cultural sociology

‘Cultural Sociology Today’ Symposium

On 25 November 2013, we held a one-day symposium on Cultural Sociology Today at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Tim Graham reflects on the event below.

Several weeks ago I had the great fortune of attending the ‘Cultural Sociology Today’ Symposium. This well-attended event was hosted by La Trobe University and organised by the TASA Cultural Sociology Thematic Group and the Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology. As a newcomer to Cultural Sociology, the Symposium served as somewhat of an introductory tour. Well, it left quite an impression on me! The depth and breadth of scholarship was astounding, with topics that included: the nature of culture itself; academic cultural pub crawls; teaching cultural sociology through music; mourning the dead on social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube; the ‘minimal self’ as a tool for charismatic empowerment; the threat of a meaningless death and the search for meaning in modern literature; why Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is not indeed great; the hidden anxieties of the American middle-class revealed in pop TV shows; the complexity and meaning of ‘class analysis’ in Australian history; and the search for a meaningful life as expressed in popular film and television narratives such as Toy Story and The Sopranos. I was not aware that such stimulating, and ultimately entertaining, topics constituted the basis for cultural sociological inquiry; nor was I aware of the scope and impact that Australian cultural sociology seems to be having with respect to key contemporary debates.

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Political favours and the rights of TV sport audiences

By David Rowe

Re-blogged from The Conversation

Rupert Murdoch may look to a more sympathetic government for reform to the anti-siphoning list of sporting events. EPA/Drew Angerer

As the dust settles after a decisive change of government, it is time for the main support players to call in their favours. Among the cheerleaders for a Coalition government, none was more vocal than the Murdoch media, which subjected a wounded Labor government to a barrage of obstreperous tabloid front pages, relentless broadsheet criticism, and a constant stream of syndicated hostility across its many platforms.

News Corp Australia was not shy about being led from the top in this campaign. Chairman Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter (with a characteristic apostrophic error) in June to declare:

Australian public now totally disgusted with Labor Party wrecking country with it’s [sic] sordid intrigues. Now for a quick election.

With mission accomplished, and after Murdoch’s Lowy Institute pep talk on “Australian values” and “the key drivers of prosperity: trade, technology and free market” last month, attention has turned to the juicy concessions that might be extracted from a sympathetic government.

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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 (deborah.lupton@sydney.edu.au), Alexia Maddox (alexia.maddox@curtin.edu.au) and I (t.sauter@qut.edu.au) 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!

REMINDER AND UPDATES: ‘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

Speakers:
Peter Beilharz, John Carroll, Barbara Evers, Eduardo de la Fuente, Margaret Gibson, Sara James, Brad West, Gary Wickham

Venue: La Trobe University, Collins St City Campus
360 Collins St (between Elizabeth and Queen St)
Teaching room 4 (20th floor)

Date: 25 November 2013, 9.30am – 4.30pm

This is a free event. Afternoon tea will be provided. Lunch will be self-catered.

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, and Sara James), and cultural sociologists from around Australia: Barbara Evers (Murdoch University), Eduardo de la Fuente (Flinders 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. Afternoon tea will be provided, however please note that lunch will be self-catered.

Please email t.sauter@qut.edu.au to register your interest in attending.

Click here to access a PDF version of the ‘Cultural Sociology Today’ symposium flyer. (Please note the updated time and venue information)

‘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

Speakers:
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 t.sauter@qut.edu.au to register your interest in attending.

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

New Cultural Sociology Reader

Teaching cultural sociology and looking for a textbook? This new collection of essays may be just what you’re after.

Cultural Sociology: An Introductory Reader
by Matt Wray

cultural sociology readerA comprehensive and clever mix of classic and contemporary essays on the sociology of culture.

Cultural sociology has grown to exercise a deep influence on other subfields over the last forty years, on areas such as the study of race and ethnicity, education, social movements, economic sociology, and political sociology. This mix of essays is an essential resource for understanding this fast growing, dynamic area of sociology. An introduction outlines the building blocks of a sociological approach to studying culture, and helpful headnotes guide students through each reading.

 

See the publisher’s website for an overview of included essays and PDF access to the introductory chapter.