotionalization of reflexivity’.

Digital capital and inequality in late modernity – Andy Furlong
Understandings of inequalities in late modernity still tend to rest on an assumption that various capitals (economic, social, human, cultural etc.) represent key resources that underpin life chances. Such theories usually incorporate the idea that possession of various forms of knowledge and capacity, as well as key credentials, provide individuals with a set of resources that result in market advantage and forms of social distinction. Modern perspectives also tend to regard soft skills, especially those relating to forms of life management skills, as an important resource. Use of, and familiarity with, ICT is also frequently portrayed as a resource in late modernity and is often treated as a form of capital which can provide socio-economic advantages. In this paper I will examine the relationship between digital capital and inequalities in late modernity. In particular I consider the evidence for linking socio-economic advantages to digital capital and explore the extent to which the digital revolution has changed, and is capable of changing, patterns of inequality.

‘Digital Natives Meet the Colonial Impulse’: The Web and New Inter-Generational Politics – Judith Bessant
The rise of democratic movements since 2010 in authoritarian states like Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya has reignited discussion about the political significance of digital space. Some of that discussion draws on a considerable body of empirical and theoretical work addressing the relationship of the Net to the ‘public sphere’ and deliberative democracy. Yet far less attention has been given to the democratising potential of digital technology in institutions like schools and universities in which many young people now find themselves. On the face of it this seems a little inconsistent given that it a declared key objective of educational institutions in a liberal society is to strengthen civil society. We tell ourselves this is achieved by encouraging young people to become critical and reflexive citizens. However, as Nussbaum argued too many educational institutions are now preoccupied with ‘education for profit or for economic growth’ and are proving far less attentive to any public interest in critical inquiry or democratic practice. There is a case that too many schools and universities are authoritarian spaces which restrain the free flow of information and restrict deliberative practices to avoid critics to contest their exercise of power. With this in mind I assess the capacity the new digital technology in the hands of young people has for democratising schools and universities. In this context and given that young people are among the most energetic creators and users of the new digital media I ask a number of questions. Does the digital space constitute a new public sphere? If the new space can be understood as a public sphere, how are young people using the Net especially in relation to their experience of schools and universities? How is politics and power now being exercised in this digital space? I begin by outlining the central features of Habermas’s conception of the public sphere then discuss the place of young people in the modern public sphere before turning to establish what the Net offers as political space. This is followed by an analysis of the Net to establish in what ways it is a public sphere creating opportunities for young people to engage in political action. I use three case studies to explore some of the new politics and the reactions of more traditionally oriented players.

Gender and Work

Chair: Pam Nilan (University of Newcastle)

Participants: Johanna Wyn (University of Melbourne), Barbara Pocock (University of South Australia) and Sue Goodwin (University of Sydney)/Kate Huppatz (University of Western Sydney)

How does education work for young women in the labour market? – Johanna Wyn
The topic of gender and work raises an anomaly in the sociology of youth. Over the last two decades, the pattern for young women to engage with education (secondary, post-secondary and tertiary) more effectively than young men explored, celebrated by youth researchers. It has become normative for young people to participate in post-secondary education. Youth researchers have, of necessity, tended to focus on young people’s lives during these years of education (lasting well into their mid-twenties). I argue that the conflation of these ‘education years’ with ‘youth’ have created what Kehilly and Nayak’s describe as ‘the fuschia-pink hue of late modernity’, through which young women are seen as agentic, the hope for the future and the bearers of a new gender equality. Drawing on longitudinal research and utilising Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and field, I explore the disjuncture between the fields of education and work for young women. I argue that although women place greater reliance on educational credentials to ensure their livelihoods, they receive less benefit from their education than their male peers in workplaces.

The changing nature of work in Australia and its social location and consequences
Barbara Pocock
This contribution will reflect upon current patterns of employment in Australia and their particular implications for men, women and children. The social consequences and context of the changing labour market reflect the imprint of long established, and constantly modified, gender contracts. The growing participation of women in paid work, with little change in gendered patterns of unpaid work on the domestic front, means that workers are increasingly living in conflicting forms of time – whether ‘clock’ or ‘care’ time. This has implications for the impact that work has on workers of all kinds. Growth in employment participation also has consequences for children across the socio-economic spectrum, whether living in parentally-time-poor and/or income-poor households. This contribution will draw on the theoretical and empirical work conducted at the Centre for Work + Life in recent years.

Gender as Capital: explaining masculinised and feminised work – Sue Goodwin and Kate Huppatz
Australia features a highly gender segregated workforce where certain occupations appear to privilege particular gendered bodies and dispositions. This paper attempts to explain gender exclusivity in certain types of work through the appropriation of Bourdieu’s concept ‘capital’. Drawing on qualitative research with men and women who engage in paid ‘caring’ work, retail work, exotic dancing and construction work we provide examples of how gendered bodies and dispositions are cultivated and traded as currency – as masculine, feminine, male and female capitals – within fields of gendered work. In doing so, we expand the work of feminist–Bourdieusian scholars who have reworked Bourdieu’s approach so that gender, as well as class, may be conceptualised as a central form of stratification in the social order. We argue that our research shows that Bourdieu’s theoretical concepts are relevant for understanding classed and gendered identities and practices, and their interrelationships.

Social Scientist and Diagnostician of the Times: Daniel Bell in Memoriam

Chair: Dr Craig Browne, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney

Panelists: Professor Peter Beilharz (La Trobe), Dr Eduardo de la Fuente (Flinders University), Associate Professor Peter Murphy (Monash), Professor Jan Pakulski (University of Tasmania)

It seems appropriate at a meeting of professional sociologists to commemorate the passing on the 25th of January, 2011, of one of the greats of 20th century social science – Daniel Bell. However, Bell resists easy categorization; and was more ‘public intellectual’ than ‘academic specialist’. While he held positions at the University of Chicago and Columbia, before spending his last two decades as Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard University, he also spent much of his intellectual working life associated with magazines such as The New Leader, Fortune and The Public Interest.

Like many Jewish-American intellectuals of his generation, he held complex political and social views. While he was often pigeon-holed as a ‘neo-conservative’, he claimed in the 1978 ‘Foreword’ to The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism that his own views – like those of Peter Berger, Edward Shils and Phillip Rieff – transcended the ‘received categories’ of liberal, radical or conservative. If such categories were necessary at all, Bell said he was comfortable with the following descriptors: ‘a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics and a conservative in culture’.

But what is the legacy of this complex figure? Should he be remembered for his evocative analyses of the zeitgeist through concepts such ‘post-industrialism’, the ‘end of ideology’ or the famous formulation of capitalism as caught in ‘cultural contradictions’ between work and consumption? And, how do we square the ‘grand’ or macro sociological pronouncements with the fact that, stylistically, Bell was more essayist than systematic thinker; an author who, arguably, never relinquished the style of thinking and writing associated with intellectual magazines rather than academic publications? Was Cesar Graña correct in describing him as ‘a thinker, a thought-man, a penseur… a muller over things significant’ who could nonetheless capture ‘moods, tempers’ and the ‘spontaneous social artistry of history’? In short, was Bell an exemplary exponent of the sociological imagination?

Life without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies

Participants: Ariel Salleh (University of Sydney), Terry Leahy (University of Newcastle) and Anitra Nelson (RMIT).

In this plenary, three of the ten contributors (including a co-editor), will speak to themes raised in the collection Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies (Pluto Press, London, 2011). The main argument of the book is that we need to dispense with monetary values and relations in order to achieve democratic and meaningful relationships with one another and a sustainable dynamic with nature. Anitra Nelson will introduce the key arguments against money by referring to the work of a founder of sociology, Karl Marx, and briefly outline the local and global networks of a utopian ‘compact society’. Terry Leahy will offer an anarchist analysis and a vision of an alternative ‘gift economy’, as well as strategies for achieving it. Drawing on environmental ethics and ecopolitics, Ariel Salleh will argue for learning from existing social groupings who model the eco-socialist skills needed for a ‘synergistic economy’.

Anitra Nelson
Many current movements offering alternatives to global capitalist trading and relations suggest using new forms of money or pricing. Examples include labour exchange trading systems (LETS), local currencies, Fair Trade and environmental pricing, such as a ‘carbon price’. The ten contributors to Life Without Money (2011, Pluto Press, London) all argue that we must dispense with money per se to achieve democratic and sustainable relations with one another and with nature. This presentation outlines the key arguments and themes in Life Without Money and sketches a utopian ‘compact society’ inspired by community-based forward planning, collective sufficiency and non-monetary exchange networks.

Anitra Nelson is Associate Professor in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at RMIT University (Australia), is an expert on Marx’s theory of money (Marx’s Concept of Money: the God of Commodities, 1999) and community-based sustainability (editor of Steering Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: Policy, Practice and Performance, 2007).

Terry Leahy
Given the urgency of the environmental crisis, how can we propose a completely new way of organizing society? I suggest four ways in which we might actually arrive at a gift economy. One route is that of the ‘classic’ revolution. A second is by parliamentary decree. In the third scenario, an avalanche of hybrids of capitalism and the gift economy terminates capitalism. In the last, a social consensus to save civilization enacts a set of measures that bring about a de facto replacement of capitalism by the gift economy.

Terry Leahy is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Newcastle (Australia), teaches and publishes work on food, agriculture, permaculture, a gift economy and anarchism. Recent publications focus on the global environmental crisis and strategies for sustainable agriculture and food security in developing countries.

Ariel Salleh
As capitalism breaks down the humanity-nature metabolism, it becomes essential to integrate worker, women’s, peasant, indigenous, and ecological politics. An alternative eco-socialist future can only be built with the broadest possible citizen base. Moreover, in this process, sociological understandings of labour and value that evolved with industrialisation will be reconfigured. Already practiced by a global majority, models of regenerative labour and the synergistic rationality of ‘buen vivir’ are direct routes to social justice, cultural autonomy, and eco-sufficiency. As the peasants of Oaxaca (Mexico) say: He who is richer is not the one who has more, but the one who needs less.

Ariel Salleh is Associate Professor in Political Economy at the University of Sydney (Australia). She is widely published in eco-political thought including Ecofeminism as Politics (1997), Eco-Sufficiency & Global Justice (2009), and many articles — http://www.arielsalleh.info.

Southern Theory: New Knowledge Speaking Back to the Mainstream

Discussant: Raewyn Connell

The challenge of Raewyn Connell’s Southern Theory is the possibility of knowledge production beyond metropolitan perspectives and the possibility of de-privileging forms of knowledge emanating from urban centres. The problem is not just the imperialising capacity of knowledge production in the Northern metropolis, but the capacity of educational institutions to identify, stimulate, and open up alternative practices of knowledge production. Consideration of this problematic requires reconsideration of the role and practice of education and research for social justice and democracy. This panel includes case studies and research that document and engage with de-territorialising knowledge in a broad range of spheres and spaces. Contributions will speak back to mainstream understandings of knowledge and pedagogy to illuminate and traverse the boundaries and contexts of Northern theory.

Fran Collyer, University of Sydney
The Core-Periphery Relations of Knowledge Production
Drawing on a comparison of journal articles from sociologists in Australia and the United Kingdom, a content analysis shows the system of knowledge production in sociology to be defined by core-periphery relations. These shape the content of sociological work in both countries, impacting on citation patterns, the extent to which sociologists engage in inter-country collaboration, their use of local reference material, and the quantity of comparative work they undertake. It is clear from these patterns that sociologists in Australia have a different research orientation to those in the United Kingdom. Essentially, Australian sociologists look ‘outward’, citing the materials of the ‘core’ countries and seeking forms of collaboration, while those in the United Kingdom look inward, citing their own materials, focusing on local interests, and collaborating only within the national setting. Sociologists in the United Kingdom thus display the characteristic relations of a ‘core’ country, while Australians are clearly of the periphery. Shifting the analysis to the system of knowledge production within Australia, similar core-periphery relations are evident between the resource-rich metropolitan and lesser resourced regional universities. Although the overall orientation for sociologists in Australia is outward toward the ‘core’ countries for materials, subject matter and forms of collaboration; relative to the regional universities, sociologists in the resource-rich universities of the cities are oriented ‘inward’, while those in the regions are ‘outward’. This local pattern replicates the core-periphery relations of the global system, suggesting the privileging of knowledge production in the metropole is firmly embedded within our own work practices.

Terri Seddon, Monash University
Spatialising the sociology of teaching: Territorialising ‘educational work’
The sociology of teaching developed as a sub-field of UK and US sociology of education through the second half of the 20th century. It offered a sociological analysis of teaching within methodological nationalist frames defined by the sociology of education, which prioritised questions about social inequality and examined the way school education did and could ameliorate inequalities. By implication teachers, the workforce whose job was to realise schooling, were positioned as social actors with the capacity to make a difference to social inequality through their teaching. Yet since the 1980s this discourse of teaching for social justice has been de-anchored by the effects of globalisation and the fragmentation of sociology of education research discourses as researchers attempt to make sense of contemporary education reforms. This paper problematises the sociology of teaching in terms of its spatial assumptions by tracking the methodological framing of research in key texts on teachers’ work. This review highlights persistent preoccupations with national school systems in this sociology of education discourse. It also reveals discourses within disciplinary sociology, which offer ways of reframing the sociology of teaching in more explicitly spatialised ways. I argue for the concept of ‘educational work’ as a way of (a) disconnecting the concept of ‘teaching’ from forms of labour that dominated 20th century modernist education organised through schools and national education systems; and (b) theorising the labour that enables learning across diverse contemporary learning spaces, which include familiar educational workplaces (schools, universities and vocational colleges), and also industry workplaces, community settings, transnational places and electronically mediated ‘borderless’ spaces.

Stephen Castles, University of Sydney
Contesting Privileged Knowledge on Migration, Development and Human Rights
Governments, international agencies and mainstream academics claim that migration from less-developed countries (LDCs) to the rich economies of the Global North is beneficial to the development of the origin areas. To contest this one-sided and northern-dominated knowledge a group of mainly Latin American social scientists has put forward a proposal to establish a new conceptual framework and set of strategic indicators to assess the links between migration, development and human rights. These academics are working closely with the migrant associations and civil society organisations that have combined to form the People’s Global Alliance on Migration Development and Human Rights (PGA). The initiative was presented in a discussion paper at the PGA meeting in Mexico City in October 2010. The authors argue that the near monopoly of information and analysis on these issues by destination-country governments, think tanks and academics has led to a skewed debate and a one-sided collection of data that leaves out many of the effects of international migration on sending and receiving countries. The dominant discourse emphasises the costs of migration (especially of low-skilled workers) for destination countries in terms of threats to security and the undermining of national identity and social cohesion. It also claims that origin countries benefit considerably through remittances and technology transfer. This discourse generally says little about the big economic gains made by destination countries. Above all, the human costs to migrants, their families and their communities are often ignored. The alternative model will give equal weight to four analytical dimensions: causes of migration; impacts on migrants and their families; impacts on countries of origin; and impacts on countries of destination. For each dimension, the paper suggests a set of key factors to be investigated, and for each key factor, a set of indicators. The challenge now is to work with UN agencies and statistical offices to produce the necessary data to make it possible to construct indices (analogous to the Human Development Index) on each dimension. For this purpose an international meeting is to be held in Bellagio, Italy in November 2011, where CSOs, critical academics and representative of UN agencies, the World Bank and other relevant organisations will be present.

Helen Meekosha, University of New South Wales
Human Rights and the Global South: the case of disability
We seek to examine the politics of human rights and disability in light of the recent United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which has been central to the struggle for recognition of disabled people. Northern discourses of disability rights have strongly influenced the UNCRPD. Meanwhile scholars from the global South have criticised the human rights discourse as being universalist, serving the economic interests of the global North, and concealing different forms of Southern emancipatory struggles. We argue many of the everyday experiences of disabled people in the global South lie outside the reach of human rights instruments. So we ask what, if anything, can these instruments contribute to the struggle for disability justice in the South? While Northern discourses promote an examination of disabled bodies in social dynamics, we argue that the politics of impairment in the global South must understand social dynamics in bodies.

Julie Matthews, University of Southern Queensland
On the (im)possibility of Northern Education for Environmental Sustainability
This presentation is concerned with the possibility of embedding subjugated Southern theory and knowledge into the educational approaches of the global North concerned with environmental sustainability. Postcolonial scholarship points to the impossibility of such a project arguing that cultures and knowledge have been so thoroughly worked over by colonialism that it is not possible to de-privilege dominant forms, or indeed to locate, replace and/or supplement them with alternative practices of knowledge production. A certain violence of the imaginary can be said to constitute the very nature of disciplinarity. Boundary demarcations, disputes and naming practices work through familiar fields like geography, history, philosophy, literary studies and so on. The Orient makes its truth through knowledge and representation. There is no solution but to deploy critical and deconstructive strategies, which reveal and subvert hegemony; to further hybridise what can already be exposed as hybrid. However, these revisionary practices grapple with a related politics of an education system captured by neoliberal imperatives, interests, values and vocabulary; where revision and reform are increasingly re-appropriated and governmentalised. Connell recognises that the problem is one of authority, exclusion, inclusion and hegemony and that privileged claims to universal knowledge are likely to serve hegemony not liberation? (2010: x). Nevertheless she points to a more hopeful possibility of rethinking the role of the land in social science, and/or the epistemological and methodological connection of the social sciences to science. This paper examines the apparent (im)possibility of such a proposal for education for environmental sustainability.

Opening up the question of sociality: Embodiment, truth, time, and the human

Rebecca Oxley – “Attending to fathers with postnatal depression: Lived embodiment and a culture of hormones”.

Even with a number of studies on fathers with PND beginning to ‘emerge from the wings’ there appears to be few detailing biological factors of this experience, leading to an emphasis on the psycho-social genesis of their suffering. This is despite awareness of paternal perinatal hormonal variations, and somewhat due to high positive correlations of maternal to paternal perinatal depression. Appealing towards Williams’ (2000) ‘full-bodied’ approach to ‘mental’ health and utilising Cscordas’ (1993) ‘somatic modes of attention’ in a quasi-metaphorical manner (focusing less on ‘sensations’ than bodily intra-actions), this paper aims to ‘flesh-out’ a lived embodiment of PND that details the entanglement of dualisms such as nature/culture and local/global: The possibility arises for a ‘culture’ of hormones. Drawing upon examples of couvade and contemporary debates on empathy/compathy, we may sense that aspects of fathers PND (such as hormones) may be understood as culturally-elaborated and bio-graphically attuned ways of attending to and with the body entangled with the embodied presence of others. This also calls for ways to conceptualise perception and inter-subjectivity within phenomenological studies that acknowledges that while lived depressive experiences may be communicable in silence (in ‘chaos’), the corporealities of PND may also be lived, expressed, in the flesh.

Will Johncock – “Time and transcendence: The objectivity of social time?”

Is the time that humans experience a universal, objective mechanism, exterior to the sensible realm? Time’s objectivity seemingly ensures cohesive social function, ostensibly conditioning agreement upon when something like a 9 o’clock meeting occurs. In this regard, classical sociology observes how societies arrange subjects by integrating all activities into an impersonal time schedule. However, does this imply that time must pre – exist the myriad social arrangements and temporal representations which abide by time’s regularity? That is, do social relations only synchronise due to their adherence to an anterior, globalised time, which functions outside human interference? What is at stake is the nexus between : (i) the apparent objectivity of a universal, global temporality, and; (ii) the particularity of time for the socially situated subject. The objectivity of something like a Newtonian model of universal time can explain shared, social coherence. However, a subjective model of time as posited by Saint Augustine, places humans, whose arrangements constitute the social, at the heart of temporal production, and therefore arguably of social time. The tension between these accounts will be explored via an engagement with Merleau-Pontian phenomenology, in order to argue that social time emerges with, rather than is imposed upon, the subject.

Ash Barnwell – “Social authorship and identity imposture: Exploring the division of emotional and verifiable truth in the case of the Stolen Valour Act”

Whenever an imposture or an identity hoax is reported in the popular media, social anxiety and conjecture arise around who has the right to claim particular life-stories. Examining one instance of this social phenomenon, this paper will discuss what is at stake in the Stolen Valour Act, a law the United States government passed in 2005 to prosecute people fraudulently claiming to be decorated war veterans. This case presents various, opposing positions on the efficacy of investing only some people with the right to claim particular identities, and the narratives that anchor them. There are certain stories, such as military service that we do not wish to see stylised, and thus legally protect. But is the exclusivity of this narrative truly in the interest of veterans, or the wider public? What happens to those people who feel that their life narratives are not of social value as a consequence of our selective affirmation? This paper will explore the complex social complicity involved in the authorship of such imposture, and the ethical contestation between emotional and verifiable truth that occurs in public culture.

Florence Chiew – “What is (or was) humanism so that posthumanism can be something else?”

The empirical complexity of the human spirit, of what constitutes agency, motive, and contact, are questions that lie at the heart of sociology. Yet, the growing currency of posthumanist aversions toward humanist ethics has not only called into question humanity’s place in the ecological order, but also unsettled many of the traditional hallmarks of human ability: language, consciousness, reason, technology. Posthumanism’s critical leverage rests on reconceptualising the limiting conditions of identity by extending these indicators of ability to, for example, animals, the disabled, or the environment. The political possibility suggested in this line of reasoning is to secure a more inclusive view of ‘who’ deserves ethical treatment. However, because the discriminations between humans and nonhumans are not questioned, the notion of a self-contained ‘human’ is often left unchanged. This paper argues that posthumanism’s intervention is grounded in an assumption that violation or marginalisation is incidental to rather than present as existential and systemic complexities of the life of the socius. By way of a case study of Ben Underwood, the blind teenager who navigates his surroundings through echolocation, this paper proposes an ecological ethics of a reconfigured humanism, one that opens up the ontological horizon of agency in a way that contests notions of ability as either ‘exceptional’ or ‘deficient’. In this reading, identity is an ecological entanglement of which the human is an instantiation.

What can sociological approaches contribute to bushfire research?

Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre

Chair: Dr Meagan Tyler (RMIT University)

Participants: Professor Peter Fairbrother (RMIT), Dr Richard Phillips (RMIT), Dr Susan Chaplin (RMIT) and Dr Blythe McLennan (RMIT)

Richard Phillips, Dr Sue Chaplin, Prof Peter Fairbrother, Dr Keith Toh, Dr Meagan Tyler
A Tale of Two C.I.T.I.E.S: bushfire preparedness in two rural localities in Tasmania and Victoria
Increasingly state governments and emergency services are emphasising community engagement to promote disaster resilience. It has also been suggested that strong networks and well planned communication and engagement strategies increase the capacity of communities to prepare for bushfires. Using a sociological approach, the Bushfire CRC study: ‘Effective communication: bushfire and communities is exploring a range of ideas including: community, community engagement, bushfire preparedness and shared responsibility. More specifically preliminary findings from focus groups conducted in two rural areas in Tasmania and Victoria will be discussed. Focus group transcripts were analysed for commonalities and differences. A number of key observations were made. Firstly, both townships were characterised by the participants as being at risk of bushfires. Se condly, participants in Denby emphasised barriers to bushfire preparedness more than participants from St. Annes. Thirdly, there were differences in how effective local institutions were perceived and respected. Overall participants from St Annes were more positive about local agencies. Fourthly, both focus groups referred to accessing bushfire-related information from similar sources, including environmental cues. Lastly, participants from Denby portrayed the township as being unprepared for bushfire in contrast to St Annes. Data from these focus groups demonstrate how understanding the local context is important for devising effective communication strategies.

Blythe McLennan
Formal institutions and social capital in community bushfire safety: a missing research agenda?
There is an important and largely unfilled role for social theorists in the field of community bushfire safety in Australia. Since the 1990s, the fire and emergency management sector has emphasised that its agencies cannot be held solely responsible for community bushfire safety. Rather, communities also need to share this responsibility. However, the Victorian 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission clearly showed that negotiating responsibilities with communities is a persistent challenge that continues to plague the sector, with sometimes tragic consequences. This paper argues that greater engagement with social theory is required to unpack the challenges for sharing responsibility in this field. In particular, there is a need to critically examine the relationships and interactions between formal disaster management institutions on one hand, and social capital and community resilience on the other. The main focus of this paper is o n what social theory can contribute to the field of community bushfire safety. However, it also considers how social capital theory might, through engagement with this field, be extended in an area it has been criticised for under-theorizing: this is the way that formal institutions may build or destroy social capital under different conditions.

Peter Fairbrother and Meagan Tyler
Putting Gender on the Bushfire Research Agenda
The concept of gender is now firmly established as an important part of sociological analysis. While a gendered analysis is now often taken up in other social science disciplines, from criminology to international political economy, gender remains largely invisible in literature and policy dealing with emergency management. The absence of gender is particularly evident with regard to Australian research and literature dealing with bushfire emergencies. This paper draws on two major areas of literature that are likely to provide the most suitable frameworks for applying a gendered analysis to bushfire events in Australia. The first is the critical, international literature on gender and disaster, which is still rather limited in volume but does have strong conceptual grounding. The second is literature on gender and rurality which is fed by the disciplines of rural sociology and gender studies. Both are relatively new areas of academic interest and this paper will suggest several areas which would be suitable for future research.

Pandemic Influenza: People, Policy and Science

Participants:Dr Niamh Stephenson (UNSW), Dr Mark Davis (Monash University), Casimir MacGregor (University of New South Wales), Davina Lohm (Monash University).

Mark Davis
Living ‘post-pandemic’ and responding to influenza
On the 10 August 2010, the WHO’s Director General declared that the world was ‘post -pandemic’. Technically, the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic had come to an end, though some transmission and genetic mixing with other influenza viruses would continue. The world was also encouraged to be alert for the next influenza emergency. What then does it mean to be ‘post -pandemic’? What can the 2009 outbreak teach us about social responses to pandemics? This paper reflects on what can be learned about influenza pandemics with reference to the ‘flu stories’ of older people, women who were pregnant during 2009, immuno-comprised people and the ‘healthy’; all from Melbourne and Sydney. While interviewees endorsed sneezing and coughing etiquette, influenza was seen to be regular, ‘nasty’, ‘fuzzy’, and not absolutely avoidable. Influenza was therefore addressed through ‘flu-coping’ bodies, minds and relationships with others. Interviewees combined past experiences with influenza and other infectious diseases, biomedical knowledge of immunity, hygiene and vaccines and their own social and medical circumstances to fashion strategies that advantageously positioned their health with regard to influenza. I will reflect on what such strategies of ‘flu-coping’ imply for global and national efforts to manage infectious disease outbreaks.

Niamh Stephenson
The splintering of public health’s public in pandemic preparedness efforts: How human rights approaches work with the securitisation of health
Social research tells us that successful infectious disease prevention often works by fostering commonalities between people irrespective of identity. But something else is happening in regards to pandemic influenza. Our interview data suggests that the “vulnerable” groups designated in Australian pandemic preparedness plans are quite engaged with public health efforts but they often voice a sense of isolation from “healthy others”. In contrast, whilst being reasonably well informed, “healthy others” often exude boredom about pandemic influenza. Rather than see this splintering of the public into vulnerable groups as evidence of public health’s success in managing public engagement, I approach it as a troubling dimension of the securitisation of public health evident in pandemic preparedness. Public health’s turn to “vulnerability” can be understood as part of the effort t o insert a human rights agenda into public health. However, vulnerability has not proved to be a vehicle for foregrounding people’s active engagement with health concerns. Rather it is an approach that juxtaposes some people’s ‘weaknesses’ with the capacities of strong public health agents). Thus, I consider how a Human Rights approach to public health is, in this instance fitting hand in glove with the securitisation of health, and arguably extending the practice of public health’s top-down attempts to regulate its public.

Casimir MacGregor
Hope in a Time of Uncertainty: Public Engagement with Science, Ontological Security and the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic in Australia.
This paper examines an unexpected turning in the public’s engagement with scientific uncertainty during the H1N1/ 09 virus in Australia. It is typically argued in the sociological literature and the media that emerging scientific technologies, such as human embryonic stem cell research and genetic engineering challenge the public’s ontological security. However, public responses about their experiences of pandemic influenza which were collected by interviews in Sydney and Melbourne show a different pattern. In particular, the public discourse about the H1N1/09 vaccine mentions widespread criticism about it being fast-tracked and some related concerns regarding its scientific effectiveness. I suggest that – contrary to the typical scientific uncertainty equals ontological insecurity argument – the vaccine was taken up by these subjects who did do it because it offered one means of combating the greater uncertainties of pandemics and related hype and fear-mongering. I will reflect on such relative uncertainties and implications for how we understand public engagements with scientific knowledge and technologies in a time of a pandemic outbreak.

Davina Lohm
‘Soldier on’ or surrender? Military discourse and its dilemmas for Australians responding to influenza
This paper examines how Australians navigate the dilemmas posed by contradictory messages about how to respond to influenza. Prevailing medical advice is that those with seasonal influenza should rest and recover and avoid infecting others. During the 2009 H1N1 (Swine) flu outbreak authorities encouraged social isolation of the infected and quarantine of their contacts as part of the national public health emergency response. Public advertising at the time encouraged hygiene measures to limit the spread of the virus. However, workplace and economic pressures encourage people to ‘soldier on’ through their illness. Pharmaceutical companies, similarly, promote products that help people work while they are unwell or help them get back to work as quickly as possible. The dilemmas posed by these multiple and somewhat contradictory messages are explored in relation to in-depth interviews with women who were pregnant in 2009, older members of the community, those with compromised immune systems and the healthy. A key theme will be the strategies interviewees adopted to help reconcile conflicting medical, workplace and advertising uses of militaristic discourse about how one can and should respond to the outbreak of influenza.

Doing the Right Thing: Ethics, justice and inclusion in the teaching of sociology

Chair: Dr Kirsten Harley (University of Sydney)

Participants: Dr Sue Rechter, (Australian Catholic University); Sharon Quah, (University of Sydney) and Dr Kristin Natalier, (University of Tasmania).

Universities simultaneously hold the promise of social justice and equality and exclude or marginalise those groups who are disadvantaged in other social spheres and institutions. This is true for both students and educators. This tension is perhaps more easily critiqued in the abstract than managed in the day to day teaching of sociology in the post-Dawkins, post-Bradley, individualized world of higher education. Reflexive, theorised, practical and honest accounts of how we as sociologists and teachers define and incorporate ‘the right thing’ are necessary to explore the possibilities of negotiation, disruption and accommodation of this tension. This panel session presents such accounts.

Dr Sue Rechter,
Doing the right thing by ourselves
Abstract: Teaching sociology always involves us in ethical questions, and the importance of these is heightened by the fact that most of our students are young, and the state of the world and of their souls are pressing in a very real sense. Students, teachers and researchers are engaging with these questions in universities which increasingly represent themselves as committed to equity, inclusiveness , social justice and ethical practice. Yet it is also true that increasingly teachers and researchers in universities are working under exploitative (unjust) workload policies and in what we very often acknowledge are ‘toxic’ institutional cultures. This ‘hidden curriculum’ makes our discussion with students about questions of ethical and just social behaviours and arrangements, and our articulation of official university policies about justice, problematic. This paper explores some ways of speaking about, understanding and calling to account unjust and unethical institutional cultures in universities which marginalise and demoralise the teachers who have the job of ‘doing the right thing’ by their students.

Sharon Quah,
“Students should not be disadvantaged”: Maintaining equity in teaching from a casual tutor’s perspective
Abstract: This presentation is organised around a casual tutor’s teaching experiences in maintaining equity in the classroom such that students will not be disadvantaged or short-changed during their learning experiences. Recognising the importance of treating students consistently and fairly and ensuring students have equal access to learning opportunities and resources, effective teaching strategies and practices are employed to achieve these aims. This presentation will discuss the various teaching techniques used to maintain equity in teaching, and limitations and difficulties faced by a casual tutor in carrying out these teaching practices. The presenter will illustrate with real life examples based on her own teaching experiences.

Kristin Natalier
Developing ethical sociologists through undergraduate teaching
Abstract: Ethical conduct is a core and sometimes contested element of sociological identity and practice but the parameters of debate exclude key groups and context. Our current disciplinary thinking and debate primarily addresses ethical conduct by researchers located within the Academy, with an emphasis on how sociologists negotiate formal institutional requirements and relationships in the field. Relatedly, there is an expectation that ethical research practices are developed through research higher degrees – they are learned in the doing. But sociology also happens outside of the Academy, and it is practiced by people whose sociological training ended at the undergraduate level and whose identities intersect with – and may be trumped by – other professional identities. This paper is a response to the likely career outcomes of sociology students, the move to articulate standards for sociology at the undergraduate level, and the absence of broader discussions of the explication of sociology ethics in undergraduate units. It explores the question: what is the fit between ethics and sociology beyond research practice?

Music and Memory

Chairperson:Nick Osbaldiston

This panel will explore different aspects of how popular culture becomes part of the memories of individuals and societies. Using case studies such as the Sharpie subculture and Manchester band Joy Division, it will look at how sociological approaches to memory can help us to understand how the past is constructed and what we remember.

Participants: Andy Bennett (Griffith Centre for Cultural Research)
Popular music and cultural memory

In sociological research on popular music, there is an emerging focus on the generational impact of popular music and the extent to which questions of value, authenticity and transcendence, as these coalesce around musical practices and resources, are becoming tied to collective articulations of cultural memory. As research across a variety of popular music genres in specific local and national contexts is beginning to reveal, ageing and biography, together with associated processes of remembering and critical reflection, must now be considered key elements in an analysis and interpretation of popular music’s social and cultural meaning. Long-term cultural investment in particular musical genres by ageing audiences, together with their re-presentation via the lens of cultural memory, is now articulated in a variety of ways, manifesting itself at both the institutional level of the cultural industries and in mundane, everyday practice. Drawing on the preliminary findings of an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded, three-year, five-country project, this paper outlines an approach to the sociological study of popular music applying the conceptual framework of cultural memory and considers the value of such an approach in mapping forms of musical attachment grounded in generationally embedded practices of remembering.

Alastair Greig (Australian National University) and Catherine Strong (Charles Sturt University)
“But I remember when we were young”: Joy Division and contested cultural memory

Rather than being connected to any inherent ‘greatness’ or talent, the establishment of a band or artist’s place in cultural memory depends on a variety of factors. These include the type of audience the band attracts; the extent to which their cause has been championed by cultural gatekeepers such as critics and those with power to construct the official account of the past; and the uses that audiences and commentators can make of the meanings associated with them. Manchester band Joy Division provides a useful case study of how such cultural memory is constructed. While the reputation and public awareness they hold have increased over time, there has also been increased contestation over the meanings and legacy of the band. This paper will explore the many different accounts of Joy Division’s short career that have emerged in the years since their demise, including biographies, films and documentaries. These accounts help to raise the band’s profile, but also produce competing representations that must be then negotiated by audiences and those producing their own versions of the band. The increasingly blurred lines between ‘fact’ and fiction, and history and memory in these accounts will also be discussed.

Clinton Walker (Thesis Eleven Centre)
Run Out of Rooms

In January 2010, when iconic Melbourne rock venue the Tote Hotel was forced to close down due to undue pressure from Victorian Liquor Licensing, it prompted a reaction that Ben Eltham, on the Crikey.com website, called the year’s “most significant event in cultural policy.” Twenty thousand Melbourne music-lovers took to the streets to march in protest at what they saw as prejudicial treatment finally going too far. Australian contemporary music has long punched way above its weight. It’s true that over the last two decades, the growth area in live music has been the booming festival circuit, but it’s equally true that the musical life-cycle begins and ends in the small rooms, the pubs and cafes like the Tote, that are dotted all over our cites, and it’s these venues that are the most vulnerable. Drawing from a larger work in progress due to be published by Currency House next year as a volume its Platform Papers series of Quarterly Essays on the Performing Arts, this paper will argue that if this once-thriving live circuit is destroyed, the link between music and memory, in the future, will only be all the weaker. It will outline: the reasons why live music is valuable; how it has become entrenched in the culture; how and why it is threatened; and how it might be encouraged to stay alive.

Peter Beilharz (La Trobe University) and Sian Supski (Monash University)
So Sharp You Could Bleed: Sharpies and Visual Culture

Melbourne’s counterculture happened in the sixties, but in some ways came to fruition into the seventies. The Sharpies were a network of Melbourne gangs, characterised by Italian fashion, ‘sharp’ looks, fierce music, and high levels of violence on tribal grounds and directed at outgroups like hippies. This paper uses the work of two major period artists to carry this narrative and open some questions that follow. The first is Lobby Loyde, godfather of Australian rock guitar, whose band Coloured Balls were appropriated by the Sharpies. The second is Carol Jerrems, a photographer of extraordinary power and capacity to connect, whose work came to intersect with Sharpies in intriguing ways. How did this moment come to be?

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