Archive for category Alumni
Bethany MORGAN (1999-2011 BA, MA, PhD ) worked in the data Archive at Essex, taught in the sociology department and is now Senior Lecturer in sociology at the University of East London.
Rhiannon MORGAN (PhD, 2004) is Senior Lecturer in Political Sociology, Oxford Brookes University, UK
Professor Ronaldo MUNCK (-1977 Ph D) (Argentinian by birth) held the first post-apartheid Chair in Sociology at the University of Durban in South Africa after a number of years at the University of Ulster. He was Professor of Political Sociology and Director of the Globalisation and Social Exclusion Unit (1996-2004) and then Professor at Dublin City University since 2004.
Karim MURJI (1980-83) is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Open University
Danzan NARANTUYA is in the Department of Sociology, National University of Mongolia, Mongolia
Daniel NEHRING (2002-8, BA, MA, PHD) is Lecturer in Sociology, Pusan National University, South Korea.
Howard NEWBY(BA, PhD 1969-1968) is Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool.
Tom OBINYAN was last sighted at at the University of Lagos
Karen O’REILLY (1989-1999 BA. PhD. ISER) is Professor of Sociology at Loughborough University
Nigel PARTON (1977,MA) became Professor in Child Care and the Foundation NSPCC Chair of Applied Childhood Studies at Huddersfield University
Constantinos PHELLAS (1994-8, PhD) went to South Bank University and is now Rector for Research at the University of Nicosia. Cyprus
Steve PLATT(1967-70, BA) is Professor of Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh
Lucinda PLATT (taught 2000-7) moved to ISER in 2007 and later became Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Education and Director of the Millennium Cohort Study….
John PODGORSKI (2000-2003, BA) gained a MSc in Passenger Transport Management via a joint CILT/Aston University (distance learning) programme in 2011 and currently employed as a training Manager cum bus driver at Hedingham Omnibuses – part of Go Ahead Group PLC. also a self-employed tutor in Business (to degree level), Sociology (to A level) and English (GCSE) He is also a committee member of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK) for the Eastern Region and Chair of South Essex sub-group
Jennie POPAY (1996-7, MA) is Professor of Sociology and Public Health at the University of Lancaster, and Director of the newly established Collaborating Centre for Community Engagement in England. She spent five years teaching in East Africa and then studied in New Zealand before beginning her research career at the Unit for the Study of Health Policy at Guy’s Hospital in London at the end of the 1970s.
Garry POTTER (1985-200, Ph D, Tutor) became Associate Professor of Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada Nicole POWER is Associate Professor of Sociology at Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
Anthony PRYCE (1998, PhD) is Emeritus Professor in the School of Community & Health Sciences City University
Maurice PUNCH (1965-1966, MA, Ph.D 1971, 1971-4 Lecturer) and has worked in universities in the UK, USA and The Netherlands – where he has lived since 1975. After 20 years in Dutch universities he became an independent researcher / consultant in 1994 and in 1999 was appointed Visiting Professor at the Mannheim Centre at LSE: he is also Visiting Professor at King’s College London in the Dickson Poon School of Law.
Wapula Nelly RADITLOANENG (1989, MA) is an Associate Professor at the University of Botswana Nirmal PUWAR (1994-7, Research) is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmith’s College, London
Dave REASON graduated with a degree in Sociology (having intended to specialise in Theoretical Physics), and moved to the University of Kent where he is Master of Keynes College and Senior Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies in the History & Philosophy of Art.
Penny RICKMAN (80’s) became a Probation Officer.
Andrew RIGBY (????) is Professor at the Center for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at the University of Coventry.
Michael RILEY enjoys a “rewarding career as a Professional Chef with extensive management experience in the restaurant, catering, hotel, resort and film catering industries, including his own business ventures.” “My ongoing passion for cooking and the hospitality industry continues, as I explore new opportunities to advance my commitment to culinary excellence”. Last was Executive Chef at Painted Boat Resort, Canada.
Chrissie ROGERS (1995-2004, BA, MA, PhD) went on to lecture at Keele and Brunel before moving to Anglia Ruskin as a director of PhD research and the Childhood and Youth Research Institute. In 2012, she joined Aston Sociology as a Senior Lecturer in Sociology.
Heather ROLFE (1985-7, Research Officer) is Principal Research Fellow National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)
Mike ROPER (MA, PhD) is now a Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex
David ROWE (1978-81, PhD 1986)was for many years at The University of Newcastle in New South Wales. In 2006 he moved to the University of Western Sydney (UWS), where he is currently a Professor of Cultural Research in the Institute for Culture and Society.
In 1978 I enrolled on a higher degree course. ‘Welcome’, said Brenda, showing this new part-time M.A. student to her desk and shelf space in an office. So I went to lectures from Howard, ate sandwiches in the Reading Room with Harold, and drank coffee down town with Dennis. I discussed Symbolic Interactionist work, and, looking for a new view of things I walked across corridors overlooking Square Three. Meanwhile I refilled the coffee percolatator, deferred payment and, sitting in lumpy and unbelievably shabby sofas, exchanged secrets with my friends. Sadly, I found I couldn’t continue, although the fees were £50 a term.
Fast forward to 2001. ‘You’re a graduate ‘, he said at Registration, ‘You know about computers’. ‘Welcome’ said Brenda, showing me to an office. ‘Which desk is mine?’, I asked a fellow student. ‘None’, she said, ‘We share’. I talked about Post-Modernism and listened to lectures from a young man called Rob. At the end of term an irate librarian asked the reason I hadn’t responded to her email. Email… I had received about 900 and did not know I even had a student address. Nobody else had noticed and I’d missed nothing. One day the Reading Room reappeared, resembling a dental reception room. No more intimate conversations snuggled in velvet cushions. Prepaid coffee from a machine which I never had to re-fill. As for sandwiches, I had to bring my own. Brenda retired, and this time I did graduate. So did thousands of other students, all on time.
I owe it to the central library of Montpellier’s Université Paul Valéry and some unknown marketing people at Essex that one late afternoon, during a coffee break, I found this prospectus about postgraduate studies at the University of Essex. In hindsight, I’m ashamed of my ignorance, but this really was the first time I’ve heard of this institution of Higher Education on the island close to Europe. Anyway, I recall that, when getting to the pages about the Department of Sociology and the Department of Government, I was struck by an almost instant sensation that the overall study experience – and particularly staff student relations – would be so much more inspiring and engaging there than in any of the places I had studied before. I didn’t change my mind even if (or perhaps because) I used to pass by the statue of Auguste Comte when walking home from the Université to the 16th century inner city flat that I was living in back then. Even the fact that in the Montpellier of that time (autumn 2000 to summer 2001), ordinary public cinemas used to screen productions like “La sociologie est un sport de combat” – a documentary dedicated to Pierre Bourdieu – could not convince me of staying on the continent.
As much as I never got to develop a strong affection for Britain’s oldest recorded town (apart from some notable, geographically quickly locatable, exceptions), I did instantly fall in love with the University and the nearby village of Wivenhoe. I often miss the open, diverse, and friendly atmosphere at the university’s main campus and, above all, the wonderful people I had the good fortune to meet during my time there. It is no exaggeration to say that I spent some of the happiest years of my life at the University of Essex. In particular, I owe a lot to teachers and fellow students from the Sociology Department and am deeply grateful for their companionship and (in many cases) lasting friendship. One of these friendships led to a marriage, two children, and me/us living in Mexico City.
Whatever one may think about causalities … and common indicators of graduate student satisfaction (let alone the obsessive measuring of it) … one can hardly deny this University’s charm. I am now working at another great university – the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – with particular research interests in the field of intercultural teacher education and the notion of intercultural capital.
The following link leads to some further and regularly updated information on my research and publications: http://unam.academia.edu/AndreasPöllmann
I arrived at Essex in The autumn of 1990. The Berlin Wall was falling, Thatcher was about to be toppled and Nottingham Forest would reach the FA Cup Final that very same season.
“Historically there has never been a better time to study sociology,”
…declared Professor Ken Plummer during his introduction to Sociological Analysis I, the Thursday morning mainstay for any Essex sociological undergraduate.
He wasn’t wrong.
Within days I was thrust into a brutal rent strike against the POWERS of the University. The origins of the uprising have become a little lost in Essex legend. The rallying call was the forceful eviction of Swamp Thing, a third year Comrade who claimed that he was being brutally abused by the University Senate.
The reality was that Swamp Thing was a little smelly and had allegedly stolen some cheese from his fellow Comrades on campus.
The rent strike collapsed overnight. The Student Union padlocks were cut from entrance to the Lecture Theatre Block where we had held an overnight lock in for Mr. Swamp Thing. Three hours later and Professor Plummer was delivering his introduction to modern Marxism.
Welcome to Essex, Comrades.
Having failed to make the great leap forward with Swamp Thing, my attention soon turned towards my new department.
Essex was THE place to study sociology in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I knew this because my A Level tutor was a graduate, and routinely went misty-eyed when dismissing Durkheim and suicide to tell her students about her life-changing Essex experience.
The fool, I thought.
Whatever was wrong with a classical education at a traditional red brick University?
I remember receiving my Little Red Essex Book, the departmental manifesto, outlining the course options that were available. I was in awe of names such as Lockwood, Gilroy and Thompson. They only existed in the Appendix for Giddens’ soc-lite white bible.
Yet here they were, walking around campus and inviting me to attend cosy classes and discussions in their back room warrens buried away towards the back of Square 3.
Or was it Square 4? I remain convinced that I attended everything but sociological teachings during that first term.
Which wasn’t too far from the truth.
My major disappointment during that first year as a sociology undergraduate was that sociology only counted for a quarter of the curriculum. The fluffy Faculty of Social Science dictated with an iron fist that computer science, linguistics and government had to form part of my learning.
I remain convinced that Losing an Empire, Finding a Role was more of a publishing sales pitch than genuine undergraduate political theory.
My DIY ethos was found at Essex. The idea of re-launching the lapsed Essex Sociology Society was floated. I was somehow enlisted as the Treasurer.
I dreamt that the job description would involve writing out cheques to cover the expenses of the UK’s leading sociological thinkers as we invited them along to stimulate sociological debate on campus.
But the department already employed the UK’s leading sociological thinkers. The last thing they wanted to do was to put in some unpaid overtime to address a campus society that was noting but a ruse for swindling the student union out of some booze funds.
I resigned my position in protest when the Soc Soc launched with a Cowboys and Indians themed party (FFS) at the abysmal Level 2 bar. It was almost enough to make an undergraduate to return to Durkheim and his dark thoughts.
My study became slightly more serious in the second year. FOUR dedicated sociological courses in which to choose from. I had finally finished reading Losing an Empire by this point.
Most of my third year was swallowed up with dissertation writing / trips back and forth to the Fair City to watch Forest.
My dissertation itself was truly dreadful. I foolishly focussed on the Sociology of Football. It did open doors later for me though to carry out postgrad research at the dedicated football department at the University of Leicester.
It wasn’t really until my final term at Essex that I began to realise how tribal the Sociology Department was at the time. You had the oral history tradition placing a tape recorder in front of anyone who had a story to tell; the criminologists were on the rise, whilst there was also a bonkers brief flirtation with post-modernism.
I remember attending a class with Bryan Turner where we sat down and watched an entire episode of Twin Peaks. No introduction, no explanation at the end. See you next week, space cadets. Don’t forget your black polar necks.
Where’s Weber and class, status and party when you need him? Probably too busy enjoying yet another Cowboys and Indians themed party.
A bout of shingles coincided with the sitting of my finals. I was allowed to take my exams in glorious isolation. My Essex perspective had shifted from the grand theories of the decline of the totalitarian state to a more phenomenological theory concerning my own well-being.
I somehow managed to escape Essex [ha!] with a slightly wobbly 2:1.
I remember the departmental Head helpfully explaining:
“You had a strong case for a high 2:2, but we quite like you. Here, have a 2:1 and don’t even think about applying for postgrad funding.”
Ta very much.
I boycotted the graduation ceremony as a collective act of defiance against The Establishment, and as a protest at the failure of Forest to win the FA Cup Final.
No other Comrades joined me in my actions.
Critical theory and the need to question EVERYTHING remains the overriding Essex legacy for me. This has probably held me back over the years, but it has also enabled me to live the life that I want to.
I still see some of those legendary sociology figures walking around Wivenhoe, slightly frail, but still fighting the fight.
“Historically there has never been a better time to study sociology,”
…declared Professor Ken Plummer, before then playing Is That All There Is to conclude Soc Analysis I.
Memories of Essex in the late 1980s to early 90s: social theory and qualitative methods
The Reading Room, with filter coffee and a bowl to throw in your cash payment.
Ken Plummer, impressive because he didn’t just use one overhead projector – he used two!
And he flitted between them.
And he showed film clips, and played tunes.
‘Is that all there is? Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing’.
Catherine Hall telling us to expect no fancy tricks from her like OHPs;
She just talks in her lectures and we’d better get used to it.
And we did.
David Lee teaching us about Durkheim and anomie by getting us to think about what motivates a soldier to go to war, and to die for his country.
Ted Benton. Marx. The 1844 manuscripts.
I even bought a copy of the Communist Party Manifesto.
That caused a bit of a stir at home among family and friends.
It looked terribly out of pTlace next to The Sun on the coffee table.
The Graduate Weekend!
Singing ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ on the bus on six different languages.
And Ken Plummer telling us something about tap dancing.
Social anthropology, Richard Wilson and Roger Goodman, with their enthusiasm for understanding exotic worlds, and familiar ones. Those guys really turned my world on its head.
And they showed films!
And through it all, I loved it and hated it. Loved it because I felt so challenged, enthused, intimidated, enlightened. Hated it for all the same reasons.
It turned out I was quite good at doing quantitative research! The truth is I found it so difficult that I worked three times as hard on that topic. That’s what explains the 80% grade, and, 3 years later, the job in the Institute for Social and Economic Research (in The Round Building).
I was never fully happy there, despite the lovely people I worked with. I had done my PhD using ethnographic methods, and supervised by social anthropologists. That was my intellectual and spiritual home. I want to understand what makes people tick.
My research questions are likely to be: why do people do that? How does this happen, over and over again? What drives people to be that way? What is going on here? Those sorts of questions – about real people, with real (yes, real), messy, complicated lives, people who can’t always articulate their reasons, who don’t always get what they want (or perhaps even know) – those sorts of questions are answered by getting to know people, by getting involved, getting in there. It’s tricky, and entangled, and it involves very little mathematics.
I think, to do qualitative research you have to, basically, like people – and perhaps yourself a little, too. Because, if you really do simply want to know about their lives, it’s my experience that they let you in. And that is amazing, really.
Such a privilege.
And that privilege is an outcome of being taught ethnographic methods by such enthusiastic teachers all those years ago.
When I remember Sociology at Essex I feel an incredible sense of gratitude. Being there changed my life. I was able to be part of something a few lucky people have shared. I feel an invisible thread connects me to every other student and staff member that was there around the time I was. And I feel sad, because those times have gone.
“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Karen O’Reilly is a Professor of Sociology at Loughborough University. She is author of The British on the Costa del Sol, Lifestyle Migration (edited with Michaela Benson), Ethnographic Methods, Key Concepts in Ethnography, and International Migration and Social Theory. She also helped design the UK National Statistics Socio-economic Classification. Being a humble person she doesn’t like to show off any more than that about her achievements. She also finds it weird to write about herself in the third person. Above all, she is incredibly proud to call herself a sociologist who was once at Essex.
I still vividly remember the day I came to Essex to be interviewed by Mary MacIntosh for a possible ESRC PhD studentship in 1980. Walking along the corridor I relived my first degree: I had read and cited so many of the names on the doors, I was intimidated and excited in equal measure. Much to Mary’s initial dismay I changed my topic after a few weeks from women’s financial independence (her passion) to violence against women (my passion). Many have been surprised that an avowed socialist feminist supervised a radical feminist, but Mary was in so many ways the perfect supervisor – my analysis and writing had to be rigorous to pass muster. I learnt to develop and build an argument with her, Ken Plummer and Joan Busfield (my other supervisors) in mind – training that I have held onto ever since, to not think only in relation of those who have a similar perspective/politics. I have drawn on it many times to imagine and find arguments/evidence which might open up a different conversation with policy makers and practitioners.
I also learnt to teach at Essex, drawing inspiration from Ken Plummer whose love of, and devotion to, teaching was remarkable. His was the door that always had lines of students outside, seeking intellectual and human guidance. We PhD students got to teach rather a lot, especially on first year courses, since many of the academic staff clearly regarded it as beneath them to engage with anyone who had not already committed to the sociology department. Some of our most brilliant scholars were also impatient with second and third year students who struggled with new, complex and challenging ideas. My style – to begin seminars checking whether they had understood the lecture, where they had got lost and asking if they could apply the concepts to contemporary lives – offered something different, that many, especially mature students, welcomed.
Some other random and fond memories:
– our wonderfully smart admin staff, all older women, who found ways to manage the ornery and often arrogant Oxbridge mentality that was such an obvious undercurrent among many, but never all, of the academic staff;
– the women’s group we established that connected students, support staff and academics to explore how we might change the university culture;
– the feminist PhD/MA support and reading group that got many of us through those moments of despair when you cannot bear your data/topic/chapter that does not work anymore;
– telling the important male academic who had never acknowledged me in four years to ‘f-off’ when he deigned to do so the day I was awarded my PhD.
Doing my PhD at Essex changed my life, enabling me to become one of the women who have established violence against women as a field of study, how could I not be grateful.
Professor Liz Kelly is the Co-Director of CWASU and Roddick Chair of Violence Against Women at London Metropolitan University where she also helps run the MA on Woman and Child Abuse. She has been active in the field of violence against women and children for over three decades, has led CWASU since 1993, and is recognised as a leader in the field. She is the author of Surviving Sexual Violence (1988), which established the concept of a ‘continuum of violence’ and has written over 100 book chapters and journal articles. Liz is chair of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, an expert on VAW to the European Women’s Lobby and EU Gender Institute, and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
I thank Ken Plummer for offering me this opportunity on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary to reflect on my years at the University of Essex. Time well spent! I completed my BA Honours in Sociology & Government in 1984 and then, after a year¹s break in sunny Spain, returned to complete my PhD in Sociology in 1990.
I can¹t say I found the early days at Essex particularly easy. My period betwixt school and university, spent serving an apprenticeship and playing music in The Big Smoke, had stretched a little longer than most. Following this, the campus milieu struck me as decidedly unreal, like a youth club in a large field. And, even for those times, which were the very darkest of Thatcherism, campus politics were often disturbingly to the left of fruity. Here was a place where supporting the Soviet Union rather than England in televised football matches was de rigueur. Here was a place where, in order to gain respect, decent middle-class kids would return from vacation with affected industrial accents. And here too, more humorously, was the place that, for the ears of a visiting and philandering Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the immortal words ³Cecil, Cecil, CecilŠ.in, out, in² were coined.
However, more difficult than any of this was academic life. I found my first two years as an undergraduate tough in the extreme. At one level it was intimidating. I had chosen Essex because of its Sociology program, and in my eyes the luminaries of the discipline were nothing less than rock stars. So, sitting in a 101 tutorial with none other than David Lockwood all pipe smoke, gravitas and brilliance invoked confidence sapping ³I am not worthy² emotions. At another level, the intellectual rigour demanded by the program was quite considerable and, it felt, beyond my capacities.
Having flirted with dropping out at the end of my second year, and chancing my arm once again as a musician, I returned to give Essex another go. Suddenly and mysteriously, so it seemed, everything just clicked. I guess that a big part of it was just my developing. But the biggest factor of all was undoubtedly, the brilliance, kindness and dedication of the staff I was so lucky to encounter. In particular, the Third Year subjects ŒSociology of Knowledge¹, ŒJoint Seminar in Government & Sociology¹ and ŒSocial Anthropology¹, that were convened by Ted Benton, Bob Jessop/Tony Woodiwiss and Judith Okely respectively, were inspiring. I was also blessed by the superb pedagogical presences of Ian Craib and (again) Judith Okely. Without revealing his technique, Ian literally taught me how to write, how to write fast and how to enjoy writing. I cannot thank that simply wonderful man enough, and I miss him dearly.
And of Judith Okely, the list of contributions and qualities is too long to repeat here. Here are just a few. She has been a wonderful patron. Were it not for her efforts in obtaining the ESRC scholarship that funded my doctoral study, I would almost certainly not be in the academic profession today. Who knows, I might even have become an ageing rock star by nowŠ.not! She has been, especially as my doctoral supervisor, a source of enlightened intellectual support. Notably, in commenting on my work she displays a very forgiving and confidence-inducing ability to hone in on the intellectual rough diamonds and ignore the rubbish that often encases them. Lastly, she holds in unrivalled abundance the very intellectual skills those of an ethnographer that I cherish most, especially her near telepathic ability to read the meanings within social encounters, even silent ones! It was my great fortune that some years after both of us had left Essex Judith and I became colleagues at the University of Hull. Also, despite geographical distance, I am so glad she is just a phonecall away.
Speaking of which..what have I been up to? After working for several years at the Queen¹s University, Belfast and the University of Hull, in 2004 I took the Chair in Anthropology at the University of Melbourne, where I have also directed its Development Studies program for several years. I have conducted three major ethnographic projects in England, Ireland (north and south) and Bosnia & Herzegovina and amongst its diasporas. My work focuses largely on identity politics, particularly in post-industrial and post-conflict contexts. However, I have also conducted theoretical work on postmodernism and mobility. Much of my work also has an applied focus, and I have conducted research on migration and asylum-issues for a range of non-governmental and governmental bodies, including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (U.K.). I also remain a passionate and very active advocate for the right to unfettered mobility and, particularly, for the dissolution of immigration controls. Most satisfyingly, I have been able to use the skills learned from my teachers and supervisors at Essex in helping many undergraduate and doctoral students to reach their full potentials. Despite being in Anthropology, I have the good fortune of sharing a school with Sociology. In a disciplinary division of labour where, stereotypically, one is better at theory and the other data and one does the West while the other does the rest, I enjoy inhabiting a pleasurably liminal position. On everyday matters, life in Oz is good (it¹s 40 bloody degrees as I write), especially sharing it with Kotoyo, my wife of twenty-five years and Fintan, our ten year old. For the happy position I am in I have much to thank the Sociology Department at the University of Essex, a place that, if truth is to be told, I still think of as my real intellectual home.
Professor of Anthropology
School of Social and Political Sciences
John Medley Building
The University of Melbourne