Doing Secondments as an Applied Sociologist

Throughout my career, I have taken on roles that require secondments both interstate and overseas. I have always treated these as a type of ethnography – I’m there to do a job, but I’m observing workplace relations and surroundings. This helps me cope with the “culture shock” that comes with gliding into a new work environment, and being expected to hit the ground running, with little time to get acclimatised. Continue reading Doing Secondments as an Applied Sociologist

Media, Universities and Social Movements

Sociologist Dingxin Zhao argues that in an authoritarian society, social movements are radical while in democratic states, social movements are reformist. In his book, The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement, Zhao argues that even though Western societies position the media as an independent agent, Zhao’s research shows that the media tends to portray the views of the dominant culture. By representing the majority, the media are actually conformist.

In an authoritative regime, the media are under state control. Zhao argues that in China in the mid-1980s, the media tried to escape state control by reporting positively on the student protest movement. Similarly, Zhao argues that universities are more radical in an “underdeveloped authoritarian regime” than in Western societies. In China, the university system “over produced” students who then joined radical social movements.

Zhao’s comparative focus on state institutions and social institutions remains ever useful.  


Photo: Dingxin Zhao (University of Chicago) speaking at the Third Chinese Political Sociology Workshop. By UChicago Beijing via Flickr.

Source: The Other Sociologist.

Sociologist Shamus Khan on Re-framing Poverty

Programs that focus on the “culture of poverty” and the alleged “attributes” of poor people don’t get to its root cause, which is, quite simply, that millions of people don’t have enough money. Poverty is not a fixed trait; we can easily make people less poor by giving them enough money so that they’re no longer poor.

Continue reading Sociologist Shamus Khan on Re-framing Poverty

Teaching Against Racism

Minneapolis Community and Technical College lecturer Shannon Gibney (who is African America) was formally reprimanded by her university after three White male students complained that they were being made to study structural racism. One student interrupted Gibney during her  Mass Communications class and asked: “Why do we have to talk about this?” Continue reading Teaching Against Racism