Suggestions welcomed for TASA 2014 plenary sessions

The organising committee for the 2014 TASA conference in Adelaide (November 24-27) have asked for expressions of interest for plenary sessions during the meeting.

If you have an idea for a plenary that the Cultural Sociology Thematic Group could put forward please get in touch with us via email. Proposals must forwarded to the TASA organising committee by June 15.

Sara and Nick

New Convening Team – Meet Nick and Sara

The cultural sociology group is under new leadership and that means new plans for 2014. 

So without further ado, I introduce the NEW CONVENING TEAM (kinda weird to introduce yourself!)

Small Photo for blog

 Nicholas Hookway is a cultural sociologist who’s main research interest is contemporary moralities. His interest in morality forms part of a research agenda focused on analysing the tensions and creative possibilities between personal life and wider cultural changes, particularly individualism, consumerism and changing community. Nick’s theoretical hero is Zygmunt Bauman. Nick is also interested in innovative research techniques, having pioneered the use of blogs in social research. His article ‘entering the blogosphere’ has been cited over 200 times. Nick is currently working on a survey project on kindness in Australia (with Daphne Habibis and Anthea Vreugdenhil) and a study of book clubs in Tasmania (with Dr Robert Clarke). You can follow Nick on Twitter @HookwayNicholas. Nick’s academic publications can be found on

  Sara's blog picSara James’ research interests are in the sociology of work and cultural sociology. Her PhD research, using in-depth interviews, looked at the significance of work in the lives of individuals, with a focus on vocation and the work ethic. She is particularly interested in the ways in which people find meaning in a secular society. Sara is currently teaching introductory sociology.

As outlined in our welcome email, our key goal for 2014 is to organise a 1-day symposium (held around TASA) that interrogates ‘cultures of authenticity’ across a range of domains, from new media, tourism, health and environment to ethics, religion and therapy. Our aim is for the event to culminate in the production of a special issue of a journal (M/C journal is a possibility) and/or an edited book collection (Ashgate is a potential). If successful with securing TASA funding, we suspect the call for papers will be around mid-yearish. Thanks to Brad West, Nick Osbaldiston and Theresa Sauter for the inspiration and brain-storming around event ideas.


Please contact us if you have ideas for the group and send any items of interest for the blog. Whether it’s short posts (eg., 100 word summaries of posted articles), cross-posts (eg., links to Conversation pieces or book reviews) or longer posts (posts that pursue an idea/argument in some depth) we encourage members to use the blog to communicate research and ideas.

Nick and Sara.

TASA 2013 annual conference

Last week, the 2013 TASA conferences organisers Nick Osbaldiston, Catherine Strong and Helen Forbes-Mewett treated Australian sociologists to our annual get-together at Monash University in Melbourne. The special 50-year anniversary of TASA inspired a conference filled with memories, reflections, reunions and new connections. Keynotes by Professor John Holmwood, Professor Celia Lury and Professor Raewyn Connell all in one way or another reflected on the challenges and opportunities of the changing higher education landscape and sociology as a discipline. The stimulating plenaries also took up the conference theme, tackling questions such as the need for interdisciplinarity and the applicability of sociology outside of academia, as well as reflecting on the impressive history of sociology in Australia.

As in past years, the Cultural Sociology stream featured strongly in the TASA conference program. In eleven sessions we tackled theories and methods, the multiplication of modernity, professional subjectivities, state-public relations, memory and Australian identity, contested sexualities, styles, space and place, class and, of course, culture! It was fascinating to see once again the diversity and vibrancy of cultural sociological work in Australia. A particular highlight for us this year was to feature the first ever sessions on Digital Sociology in Australia. The abundance of papers around digital culture prompted us to put on two sessions on the theme and the popularity resonated in the jam-packed rooms.

Deborah Lupton opened the first session with her poignant characterisation of digital sociology. Her presentation was followed by some interesting case studies around Google Glass (Timothy Graham and myself, Theresa Sauter), the Google algorithm (David Collis), and Q&A (Erin Carlisle). In the second session I offered a critical perspective on the label ‘digital sociology’, illustrated with the example of Pinterest as a technique of self. Then, Tristan Kennedy reflected on ethical methodologies in online participant observation, Tim Jordan presented his research on ethical consumption apps (also on behalf of Kim Humphery) and Ashlin Lee theorised convergent mobile technology.

For those interested in the emergence of Digital Sociology as a sub-discipline, Deborah Lupton (, Alexia Maddox ( and I ( are looking to establish an Australian Digital Sociology research network. Please contact any of us if you would like to join!

The Cultural Sociology group is now TASA’s largest thematic group. We are keen to strengthen the community further and to encourage collaborations between our members. A prime example of this was the pre-conference symposium on ‘Cultural Sociology Today’, which we held on Monday November 25, supported by La Trobe University Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Thesis Eleven Centre. (Please stay tuned for a more detailed blog-post about the day).

We hope those who attended the conference enjoyed the sessions. Many thanks to all speakers for their interesting presentations and to listeners for their collegiate, supportive engagement.

See you all at TASA 2014 in Adelaide and stay tuned for exciting new endeavours by the Cultural Sociology group in the new year!

Participate in research on the Social Psychology of Team Attachment and Football

by Nick Osbaldiston and George Van Doorn

This study examines the social, group and individual dynamics of being a ‘football fan’ (of any code) and how this is demonstrated in apparel and attendance at live games, etc. My colleague George Van Doorn and I are hoping to understand how people engage with their teams of following and how their attachment to these teams creates bonds that potentially last generations.

If you have a spare 15 minutes, can you please complete this survey found here:

We hope that the results will create a space for further research into emotional labour and football in the near future.

Nick Osbaldiston

‘Cultural Sociology Today’ Symposium

La Trobe

Kandinsky big(Image: Wassily Kandinsky, Composition VII)

Cultural Sociology Today’ Symposium

Organised by the TASA Cultural Sociology Thematic Group
and the Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology

Supported by La Trobe University
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Peter Beilharz, John Carroll, Barbara Evers, Margaret Gibson, Sara James, Brad West, Gary Wickham, Rae Wilding

Venue: La Trobe University, Collins St City Campus

Date: 25 November 2013, 10am – 4pm

Culture connects and inspires individuals through shared patterns of meaning, myths, rituals and representations and shapes institutions and histories. It is neither an abstract ideology nor a tangible social structure. It is intimately entwined in the shaping of social life and human action, and simultaneously emerges from them. Cultural sociology recognises and studies the autonomy of culture, the textuality of social life and the establishment of specific (semiotic) mechanisms through which culture does its work.

This one-day symposium engages with recent developments in cultural sociology. It is hosted by the La Trobe University Department of Sociology and Anthropology and will feature the work of members of the department (including Peter Beilharz, John Carroll, Rae Wilding and Sara James), and cultural sociologists from around Australia: Barbara Evers (Murdoch University), Margaret Gibson (Griffith University), Brad West (Uni SA), Gary Wickham (Murdoch University). Additionally, La Trobe cultural sociology postgraduate students will present their most recent work in the field (Harry Paternoster, Lana Chung, Marcus Maloney, Scott Doidge).

There will be ample opportunity for networking and developing ideas for collaborative work with presenters and attendees. The event will be free of charge, however please note that it will be self-catered.

Please email to register your interest in attending.

Click to access PDF version of ‘Cultural Sociology Today’ Symposium flyer

REMINDER: Submit your TASA papers for themed sessions

With the refereed paper submission deadline for this year’s TASA conference extended until July 19 there is still time to get your papers polished and submitted. Remember, we are looking to put on three specific themed sessions (see below). If you would like your paper to be considered for one of these streams, please indicate this on the document you submit.

1.      The multiplication of modernity
Recent decades have seen a shift away from Eurocentric, monolithic conceptions of modernisation and modernity. Across social science disciplines including sociology and anthropology, new approaches have focused on diverse modern social formations and sought to articulate a more pluralistic understanding of them. Important examples are the emerging paradigm of ‘multiple modernities’ and Southern Theory. The pluralisation of theories and analyses of modernity they have helped to generate is one of the most important outcomes of the ‘cultural turn’ in social theory and theorising. We invite theoretical and empirical papers examining diverse experiences of and perspectives on ‘being modern’, to contribute to a panel on this trend.

2.      Digital Sociology
The increasing integration of new media technologies into modern societies has vast implications for the production, analysis and communication of sociological knowledge. It affects cultural practices, relations and understandings of self. It also opens up new tools through which these objects of sociological inquiry can be analysed. We invite reflections on the role of the digital in modern culture as well as on how digital tools can be used for sociological analysis and the dissemination of research. In this session we will consider whether we need to reimagine both, the object of sociological analysis and the tools of the trade, to capture this digital turn in modern culture.

3.      Space/Place
Within cultural sociology there has always been an interest in the relationship of space or place to the specific cultural forms that occupy our interest. Whether it be airport lounges, church grounds, sporting venues, politically important places or exquisite landscapes, the negotiation of space is important for understanding the self and its role in society. In this session we seek to further identify these using empirical and theoretical insights to illuminate the role of space and place in cultural sociology.

As mentioned previously, please feel free to submit papers on any cultural sociology-related theme.

We are looking forward to your submissions!

Sociology Associate Board: Call for Peer Reviewers

Sociology Associate Board Recruitment
Deadline: Friday 24 May 2013

Sociology is seeking 24 new members of the Sociology Associate Board to serve for three years from June 2013.

Sociology relies on its peer reviewers to maintain high quality scholarship. Alongside the work of members of the Editorial Board, members of the Associate Board help to ensure that the journal makes an expeditious and constructive response to journal submissions.

The Associate Board is a flexible way for individuals to become involved in the on-going success of the journal and also to engage in regular peer reviewing. It is made up of a wide variety of scholars based around the world with a broad range of areas of interest. Early career researchers are welcome to apply.

Members of the Associate Board must possess either a PhD in sociology (or a cognate social science discipline), or at least two years’ research and/or teaching experience of sociology (or a cognate subject). All candidates must have authored peer reviewed publications.

Full details, as well as the application form, are available on the BSA website.

If you would like to nominate yourself for membership of the Associate Board, please email a completed form to Chris Grieves ( by Friday 24 May 2013.

Invitation to contribute to the CelebYouth project website

celeb youth

The role of celebrity in young people’s classed and gendered aspirations’ is an ESRC funded research project which examines the relationship between celebrity culture, inequalities of class and gender and young people’s educational experiences, identities and transitions.

The project has an active website and Twitter account (@CelebYouthUK) and the team regularly post blogs about the project and related issues – past posts have included an analysis of David Cameron’s ‘Aspiration Nation’ speech, a piece on Post-feminism and Olympic Role Models, and several on methodological dilemmas in youth research.

The research team are now welcoming guest contributions to the website from other people who are interested or working on topics related to the project. This could be work on celebrity and popular culture; young people’s aspirations and educational transitions; inequalities of class and gender; education policy; and/or the links between these.

They welcome guest contributions on these topics from anyone – from students, doctoral researchers, teachers, and academics – the only condition is that they are original and that what you write needs to fit with the broadly sociological, feminist and critical approach of the website.

If you would like to write for the CelebYouth project please go to their website for further details and get in touch with Heather Mendick  ( to discuss your ideas.

TASA conference 2013 – themed CS streams


The date is set and paper submissions are now open for this year’s annual TASA conference. This year is very special as we are celebrating 50 years of Australian Sociology under the theme Reflections, Intersections and Aspirations.

You have until June 22 to submit your 3000 word papers for peer review. Head to the conference website for more information.

In recent years the Cultural Sociology stream at the annual TASA conferences has been one of the most popular and well attended streams; something we are very proud of as leaders of this group. We want to do everything we can to continue to make the Cultural Sociology stream as relevant to your interests as possible. Therefore, this year, we will theme our sessions in advance. And, we want to give you the chance to have a say in deciding on the topics for the themed streams.

Please let us know what topics and themes you would like to present on, and would be interested in hearing others speak about. You could also suggest a group of presenters for your theme. Talk to your colleagues and get them involved! Please let us know in the comments below or send an email to Theresa at with your ideas and suggestions.

After we have collected some ideas we will do a mini CfP within our stream which will give you the option to submit your papers to a targeted theme that will be represented in the CS stream at the conference. Note: of course we welcome any CS related papers. We will equally consider submissions that do not explicitly state a theme and fit them into the conference schedule.

This new initiative will enable you to have more of an input and shape your conference experience. Please also share this idea with your colleagues and invite them to submit their ideas for streams and papers to attend the TASA conference.

We look forward to hearing your ideas!