Sociology Open Research Series events programme 2014-15

We’re pleased to announce an exciting series of events taking place over the next few months. Our Open Research series is open to everyone – students, staff and anyone else who’s interested in current debates and research in sociology and beyond.  All talks start at 6pm, and take place at 309 Regent Street. If you’re outside the university, you’ll need to send a quick email to Francis on f.r.white@westminster.ac.uk

Queering Sexting and Sexualisation

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Dr Kath Albury (University of New South Wales)

Monday 6th October 2014, 6pm

Regent Street Room 152 (Cayley Room)

Sexting, or the exchange of naked or semi-naked images via mobile phones, has been the subject of increasing public debate in Australia since 2009. Public debate is intensified in Australia (as it is in North America and Canada) by the fact that young people who can consent to sexual activity at the age of 16 or 17 (depending on State or Territory law), are unable to consent to being the subject of sexual pictures or texts until they are 18 (see Albury et al., 2013). While these laws apply equally to all young Australians, most popular and academic discussions of sexting focus on heterosexual subjects and scenarios. This paper draws on focus groups conducted with same-sex-attracted (SSA) young people to consider how ‘risks and consequences’ of sexting have been framed in relation to (heteronormative) understandings of sexed and gendered identity and behaviour. It argues that while the production and exchange of sexual images can be understood as an ‘ordinary’ (and as such, non-stigmatised) practice for some SSA young people, it presents particular challenges in terms of negotiating the legal and ethical boundaries of online and offline sexual cultures.

Kath Albury is an Associate Professor with the Journalism and Media Research Centre at UNSW in Sydney, Australia. She is the co-author of The Porn Report (Melbourne University Press, 2008) and has published widely on sex education, pornography and sexual identity. Her current research projects focus on young people’s practices of digital self-representation, and the role of user-generated media (including social networking platforms) in young people’s formal and informal sexual learning.

Articulating Globality: Transnational Communication Activism and the Public Sphere

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Dr Hilde Stephansen (University of Westminster)

Tuesday 4th November 2014, 6pm

Regent Street Room UG05

The question of how the public sphere may be ‘scaled up’ to better suit a globalised world has been the subject of much recent debate. Though transnational flows of communication are intensifying, the notion of a global public sphere is difficult to conceive both in theory and practice. This paper develops an alternative understanding of the idea of a ‘global public’ through a case study of transnational activist networks that are forming around issues of communication rights and media democratisation. Through a combination of prefigurative politics and campaigning, communication activists are working to achieve the conditions for more democratic public spheres at local, national and transnational scales. An emergent ‘global public’ – constituted through myriad intersecting counter-publics at different scales – is also discernible in efforts by communication activists to build a global grassroots movement for media democratisation. Such a decentred ‘global public’ contrasts with more liberal notions of publicness associated with the idea of global civil society. The paper concludes by proposing an understanding of communication activism as central to a broader project concerned with ‘cognitive justice’ and the inclusion of subaltern groups in world politics.

Hilde Stephansen is a lecturer in Sociology in the department of Social and Historical Studies at Westminster. She has previously worked at the Open University researching contemporary forms of participation and public engagement, and in the Department of Media and Communication at Goldsmiths, on a project exploring the social and digital conditions for narrative exchange and knowledge production. Her current research focuses on global media activism and its implications for how we might understand the concept of the public sphere.

Desires Within and Without Identities: Locating Queer Adolescence in Contemporary Cinema

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Clara Bradbury-Rance (University of Manchester)

Thursday 27th November 2014, 6pm

Regent Street Room 156

What makes adolescence an intriguing site of desire is to do with what makes the child strange and the adolescent even stranger: positioned in a space and time of in-between-ness, exploring desire but unable to name it. The scene of adolescence allows for desire between young women to be staged but not constrained by the coherence of a pre-constructed identity. While contemporary films such as Pariah (Dee Rees, 2011), Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz, 2011) and Blue is the Warmest Colour (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013) might be understood through the conventions of the ‘coming of age’ narrative, my discussion of them in this paper moves beyond the teleological semantics of that genre. The paper considers queerness and adolescence together, not just as arbitrary qualifiers but as metaphors for each other’s contradictory and almost indefinable states of being. In this way, the paper points to a queer sweep across contemporary lesbian cinema delivered and complicated by the disorientations of adolescent desire.

Clara Bradbury–Rance is a PhD student in the English, American Studies and Creative Writing department at the University of Manchester. Her work has been published in Postfeminism and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema (Palgrave, 2013) and International Cinema and the Girl (Palgrave, forthcoming). Clara’s research explores the erotic spaces of female adolescent cultures in contemporary cinema via film studies, feminism, queer theory, affect theory, and psychoanalysis.

Diverse, Intersectional, United? How The Guardian Represents Feminism and Race

The Guardian office in New York

Terese Jonsson (London Metropolitan University)

Thursday 26th February 2015, 6pm

Regent Street Room 401

Abstract coming soon

Terese Jonsson is a PhD student in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at London Metropolitan University. Her research is concerned with racism and whiteness within feminism in England and how contemporary feminists represent the recent feminist past in relation to issues of race and racism. Her work has been published in the journal Feminist Media Studies (2014).

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