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Thematic Groups

TASA Executive introduced Thematic Groups (TG) in 2005. The groups are designed to facilitate communication and collaboration between TASA members working in similar areas. They are also intended to provide a vehicle for the organisation of the annual conferences. Since 2005 thirty Thematic Groups have been established with 27 groups currently in operation. More information about the Executive’s original discussion and design of TGs can be found in Nexus March 2005 (Vol. 17, No. 1.). To access information about current Thematic Groups, please click on the ‘Established Groups’ tab in the sub menu on the right hand side of this page. Alternatively, click here.

The aims of Thematic Groups:

The aims of TGs are to:

  • build discipline depth and support the development of emerging areas of sociological inquiry;
  • facilitate communication and collaboration between members working in similar areas; and
  • provide a basis for streams within conference programs.

To support these aims, TASA will:

  • have a designated concurrent time slot at the annual conference for TG members to come together;
  • provide a presence on TASAweb (see individual TG pages) and offer interested groups a TASAweb sub-site (for example, see Cultural Sociology; Gender and Sexualities; Sociology of Economic Life; and Sociology of Emotions & Affect);
  • provide two rounds of competitive funding per year to support TG activities;
  • formally recognise each TG for a period of three years (groups can then be reformed or restructured where appropriate, or disestablished);
  • encourage new areas of disciplinary inquiry; and
  • to establish new TGs (when and where possible) (see 1 Terms of Reference).

Code of Conduct

In late 2017, TASA’s Executive introduced a Code of Conduct that outlines a set of behaviours and practices expected of TASA members when in an official role in carrying out the functions and tasks associated with that role. Convening a thematic group is classed as an official TASA role. The Code of Conduct can be accessed here.

TG Conveners’ Manual & Flyer

In 2015, Karen Soldatic created a electronic manual for thematic group conveners. The TG Convener Manual (402kb) has be updated several times since with the latest version being August 2019. Conveners are encouraged to email suggested changes/requirements to the Thematic Group portfolio leader for inclusion.

In 2018, Peta Cook developed a 2 page flyer to provide a brief introduction to the responsibilities of being a thematic group convener. For full information, the TG Convener’s Manual, referred to above, should be consulted.

TASA’s Media Policy can be accessed here.

TASA Executive Portfolio Leader

November 2018 / November 2020 Thematic Group Portfolio Leader

Dr Sara James






Sara James is a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne. She is a cultural sociologist whose research focuses on the changing role of work in people’s lives in an era when work is increasingly characterized by flexibility, uncertainty and precariousness. Her recent book Making a living, making a life: Work, meaning and self-identity (Routledge 2017)  draws on in-depth interviews and cultural analysis to investigate the significance of work today, with a focus on vocation and the work ethic. Sara has been a TASA member since 2013. She was co-convener of the Cultural Sociology Thematic Group from 2014 to 2016. In this time, with Dr Nicholas Hookway, Sara organised and secured funding for two member events. One of these led to the publication of a special issue of M/C Journal, facilitating publication outcomes for a number of members. Sara is also a member of the Teaching Sociology Thematic Group and in 2016 she contributed to a session at the TASA Conference Postgraduate Day on engaging teaching practices. She has co-authored two text books: Key concepts in the Humanities and Social Sciences (2018) and Sociology in Today’s World, 3rd edition (2014).

2017/2018 Thematic Group Portfolio Leader

Dr Peta Cook







Peta Cook is a Senior Lecturer of Sociology at the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts. She is a sociologist of knowledge, with a specific focus on ageing, medical science, health and illness, and identity and embodiment. Her research is primarily concerned with what forms of knowledge count and why; how this knowledge is produced; and personal mean-making and experiences of ageing, and health and illness. She has wide expertise in qualitative research methods, including interviews, focus groups, observation, discourse analysis, and photography. Experienced at sole and collaborative research, Peta frequently works in disciplinary and cross-disciplinary teams.

2015/2016 Thematic Group Portfolio Leader
Dr Karen Soldatic

Karen Soldatic colour






Karen Soldatic is the National Director of Teaching for the Centre for Social Impact based at the UNSW Australia, Kensington Campus. Karen’s research interests consolidate around the issue of disability. How is disability defined and valued in social policy? Who decides who gets what resources and how they should be distributed? And how do differing civil society actors advocate for policy change? In considering these questions, Karen’s research traverses critical issues of social categorization and practices of value-oriented identity formation, attempting to capture their ambiguity, fragility and opacity.

2013/2014 Convener
Associate Professor Grazyna Zajdow






Grazyna Zajdow is Associate Professor of Sociology at Deakin University. She teaches at all levels of sociology from first year to honours. Her research interests include the experience of living with drug and alcohol affected people and public policy related to drugs and alcohol. She also researches the experiences of older women and the paid workforce. Grazyna is also a co-editor of Arena Magazine.

Grazyna has been a TASA member for over 25 years and has previously been an executive member as well as Treasurer.

2011/2012 Convener
Associate Professor Julie Matthews





Associate Professor Julie Matthews has a background in sociology, anthropology, education, and cultural studies. Her research addresses issues of sustainability and education; cultural diversity; the education of minority, refugee and international students; diaspora, globalisation and transnationalism; critical pedagogy and postcolonial, Foucaldian and feminist theory. She is involved in the South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative (SEQ CARI) and ARC-funded projects include studies of Indigenous governance, refugee education, and reconciliation and education. She is currently Director of Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences, and teaches honours and masters research methods. She is also Associate Director of the Sustainability Research Centre. Prior to entering the university sector she was a high school teacher of Sociology, Integrated Humanities, English as a Second Language and World Studies


  • *Sociology of Economic Life (2005 – March 2019) Details are available in Word  (13kb)
  • *Work, Employment and Social Movements (2007 – March 2019) Details are available in Word (14kb)
  • * these two thematic groups merged in March 2019 to form the Sociology of Work, Labour and Economy thematic group
  • Media (2005 – early 2011) Details from the Media TASAweb page are available in Word (16.2kb) and Pdf (29.4kb) (The Media Thematic Group was revived in mid 2011)
  • Science, Technology and Knowledge ( 2008 – June 2010) Details from the Science, Technology and Knowledge TASAweb page are available in Word (113kb) and Pdf (87.8kb)
  • Mobilities (2007 – September 2010) Details from the Mobilities TASAweb page are available in Word (14kb ) and Pdf (25kb ). A 2008 Mobilities annual report can also be viewed.