The homeless as the last materialists – an obsession with cash

Money in the hands of a homeless person. Source:

“Without money, without income, there is no social existence, no existence at all in fact, material or physical. […] The paradox of capitalist societies is that the economy is the main source of exclusion but that this exclusion not only excludes people from the economy, it excludes or threatens ultimately to exclude them from society itself” Godelier, 1998:2[i]

In today’s society, money is the non-plus-ultra. There is no way around it. You use it every day to buy a morning-coffee, pay for a lunch-deal at M&S and the after-work cocktail with your friends. You can’t live without.

But money’s appearance has changed. In the past century, money has increasingly ‘dematerialised’ and ‘virtualised’[ii] – just think about Bitcoins. Money was a tangible commodity when we still had coins; how wonderful to feel the heaviness of a piece of silver! Already in its paper form, representation and sign became more important.[iii] Now, even this ‘fake materiality’ is lost as money appears more and more with a virtual face.[iv]


Pick-Up Artists and Anti-Pick-Up Artists: Promises of Sexist Gender Ideologies Denied

["White Ribbon". Source: MesserWoland [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

In response to the horrific murders at UC Santa Barbara two weeks ago, many commentators have pointed out the perpetrator’s connection to so-called Anti-Pickup Artist online communities and to the misogynist and racist motivations of the shooting. Whereas the Pick-Up Artist fad has received some media attention and academic study in the past, the so-called Anti-Pick-Up artist scene has received much less attention – with notable exceptions well worth reading – and has probably been completely off the radar even for those of us studying gender. Even though the name suggests an oppositional stance on the idea of PickUp artistry, in reality, these Anti-Pick-Up Artists share in the very same gender ideology as those being drawn to Pick-Up Artist message boards and websites. Add in the frustration with the ineffectiveness of the Pick-Up Artists’ tips and strategies, and the Anti-Pick-Up Artist scene reveals itself as promoting an equally – if note more – toxic gender ideology.


The Local Face of a Global Epidemic

Source: COPS

Source: COPS


In my last posting, I wrote about my concerns as I prepared to travel abroad to volunteer for a NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal. Today, I have settled in and completed three days of my volunteer assignment. In the past few days, I have learned about trafficking in one of the most powerful ways possible, through day-to-day interaction with survivors of the human trafficking trade. (more…)

The “Sharing Economy”: is sharing really caring?

By krzyboy2o (milkshake anyone? Uploaded by JohnnyMrNinja) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The ‘sharing economy’ is on the rise and it might just revolutionise the way we buy and sell things.  It’s a fascinating new development, which one one hand may be seen as empowering and anti-corporate, or alternatively, as a threat to existing small businesses; a means for deepening existing inequalities of ownership; or something which appears vulnerable to the very corporations it seeks to replace. It’s also known as ‘collaborative consumption’ or the ‘peer-to-peer economy’, but whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty likely that you have already been a consumer or maybe even a ‘provider’ in this emerging marketplace. If like me, you’ve used a car-share website, or rented out a room in a stranger’s house, you’ll know what I’m talking about.


UKIP and ‘The Wrong Type of Immigrant’



It remains to be seen if a surge in support for the right-wing nationalist UK Independence Party fulfils its mainstream media billing “as a seismic shift in the political landscape”. Voter turnout was low; around 34%, and, ironically, given UKIP’s obsession with Europe’s threat to Britain’s legislative sovereignty, there were few domestic policy issues at stake. UKIP has little meaningful to say about, for example, schools or the health service. Its self-defining agenda is to prevent immigration. (more…)

Whose Voice is it Anyway? Gender and Power in Ventriloquism

Nina Conti (

Nina Conti (

Last week I went with a friend of mine to see a performance by comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti. I really cannot recommend her enough, and as with all her performances I was in stitches. Whilst I could easily fill this post waxing lyrical at her talents, there is (as always) as sociological element to her work. Firstly, elements of her performance demonstrate how displays of emotion have become cultural currency, particularly for women. Secondly, it engenders interesting questions regarding power dynamics in interaction; there is a contradiction between her ‘powerful’ role as leader of the interaction, and the power-less position of being female.


Nation’s Latest Drug Scare, Heroin is Back


The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman triggered a national awareness that heroin had cycled back as a prominent drug in the United States. His death brought forth questions that challenged many people’s notions of a drug user—poor and unsuccessful. Many people asked how a person who had so much could get addicted to heroin. The reality is that Hoffman was one of many people throughout the United States using heroin. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, 335,000 people used heroin in 2012 up from 239,000 people in 2010. (more…)

“Old enough to know better?” The decline of deviance in the young


By r.f.m II from Colora Maryland, United States (Self-Portrait #26) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


A recent article by editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson, highlighted an interesting set of trends among young people in the UK. Young people are having less sex, drinking less, and taking fewer drugs than older generations. Nelson invoked the 1990s BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, where the mother – binge-drinking, hedonistic, promiscuous fashionista Edina – was consistently disappointed by the celibacy, abstinence and downright sensibleness displayed by her daughter Saffron.  Saffie would chastise her mother for disturbing her homework when she arrived home drunk on champagne and vodka following a gallery opening or a fashion show, while Edina would complain about her daughter’s sexual restraint: “I don’t want a moustached virgin for a daughter, so do something about it!” (more…)

A Sociologist Volunteers Abroad

Source: SASANE

Source: SASANE


In ten days I’ll get on a plane from New York and travel for 15 and a half hours to Kathmandu, Nepal.  I’ll stay in Nepal for four weeks, living in a volunteer house with 13 foreigners, all volunteering at various organizations and institutions in and around Kathmandu.  Some volunteers will work in hospitals or medical clinics, while others will teach English in local schools, community centers, and orphanages.  There is even a program through the Ministry of Agriculture Development Department of Livestock Services to work on livestock breeding projects, disease prevention, and animal health policy.  I’ll be working at Samrakshak Samuha Nepal, SASANE, an anti-trafficking NGO established in 2008 by a group of former Nepalese victims of human trafficking.

The sexual exploitation of women and girls in the developing world has once again become a global campaign since the abduction and rumored mass marriages of over 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in mid April.  A-listers from Michele Obama to Ellen DeGeneres have been photographed holding the “Bring Back Our Girls” hashtag.  And a recent report from Amnesty International suggested that authorities in Qatar have failed to protect female migrant workers from abuse, including forced labor and human trafficking.


‘Goal: play anal with butt plug’ – New virtual prostitution and the limits to participation


New virtual prostitution – webcam porn to earn ‘tips’

Recently, I have thought about new forms of pornography and prostitution. The internet landscape in particular is changing rapidly. The old commercial porn industry is really in trouble; not only has it trouble finding a location for its filming after the ban from LA, sales have been going downhill – up to 80% have been lost since 2007. A big part of the reason for this decline is the boom of webcam sites, like Livejasmine and Omeglegirls. Private performers log in from a studio or even from home to perform one-to-one or group shows. Customers can design their very own live porn movie. The price for the private entertainment is quite high – up to £4 per minute. But some sites, like Omegle, use a group tipping-system, which makes it easy for free-riders to enjoy sex-shows without ever paying.