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Sociology Department’s 50th Anniversary Conference: 24th June, 2015 PROGRAMME

Sociology Department’s 50th Anniversary Conference:
24th June, 2015 Programme



Ivor Crewe Auditorium

9.15-9.50 Registration and Refreshments

9.50-10.00 Conference Introduction (Nigel South)


10.00-12.30 Past Excitements New Dialogues

A panel of distinguished members of the Department reflect on what was thought to be most exciting about Sociology in the past (both as a discipline and in the way[s] in which it was practiced at Essex) – and how all this has been reflected in their own ideas and research – as well as in ‘new dialogues and directions’ today (Ted Benton; Joan Busfield; Diane Elson; Ken Plummer; John Scott; and Paul Thompson)



Chair: Lydia Morris

-Paul Thomson ‘Discovering life stories from first fumbles to our own Pioneers of Social Research’ (30 min)

-Joan Busfield ‘Continuities and Changes in British Sociology’. (15 min)

-Ted Benton ‘Beyond nature/society dualisms (15 min)

Questions (15 min)

11.15-11.30 Break



Chair: Michael Roper

-Ken Plummer ‘Dialogues of Hope for a Better World’ (15 min)

-John Scott ‘Stratification and Social Theory: Retrospect and Prospect’ (15 min)

-Diane Elson ‘Challenges to Women’s Rights in a Time of ‘Austerity”? (15 min)

Questions (15 min)


12.30-14.00 Lunch break


14.00-16.000    Future Challenges New Directions

In three parallel, thematic sessions, colleagues who have joined the Department in more recent years will reflect on the interesting/challenging issues facing Sociology in the 21st century

Room 5S.3.8   Challenging Questions in Social Theory

Chair: Sean Nixon

-Michael Halewood, “Rethinking the Social” (20 min)

-Linsey McGoey, “Theorizing Excess” (20 min)

-Sandya Hewamanne, “Affect, Human Genome, and Dogs and Monkeys” (20 min)

PhD Discussant: Ms Stephanie Nitsche 5 mins

15 minutes question time

Following the session please re-convene at the Ivor Crewe Auditorium

Room 5S.4.9 Civic Challenges, Community Studies and Public Sociology

Chair: Jackie Turton

-Michael Bailey, “Whither Community Studies? Return to Ecclesfield” (20 min)

-Neli Demireva and Isabel Crowhurst, “The Impact of Sociological Research on Social Policy” (20 min)

-Robin West, “Environment: Moral Selves and Civic Responsibilities” (20 min)

PhD Discussant: Ms Sarah Day 5 mins

15 minutes question time

Following the session please re-convene at the Ivor Crewe Auditorium

Room 5N.4.6 New Terrains

Chair: Andrew Canessa

-James Allen-Robertson, ‘Gameplay Capitalism and the Hacker Ethic’. (20 min)

-Darren Thiel, “Countering Austerity and the Logic of Welfare Reform” (20 min)

-Pete Fussey, “Topologies of Urban Security and Surveillance in the Post-Snowden Era” (20 min)

PhD Discussant: Ms Roxana Baltaru 5 mins

15 minutes question time

Following the session please re-convene at the Ivor Crewe Auditorium


16.00-17.00 Ivor Crewe Auditorium


Closing Comments (Sean Nixon)

and Drinks.

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David Lockwood (1929-2014): In Memoriam



David lockwood


We are sad to learn that David Lockwood, who was Professor of Sociology at Essex University from 1968 to 1995, died on Friday June 6th, 2014.

David was  one of the big names of his generation of scholars – and a major world influence within Sociology. His first major work was The Black Coated Worker; and he was probably most known for ‘The Affluent Worker’ which was published in 1968, the year he moved to the University of Essex from the University of Cambridge. He retired in 2001 and became Emeritus Professor.

He will be sadly missed.  Our condolences go to his beloved wife, Leonore Davidoff, the eminent feminist gender historian; and his sons Matthew, Harold and Ben.

There have been many obituaries and remembrances of David and this web site will try to keep abreast of them. You may like to look at  what is already on the site about David’s life by clicking here:    David Lockwood: honorary degree.    David Lockwood by David Rose  : Retirement Conference.

You can also read the transcript of an interview with him at Interview

See also our obituaries page


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Tony Coxon (1939-2012)

Tony Coxon was the founding director of the British Household Panel Study at the University Essex. He died on 7 February 2012.

He was the first director, from 1989, of the ESRC Research Centre that created the pioneering long-running British Household Panel Survey.

Professor Coxon was well known for his work in quantitative methods teaching and had a passion for both collecting and using empirical data. Particular areas of research included his earlier work on occupations and perceptions of occupations, research methods relating to cognitive sociology and diary methods, and later his important work on sexualities and sociology of sexual behaviour and homosexuality.

He was well known for co-ordinating the longitudinal survey of sexual behaviour, project SIGMA, one of the largest studies of gay and bisexual men in the world. SIGMA was an integral part of the WHO Global Programme on Aids’ seven-nation Homosexual Response Studies which shared research instruments with a number of U.S. and European projects. A component part of SIGMA data consists of 1,975 month-long sexual diaries kept by cohort members. Data from this Project SIGMA Essex : Socio-sexual Investigations of Gay Men and Aids, Sexual Diaries Project, 1987-1994 are available from the UK Data Archive.

Professor Coxon was an inspiration to many younger researchers all over the world, taking the time to discuss and instruct on his distinct methodological approaches. He was passionate about ensuring a legacy of quantitative methods skills for UK social science, and contributed to the ESRC’s recent take up of action in this area.

He retired from Essex to Islay with his partner Phil Hawkins in 2002 where they worked together on an occasional basis with the University of Edinburgh, consulting on ESRC projects such as the Scottish Scoping Study and the Demographic Review of the Social Sciences. He also remained active in applications of multidimensional scaling (the newMDS(X) series of programs) and the method of sorting.

In 2008 he moved back to Cardiff where he continued to be research-active holding an Honorary Professorship at Cardiff University and Emeritus Professorship of Sociological Research Methods, University of Wales.

You can find more obituaries on the Memory page

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Colin Bell (Essex 1968-1975)

Colin was a prominent character in the early Essex days, teaching between 1968 to 1975, the ‘radical period’. He had a lively career afterwards but died young. Here is an obituary from The Herald Scotland. 26th April 2003:

Professor Colin Bell. Socialist and academic powerhouse with a record of excellence and a penchant for jazz

An abiding love of jazz was the appropriate relaxation for a radical sociologist who, despite being at the helm of Scotland’s academic establishment when it came to safeguarding standards, kept a courageous, radical outlook, sharpened at the start of his career when Essex Univers-ity was at the forefront of challenging academic assumptions. Professor Colin Bell never lost his keen sociological authority, displaying it publicly last year on a television programme on poverty. Colin Bell became principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Stirling in September 2001, after holding the same offices at the University of Bradford. He was vice-principal at Edinburgh University from 1993 to 1998, and professor of sociology there from 1988. He was a distinguished sociologist, with particular interests in social mobility, family and marriage, stratification and power and research methodology. His publications included Middle Class Families, in 1968, Community Studies (1971), Power Persistence and Change (1975), Doing Sociological Research (1977), Property, Paternalism and Power (1977), and Social Researching (1984). Colin Bell was born in Kent, graduated with first-class honours from Keele University, and took a postgraduate degree from the University of Wales. He lectured at Essex, then went to the University of New South Wales as professor of sociology and chair of the arts faculty. In 1980, he was appointed foundation professor of sociology and social history at the University of Aston, Birmingham. He also held visiting professor- ships at McMaster, Madison-Wisconsin and La Trobe. He moved to Edinburgh in 1986, where he became professor of sociology in 1988 and vice-principal in 1993. He was a member of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a founding aca-demician in 1999 of the Aca-demy for Learned Societies for the Social Sciences. His later career was much concerned with issues of quality in higher education. He chaired the Scottish Higher Education Principals’ quality assurance committee and quality assurance forum. He had also chaired the quality assessment committee of the Higher Education Funding Council in England and was a member of the Quality Assurance Agency’s degree-awarding powers committee and the mergers’ committee of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. He convened the Scottish Consortium on Crime and Criminal Justice. He was principal and vice-chancellor at Bradford for three years, where his achievements included six consecutive excellent scores. He was instrumental in ensuring the university’s collaboration with local institutions, including Bradford College and universities in Leeds. Under his leadership, Bradford became a leading institution in widening participation in and access to higher education. As principal of Stirling University he continued to take a radical approach to post- graduate education. He urged the Scottish Executive to set up independent centres of excellence by forming insti- tutes separate from universities, to encourage co-operation among academics. He saw the proposal as particularly appropriate for business, as no Scottish university business department was graded of international significance. At a time of proposed mergers (and with no obvious partner institution for Stirling), he was keen to think big, saying: ”If there is an issue about too many institutions, one of the solutions might be to say, ‘Let’s do a few things Scotland-wide’.” Colin Bell was married twice: to Jocelyn Mumford, with whom he had a son and daughter, and to Janette Webb, with whom he had two daughters.

Professor Colin Bell, principal and vice-chancellor Stirling University; born March 1, 1942, died April 24, 2003.

View the original here:

For more: see Memories.

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In Memory of Dennis Marsden (1933-2009)

Image of Dennis Marsden, 1933-2009By Ken Plummer, September 9th, 2009

Dennis Marsden joined the Essex Sociology Department in 1965, one year after the university opened.

He came from the Institute of Community Studies to become a Joseph Rowntree Research Officer working with Peter Townsend, the founding professor, on the highly influential project Poverty in the UK.

In 1968, he became a lecturer in the department where he taught the sociology of education and pioneered the very successful MA in Social Service Planning. In the late 1970’s he became Head of the Department.  He retired in 1999 after thirty five years in the department…

(Continued under Memories/Obituaries)

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In Memory of Harold Wolpe (1926-1996)

Harold Wolpe was Chair of the Department between 1983-1986.

Ken Plummer writes:Image of Harold Wolpe (1926-1996)

Harold was first a lecturer then a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex between 1972 and 1991. To the department’s perpetual chagrin, he was never to become a professor (a fate for many early distinguished members of the department). Harold was a major, very gentle influence in the department for twenty of its formative years.  He was an engaged intellectual, putting his theory into practice. Soft spoken and calm in demeanour, his ideas and politics were radical and transformative.

Yet Harold had a major ‘ world- story’ to tell before he arrived at Essex – and afterwards! For he was a leading member of the struggle against apartheid and a friend of both Joe Slovo and Nelson Mandella. Indeed, he is mentioned in Mandella’s book: Long Walk to Freedom. A lawyer by training, he played a prominent role in defending anti-apartheid figures in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He also helped plan anti-government actions by the communist party and the then banned African National Congress (ANC). He was arrested and put in prison in 1963 but escaped (disguised as a priest) and lived in exile in England for 30 years.  He moved back to South Africa with his wife Anne-Marie Wolpe in 1991 to direct the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. White rule ended three years later. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1996.

Harold’s seminal 1972 Economy and Society article on Capitalism and cheap labour-power introduced into South African Marxism a concept borrowed from French Marxist theorists — that of the notion of the articulation of modes of production. Harold would later edit a book on this theme, to which he contributed a definitive critical overview of the concept. His work is often seen as major theoretical harbinger of the radical political change that was needed in South Africa, and has been extremely influential.

For more details: look at our obituary page in Memories

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Peter Townsend

Image of Peter Townsend - founding Professor of Sociology at EssexPeter Townsend was Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex from October 1963 to December 1981, and chairman of the Department during its first seven years. He was elected Pro-Vice Chancellor (Social Policy) and served from 1974 for three years. He moved to the University of Bristol as Professor of Social Policy in January 1982 and became Professor of International Social Policy at LSE in 1998. He died in 2009.

A brief outline of his work with linkscan be found at:


This paper was given : Nov 11 2004 Department of Sociology, Essex, 40th anniversary

Note: abstract only below. The full paper can be found under ‘Memories’ (above)

The development of sociology at the University of Essex is in many ways the recent history of the subject in Europe. After the sweeping claims for the subject in the 19th Century there was little consolidation institutionally by the time of the foundation of the new universities in the mid -1960s. Essex was in the vanguard of a new professional, scientific and international approach to the subject and the early years of the establishment of the department in the University illustrate both the internal debate about the scope of the subject and its intellectual priorities and the external interpretation of its role and functions -which was sometimes hostile and often uncomprehending or dismissive.

The scrutiny of that early history of the subject at Essex (and at some of the other new universities) helps to reveal the innovations which were made to address fundamental intellectual and social questions. That collective work represented a major contribution to national and international culture. Representatives of the subject played an honourable and constructive role during the periods of political unrest at British universities during the 1960s and 1970s, although that role -and its longstanding contribution to the vitality and liberal values of university life – remains to be pro

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