“South Asian Women industrial militants from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet”
From labour movement heroes to labour movement has-beens
At the time of the Grunwick strike (1976-78) the Asian women workers were the darlings of the British labour movement- supported and feted through the long summer of mass picketing in which dockers, miners and broad sections of the trade unionists and other left political activists took part. But in 2005, when Asian women working in airline food preparation at Heathrow for Gate Gourmet protested against their working conditions and management, the labour movement quietly buried their protests.
This paper will explore some of the similarities and differences between the two disputes and how and why they have a different place in British labour history. It will also discuss the resources produced for communities and schools as a follow on from the original AHRC funded project: www.striking-women.org
Abstract: Questions about the nature of money have gained a new urgency in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Even as many people have less of it, there are more forms and systems of money, from local currencies and social lending to mobile money and Bitcoin. Yet our understanding of what money is—and what it might be—hasn’t necessarily kept pace. In The Social Life of Money, I explore the theory of the subject for a postcrisis world in which new kinds of money are proliferating. In this talk, I will focus on the theme of utopianism and its manifestation in new forms of money such as Bitcoin.
Biography: Nigel is a Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, and Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Sociology. He is also on the editorial board of Economy and Society. He is author of The Sociology of Money and Social Theory and Modernity (both published by Polity Press). His new book, The Social Life of Money, was published by Princeton University Press in September 2014. Nigel is also co-editor (with Patrik Aspers) of Re-Imagining Economic Sociology, which will be published by Oxford University Press in September 2015.
CRESI WORKING PAPER 2014-01 Dr Zareen Bharucha Abstract This paper traces the evolution, dynamics and implications of the Brazil-China soy complex, a trade link of global social-ecological significance. Recent scholarship, particularly in the environmental sciences, has critically analysed the social-ecological … Continue reading →
By: Kindred Motes, CRESI Research and Publicity Associate
In February 2014, Pacific Standard ran an article that made waves in both the academic sector and the social media blogosphere. To date, it remains the magazine’s second most popular online article. The piece, ‘Why Americans are the Weirdest People in the World’, summarised the research of University of British Columbia academics Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan (2010), whose article, ‘The Weirdest People in the World?’ has been cited 1058 times since its publication in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Its intriguing title, coupled with the bold claims made within the article about inherent Western bias in sociological, psychological, and economic studies, led to its proliferation across the Web. In essence, the magazine article mirrored the meteoric rise made by the research article it was summarising – but it gained traction by using social media in an accessible, public domain. The researchers were called ‘visionary’, ‘game-changing’, and ‘daring’, while their citation count on Google Scholar skyrocketed.
The rapid dissemination of this particular study is fascinating in its own right, but it is also indicative of the growing relevance of an academic practice: universities placing emphasis on a candidate’s citations during the formulation of their hiring, tenure-track, and funding policies. However, this traditional approach to measuring scholarship and influence is now affected directly by forces outside of academia; there are a myriad of ways these citation figures can be influenced by new technologies like social media. The ramifications of relying heavily on social media have not yet been fully considered by employers. Placing such clout behind citation-counting may lead to inherentbiases that could damage the institutions and their legacies in the long term.
Admittedly, universities have always placed a great deal of pressure on their academics to publish quality research quickly and in high quantities. The common phrase ‘publish or perish’, popularised in the 1930s, highlights this legacy. However, in recent years, the effects of this practice have illustrated the problematic nature of emphasising citation count above other metrics when ranking quality academic departments or hiring new professorial staff.
A university in Saudi Arabia, for example, has begun paying more than sixty leading experts from institutions around the world to include the university as an affiliate in the experts’ research publications – a practice that amounts to buying academic prestige through the resulting rise in research ranking slots. The more citations an institution receives, the more likely it is to rank highly in international research tables; therefore, in this highly competitive system of citation indexing, institutions are likely to seek out academics with the highest amount of citations during their hiring processes. Similarly, departments with the highest citations are likely to receive more funding after being deemed ‘prestigious’ or ‘world-leading’.
This trend is problematic for numerous reasons. As Albert László Barabási, Northeastern University’s world-leading network scientist and Distinguished University Professor of Physics points out, these measures are used to measure success in the academic community, but ‘they don’t actually do a very good job of predicting the future impact of a paper or success of a career’. Nevertheless, if hiring and funding practices such as citation indexing are to continue in earnest, several inherent biases must be addressed.
First, there is the fact that many disciplines are immediately placed at a disadvantage when they are compared to others vis-à-vis citation counts. History departments – one example of many – would be less likely to acquire more citation counts than, say, international relations. As a discipline that often publishes lengthy, composite works that aren’t always counted separately (due to sometimes being erroneously attributed solely to their editor) or comprised of articles that have already been published elsewhere, history is unlikely to rival international relations. There, articles on current events and their relation to each other are frequent and easily disseminated. A comparison between numerous other disciplines would yield the same result, each further emphasising that the standard of citation indexing inherently places academic departments on unequal footing.
Furthermore, the argument can be made that citation count alone is not indicative of good scholarship – particularly in the cases of ‘viral’ studies and proliferated ‘pop-science’ articles. The speed in which a still-developing study can circulate through social media and be cross-referenced online before even being properly peer-reviewed means that many academics might turn to using the medium in an effort to gain more citations than their more-established peers in a shorter period of time. If a university isn’t properly examining the parameters in which a potential new-hire’s citations were employed – and doing so using an online citation index like Google Scholar is extremely time- and cost-prohibitive – then there is the possibility for systemic abuse in order to benefit the applicant during the hiring process or the academic department during budget and resource allocation.
Citation count isn’t necessarily indicative of sound scholarship, either, as a disproportionate number of articles citing the original article may be devoted to pointing out logical flaws, statistical errors, or missing data. While critiques are sure to exist for almost any prominent academic work, this is not problematic so long as their citations aren’t being used for funding or employment practices. However, if they are, this counting flaw should be addressed as well.
In theory, the notion of using citation figures to help contextualise decisions about how to fund a department or hire a new professor is understandable – universities are competing with each other like never before for researchers, recognition in shrinking numbers of publications that choose from thousands of submissions, and international academic status in a saturated secondary education market. However, when the time comes for that notion to be put into practice, its many problematic elements become evident. If universities are to outlive the short lifespan of the various technologies and social media they so astutely employ in their efforts to raise their profiles, then they must ensure their academics don’t stoop to research that is easily released and quickly out-dated as well. ♦
Motes is completing an MA in International Relations at the University of Essex, and joined CRESI in Oct 2013. He received a BA from Birmingham-Southern College as a Harrison Honours Scholar and has worked in communications, development, research, and publicity in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
VIDEO: ‘Food, Energy, and the Sociogenesis of Climate Change’
Professor Mark Harvey, University of Essex
Click the thumbnail above to view the presentation video.
On Tuesday 18th March, Professor Mark Harvey presented ‘Food, Energy, and the Sociogenesis of Climate Change’ at Cardiff University’s School of Planning and Geography. The event was hosted by the Innovation and Engagement Unit. Both an abstract and a video recording of the presentation are included.
ABSTRACT: The world faces historically unprecedented challenges, and so also do the social sciences. The generation of climate change needs to be understood much more in terms of how different societies and political economies have taken different strategic directions, driving or mitigating climate change in distinctive ways. We need to think ‘sociogenic’, rather than ‘anthropogenic’, climate change. Likewise, although some social sciences have long considered the interaction between political economies and the natural world with its finite resources (fossil fuel, land, water, and numerous minerals, for example) in limited ways, the 21st century demands a more holistic and integrated approach to the interaction between particular political economies, the environments where they are situated, and the natural resources to which they have access.This lecture will focus on the huge and widely underestimated risks of climate change arising from global developments of agriculture in meeting the need to feed a population of 9 billion with a changing demands and standards for food. It will hope to show how this is linked to the search for renewable energy, especially in a new competition for land. To illustrate the argument, the lecture will take the case of Brazil, to demonstrate the historical emergence of sustainability crises, and the interactions between a political economy and its natural environment, resource constraints and endowments.
‘Food, Energy, and the Sociogenesis of Climate Change’
Professor Mark Harvey, University of Essex
Tuesday 18th March 2014 – 5:30pm
Glamorgan Building Committee Rooms
Cardiff University, Wales
Hosted by the Innovation and Engagement UnitAbstract:The world faces historically unprecedented challenges, and so also do the social sciences. The generation of climate change needs to be understood much more in terms of how different societies and political economies have taken different strategic directions, driving or mitigating climate change in distinctive ways. We need to think ‘sociogenic’, rather than ‘anthropogenic’, climate change. Likewise, although some social sciences have long considered the interaction between political economies and the natural world with its finite resources (fossil fuel, land, water, and numerous minerals, for example) in limited ways, the 21st century demands a more holistic and integrated approach to the interaction between particular political economies, the environments where they are situated, and the natural resources to which they have access.This lecture will focus on the huge and widely underestimated risks of climate change arising from global developments of agriculture in meeting the need to feed a population of 9 billion with a changing demands and standards for food. It will hope to show how this is linked to the search for renewable energy, especially in a new competition for land. To illustrate the argument, the lecture will take the case of Brazil, to demonstrate the historical emergence of sustainability crises, and the interactions between a political economy and its natural environment, resource constraints and endowments.
ESRC Seminar Series: The trial on trial. Evidence in interdisciplinary contexts.
We are pleased to announce the final programme for the launch event of the ESRC-funded Spaces of Evidence network, The trial on trial. Evidence in interdisciplinary contexts, on Friday March the 28th 2014 at the University of Essex. The programme can be downloaded here. The meeting is open to members of the public, but spaces are extremely limited. For further information, or to book a place, please write to Daniela Boraschi (programme coordinator) at email@example.com.
Spaces of Evidence is a global network of scholars, practitioners and activists exploring the intersections of politics, measurement and evidence-based policy in health, development, economics, medicine and beyond. Dr Linsey McGoey, Co-Director of CRESI, serves as Spaces of Evidence’s Principal Investigator.
Recently, there has been a proliferation of studies investigating the relationship between diversity and outcomes such as social cohesion and civic mindedness. This paper addresses several common problems in this field and, using data for British neighbourhoods, elaborates on the experiences of both white British and ethnic minority respondents. We conclude that if anything diversity should be encouraged to cement the integration progress of migrants and foster stronger identification with Britain in the second generation. Deprivation at the neighbourhood level along with individual factors such as fear of crime is a much stronger predictor of deterioration of the civic spirit than diversity. In addition, the paper shows that white respondents report growing discomfort with outgroupers and desire to leave a diverse scenario if currently they live in primarily homogeneous intra-ethnic neighbourhoods in which they experience little diversity. In contrast, minority respondents show greater tolerance in general; and the preference for living with co-ethnics increases with the strength of their religious conviction and high exposure to diversity and deprivation.
Bio: Dr Neli Demireva is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex. Her research interests include social cohesion, diversity, multiculturalism and civic integration, job search and labour market inclusion. She completed a PhD at Oxford University on the topic of job search channels and the labour market penalties experienced by minorities in the UK. During her postdoctoral fellowship she participated in the Leverhulme-funded project “Ethno-religious Diversity and Social Trust in Residential and Educational Settings”, with a focus on multiculturalism and social integration in Britain.
Download PDF Version Here By: Kindred Motes, CRESI Research and Publicity Associate In cities around the world, remaining solidly middle class has never been more difficult. In the UK, for example, families seeking to live and work in London face … Continue reading →
New actors and alliances in development: a new special issue from Third World Quarterly
Professor Lisa Ann Richey, Roskilde University, and Professor Stefano Ponte, Copenhagen Business School, edited a recent special issue of Third World Quarterly, “New actors and alliances in development.” Papers address the business turn in development and the new constellation of both state and non-state actors playing an increasingly influential role in development policymaking, from non-Western states to philanthropic institutions such as the Gates Foundation.
CRESI co-director Linsey McGoey has an article in the special issue that looks critically at public-private partnerships and the role of governmental actors in funding or underwriting corporate investment in development and health aid. Over the past decade, a new form of philanthropy has emerged, termed ‘philanthrocapitalism’. Champions of philanthrocapitalism suggest that private giving can help fill the void left by diminished government spending on social and development programmes. Critics suggest that philanthropy is no substitute for strong governmental support for social welfare. McGoey argues that both approaches perpetuate a dichotomy between the public and the private, implying that philanthrocapitalism operates in a vacuum largely divorced from governmental interventions. Drawing on three cases – advanced market commitments (amcs) in drug development; impact investing; and direct philanthropic and governmental grants to corporate entities – McGoey illustrates the ways that governments remain one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – philanthropic actors in the philanthrocapitalist turn.