Sociology Anthology 2019

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At this year’s graduation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, the Sociology team presented graduating students with the fifth edition of the annual Westminster Sociology Dissertation Anthology, which showcases some of the outstanding and innovative research produced by final year Sociology and Sociology-Criminology students at the University of Westminster.

The aim of this anthology is to reward good dissertations, to provide an example of quality work for future dissertation students, and to promote more widely the achievements of our students in Sociology at Westminster.

The anthology includes work by Kate Salmon, who has produced an in-depth qualitative study on women’s perspectives of stranger harassment in public space, paying particular attention to intergenerational differences. Iqra Bi’s  research explores how South Asian women who are University graduates navigate their social realms and negotiate the dichotomy of modern and traditional ‘good Muslim women’ ideals. Sadia Haque asks ‘who gets labelled a “terrorist”’? in a discourse analysis of online news articles covering two terrorist attacks. Isabelle Jackson’s project explores the ways young heterosexual people in contemporary British society learn about sexual practices and pleasure through sex toys. Chloe Mead has conducted fascinating survey research on the drinking cultures of British University students. Finally, Sazkar Kaka Rhsh’s impressive project investigates the marital life experiences of Iraqi-Kurdish women in the UK.

While these five projects are incredibly diverse, they all have qualities that
 make them distinctive of the kind of work our students produce in Sociology
 at Westminster: they engage creatively and passionately with some of the
 urgent issues of our time, they use a finely tuned sociological imagination to
 challenge taken-for-granted assumptions, and they are motivated by a desire 
to understand and challenge social inequalities.

Kate, Iqra, Sadia, Isabelle, Chloe, and Sazkar are not alone in producing great dissertation projects. The Sociology team had the pleasure to read some really excellent work. In particular, we would like to commend Brooklyn Stevens who collected some amazing, rich and fabulous data on the gentrification of Brixton and how it affects everyday lives and communities. Well done to all our third year students – we are very proud of you all!

Dr Ben Pitcher, on behalf of the Sociology team, July 2019.

Click here to download a free pdf copy of this year’s Westminster Sociology Anthology.

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So, what do you do all summer?

When teaching is over and marking is finally finished, the Sociology team are often asked what they get up to between June and September. Well, besides writing and updating modules, clearing, admissions, and some well-earned time off, the summer provides a bit of time and space for our own writing and research. In this blog post, three members of the Sociology team write about their current research projects and their plans for the coming months.

 

Ben Pitcher

I have recently been thinking about how Brexit and the rise of right-wing populism has shaped the way we think and talk about race. I organized an international symposium on responding to right-wing populism earlier in the year and have an article forthcoming with the Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies in which I try to understand how and why antiracism has become associated with political elites. In this academic year I have been lucky enough to be invited to Helsinki in Finland and Reykjavik in Iceland and I will spend some of the summer working with Nordic and European colleagues on a new book project that addresses these issues.

The main thing I’ll be working on over the summer is an ongoing research project (and subject of my next book) that explores how we are increasingly drawing on ideas about the prehistoric human past to make sense of our present and future. I’m speaking at a conference later this month about how contemporary human beings relate to Neanderthals, an extinct human species to which we are more closely related than we might at first imagine!

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Adam Eldridge

Two years ago I hosted a conference on ‘tourism and the night’ with colleagues from the Marylebone campus. Andrew Smith (a reader in Tourism) and I are now editing a special journal issue featuring some of the papers from the conference. My own paper in the collection is about the tourist/ resident binary and the ways it’s challenged by recent mobilities and ways of belonging in big diverse cities like London. In the paper I argue that belonging at night is shaped by gender, class, and religion, as well our cultural capital and investment in leisure and leisure spaces. The issue includes other interesting papers on pilgrimage and light festivals in France, conflict between British tourists and local residents in Madrid, and how hospitality workers get home late at night in Brussels.

I’m then going to be working with our former colleague Dorrie Chetty on a project we started last year called Routes to Roots. The project is about hair salons open late at night and we’re looking at the ways they function as important community spaces.  Dorrie’s work on migration and migrant spaces and my work on the night come together here and we’re finding lots of interesting things about time-use patterns, configurations of here and home, and the ways communities are formed through local and international connections. The goal is to finish all our primary research in August before working on a couple of journal articles to be finished by the end of the year.

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Emily Falconer

Emily (who also moonlights as a human geographer as well as a sociologist) will be spending a lot of the summer thinking about Rhythm and Rhythmanalysis.

Rhythmanalysis is a collection of essays by French sociologist and Philosopher Henri Lefebvre, who believes that the concept of rhythm is crucial for understanding how we inhabit time and space in urban society. Think about your daily commute on the tube- how does your body fit into space at crowded times, avoid others as we step off the escalator, queue, shuffle and stop, queue, shuffle and stop. How are these rhythms interrupted and disturbed by deviant behaviour? Why is any of this important to us as sociologists?

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I recently attended a methods training workshop at the University of Kent on ‘Doing Rhythmanalysis’, which got me thinking about how daily rhythms and disruptions are crucial to understanding social moments of connection, disconnection and belonging. I will be meeting with a  group of international scholars to think about future research projects that can use Rhythmanalysis to think about these points of connection- especially in my ongoing work on men and loneliness (and choir singing!). I hope to present some of these initial ideas at the Royal Geographical Conference in August 2019 in London.

Meanwhile, I will also hopefully be attending a walking conference run by the Sociological Review and Goldsmiths University: Thinking on the Move: The Possibilities and Problems of Walking Sociologically so watch this space for more sociological walking tours coming to you soon!

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Level 5 Emotional Life Students visit London’s Foundling Museum

Dr Emily Falconer and Level 5 Students on the Emotional Life module visited the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury this afternoon, as part of the module’s fieldtrip scheduled to celebrate the end of term (Week 12). We were given a guided tour of the museum, which tracks the bleak and harrowing history of London’s many ‘abandoned’ children. Babies under two months old were brought to the Foundling hospital to be ‘given up’ by mothers who were living in wretched poverty, where infant mortality rates were rife. These were terrible times; our guide explained that since gin was understood to be an appetite suppressor, desperate mothers rubbed it on their starving infants gums to stop them crying, after their milk had dried up through lack of nutrition. But what was also striking was the amount of babies who had to be abandoned by unmarried mothers due to their illegitimacy, and it was useful to reflect on the deep rooted shame inherent in children born out of wedlock. As always, the study of emotional life can reveal how emotions are shaped by, and in turn reshape society and societal change.

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Soho Food Tour

The rain stopped just in time this afternoon for the annual Soho Food walking tour. The guided tour, run by Dr Emily Falconer, is part of the Level 6 module Food, Taste and Consumption, but is open to anyone in the School of Social Sciences at Westminster. Students gathered in the Regent Street foyer before embarking on seven tops around Chinatown, Greek street, Old Compton Street, Brewer Street and Berwick street. Soho is rich with historical and complex stories of migration, ‘glocalisation’ gentrification and changing patterns of taste and consumption, and everyone got a Pastel de Nata cake to keep them going.

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Soc-Crim Pizza Party

DELICIOUS Pizza and brilliant talks from student reps from DEN and the Student Union at the Soc-Crim Pizza Party this afternoon (It’s left-over pizza for breakfast everyday this week)

 

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Sociology Students Graduate in the November 2018 Ceremony.

After a wet and thundery start on the morning of the 12th November 2018, it cleared into blue skies for the November graduation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. Sociology and Soc-Crim students joined others from the School of Law and Social Sciences in a very celebratory ceremony to mark their fantastic hard work and achievements.  It is almost impossible to go through university without encountering some challenges along the way, and life deals some tougher cards than others to students during their journeys. Yet graduation day at The University of Westminster is always about reaching the finish line in one piece, and arriving in a (very grand!) room filled with collective joy, relief and achievement. Proud families and friends hugged in the foyer of Royal Festival hall, and many many many photographs of beaming graduates on the banks of the Thames marked a special day. There was some sadness as students said goodbye to each other and their time here at Westminster, but as an iconic politician once said: ‘This is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning’.

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Orientation week at Westminster: doughnuts, cake, and radical social science

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Dr Naomi Rudoe leads new students to the matriculation ceremony

This week we welcomed new undergraduate students onto the Sociology and Sociology-Criminology degrees here at Westminster. At the beginning of the week, we all got to know one another during our fiendish Sociology quiz, where students tested their knowledge of University, London, 2018, and dead white men, while eating a few dozen doughnuts. Our quiz was followed by the Social Sciences Annual Lecture by Dr Kehinde Andrews from Birmingham City on the subject of radical social science, after which we had a reception and polished off the doughnuts.

During the week, our new students were given presentations from the students’ union, met their personal tutors, and signed up to clubs and societies. On Friday afternoon, they took part in a matriculation ceremony, where new Vice Chancellor Dr Peter Bonfield celebrated Westminster’s spirit of community.

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Sociology Lecturers Celia Jenkins, Umit Cetin, Hilde Stephansen and Naomi Rudoe with Head of School Dibyesh Anand and Vice Chancellor Peter Bonfield.

At matriculation, Head of School Professor Dibyesh Anand spoke about students and academics working together to challenge the neoliberal market in higher education. Sociology Lecturer Umit Cetin gave a speech about education and empowerment, and current Sociology PhD student Nayyar Hussain spoke about the experiences she’d had as an undergraduate at Westminster. We ended the week with more cake back at the Regent Street building. We’re now all looking forward to the start of teaching on Monday!

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