Sociology Research Seminars


Environmental literacy and new media audiences

Speaker: Professor Pat Brereton, Dublin City University

Pat Brereton is Head of School of Communications in Dublin City University (DCU). His books include Hollywood Utopia: Ecology in Contemporary American Cinema (2005); Continuum Guide to Media Education (2001), the Historical Dictionary of Irish Cinema (2007) with Roddy Flynn, Smart Cinema: DVD Add-ons and New Audience Pleasures (2012); Environmental Ethics and Film (2016). Currently, he is working on a study entitled Environmental Literacy: Digital Media Audiences, which will include audience research in America and Europe and is due for publication by Routledge in late 2018. He is committed to a broad range of interdisciplinary study and research, particularly focusing on environmental studies and new media.

  • Room 214, Rolle Building

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Staff and students from across the University are invited to come and join us for a series of conversations, to share and brew ideas, to discuss social, cultural, and political issues in an informal manner across disciplines.

The Sociology Research Seminars are an open ‘exchange space’ for everyone, and the broad organising theme for the 2017/18 academic year is 'Sociology Connects'.

Invited guest speakers represent a range of disciplinary backgrounds, and from across the University and other institutions, we search for connections and open dialogue in the inter- and transdisciplinary ethos.

No booking is required - just pop in! Wine, soft drinks and nibbles are available to help the conversations flow. We look forward to seeing you!

Any questions? Please contact for further information.

Follow Sociology at Plymouth on Twitter: @SociologyPlym

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Today's events

Previous Sociology Research Seminars - 2018

  • Wednesday 17 January: Critical software studies, art, and the notion of ‘contemporaneity’ in social-cultural practices (speaker: Dr Geoff Cox, Arts and Humanities - University of Plymouth)
  • Wednesday 21 February: Visual cultures, consumerism, and the grammar of glamour (speaker: Ines Rae, Arts and Humanities - University of Plymouth) 
  • Wednesday 14 March: Public perceptions of microplastic pollution and the role of the media (speaker: Professor Alison Anderson, Sociology - University of Plymouth)
  • Wednesday 2 May: Protection or control? Migrant sex workers and sexual humanitarian structures (speaker: Dr Calogero Giametta, LAMES, Paris/Marseille)   
  • Wednesday 9 May: Exploring the implications of digital patient activism through four case studies: HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, neuro & degenerative conditions and compassionate use (speaker: Dr Allegra Schermuly, Monash University, Australia)

Previous Sociology Research Seminars 

Autumn/Winter 2017

  • Wednesday 1 November: Social networks and the impact of friendships on colleague feedback assessments for doctors (speaker: Sebastian Stevens, Health - University of Plymouth)
  • Wednesday 29 November: Architecture, spatial violence, and social control at the intersections of urbanism and technology (speaker: Dr Nikolina Bobic, Architecture - University of Plymouth)

Spring 2017

During Spring 2017, the Sociology Research Seminars were centred around the research strengths of the Sociology team, introducing and presenting the recent and ongoing research projects. Below is the keyword-focused outline of the meetings.

Wednesday 29 March

  • Input 1: Dr Julie Parsons

Keywords: Structural inequalities and social exclusion; gender and class; families and everyday life; food and foodways; embodiment and obesity; health and illness; culture; resettlement; desistance; visual methods and participatory approaches to research.

  • Input 2: Dr Roberto Kulpa

Keywords: gender and sexuality, queer studies; sexuality, nationalism and state; feminism and intersectionality; social identities; intimate relationships and friendship; the ideas of ‘West’, ‘Europe’, and the ‘Eastern Europe’; geopolitics of knowledge production; decolonial and post-colonial projects.

Wednesday 3 May

  • Input 1: Jonathan Clark

Keywords: the social and political thought of Hannah Arendt; social and political theory/philosophy of social science; cultural studies: truth, power, signification; critical discourse analysis; contradictions in regulatory and professional discourses; neoliberalism, dispossession and choice; governmentality, biopower and population control; surplus/superfluous populations.

  • Input 2: Dr Lyvinia Rogers Elleschild
Keywords: Gender and sexualities; social Identities and social Inequalities; community Studies and youth policy; commodification of the body; sociology of emotions; life-course sociology; space, place, belonging and exclusion; oral history/story telling.

Wednesday 17 May (aka: ‘The Double Bill: Double the Sheaffs – Twice the Fun!’)

  • Input 1: Professor Rod Sheaff

Keywords: health policy and policy implementation; evidence based practice; discourse and ideology; sociology of health, illness and organisations; organisational theory; the hollowed-out state and governance; mixed methods and realist evaluation.

  • Input 2: Dr Mike Sheaff
Keywords: Health, illness, and health inequalities; dementia; personal privacy; organisational secrecy and whistleblowing; employment relationships and power; social identities and sense of self; labour movements and new social movements.

Wednesday 26 April

  • Guest presentation: We welcomed Dr Michael Skey, Loughborough University, presenting on the issues of nationalism and globalisation in the 21st century 

Keywords: nationalism, belonging, Europe, devolution, globalisation, multiculturalism, community cohesion. 

TITLE: Why do nations matter? The struggle for belonging and security in an uncertain world 

This presentation explores the reasons why national forms of identification and organisation (might) matter in the contemporary era. In the first part, recent research on everyday nationalism is combined with insights from micro-sociology and discursive psychology to highlight the importance of routine practices, institutional arrangements and symbolic systems in contributing to a relatively settled sense of identity, place and community. In the second, I use data from my own qualitative research among the ethnic majority in England (alongside insights from other regions) to explore the hierarchies of belonging that operate within a given national setting. Here, there is a particular focus on how members of the majority position themselves as the arbiters of national space and culture and, as a result, lay claim to key material and psychological benefits. In articulating such views, they also point to the (perceived) threats that certain minority groups represent to both their own status and the nation, which are often articulated in relation to the most banal incidents and objects. 

In conclusion, it is argued that these insights may be used to offer a fresh perspective on current policy debates around national belonging, multiculturalism and community cohesion. At present, an undue emphasis on minorities (what they do, don't do or should do) has meant that little or no attention has been focused on the status of the majority; where are they situated? What are their interests and how are they articulated and justified? In foregrounding the discomfort and insecurity that many members of this group seem to feel, we can begin to unravel what is at stake for them at the current time. In unmasking the significance of different identity formations, we are also in a better position to understand how and why different social groups mobilise and, as a result, offer more practical solutions to some of the most entrenched social conflicts. 

BIOGRAPHY: Michael Skey is a lecturer in communication and media at Loughborough University. He was previously a lecturer in media and cultural studies at University of East Anglia and has also taught sociology at UEL and University of Leicester. His research interests are in the areas of; national belonging, globalisation, sociology of everyday life, media events and rituals, mediatisation, sport and discourse theory. His monograph National Belonging & Everyday Life was the winner of the 2012 BSA/Philip Abrams Memorial Prize.

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