Posts Tagged psychosocial studies

Susie Scott, BA Sociology 1999, MA Sociology 2000

I first came to Essex in 1996, as a shy 18 year old in my gap year, with the intention of filling in time before starting a Psychology degree. As my Dad (John Scott) was teaching in the department, I started hanging out in the Resource Room, with Helen Hannick and the team of student volunteers. We helped students with study skills, proof reading essays, and general support and advice. Later   on, Rowena Macaulay arrived to replace Helen, and did an equally great job of building up the Resource Room and creating a student community. I had such a fantastic time there and made such wonderful friends (including fellow Essex Sociology alumni Chrissie Rogers, Paul Howell, Lynne Pettinger and Agnes Skamballis) that I decided I wanted to stay and become a sociologist instead! The department was a lovely place to be, with so many interesting people and warm, friendly staff – I felt instantly at home there. I’ll always remember the day I was coming home on the train and met Tony Woodiwiss, then Head of Department, who answered my tentative question of whether he thought there was a chance I could stay on with a wry smile and the words, “I should think that would be quite likely.”

So I studied at Essex as an undergraduate from 1996-1999 (BA Sociology) and then as a postgraduate from 1999-2000 (MA Sociology). Never looked back on that lost career as a psychologist, which I’m sure I would have sucked at. I loved every minute of my time at Essex and learned so much – I really think it was the perfect place to study Sociology, as everyone was so interested and passionate about both research and teaching.  After that, I moved to Cardiff to do my PhD (2000-2003) on ‘the sociology of shyness’, which then became my trademark topic. Then in 2004, after a period of research bits and pieces and increasingly desperate job-hunting, I somehow landed both an ESRC postdoctoral fellowship and a follow-on lectureship at Sussex University, where I have been ever since.

My research interests are in self-identity, interaction and everyday life, and Sussex has allowed me to indulge my love of Symbolic Interactionist theory and Goffman’s dramaturgy in my research and teaching.  I’ve carried on the shyness research through my book, Shyness and Society (Palgrave, 2007) and various articles about shyness as interactional deviance, as well as subsequent projects about lecturers’ experiences of performance anxiety, and the effects of new technologies/digital media upon shyness in contemporary art galleries. My second book, called Making Sense of Everyday Life (Polity, 2009) was about the rituals, routines and norms that shape mundane social activities, such as sleeping, eating and shopping. The other strand of my research is in the field of health and illness, where I have worked on projects about risk assessment in both cancer genetics and the contested mental health condition ‘Dangerous and Antisocial Personality Disorder’, as well as a critique of the medicalisation of shyness as Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder. Reading Goffman’s famous study, Asylums, I became fascinated by the social worlds of total institutions (places where people spend 24 hours a day) and my third book, Total Institutions and Reinvented Identities (Palgrave 2011) was about how these had changed since Goffman’s time to be more about voluntary self-reinvention. More recently, I’ve done some random quirky projects about swimming pool behaviour and etiquette, and stage fright in performing artists. I am soon to begin a Leverhulme-funded study of asexual identities and practices of intimacy, with Matt Dawson (also ex-Essex) at the University of Glasgow. Finally, sticking with my Goffman/SI-obsession, the next book that I am working on is called Negotiating Identities, which has been a lot of fun to research and hopefully won’t be too painful to write. At least, I couldn’t have asked for a better foundation than having studied Sociology at Essex!

My links: I can be contacted at Sussex here:

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Daniel Nehring, BA 2002, MA 2003, PhD 2008

Image of Daniel Nehring on the Great Wall of China, 2011

I began my studies in Germany and Mexico and came to Essex in 2000 to finish my BA. I enjoyed my studies at Essex, made many friends, and in the end decided to stay for my MA and PhD as well. My PhD research looked at transformations of intimate life among young middle-class people in Mexico City. It was inspired by a class on gender issues in Latin America I had taken with Diane Elson when I was an undergraduate. This goes to show, I think, that inspirational teaching can have a major and lasting intellectual impact. It’s this kind of experiences at Essex that really made a difference for me.

After leaving the university in 2008, I held a number of appointments in the UK, the USA, and the Caribbean before recently settling down in a permanent position as Research Fellow at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. My current research, on the whole, examines transformations of personal life under conditions of neoliberal globalisation and rapid social change. In addition to my persistent interest in Latin America, I have recently also started research in China. At the moment, I involved in two research projects. One is a comparative study on therapeutic culture and neoliberal discourse in five societies. A respective monograph is due to be published by Palgrave next year. In addition, I have begun a project on transnational dating and marriage among young professionals in urban China, together with colleagues at Beijing Normal University and Middlesex University. Apart from these two projects, I have almost completed work on an edited volume on transformations of intimate life in contemporary Mexico (Ashgate, 2013) and an introductory textbook for undergraduates in sociology (Pearson, 2013).

At the moment, I spend my time mainly in the Americas and in China. I am still in touch with former colleagues at Essex, though, and I remain interested in developments in British academia. One of my ways of staying involved is a blog at SAGE’s Social Science Space (below). Here, I write regularly about issues of interest to postgraduate students and early-career sociologists.

My Links:

Blog at SAGE Social Science Space:

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Bethany Morgan, BA 2002, MA 2003 and 2005, PhD 2011

Image of Bethany Morgan BrettI started at The University of Essex in 1999 as a Linguistics student with an outside option in Sociology. I then found I loved sociology so changed over in the second year to the sociology degree scheme. I finished my BA in 2002. This was followed by an MA in Sociology 2002-2003. I then took a gap year doing social research work and returned to do a second MA from 2004-2005 on the ESRC 1+3 scheme. I then started my PhD in sociology in 2005 and completed in 2010, graduating in 2011.

I am currently now in paid employment at the University of Essex through the UK Data Archive in the ESDS Qualidata section. I train researchers (in the UK and Internationally) in secondary analysis skills and in research data management. I also create teaching resources for social science teaching. Long term I am looking to work as a lecturer or researcher in the area of social psychology.

My main academic interests are in psychosocial studies, social psychology, qualitative secondary analysis, psychoanalysis, inter-generational relationships, ageing, the sociology of death and dying, the life-course and midlife. My thesis was entitled ‘The Negotiation of Midlife: Exploring the Subjective Experience of Ageing’. It is archived with the British Library In it I explored the subjective experience of ageing with a particular focus on midlife. The three central themes of this thesis included the way the ageing process is experienced physically and how this in turn, affects the individual psychologically, the way personal and family relationships change during this period and the impact this has, and finally how people evaluate their lives and compared to an evaluation of their imagined futures.

I have also recently co-authored and published an article on some work I did on the Living and Working on Sheppey Project which explored the way in which young people living on Sheppey imagined their futures back in 1978 and this was then compared to the aspirations of young people in 2010.

Lyon, D., Morgan Brett, B., and Crow, G., (2012) ‘Working with Material from the Sheppey Archive: Exploring Formal and Contextual Data’ in Special Issue of International Journal for Social Research Methods: Perspectives on Working with Archived Textual and Visual Material.

You can find me on facebook here!!/bethanymorganbrett

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