Posts Tagged Peter Townsend

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

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)

 

10.00-11.15:

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

 

11.30-12.30:

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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Good reviews for IMAGINATIONS: FIFTY YEARS OF ESSEX SOCIOLOGY

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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 wiven.books@zelnet.co.uk; or web site: www.wivenhoebooks.com

Directly from Ken Plummer through plumk@essex.ac.uk

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.

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Tony Woodiwiss (1974-1999, Professor and Head of Department)

Happy days: memories of Essex Sociology

Tony with Alison Scott at an Examiner's Dinner around 1979

Tony with Alison Scott at an Examiner’s Dinner around 1979

I have loved reading all the stories gathered in so far and share the affection and gratitude they exhibit. But there is one aspect of the experience that has not yet received the attention it deserves – how many ordinary happinesses there were and I am sure there still are. So here are a few of the many things that that still make me laugh or smile whenever I remember them.

 

 

Walking down to campus from Wivenhoe House.

The departmental reading room, especially when the morning rolls and coffee had just arrived.

Having to cross a picket line when I came for my interview.

Mary Girling’s huge dogs lying around the office when they were sick.

Walking past Mike Lane’s office after lunch.

Peter Townsend really meaning it when telling me that he was very pleased that the University had given me tenure despite the objections of the Department’s senior staff(himself included).

Staying overnight in George Kolankiewicz’s house in Queens Road with my first real duvet, my last outside toilet and my only Francis Bacon soon to live next door.

Stan Cohen’s greeting smile.

Dancing the ‘funky gibbon’ with Mary Mac at one of Ted and Shelley’s parties.

Numberless parties at Ken and Ev’s: great music, brilliant food and far too much drink.

Having to learn how to teach again after smoking was banned in all classrooms.

Seeing the first punk tour with Wreckless Eric, the Stranglers et al in the university ballroom.

Derrick Schwartz telling me that Harold Wolpe’s nickname amongst the graduate students was ‘killer’ because he always responded to their answers to his questions by asking them to explain why they had so answered.

Dropping in on George Kolankiewicz, Sean Nixon or Ted Benton for a chat.

The Rose and Crown.

Ted’s face when I told him at a party in the upstairs bar that my idea of communism was lying on a beach, listening to music and drinking beer.

Driving up to Colchester from London with Harold and Ernesto Laclau. They argued about Marxism all the way – never again, absolutely terrifying.

Many lifts from Harold on his own to and from London – also very fast but not quite so terrifying. I ultimately realized that he was trying to teach me how to theorize with his relentless ‘whys?’.

Being in a car going back to London wIth Jean Baudrillard – haunting.

Lifts to London with Sean, RIchard Wilson and Carlo Ruzza: life-enhancing and serene progresses.

Watching George on TV every night during the rise of Solidarity.

Harold’s poker evenings in Wivenhoe. I never played but Mike Lane, MIck Mann and colleagues from Literature did. No one ever admitted to losing anything…

The Fuller Bequest: it paid for two long trips to and around the US during the 1970s – Greyhound is probably the best way for a sociologist to travel around America, but does anyone have the time anymore?

An outdoor hot spring bath with Professor Fuwa and his colleagues on a Japanese mountainside when the first snowflakes of the winter started to fall.

Staying overnight at Dennis Marsden and Jean Duncombe’s, especially our breakfast chats.

Realizing that when Mary GIrling gave me a nickname it meant I was generally accepted as being a fit and proper person to be a member of the Department.

Spending time with Howard Newby in Madison when we were both exiles in America.

Maxine Molyneux when she suddenly swerved off the road and roared around a field when taking me and others back from the pub to my house in Wormingford – such is the power of Abbot Ale.

A gorgeous lunch at Mick Mann and NIcky Hart’s equally gorgeous house in Dedham.

The ‘Sociology of the USA’ class that lasted four and half hours.

David Lockwood’s amusement on suddenly realizing that we both had rather small feet.

Eating horse sashimi (and mushrooms) with HIromi Shimodaira in Matsumoto.

A lovely party at Ian Craib’s beautiful windmill in Sudbury.

Cruising (not really) in Santa Barbara and Hollywood with Harvey Molotch and Glen.

The External Examiner’s dinners.

Going with Pete Utting and Amalia Chamorro to the celebrations in Managua that marked the second anniversary of the Nicaraguan revolution – ‘presente’.

Getting extremely drunk (on Sociology as well as wine) at Bryan Turner’s house one night – I think that must have been when we became frIends.

Teaching the joint seminar in Government and Sociology with Bob Jessop. Having just ridden all the way from Cambridge on his pushbike, Bob would come in and speak perfect Jessopese for the first hour without a note.

DInner in Hong Kong with Ken and Ev, Travis Kong, Raymond Chan but unfortunately not Jimmy Wong.

Getting to know John Gagnon (a little). The most sophisticated person I have ever met – ‘awesome’ as he would never say in a million years.

An outdoor hot bath with Professor Fuwa and his colleages on a Japanese mountainside when the first snowflakes of the winter started to fall.

Great chats with Lydia Morris at the French House in Soho.

Bryan suggesting to me at the Dictionary Launch in the LTB foyer that I extend my work on labour rights to human rights more generally. I replied that unfortunately I knew nothing about human rights. ‘Exactly’ said Bryan, ‘nobody in sociology does’.

Suggesting to Richard Wilson that he extend his work on truth commissions to human rights more generally. Richard replied that unfortunately he knew nothing about human rIghts. ‘Exactly’ I said.

A summer holiday in Montecastrilli with Mike and Joan – delicious and topped off with dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Joinville on the way back.

Visiting (many times) Katsu Harada’s beautiful, neo-traditional house in Kamakura and listening to jazz.

Harold’s inevitable response to any request for advice on a difficult personal matter, ‘Tony, do as you think best.’ Still good advice.

Thanks everyone.
Tony

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Raymond Chan (MA 1989, PhD 1996)

Raymond ChanKen asked me to write a short piece to share my memory of my encounter with Sociology Department at Essex, which I am delighted to do so.
I learnt about Sociology at Essex from my former teacher Sammy Chiu (who had been at Essex in 1982 to 83). Those big names such as Peter Townsend, Stan Cohen, David Lockwood, Paul Thompson …; and the radical and progressive academic atmosphere attracted me. With all those fantasy and romantic dreams on studying overseas, I came to Essex to study the MA in Social Service Planning programme (which ceased to be on offer from the early 1990s) in 1988. I was greeted by Dennis Marsden along the corridor (in fact, he sent me most of the course outline months earlier so that I could prepare better), and then, a warm welcome by Brenda Corti who showed me my pigeon hole in the Sociology Reading Room. The Reading Room became my favourite place to meet friends and fellow students (and I learnt how to refill the coffee powder in the machine, and drink coffee on and on every day). It was there I found two Hong Kong students (C H Ng and W K Chan) were in there final stage of PhD study in the Department. I was very fortunate to have the Department’s support and then receive a full scholarship to support my study. Without this, I don’t think I could have come to Essex. It proved to be a turning point of my life.

Yet, I was probably not too ready for academic study at that time, and did not perform very  well during this year. Nevertheless, it gave me an eye-opening experience, being exposed to a variety of theories and perspectives, staff with diverse academic interests, and personal contact with students from all over the world. I was also impressed by the very informal and warm atmosphere in the Department, with a lot of social activities: the graduate workshop and conference at Clacton-on-Sea, the gatherings and interesting discussions in The Rose and Crown at Wivenhoe (I can now  find it  on Google Earth!), Chinese meals at the relatively cheap Dragon House also at Wivenhoe (I still have a picture with Omololu Soyombo who is now at Lagos University, and Moha Asri Abdullah who is now with International Islamic University Malaysia). I also remember Mary Girling’s lovely dogs sitting quietly in the Reading Room. May to June 1989 was a dramatic and traumatic moment for many Chinese students, for the things happened in Tiananmen Square. And the Department staff were very understanding and supported us in organizing actions on the campus. In that year, I also experienced many personal challenges, and I was so grateful to the support from Dennis, Michael Harloe, Brenda, Mary and many others, that I could recover quickly to complete my dissertation (supervised by Michael) in August and then have time for  a lovely “run-the-England / Scotland” trip with Moha.

I graduated in 1989, and went back to Hong Kong to work for three years. But I decided to return to Essex to start my PhD in September 1992, under the supervision of Michael. As Michael was leaving for Salford to become  Vice-chancellor in 1997, I had a good reason pushing me to finish my study as quickly as possible (I passed the viva in January 1996, and received my PhD in July). I still consider coming back to Essex to do my PhD as the right decision. I received tremendous support and excellent guidance from Michael, Colin Samson and Rob Stones (they were my panel member). Studying PhD was a very different experience from studying a MA. Well, I became older and more mature, spent lesser time in the Common Room and more time in my own office, concentrated on my own study and more intellectual discussion with other PhD students. The Department offered me financial sponsorship on data collection both in UK and in Hong Kong. After spending the first year in Essex, I returned to Hong Kong to work with City University of Hong Kong (where I stay until now) to earn money to pay tuition fee. Thanks to email, I received very good guidance from Michael. Michael gave me very detail comments on every draft chapter.

It was 25 years since I first came to Essex. In August 2013, I visited the Department again with my family, told my children how I spent my times in there. That was summer, and the Reading Room and the campus were almost empty. Still managed to buy souvenir from the shop. I also visited Mary, and my children played with her deerhounds.

have had many opportunities to connect with old and new friends from Essex in many other occasions. Met Ken, Rob, Paul Thompson, Yasmin Soysal, Karen O’Reilly (she is also the external examiner of a programme in my University) and Tony Woodiwiss in Hong Kong, Bryan Turner in Seoul, Adrian Sinfield in Edinburgh, Michael (apart from Hong Kong) in Salford and Oxford, Mary in Brightlingsea, John Scott through email (!), visited the ‘Colin Bell’ Building at Stirling, hosted two Essex Sociology graduates as my post-doc fellow and visiting PhD student.  But sad to know some have passed away in these years: Ian Craib, Dennis, Brenda, Mary McIntosh, Barbara Hudson …

The Department has changed a lot. The social policy (my major research area) component seems no longer a key emphasis in the Department. Many familiar faces have left. Yet, the Department is as strong, vibrant, energetic and international as always. Wihtout any hesitation, I am proud to be a graduate of the Essex Sociology Department.

I welcome you to visit me in Hong Kong!
URL:  http://www6.cityu.edu.hk/stfprofile/raymond.chan.htm

Raymond Chan (MA 1989, PhD 1996)

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Maurice Punch (1965-6; 1968-75, BA, PhD, Lecturer)

 

Scannen0001;my foto

After a History degree at Exeter and a PGCE in London I taught in a secondary school. During the PGCE I enjoyed the Sociology of Education and found Education and the Working-Class by Jackson and Marsden (1962) particularly illuminating. I had no idea that I would be taught by Dennis Marsden, would work with him at Essex and become a close friend. Sadly he died in 2009 after a long illness but I was able to visit him and Jean (Duncombe) a number of times in his last years. At a memorial symposium at Essex on his work colleagues referred to this book as graphically illustrating their mobility through education laced with class ambivalence – which was also my experience.

One day at school I saw an advertisement in The Times Educational Supplement for a Master’s in Sociology at Essex, applied and was accepted in 1965. The university was brand new and the student population tiny – my year was the second cohort – and the campus buildings were under construction. Almost none of the students had a background in Sociology and neither had many of the staff. There was an emphasis on Social Policy given that Peter Townsend was the founding father and he recruited people, including Adrian Sinfield and Dennis Marsden, with a Fabian engagement with class and social problems. Classes were small and the teaching mostly engaging although Parsonian functionalism didn`t much appeal to me: we had no idea that Geoffrey Hawthorn was new at the game and was struggling with his burden of teaching (as he explains in an interview). My focus was on the Sociology of Education and my thesis was on boarding schools. On graduation I started a PhD at Cambridge on that topic but for various reasons transferred back to Essex where I had an exemplary supervisor in Geoffrey Hawthorn. In 1970 I was offered a lectureship and taught several courses including the Sociology of Education with Dennis. Then in 1975 I moved to The Netherlands, initially for a few years but my stay has become permanent. My wife Corry is Dutch and I had spent a sabbatical period at the University of Amsterdam in 1973: the contacts made then led later to an offer to teach in the University of Utrecht.

Looking back I would say that Essex was remarkable in that it attracted staff from all sorts of backgrounds and disciplines but, given that many of them were gifted and productive, it soon became a leading Sociology department not only in the UK but also in Europe. In those early years there was Peter Townsend, David Lockwood, Mary McIntosh (from 1975), Alan Ryan, Peter Abel, George Kolankiewicz, Dennis Marsden, Geoffrey Hawthorn, David Lane, Adrian Sinfield, Colin Bell, Michael Mann, Joan Busfield, Ted Benton, Paul Thompson and Alistair McIntyre (some of whom have passed away). It was largely a man`s world but the gender imbalance started to be rectified from then on. There was little academic ritual, a low sense of  hierarchy and the general atmosphere was one of trendy newness. At the same time there was a strong culture of stimulating and rewarding research and publications but without the performance pressures of recent years in UK universities. This was a golden age of individual freedom and few administrative burdens: most people set their own agendas and could, unhindered, use the summer vacation and sabbaticals for research and writing. Predatory publishers stalked the corridors forcing contracts and advances on us. Given the smallness and newness and that quite a few staff lived in Wivenhoe with young families, there were generally amicable relationships and frequent socializing – including on the Wivenhoe quayside on Sunday afternoon. We also played cricket, football and squash and on Saturdays some of us went with to watch football at Ipswich. For me it was a busy time of starting a family, preparing classes and trying to get something published.

The philosophy of the university was innovative – with few of the trappings of the traditional universities – as the Vice-Chancellor boldly proclaimed in the BBC Reith Lectures (Sloman: 1963). Unfortunately its foundation coincided with student radicalism and Essex attracted certain students – some now peers of the realm – who unsettled the benign culture with  demonstrations, intimidation of staff, rent-strikes and sit-ins. There were problems with drug use, theft, damage to property and guest speakers being shouted down. Students occupied the administration building with access to confidential staff and student files and to the keys of the offices: rooms were entered, there was some pilfering (including of research data) and all the locks had to be changed. Later conservative politicians and newspapers called for Essex to be closed down. So those were interesting times with never a dull day.

Particularly disturbing for a university were student “strikes” with the barricading of lecture theatres to prevent students attending classes. On one occasion a student resolutely climbed over a barrier and found he was alone with Alistair McIntyre. Both agreed they wouldn`t allow intimidation to restrict their freedom and McIntyre gave him a private master-class on Philosophy. The student was Geoffrey Markham who was one of the Essex police officers studying full-time. Sending officers to university for three years was a considerable investment at that time but Essex was a forward looking force. The scheme continued for some years, became  part-time and was later supervised by Maggy Lee. I became friendly with some of these officers and this began to shift my research interest to policing. Years later together with Maggy I interviewed some of them and invariably the experience of studying enhanced their professionalism and their career (Lee and Punch: 2005).

Indeed, Markham maintains that the degree has been crucial throughout his career and to his performance as a highly-regarded officer who reached high rank. Most of the police graduates stayed in the force and did well. For instance, Ralph Crawshaw studied Politics and returned to the university after retirement, took a Masters in Human Rights Law and has become an authority in the field. He writes of how stimulating it was to be taught by Ivor Crewe, Mike Freeman and Ian Budge and that the “whole experience was quite transforming”. It helped him do some things differently in the police service as he`d been made aware of the power of the state and abuse of that power. This led him directly to human rights and after graduating he decided that he would go back to the university once he`d reached pensionable age “primarily because the whole process had been so stimulating and rewarding”. Clearly attending university was of great value to him and others. I`m plainly biased – both Geoffrey and Ralph have been  instrumental in helping me with my police research and publications and we have remained friends ever since – but I believe the scheme was positive for both the Essex Police and the university. And it should be acknowledged in the institutional memory.

But in the radical early 1970s there was deep suspicion of the police presence on campus. For example, at one stage after several weeks of students blocking access to the campus, the police moved in and arrested over a 100 students. The police were led by one of the Essex graduates. Then disinformation appeared in the press that the officer had been planted in the university and had not honestly attained his first-class degree. This was typical of the antagonism to the police in general at that time, some of which rubbed off on me. Moreover, what actually happened when the blockade was broken has become distorted with memory: for a previous contributor to this site wrote – perhaps on hearsay – that, during the stand-off between students and the police at the blockade, Peter Townsend interceded and calmed matters down. That is not quite what happened. The students had been blocking access to the campus for weeks and eventually an Assistant Chief Constable met with the VC and others and firmly informed them that, although this was private property, it was intolerable that illegal conduct was restricting people`s freedom and the police would have to intervene. I`m sure Peter did his utmost to resolve the situation and avoid confrontation but, with fuel and supplies running short, the decision had already been taken. When the police contingent arrived Sociology staff inserted themselves between the police and students as a kind of deescalating buffer. But Howard Becker was giving a staff seminar that afternoon and suddenly nearly all the staff disappeared except for me. The students refused to give way, the police moved in and made the arrests when there was any resistance: after some scuffling it was soon over.

There was, then, a downside to that first decade at Essex but it was also an exciting period of innovative research and impressive productivity. Furthermore, it was typical of the eclecticism that there was the social historian Paul Thompson pioneering oral history and organizing fascinating field-trips; Stan Cohen enthusiastically promoting the Sociology of Deviance; and Colin Bell and Howard Newby reinventing Agricultural Sociology. However, the rather idyllic early years of pioneering and amicable solidarity started to wane as people of different academic and theoretical plumage joined the faculty and there were hefty doctrinal disputes that diminished the emphasis on Social Policy.

For several reasons I felt that I had to spread my wings. There were frustrations as I was low in the pecking order, would remain second to Dennis if I stayed in the education field (and he spent the rest of his career at Essex) and I was experiencing difficulties with the sponsors of my PhD research on former pupils of Dartington Hall School. The Trustees of the “progressive” Dartington enterprise endeavoured to restrict access to my PhD – Peter Townsend flatly refused to countenance that – and prevent publication of my findings (cf Punch: 1979, 1986). But I badly needed a publication and wrote  an article for the BJS without asking their permission which led to irate missives from Devon but fortunately, after some grovelling, they were not followed by a writ. So when an application to the Home Office for police research was turned down I decided to move abroad, originally for a short period.

But I look back at that period in Essex as one of remarkably productive achievement in innovative and quality scholarship: and which in a very short period of time, and reinforced by later cohorts of talented academics, developed a leading department of Sociology. There were equally strong faculties of Politics, Economics and Law – with a leading Human Rights Centre – that could muster their own line-up of star performers.

Finally, the Essex I left in 1975 was still small with predominantly British staff and students, while Colchester was a dull, grey garrison town. Thanks to the internet a Brazilian student of the time (Julio Grieco) contacted me recently and wrote about how cold the place was and how awful the food. The architecture of Mediterranean palazzos was certainly not geared to North Sea gales and the cuisine served in Wivenhoe House was of Fawlty Towers quality. Then through meeting Nigel South at a conference over a decade ago I began teaching again at Essex but in the Law School with Jim Gobert. I was amazed that there were people around from way back. Mary Girling was still the Secretary in Sociology and the old squash-ladder lay in a corner.

But Colchester had gone through a major make-over. And the university had expanded considerably, the resources and infrastructure (including for languages and for sport) had improved immensely, there was a rich cosmopolitan diversity of students and faculty, vibrant summer schools were taking place, new departments had arisen and Sociology was scoring high on the RAE. And although the northerly wind could still howl across the squares the catering had progressed greatly, at least by British standards.

Lee, M. and Punch, M. (2006) Policing by Degrees  (Groningen: Hondsrug Pers)

Punch, M. (1979) Progressive Retreat (Cambridge: Cambridge University  Press)

Punch, M. (1986) Politics and Ethics of Field Work (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage)

09-01-2014

Amstelveen, The Netherlands.

 

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Ruth Lister (1967-70)

Ruth Lister (1967-70)Ruth Lister (1967-70)For all the significance my decision to study at Essex was to have on my life, my memories of my actual time there are very hazy.  I do remember the mixture of excitement and trepidation I felt when I first arrived in 1967 in what was still in part a building site and, then again taking part in my first seminar groups.  I enjoyed being part of such a new and young department and to feel that we, the students, were contributing to its development alongside the staff.  I was privileged to be taught by Peter Townsend and I suspect it was those seminars that led me to the Child Poverty Action Group and then on to an academic social policy role.  However, we had our criticisms of the curriculum: in particular we felt we were served a somewhat indigestible overdose of Talcott Parsons with very little of the founding ‘fathers’ of sociology on the academic menu!

But my clearest memory is of some of the events of May 1968.  The sense of virtually the whole student community coming together in protest was exhilarating.  Every time I hear Country Joe and the Fish’s Fixing to Die Rag it takes me back to dancing round the square.  (And music generally was a highlight -crushed into the Hexagon for bands such as the Who and Fairport Convention.)  I recall one of the endless meetings when a woman, whose name I forget, strode across the platform, sleeping bag under her arm, declaring that she’d had enough of all this f****** talk and was off to Paris where the real action was.

The aftermath of May 1968 was, however, disappointing.  We negotiated with the university authorities for greater student participation in the governance of the university.  But when we returned the next year it seemed like much of the political energy had dissipated: the student leaders had retreated into the developing counter-culture leaving the foot soldiers to get involved in the more mundane staff-student liaison committees etc.    Indeed my overall memory of the Left at Essex isn’t that positive.  When I went to a meeting of what I think was called the Socialist Society as a green fresher it was so unwelcoming that I never went back.  And I found it strange that the same leaders who spoke the language of student-worker unity were dismissive of the concerns of local residents (many of whom were of course the very same workers).

My disappointment is, however, not to belittle the significance of greater student involvement in departmental governance, which was still pretty novel back then.  In the sociology department I think we were able to make a real difference, especially with regard to how our work was assessed.

Overall I’m proud to be a graduate of the Essex sociology department; and receiving an honorary degree in 2012, with the oration given by Joan Busfield who taught me all those years ago, was quite an emotional experience.

Ruth Lister is Baroness Lister of Burtersett and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University. She was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Essex on July 18th, 2011. For more, click on Honorary Degree.

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John Veit-Wilson (1964-1967)

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John Veit-Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy of Northumbria University and Visiting Professor in Sociology at Newcastle University.  He was one of the original ‘poverty researchers’ employed in the foundation year of the university (1964).  He has sustained a life-long interest in concepts, theories and measures of poverty, their uses and their histories, extending it to issues of human rights  to incomes adequate for social inclusion. He writes:

In September 1964 I was appointed a research officer in the just-opening Essex sociology department, working on the national survey of poverty under Peter Townsend at Essex and Brian Abel-Smith at LSE. It was a joint project, even if Peter’s name is inseparably associated with it; Brian later dropped out of the joint project when it became incompatible with his other activities. I’d been working in London in various jobs, management training and business services for five years, after a postgraduate degree in Stockholm, and so until we found a house in Colchester and sold ours in London I worked in one of LSE’s offshoot buildings (Skepper House near UCL). I also had the use of an office in one of the wooden prefab huts behind Wivenhoe House. We moved to Colchester in early summer 1965, by which time sociology had moved into the new concrete buildings, and I shared an office with Joan Busfield, who had just arrived…

I focused on the research project and didn’t have any teaching responsibilities. During the months I was still in London and working at LSE, I worked with Hilary Land on the intensive qualitative pilot study of large families, which she continued. When I got to Essex I worked on the study of long-term sick and disabled men and their families as my sole project. Dennis Marsden was studying single mothers and Adrian Sinfield had already written on his study of unemployed men and their families. The aim was for the first time to generate fruitful ideas about what people who were themselves experiencing situations in which poverty is a risk when other compensating resources are deficient, saw as the necessities and the deprivations of ordinary lives. From these ideas the team then developed new approaches to poverty, both conceptually in terms of the public rather than the expert perspective on what it meant, and also methodologically. It was the findings of these studies that suggested the key indicators of what deprivation was in the UK at that time as perceived by the public. In the light of subsequent argument about ‘who dreamt them up’ it’s important to re-emphasise their foundations in empirical research.

My contract as a research officer was specified as three years from the outset, so it was naturally expected to terminate in August 1967. By then the pilot projects had been completed and the team was drawing conclusions from them and planning the next, national, stage of the research. At that point the Rowntree funding did not cover as many staff and so my contract was not extended. Hilary (at LSE) and Dennis continued, and Adrian was already lecturing anyway. With a wife and three young children to support I had to take the first permanent teaching job I was offered, which turned out to be at what later became Newcastle Polytechnic. I worked there for 25 years and was head of the sociology group (about 16 people) from 1974 to 1987. I’ve been at Newcastle University  in various honorary or research positions since taking early retirement from the Poly (now called Northumbria University) in 1992.

As my first degree was in economics and social anthropology and with a masters’ degree (equivalent) in Swedish social policy, there was a tremendous amount of sociology for me to learn, and immersion in the busy intellectual life of the Essex sociology department certainly affected my life and career greatly thereafter. Peter sent me on the first BSA summer school for postgraduate students and new researchers, at Exeter University in the summer of 1965, which also taught me a lot. Colin Bell was a fellow student. He was a graduate student at Swansea at the time, I believe, but with some connection to the Banbury project I seem to recall. Essex was a small and very friendly and welcoming department while I was there, and I and my family had a lot of help in settling in from people like Ernest and Fiona Rudd. Ioan Davies’s partner found us an au pair (Eva Riekert with whom we are still in friendly contact) in an emergency when our third child was about to be born.

There’s one correction I should make, though, and that’s to the entry about Dennis Marsden, a lifelong friend from those times. He wasn’t appointed a year after the university opened but only four months later. He and I used to joke about the fact that I’d been appointed from 1 September 1964 and was therefore eligible for the additional allowance for staff children then paid by all universities. That allowance was abolished from the end of 1964; so when Dennis took up his post on New Year’s Day 1965 he did not get it for his children. All three research officers on the poverty team (Hilary, Dennis, me) were offered their appointments during 1964 and Dennis was the last to be able to take up the post. Michael Meacher was also a researcher in the department at this time, and was just developing his political interests — he fought the 1966 election in Colchester as an apprentice no-hope Labour candidate before being selected for Oldham. He’d already gone to York by the time I left Colchester in September 1967.

The work of the poverty research team and what I learnt at Essex made an enormous contribution to my entire subsequent career in poverty theory and method, as can be seen on my personal website (www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/j.veit-wilson/). It includes a rehabilitation of the pre-Townsendian theoretical work of the poverty research pioneer Seebohm Rowntree. That was followed by three archive studies: the Beveridge Committee’s covert assumptions about benefit levels (they recommended less-eligibility not adequacy); the only government in-house study of National Assistance (in)adequacy ever carried out (kept secret and firmly denied as even feasible ever since); and the absence of any conceptual justification for the level of the personal tax allowance.  My cross-national work in the early 1990s led to the development of the concept of Governmental Minimum Income Standards. It was not surprisingly rejected by government but a version of it is now widely accepted as an empirically justified basis for setting the living wage. And at a practical policy level, I accompanied Brian Abel-Smith who was speaking about the findings of Peter’s and his research (published as The Poor and the Poorest, 1965) to the meeting called by Quakers concerned about poverty at Toynbee Hall in March 1965. The participants decided to take action and set up what became the Child Poverty Action Group. I wrote its first policy paper and have been actively involved with it for most of the subsequent half-century, most recently as a trustee and vice-chair. And it could be said I owe all that to my Essex experiences in 1964-67.

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John’s achievements and activities in recent years have included election as an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences and Honorary Fellow of the Joint University Council. He has held visiting professorships at the universities of Bremen and ELTE, Budapest, and numerous visiting scholar positions in other countries, including a Research Fellowship at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Studies, Delmenhorst, Germany 2008-09. He is consultant both to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation research programme on ‘Money Matters’ as well as member of advisory groups on  Minimum Income Standards and other projects, and to the Technical University of Lisbon’s research programme on Minimum Income Standards for Portugal. Journals in Greece and Korea have included him as an adviser, and his work has been translated into German, Greek, Polish and Russian. He has translated two social policy books from German, on poverty concepts and research and on European Foundations of the Welfare State, as well as from Swedish, the Social Democratic Party’s statement of Principles and Values.

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