Recently, I was asked to prepare a presentation for first year graduate students on presenting at professional conferences. I immediately recalled how terrified I was at my first round table presentation during the 2009 Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting and thought useful a simple summary of the various annual meetings and conferences might be for students in the early years of graduate school.
Presenting papers at professional conferences has been a useful tool during my graduate school career. In addition to the obvious benefits of networking and receiving feedback on my work, conference presentations have helped me determine what kind of research was of interest to me, clarify my research questions and methodologies, think about why my research is a meaningful contribution to the field of sociology, and tease through various drafts of my doctoral proposal. However, in the early days of graduate school I did not realize how important conference presentations were to the development of my work. I only knew that graduate students were supposed to present at conferences. I also (falsely) believed that national conferences like the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association were somehow better or more useful than smaller regional conference or mini conferences.
Just like we still need feminism today, we still need women’s colleges. In fact, the two are inseparable. Having attended one of the historic Seven Sisters and one of the remaining 52 women’s colleges (including coordinate colleges, 47 without) in the US, and now attending a large, southern co-ed land grant university with a large military presence and only 41.6% female enrollment, I am a strong advocate for single-sex education. I single handedly have experienced the positive pro-woman environment that these schools and classes can have, where every leadership position and every award is always given to a woman. But, I also know that personal anecdotes are not enough.
This year the World Wide Web is 25 years old. Web 1.0 was made possible by Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s creation of the http protocol which enabled us to retrieve of a copy of a document by accessing its address on a network. Web 2.0 was made by us; the content providers.
To realise the semantic web or Web 3.0 technologists envision everything (documents, data, inanimate objects, even us) having an address on a network and artificial intelligence having the ability to understand and ‘learn’ relationships between these addressed entities. So Web 3.0 will be created by machines as we become data sources on the network. (more…)
Something rather curious is going to happen next week. On Michaelmas – the 29th of September – the next Lord Mayor of London will be elected by the Liverymen of the City of London’s trade associations – those gilded ‘Worshipful Companies’ of, among other craftsmen, the Goldsmiths, Spectacle-Makers and even Management Consultants. (The Lord Mayor presides over the City of London – the Square Mile on the north bank of the Thames that historically has been home to London’s financial centre – and is not to be confused with the Mayor of London, who runs the Greater London Authority.) Shortly after election, the new Lord Mayor travels, in the State Coach, to swear allegiance to the Crown, amidst the pageantry of the Lord Mayor’s Show. One could be forgiven, perhaps, for thinking of the Show as ‘mere’ ceremony, devoid of the unmistakable and overt political functions – including competitive displays of power, and surveillance of the City’s inhabitants – that was enabled by its Medieval predecessor, the now defunct Midsummer Watch (described by John Stow in his 1598 Survay of London, above).
Words excite me. I can’t help it, words are all I have really: they are my bread and butter and what keeps the wolves from the door, and what gets me up in the morning. And a lot of the time that means that I have a propensity to use long words when short words would definitely do. (See, I did it there with propensity. ‘Tendency’ would have worked, ‘habit’ would have done, too. It’s a sickness really.)
Every so often being a Sociologist, academic and chronic over-thinker pays off, and this is one of those cases: those days when you read an academic paper and come across a theory or idea or unnecessarily long word that makes you realise something you had no idea that you knew all along. It’s the Holy Grail for PhD students really, because it gives you a way of structuring all of the over-thinking and over-analysis you do on a daily basis into a nice easy to understand concept. So please forgive me for getting excited about words, but this week I have a new favourite ‘long-word-way-of-saying-something’. The phrase is ‘Negative Intra-gender relations’ and it is basically an academic way of saying ‘bitching’. (more…)
“You put me in charge of Medicaid…”, the vice president of Arizona’s Republican Party and former state senator, Russell Pearce quipped on his weekly radio broadcast The Russell Pearce Show “the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants or tubal ligations”. Medicaid is a program designed to provide health-related services for people who cannot afford healthcare in the private sector. As Amanda Kennedy of Sociology Lens points out vividly here, “being valued as a parent is a white privilege…” and I would add, class privilege. (more…)
Today Scotland faces a monumental decision. For once, politics is thrilling, anything seems possible, Scots seem excited and motivated to vote, with a record turnout predicted. By the time you actually read this, the outcome might already be known. In the last weeks before the referendum, the result has been too close to call, which considering a few months ago the ‘No’ campaign had a twenty point lead, is quite a dramatic shift. Whatever today’s result, it will be a close one – Scotland will either become independent, with a huge proportion of people having voted to stay in the UK, or Scotland will remain British, with a huge proportion having voted to leave. Lots of people will not be happy, and the blame game will begin. Whatever the result, this campaign has reminded us of politicians’ increasing inability to persuade voters – quite a depressing thought, when that is what politicians are supposed to be there for.
Nobody really talks about how or why his or her research failed, or what you are supposed to do when you can see that the fieldwork you are in the middle of might be doomed. Those who decide to leave their research uncompleted rarely write up their experiences, and so the lessons that can be learnt about what not to do during your research, and how to avoid a similar outcome, are forever lost in the private notebooks of the ‘failed’ researcher (Wolcott, 2005, p. 214). I am sure I can’t be the first person to be six months into their fieldwork and be seriously doubting the entire process and already wondering if it is salvageable. So I have decided to write a post about why I think my research is going wrong. (more…)
Sociologists are frequently interested in how communities are imagined, built, developed, and restructured. Studies of how communities are destroyed, abolished, or evicted are typically associated with scholarship on genocide, war, natural disaster, or gentrification. These studies often equate the termination of a community with trauma, personal loss, and inequality. In some cases, communities dissolve in less dramatic ways. In some cases, as the needs of a population change, people and the communities they created travel from one space to another. Recent news regarding the redevelopment of downtown Caracas in Venezuela sets the stage for an unusual case of a decomposing community.
In the 1990s, construction on the Centro Financiero Confinanzas began as hopeful Venezuelans envisioned the creation of an economic mega-center similar to Wall Street in the United States. The skyscraper, which became known as the Tower of David after developer David Brillembourg, was a 221,000 square meter complex made up of five buildings and a 47-floor glass tower (Caldieron 2013: 139). Expectations were high. However, in 1993 Brillembourg died and the following year the Venezuelan market collapsed. Construction on the Tower of David came to a halt.