Posts tagged ‘sociology’

10 May 2010

Thomas Faist on diversity

Interesting discussion article from Thomas Faist (2009). Diversity: a new mode of incorporation? Ethnic and Racial Studies 32(1): 171-190 (pdf).

Abstract

Lately, cultural diversity in Western societies has, in terms of religions, languages, ethnic we-groups, transnational ties, and countries of origin, once more undergone immense growth. Modes of migrant incorporation reflect endeavours to respond to this change.While some approaches such as assimilation and multiculturalism emphasize the social integration of migrants in the host societies, the vague term ‘diversity’ harbours innovative measures in two respects. First, diversity addresses not only the incorporation of migrants, but also how societies and particularly their organizations deal with cultural pluralism. Second, diversity can then be understood both as an individual competence of migrants as members of organizations and the civil sphere, and as a set of programmes which organizations adopt to address cultural pluralism. Also, novel forms of diversity have emerged, such as transnationality. Yet in the absence of a rights-based foundation the question arises of how social inequality can be dealt with.

…with thanks to Susanne for the link…

29 October 2009

Ethnographic discourse analysis – Part II

300_64486Another exciting take on (or: use of) ethnographic discourse analysis is Helen Gregory’s study of poetry slams. In her Art in Action: Exploring Poetry Slam with Ethnographic Discourse Analysis paper at ESA2009 (9th Conference of European Sociological Association, Lisbon, 02-05 September 2009) she tells us she is particularly interested in:

The merits of interdisciplinary research (combining especially sociology, psychology and the arts) the epistemological and theoretical underpinnings of such research what counts as a “text” the performative construction of auto/biography and identity and challenging the micro/macro divide.

She continues:Poetry_Slam

The study uses discourse analytic and ethnographic tools of enquiry to explore how slam participants mobilise poetry, informal conversation and other forms of action to weave stories about themselves and others.

It will be argued that these auto/biographies work both to construct individuals’ identities, and to help them to negotiate the status hierarchies which structure their daily lives and interactions. Ethnographic and discourse analytic approaches can thus be combined to produce an informative and sensitive account of the construction of identity in everyday interaction. I will contend that such in-depth explorations of micro level interaction are essential if we are to achieve a full understanding of the macro level social structures and processes which they help to constitute. After all, as Mead (1934: 37) notes, “history is nothing but biography, a whole series of biographies”.

(Pictures courtesy of Habse(e)ligkeit and Lone Star College)

29 March 2009

Blogs vs. joint action?

A thought I’ve been having recently is mirrored in a New York Times commentary on the lack of riots in the face of the current financial mess:

The texture of discontent (or lack thereof) can say a lot about a nation, and that Americans today are less likely to rebel may not be an entirely positive sign.

It certainly doesn’t mean we have more love, patience or tolerance for one another. Indeed, it may mean just the opposite, that we tend not to trust one another and that we are more alienated from our neighbors than ever before. The lack of direct action could signal the weakening of a social contract that keeps people meaningfully invested in the fate of our country — which may, in turn, be hindering our ability to resolve this crisis.

Before blogs and radio call-in shows, people joined forces and turned to the streets as their most effective means of expression; a unified, angry crowd was often sufficient to win concessions from employers and governments. And so most rebellions of the 20th century were over bread-and-butter issues like unsafe work conditions, wages and high prices for basic commodities. Even “race riots” were usually motivated by competition between ethnic groups over access to jobs and housing subsidies.

But some outbreaks of lawlessness were also indicators of strong, shared sentiments and were driven by a sense of higher purpose. [...] Today widespread anger and collective passivity exist side by side.

Where “passivity” means spending time with oneself and one’s internet/tv/radio/___________ (insert preferred form of media)?

After suggesting that at least one of the reasons that Americans are not acting out our anger is our personal shame about not being able to pay the mortgage or credit card bill, Sudhir Venkatesh ends with:

To restore our social bonds, each one of us must overcome our isolating feelings of embarrassment and humiliation and understand that this is a shared plight. We’ll also have to accept that anger, real anger, has a role to play in producing collective catharsis and fostering healing.

Fury, after all, can manifest itself in more productive ways than urban rioting or cable-TV ranting. Fury can inspire real protest, nonviolent civil disobedience, even good old-fashioned, town-hall meetings. That’s how we’ll recover our public life and perhaps help one another through this crisis — storming angrily into the streets and then, once we’re out there, actually talking to one another.

Sudhir Venkatesh, Professor of Sociology at Columbia, wrote the inticingly titled “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets”.

27 March 2009

Discourse analyst on MTV

Yes, discourse analysis is fashionable enough for MTV. Simon Lindgren, Associate Professor of Sociology at Umeå University, Sweden, is starring in four short clips on Swedish MTV.

In the first one, I say a few words about reality television as a research subject. The second one is about the fact that one can actually make a career out of analyzing popular culture. The third one will appear before episodes of The Hills, and represents an ultra brief reflection on identity work and beauty culture. The fourth and final one will air before episodes of Life of Ryan, and gives an equally brief analysis of changing ideals of masculinity.

He is also presenting an interesting paper at the upcoming CAQR2009 (2nd International Conference on Computer-Aided Qualitative Research), which combines Laclau and Mouffe’s approach to discourse with bibliometric and network analytical tools — albeit focusing analysis on the print-textual level.

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