My current reading, writing and the ebb/flow of the academic year

Over the last three or four weeks I’ve not really posted very much on here about my research. This is largely because of the ebb and flow of the academic year. The end of the second term is always a busy period, with department planning, visit days, the conclusion of modules, supervision and the like. This led to me having little time to add much of substance to this blog. I’ve now completed my marking, and I’m now shifting my focus to my research and this will hopefully be reflected by the type of posts on the blog (I’ve written before about switching between modes during the academic year). If possible I try to steadily chip away at research, but sometimes this has to go on hold. I’m just now thinking about where to focus my energy.

I’ve got some longer term plans in place but these are going to be reliant on the outcome of a book proposal and a potential funding bid. So, I’m thinking a little more short term at the moment. I’m planning to work on three related things over the coming weeks (these are the things I’ll post about on here as I read things, discover audio and visual materials, etc). All three relate in different ways to the bigger projects I’ve mentioned, they’ll give me a bit of a running start if the bigger projects are successful.

At the moment I’m putting together a journal article, revising a book chapter and preparing for a talk I’ve got to give in May.

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I’ve previously posted some notes about my planned talk on ‘Measurement, Circulation, Possibility‘. This talk is going to be used to lay out some of the broader issues I’m working on at the moment. I’ve managed to do a little more work on this since my earlier post. The review of Btihaj Ajana’s Governing Through Biometrics that I was working on has now been published (in very quick time) on the early view section of Information, Communication & Society, the link to an open access version is available here. I’m going to use the review and the notes that I posted earlier as the basis of my short talk. I’ve been using the talk though to plan ahead, its only a short talk but focusing on it has helped me to discover some new possibilities and ideas. I’ve also managed to find some other materials to use as I develop these ideas further, including a great article on value by Bev Skeggs and Luigi Doria’s book Calculating the Human (which is now on my reading pile).

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The two pieces of writing I’m focusing on both develop aspects of the above talk but in specific contexts. The book chapter I’m revising is called ‘Algorithms in the academy’ and is a significantly expanded version of this blog post. The chapter is complete but I’ve got some additions to make and I’m planning to use the opportunity to update some of the literature and examples. The piece is about the way that algorithms are shaping the formation and dissemination of knowledge. I’ve been thinking about how algorithms are already shaping discoveries and the encounters we have with books and articles.

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My second piece of writing is a written version of a presentation I gave on football, but it is actually an analysis of the way that data circulates through the social world. I’ve got a very rough draft together, but it needs a lot of work. The conceptual aspects of the analysis need developing and I need to flesh out the points using the literature pictured above (amongst other resources). I’ve not written about football before, but it just seemed to provide a perfect case study. The article has developed in an unusual way for me. I realised I had inadvertently posted a series of notes about football on this blog. When I was asked to give a work-in-progress talk, I compiled a series of slides from those blog posts. I’ve then used the slides as the basis for the article, simply writing through the examples pretty much in the order they were presented. I’ve not written an article in this way before.

Both the book chapter and article will extend the analysis offered in my politics of circulation book, both applying the ideas to new examples and also seeing if this enables new insights. The new literature I’ve been working with is giving some new perspectives on these questions. My plan will be to blog about some of the texts pictured above, amongst others, and then hopefully to start posting about the bigger projects they relate to if my bids are successful. Hopefully that will give the blog a bit of a substantive focus over the coming weeks and months.

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Florence Chiew on posthumanism

Florence Chiew talks about her recent TCS article on posthumanism in this video abstract. Most articles in Theory, Culture & Society are now accompanied by a video abstract or some other additional materials on the TCS site. I’ve posted a few times about the TCS site, and we are continuing to build it up as a resource. We’ve got some interesting pieces commissioned and I’m currently conducting interviews with authors on the topics of human-machine relations and biometrics (these will hopefully be on the site soon – I’ll post a link when they appear). As things stand we are posting around two or three items each week.

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Visualisations of TV Show ratings

I found this interesting application through Flowing Data. You can search for TV shows to produce visualisations of IMDB ratings and viewing trends over time. It can mainly be used to explore the response to TV shows across series. It’s an example of how data generated from engagements with TV shows can be drawn upon to explore and envision culture – although analytically it is quite limited it can be used to explore pretty much any TV Show. Another example of the culture of visualisation (described briefly in here).

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Nick Couldry’s review essay on the convergence of cultural studies and sociology

The International Journal of Communication have just published a review essay by Nick Couldry on ‘Structures of Ambivalence: The Converging Horizons of Cultural Studies and Sociology‘ (it’s open access). Nick’s review responds to four books that explore this convergence – these are by Sarah Banet-Weiser, Bev Skeggs and Helen Wood, Katherine Sender and my book on the politics of circulation.

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My review of Btihaj Ajana’s Governing Through Biometrics: The Biopolitics of Identity

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My review of Btihaj Ajana’s excellent book Governing Through Biometrics: The Biopolitics of Identity has just been published on the early view section of Information, Communication & Society.

[Update: the review is available open access to the first 50 people who access using this link].

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Developments at Big Data & Society

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I posted about the new journal Big Data & Society and its blog a little while ago. The journal is now taking shape and the blog is being used to post the abstracts if forthcoming articles as well as other news. The most recent post is an abstract for a forthcoming piece by Mike Savage and Roger Burrows that follows up on there ground-breaking article on ‘The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology’. The journal is going to be open-access. I’m expecting the journal will provide some great materials for expanding my digital data module.

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The history (and future) of sociology at Goldsmiths

As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations the sociology department at Goldsmiths have been posting various items about their history. They have just posted this really interesting exchange on the history if the department. The exchange involves a range of people who have been involved with the department. They reflect back on some of the struggles and how it is that such a strong brand of sociology has emerged from Goldsmiths. There are also some thoughts on the limitations of Goldsmith’s sociology. The exchange them ends with some links being drawn between this history and the future direction of the department. The reflections focus on Goldsmiths, but anyone with an interest in the history and future of sociology will be interested. The closing section us particularly revealing, with discussion of the sociability of sociology and how sociology might be done creatively.

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Flip-Flop: A Journey Through Globalisation’s Backroads

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Caroline Knowles’ new book Flip-Flop: A Journey Through Globalisation’s Backroads is soon to be published by Pluto Books. I’ve used one of Caroline’s articles on this topic to explore the relations between fashion and globalisation. The book looks like it expands on this earlier work and provides an important and novel approach for understanding globalisation processes. The publishers site is here. And here is the blurb:

This book follows the global trail of one of the world’s most unremarkable and ubiquitous objects – flip-flops. Through this unique lens, Caroline Knowles takes a ground level view of the lives and places of globalisation’s back roads, providing new insights that challenge contemporary accounts of globalisation.

Rather than orderly product chains, the book shows that globalisation along the flip-flop trail is a tangle of unstable, shifting, ad hoc and contingent connections. This book displays both the instabilities of the ‘chains’ and the complexities, personal topographies and skills with which people navigate these global uncertainties.

Navigating the Flip-Flop Trail provides new ways of thinking about globalisation from the vantage point of the shifting landscape crossed by a seemingly ordinary and everyday commodity.

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New blog for Sociology at York

A little while ago my department set up a blog, this has now been replaced with a redesigned and updated site. It can be accessed here. The new site contains information about the sociology department at York, with information on publications, talks and events and the like. It also has some short thought pieces by members of the department. The most recent post is a link to our new film for the BA in Criminology.

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Two short pieces on neoliberalism…a glossary entry and a bibliographical review essay

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In advance of the publication of his book The Limits of Neoliberalism, Will Davies has written two short pieces for the TCS site. The first is a short glossary entry and the second is a bibliographical review essay. These provide a great resource for exploring the topic in teaching and research. His book, which us published in the TCS book series, is out in May. You can find links to the book and to related journal articles at the end of the two pieces.

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