Posts Tagged Ken Plummer
Sociology Department’s 50th Anniversary Conference:
24th June, 2015 Programme
NEW DIALOGUES AND DIRECTIONS
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)
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)
One of the many fields of research in the Essex Sociology Department has been ‘sexualities’. In the 1990’s it established the journal Sexualities and in the 00’s it set up the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship run by Róisín Ryan Flood. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, a seminar was held in March 2015 to look at some of its earliest work that helped to create a new field of study – lesbian and gay studies, queer studies and critical sexualities studies – and to consider just how far it has advanced.
In the 1970’s there was almost no research in these areas and Essex was one of the pioneers. Mary McIntosh’s The Homosexual Role – which argued that homosexuality was not a universal condition but a variable social role- is often seen as a foundational text. The seminar was held in her memory, discussed her work and highlighted the earliest collective work produced in the department during the 1970’s and published in 1981 as The Making of the Modern Homosexual. This book brought together students and staff, and suggested new directions for research. Most notably it developed a historical sense of same-sex relations; linked it firmly to power, gender and identity; and developed the debate over constructionism and essentialism. While they were innovative then, many now would take these early paradigm shifts for granted as a new vibrant field of ‘sexualities studies’ has emerged over the past twenty years, moved on and developed new concerns.
The book The Making of the Modern Homosexual was organized into three parts. The first part reprinted the McIntosh article and Mary then discussed its value in an interview with Jeffrey Weeks and Ken Plummer. It suggested key features of new emerging frameworks. The second part took up three key themes: Ken Plummer suggested the fruitfulness of applying stigma theory, labeling theory and ideas of ‘oppression’ to homosexuality; Jeffrey Weeks puzzled the historiography of homosexuality and its latent essentialism; while Annabel Faraday critiqued the apparent males bias of existing ‘male’ ‘gay’ research and suggested new radical feminist baselines. The third part then provided three empirical studies being conducted by graduate students – a first (John Marshall) traced the emergence of the category from the late 19th century to the 50’s; a second (Dave King) looked at the making of ‘trans’ categories; and a third (Gregg Blachford) looked at the growing significance of ‘masculinity’ in the gay culture. Some of these contributors will be returning for the seminar and meeting again for the first time in over thirty years!
The session was very lively. Gregg Blachford had flown in from Canada to chair the session and John Marshall – who left to become editor of Gay News and gay Times for much of the 1980’a – returned to Essex for the first time in over thirty years. Annabel Faraday sent a message saying she had left academia for the world of ceramics and wished the seminar well. Dave King has now retired to a Welsh village where he participates in the local community shop.
The world has moved on. When Essex was established ‘homosexuality’ was still a crime and firmly defined as sickness. The Gay, Lesbian and Women’s movement had not happened and AIDS had not arrived. Over the years there have been major changes and now the university has strong policies on supporting gay, gender and transgender equality rights. The seminar ended by asking just how much has things really changed? Not as much as it looks on the surface – especially if the global stage is considered.
Here are a few photos taken at a seminar in 1980 as the authors discussed their papers.
Here are some of the unsolicited REVIEWS since the publication of IMAGINATIONS:
Thank you for giving us this precious gift. Leonore Davidoff … Absolutely blown away by the book! A really wonderful achievement. The photographs are especially wonderful! Sean Nixon… It is a fitting celebration of a departmental jewel in the Essex crown. Anthony Forster…What a splendid achievement! I have only so far had the opportunity to read here and there, but enough to know how rewarding it is going to be to work through it. Alasdair MacIntyre… It looks great and will be a lasting memory of the department. Sue Aylott …Will be a landmark book in the history of the University. David Lane … It is truly a major compilation. Peter Abell… It is BRILLIANT. It is so well produced and the pics are wonderful. Miriam Glucksmann… I think the book is splendid! It’s Wonderfully designed and full of fascinating reflections on a department I am proud to have been a member of. David Rose… Congratulations once again for the book. It is a reflection of your passion for sociology and sociology at Essex but also a contribution to wider sociological discussions! Carlos Gigoux… Congratulations on producing an excellent volume that brings back very many and all sorts of memories as well as posing many questions – especially where are they now? Adrian Sinfield…The book is splendid. Anthony Woodiwiss … Even though I had high expectations of the book, it really is a triumph, a fantastic thing… and I have barely dipped into it. It really is a thing of beauty. Rowena Macaulay…The book looks great. It is a pretty comprehensive view of ‘the department’, and is really impressive because it’s so unique. Colin Samson … I’ve been thinking about the Essex Sociology 50 Years book, and marveling that you’ve managed to put it together. I’m so pleased it exists, and I’m sure there are so many other people who feel exactly the same. Rob Stones
Copies are best ordered through
The Wivenhoe Bookshop by phone 01026 824050; by e mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or web site: www.wivenhoebooks.com
Directly from Ken Plummer through email@example.com
Or Waterstones, the Essex University Bookshop by phone: 01206 864773 or email: essexuni@waterstones. com
Publication price: £25.00
With post and packing in UK £30.00 Overseas will have to add extra.
ISBN: 9780957085046; 208pp, 50 contributors.
It can also be ordered though Amazon but they will, as we know, effectively take all the money!
And here is A CONTENTS GUIDE to the book
CONTENTS: Introduction: Ken Plummer 1. Contexts – Creating Essex Sociology-A Timeline of Memorable Moments Peter Townsend’s Founding Vision – Transforming Visions for a Twenty First Century. 2. Formations The Early History: Joan Busfield: Remembering Early Days – Adrian Sinfield: The Challenge of Social Policy – Geoffrey Hawthorn; A New Lecturer’s View – Christel Lane: A Student’s View: Undergraduate Study During The University’s Early Years: 1968–1972 – David Bouchier: From Student to Staff: David Bouchier (1968–1986)- Making Troubles – David Lane:1968 – Michael Mann: Troubles of 1974- Judith Okely: The 1989 Czech ‘Velvet Revolution’ As Experienced At Essex 3. Wisdoms Imagining Social Justice: Creating Better Social Worlds For All Introduction.- Michael Harloe: On Peter Townsend’s Poverty – Stan Cohen: Remembering Harold Wolpe – Lydia Morris: Human Rights – Michael Bailey: Public Activism Research Imaginations: Creating Multiple Methods For Sociology Introduction: Unlimited Research – Peter Abell: Whatever Happened to Mathematical Sociology? – David Rose: The Origins of The Institute for Economic and Social Research ISER – Heather Laurie: ISER: So What Happened Next?- Louise Corti: The Creation of Qualidata Mark Harvey: Centre for Economic and Social Innovation Comparative Imaginations: Building An International Sociology Introduction. Alison Scott: On the School of Comparative Studies -Ayse Güveli: The Gains and Changes of Migration- Interdisciplinary Imaginations: Broadening The Scope of Sociology Alasdair MacIntyre: Philosophy in the Sociological Conversation 1960−1970 – Michael Roper: Social and Gender History Ken Plummer: Making the Person Matter – Karl Figlio: The Creation of the Centre for Pychoanalytic Studies – Eamonn Carrabine: Imagining Crime – Sean Nixon: The Moment of Cultural Studies – Michael Halewood: Theory in the Department – Colin Samson: Sociology, Neoliberalism and the Struggle to Keep the Interdisciplinary Spirit Alive 4. Communities Remembering Communities John Scott: Coming Home – Rob Stones: The 1990s in the Essex Sociology Department: A Personal Point of View- Mary McIntosh says goodbye Miriam Glucksmann: Remembering the 1990s – Building The Educational Community: The Great Sociological Conversation Rowena Macaulay: Twenty Years of Departmental Support: The Student Resource Centre – The Office Community Mary Girling & Paul Thompson: Reflections of a Departmental Secretary – The Global Community From South Africa: From Hong Kong: From India – The Web Site Community The Long Community Nigel South 5. Futures Looking Ahead Voices: Professors Voices: Former students- Refelctions: Telling stories of Essex Sociology- Epilogue And Reprise: The Last Refuge – Suggestions for Further Reading – Index Focus Boxes: The heads of department -The Vice-Chancellors -The expansion and transformations of Essex- Profile of an early student – The professors – Social class and David Lockwood – Seeking gender justice – feminism in sociology – A red-green revolution? – Moments of oral history at Essex: From Gay Liberation to “Sexualities” and Intimate Citizenship- Focus on Essex’s Legacy: Some Fifty or so research areas and their books – Evaluating the quality of research – Some of the most cited books in the department – Focus On Public Lecture Series: The Fuller Lectures – Focus on Dennis Marsden – Honorary degrees – Consolidating the canon: The textbook tradition at Essex – Student numbers at Essex – Focus on the Rise of Teaching Assistants – Focus on the Essex newsletters and journals: The reading and writing community – Managing the department: The Secretaries – Paul Thompson remembers Brenda Corti- More stories of Essex Sociology- Focus on Essex’s Legacy: Some Fifty or so books published by graduates and researchers – Focus on Essex’s Legacy: Some Fifty or so graduates and researchers who became ‘Essex’ Professors – Sociology in the Media: Pam Cox- Handing our stories on.
Imaginations: fifty years of Essex Sociology
edited by Ken Plummer
An exciting new publication to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sociology Department at the University of Essex
The Sociology Department at the University of Essex is a leading international sociology department. Through fifty contributions from past and present, the students and lecturers in the department tell the story of its history, its ideas and its community. It provides an unusual insight into the workings of a British university department as well as the shape of modern British sociology.
You will treasure this book, not only if you worked or studied at Essex, but also if you care deeply about sociology and its future. For those who experienced Essex, it will touch on special memories. But it will also show how much more was going on there than you ever realised at the time. This multidimensional book portrays the amazingly sustained creativity of sociology over a whole range of different directions. That’s why it is much more than history: it also demonstrates the potential of sociology for the future. Paul Thompson An invaluable record of an extraordinary intellectual and educational institution, chronicling the heady years of its genesis and fruition. The volume teems with memories, anecdotes and reflections on this history from a proud assembly of those at the heart of its achievements. Rob Stones
Imaginations: fifty years of Essex Sociology
will be published by Wivenbooks in September 2014.
Copies can be ordered from The Wivenhoe Bookshop, The University Bookshop or direct from Ken Plummer at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will also (eventually) be available on Amazon.
Publication price: £25 ISBN: 9780957085046; 208pp, 50 contributors.
The book will be officially published and launched at the Essex 50th anniversary weekend scheduled for 12-14th September at the University.
The launch will take place at the Sociology Gathering and lunch between 12.30 and 2.30 in The Tony Rich Centre
You can find more details of this on: https://www.essex.ac.uk/fifty/
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 spent just 12 months as a postgraduate student in the Sociology Department at the University of Essex in 1976/7. I had graduated with a degree in Applied Social Studies, which included the professional social work qualification (CQSW), at the University of Bradford in 1974. After graduation I worked as a social worker for Bradford Social Services. While nominally a generic social worker covering all client groups, my caseload, like all qualified social workers at the time, was biased very much towards child care cases. My degree gave an excellent grounding in psycho-dynamic and ego psychological approaches to social casework which were dominant in social work training at the time. When I finished the degree I was clear that I wanted to extend do some further study related to social policy and sociology and it was the MA in Social Service Planning which I studied at Essex.
What I really liked was that there were just ten students on the course from a variety of backgrounds. The culture of the department was very different to what I was used to and the focus of the MA was, in effect, the sociology of social policy. Every week we had small group seminars with some great staff – unfortunately many of whom are no longer with us; Peter Townsend, Dennis Marsden, Adrian Sinfield, Stan Cohen, Mary McIntosh, Duncan Gallie and a (relatively) young and enthusiastic Ken Plummer – all of whom either were professors or were to go on to become professors at Essex and elsewhere – and all of whom were, at the time, the leading researchers and scholars in the field. To be honest it is only in more recent years that I have come to appreciate the influence that the course and the wider department has had on my thinking and work – both then and in subsequent years. And some of this is quite mundane in the sense that it was the first time I had to study quite conceptual and theoretical ideas in any depth and to produce a series of longer and more ‘academic’ assignments. We had to write a 4000 word essay per month as well as produce the occasional seminar paper. This was the time I began to appreciate the value of a more disciplined approach to reading and writing.
One of the courses we studied was on Deviance, Social Problems and Social control and was led by Stan Cohen and Ken Plummer and introduced me to the American sociology of social problems literature and the journal Social Problems in particular where social contructionist approaches were dominant. Towards the end of my undergraduate degree and while I was a practitioner in Bradford I had become very aware that, following the public inquiry into the death of seven year old Maria Colwell in 1973/4 that the issue of, what was then called, ‘non-accidental injury to children and the activities of social workers had been thrust into the media in high profile ways and that this was having an impact upon the operation of social services in ways which was not envisaged when we were training to become social workers. I was intrigued about how this had come about and with what implications. However I had not anticipated studying this as part of the MA. But increasingly I found the sociology of social problems literature very persuasive and just at the time I was thinking how this might be applied to ‘NAI’ in the UK I came across an article by Stephen Pfohl in Social Problems(24(3),pp310-23) entitled ‘The Discovery of Child Abuse’ and this decided me to make this the focus for the dissertation which I needed to complete for the MA with Ken Plummer as my supervisor.
I was never really able to engage with ‘student life’ at Essex as much as I would have liked. My partner, Christine, and I lived in a small bungalow in Clacton called ‘Pixie Dell’ as she was working for social services in Clacton and I travelled about NE Essex on my trusty Honda 50. Then in May, just as I was about to start work for the dissertation, Christine was knocked over by a car and was very badly injured and spent the next 4 months in hospital near Braintree. So my summer was spent either sitting in the library at Essex trying to find relevant articles and analysing newspaper coverage of child abuse, interviewing a few key ‘informants’ who had some important insights into how the problem was ‘officially’ being handled or travelling to Black Notley Hospital (now closed). At the end of the course and after Christine came out of hospital we were keen to get back to West Yorkshire and I got a job as lecturer in social work at the, then, Polytechnic of Huddersfield, where I have worked – more or less – ever since. I got pretty engrossed in the work for the dissertation and Ken Plummer was always very supportive and this prompted me to write a much edited version of the dissertation for the British Journal of Social Work (9(4) 432-451) entitled ‘The Natural History of Child Abuse: A Study in Social Problem Definition’.
It was never my intention to spend so much of my academic and professional life studying and writing about child abuse and child protection – but that is how it seems to have worked out! In the early days I had assumed that the initial public and media interest in child abuse and social work would subside. But this is not what has happened. While the last 40 years have seen occasional lulls, overall the trend has been for an increase in both coverage and also an increase in, what I am now calling, ‘outrage’. Part of this reflects the growing awareness of the size and nature of the problem of child abuse and the terrible suffering experienced by a significant number of children and young people. But the ‘outrage’ is also very much directed at the professionals and managers, particularly social workers, who have been involved in a series of high profile cases and are, almost, seen as ‘responsible’ for the suffering. It is as if child abuse – or rather child protection – and social work are tied together by some sort of umbilical cord and that the latter has projected onto it much of the fear and anger experienced at a rather subconscious level by numerous sections of society. For many years I have been of the view that it is not possible to understand the nature and purposes of social work in the UK without understanding the nature and social reactions to the problem of child abuse. Increasingly I have been of the view that the way we respond to both child abuse and social work says a great deal about the kind of society in which we live and how this might be changing. My most recent attempts to provide a critical analysis of this will be published by Palgrave/Macmillan in the spring of 2014 as The Politics of Child Protection: Contemporary Developments and Future Directions; and, in many ways, the seeds for this and previous publications were sown in the Department of Sociology at Essex in 1976/7.