Month: December 2012

New Year, New Team, New Ideas…

Dear members,

In this post we wanted to provide an overview of the recent TASA conference and inform you of some changes to the Cultural Sociology Thematic Group.


It was great to see so many familiar faces at the recent TASA conference at UQ in Brisbane. For those of you who couldn’t make it we can only say, you missed a fabulous and well executed (and deliciously-catered) conference. As in recent years, the Cultural Sociology sessions were extremely well attended. The highlight of the conference for us CS’ers were the two Conversations in Theory workshops held on Tuesday afternoon. For both sessions the room was overflowing and additional chairs had to be brought in. Presenters shared their takes on the position of theory (or lack thereof) in cultural sociology in the past, present and future. These included Eduardo de la Fuente, Alan Scott, Gavin Kendall and Mike Michael in the first stream and Gary Wickham, Craig Browne, Kirsten Harley and Nick Osbaldiston in the second. Prominent in discussions was the enduring question of what we do, what we class as theory and how it is used by members of ‘the social’. Thanks again to the speakers and participants of these dynamic sessions who inspired discussions that carried on well beyond the doors of room 213.

Further streams on Media and Culture, People and Place, Work, Consumption and Lifestyles as well as Social Movements complemented the broader theory workshops. All provided interesting cases for us to think about the key empirical and theoretical debates in cultural sociology. Thanks to the speakers in all of the streams for sharing their work. The sessions as always were illuminating of the diversity of interests and approaches of the sub-discipline but also the shared interests of members within the group.

The Thematic Group lunch meeting was held on Wednesday during the conference. This was unfortunately not as well attended as we had hoped (among other things due to some confusion as to the location of the meeting – apologies for this). The main issue discussed at the meeting was the establishment of a new convening team. Three out of the current convenors, Nick, Catherine and Michael have decided to step down from their roles after over three years of being fantastic servants and seeing the group grow into the second largest of TASA’s Thematic Groups. Please join me in thanking them for their great work and efforts and wishing them all the best with their future endeavours.

As outlined below, a new team has been established and we are pleased to take over leadership. We also want to hear any of your ideas on the direction of the group or events it could sponsor.




ImageTheresa Sauter

I have been a co-convenor of the Cultural Sociology Group since 2009 and have recently completed my PhD at  QUT. In my thesis I conceptualised online social networking sites as tools for self-formation. I constructed a history of writing as a technique of self in order to explore how modern individuals employ sites like Facebook as mundane tools to relate to themselves and others and establish guidelines according to which they live their lives. I am currently working as a Research Associate at QUT. My research interests include digital sociology, new media and technology, Michel Foucault, cultural sociology, social theory and sociological approaches to self and identity. In future research I am interested in further exploring how people use new media technologies in the context of modern techno-social hybrid societies.


Sally Hourigan

I am a PhD candidate with Griffith University. My doctoral research is couched in material culture studies and investigates the significance of clothing to the adult mother-daughter relationship. I am presently in the throws of the ‘write-up’ stage with a view to submit in 2013. My research interests include: material culture studies, cultural sociology, object-relations, relationships and the feminine identity. I look forward to working with you all over the coming years.

ImageBrad West

I have recently taken up a senior lectureship in sociology at the University of South Australia, having been lured back to Australia from the University of Bristol. With Eduardo de la Fuente I was the founding co-convenor of the Cultural Sociology group in TASA and I look forward to working with Theresa and Sally in again providing a face to the cultural scholarship being undertaken by sociologists in Australia and by Australians and friends of members globally. In my recent work I am returning to earlier research interests in crisis and disaster as well as continuing investigations into contemporary forms of national commemoration. Current writing is focussed upon war tourism in Vietnam and what the 2004 South Asian tsunami can tell us about the role of the nation in fostering global humanitarian relief.


As your new convening team we want to represent the wishes and demands of our members. We have started to form some ideas with regards to where we want to take the group in the coming year but we would also love to get your input! Please comment below or email any one of us if you have any specific requests or ideas in terms of what you would like to get out of your membership of this group.

Some suggestions and ideas we have had include:

1. Inviting an international scholar to next years’ TASA conference to be part of a themed conversations workshop in the Cultural Sociology stream, similar to this years’ extremely successful theory workshops.

  • Any ideas/suggestions/requests as to who you would like to see involved?

2. Organising a symposium event on a pressing current issue with the possibility of a subsequent publication (either a special issue of a journal or a co-edited book).

  • Again, any topics/themes/ideas you would be interested in discussing and publishing on?

3. Organising a specific Material Culture panel at next year’s conference.

  • Is there demand for this?


We want to make this blog interactive. Please share with us any material you come across that you think could be of interest to other members of our group. This could include articles, calls for papers or new publications as well as your own ideas and opinions that are driving your research which you may want to share to get some feedback on. Please email Theresa at with anything you think could be published on the blog as well as if you have any questions, requests or ideas (or comment below).

Happy holidays and enjoy what is a surely well-deserved break. Thank you for your support in 2012 and we look forward to being in touch with you soon.


Theresa, Sally, Brad