Category Archives: Blog

You’re not digital natives, you’re settlers

First posted at Medium.

Oh no — I’ve just come across the phrase ‘digital immigrant’ in opposition to ‘digital native’. The implication is that those born into the internet age are naturals at navigating its byways and cultural mores. I don’t think the term ‘digital immigrant’ is supposed to bring the foul right-wing political discourses of migration into play — but even if you  Continue reading You’re not digital natives, you’re settlers

Reflections on ‘The Problem with Democracy’

[NB Re-post. First published at movements@manchester.]

Parliamentary Affairs has just published an interesting public lecture by Matthew Flinders, along with responses by Jack Corbett and Ian Marsh. The lecture brings together a whole host of complaints that have been targeted at advanced liberal democracies in trying to understand nose-diving levels of trust in politicians and voter turnout among young citizens. It is a systematic and insightful piece that ultimately Continue reading Reflections on ‘The Problem with Democracy’

Towards an Ethic of Public Sociology

(NB Re-post. First published at Discover Society.)

Among scholars of social movements there is presently a lively debate about the ethics of social research. While the topic of research ethics is rarely one that excites non-specialists (except when Facebook are involved in emotional manipulation experiments) the debate has some important ramifications. Continue reading Towards an Ethic of Public Sociology

Just who do you think we are?

Tom asked:

Just spent the morning listening to a couple of folks who were labour activists in the 40s and 50s. Now wondering how we organise politically under the sociological conditions of late modernity. If the class structure isn’t there to support the traditional labour movement (in the same way), what can we build instead?

An important and tricky question, no doubt; in the following I may only succeeded in rewording it…

Continue reading Just who do you think we are?

Can I blame Apple for the British Riots?

Conservatives in power, vicious cuts applied to the welfare state while regressive taxes increase, police violence perpetrated against the poor against a background of declining legitimacy. Yes, the parallels between 2011 and 1981 are irresistibly suggestive of a political explanation for the British summer riots.

Continue reading Can I blame Apple for the British Riots?

Students take aim at the ‘Never Had it So Good’ Generations

Today’s protests will be mainly read as anger at the hike in student fees resulting from the government’s massive withdrawal of funding from higher education. Very important issues, to be sure. But the issue at stake is broader, even, than the debate over whether higher education is a public good. Refusal to pay for higher education is just one part of an ongoing, broad-ranging assualt on future generations by those currently in positions of power. Continue reading Students take aim at the ‘Never Had it So Good’ Generations

Reading Notes: Johnson’s Interface Culture

Johnson, Steven. 1997. Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way we Create and Communicate. Basic Books.

[NB These are notes to self, they become pretty ungrammatical towards the end!]

This interesting and erudite book starts from the position that the collision of technology and culture is nothing new, but that with the increased pace of technological change the collision has become more obvious. That is, new media have always intersected with cultural change Continue reading Reading Notes: Johnson’s Interface Culture