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Queries for the British Journal of Sociology should be directed to Professor Nigel Dodd 

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Welcome to BJS Online, the LSE hosted website for the BJS. The page enables access to the tables of contents for all the published copies of the Journal from 1950 through to the present. 

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2016 BJS Public Lecture
Thursday, 20 October 2016, at 6.30 p.m. in Old Theatre (Main Building), London School of Econonomics and Political Science, Houghton St., London WC2A 2AE

'Sociology of W.E. du Bois:  Why du Bois is the founder of American scientific sociology'

Aldon Morris, Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African and American Studies, Northwestern University, discussed  evidence from his book, The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology, showing Du Bois, an influential 20th century black scholar, was the founding father of modern scientific sociology. Please follow this  link to the podcast of the lecture    Please follow this link to the video podcast of the Lecture.

 
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2016 BJS Prize Announcement

The 2016 Prize has been awarded to Robert J. Brym, Melissa Godbout, Andreas Hoffbauer, Gabe Menard and Tony Huiquan Zhong for the co authored work 'Social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising' which was originally published in BJS 62(2). Professor Brym accepted the Prize on behalf of his colleagues at the 2016 BJS Annual Lecture on 20 October 2016.  Listen to Robert Brym's short podcast here


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2016 Lecture Debate Interview

 On 20October 2016, Professor Adon Morris gave a lecture entitled 'The sociology of W.E du Bois: why du Bois is the founer of Amrican scientific sociology' , Nigel Dodd interviews Morris on  his account of dynamic forces that generated scientific schools of thought in social science during du Bois' era. View the interview here

Also, listen to his fascinating lecture  by following this link which will be made available shortly on the Events Website  to the audio podcast of the lecture or watch the  Lecture via LSE Video Podcast, YouTube or LSE Soundcloud.

 

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Launch of the BJS Early Career Prize

We are delighted to announce the launch of the BJS Early Career Prize for authors of papers published in the BJS in the first five years from the date they are awarded their PhD.   Consideration of papers is now open, and first award will be made in 2017.

 

Introduction of Special Sections

The BJS has introducied a new feature - Special Sections -  which consist of small clusters of 3-5 papers on a particular theme that may be either topical and  'in the news' or of cutting edge importance.  Read  the first special section, edited by Mike Savage and Christiana on Aesthetics and Social Change.

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Piketty Special Issue of British Journal of Sociology

The special issue of BJS devoted to discussing Piketty which includes Mike Savage, John Holmwood. Jonathan Hopkin, David Soskice, Craig Calhoun,  Di Perrons, Tony Atkinson, Frank Cowell, David Piachaud, Laura Bear, Gareth Jones and with a response by Thomas is now live. Please see the special issue page on the Wiley website. (Access to this issue is free, i.e. no subscription necessary)

 

For older news please go to the News archive pages.

 2016 BJS Prizewinners' Comment

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Professor Robert J. Brym commented on behalf of his colleagues (Melissa Godbout, Andreas Hoffbauer, Gabe Menard and Tony Huiquan Zhong) on the publication of their paper: 'Social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising',  British Journal of Sociology 65(2): 266-92: (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-4446.12080/full)

'My experience publishing in the BJS since the mid-80s has been uniformly agreeable. However, when my students and I won the biennial BJS prize for our paper on the use of social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising (Brym et al. 2014), agreeableness turned to surprise and delight. It is a great honour to be recognized in this way by a leading journal in the field. I am pleased to have the opportunity to express our gratitude to Katherine Stovel, BJS Editor, who, throughout the review process, offered constructively firm advice; Jacquie Gauntlett, the Journal Manager, whose efficiency is always generously laced with good cheer and practical support; the carefully chosen BJS reviewers, whose critical commentary on our paper did much to improve it; and the BJS Editorial Board, who ultimately decided to honour us in this way. Thank you all.

Our paper uses Gallup poll data to adjudicate two narratives that have crystallized around the study of social movements. Narrative 1 holds that new electronic communications media constitute an important and independent cause of protest in so far as they enhance the capacity of demonstrators to extend protest networks, express outrage, organize events and warn comrades of real-time threats. Narrative 2 holds that, net of other factors, new electronic communications media play a relatively minor role in generating protest activity, mainly because they are low-cost, low-risk means of involvement that attract many sympathetic onlookers, few of whom are prepared to engage in high-risk activism. Our examination of the independent effects of a host of factors associated with high-risk activism allowed us to conclude that using some new electronic communications media was associated with being a demonstrator in the 2011 Egyptian uprising. However, we also found that grievances, structural availability and existing network connections were more important than was the use of new electronic communications media in distinguishing demonstrators from sympathetic onlookers. In short, we found that both narratives have some validity but both must be qualified.

I've been asked to say a few words about the origins, evolution and broader implications of our paper. I must begin by emphasizing that it originated as an exercise in pedagogy, not a venture in academic publishing. Traditional pedagogy uses what might be called the 'skills method' of instruction. In elementary school we learn the properties of numbers and apply what we learn to instances of addition, subtraction and so on. These instances are called problems but, typically, they have little or no connection to gripping issues in the real world. That is why many students find arithmetic and math boring and difficult. The skills method is widely employed in universities too. Even in graduate-level courses students are expected to consume and debate conventional wisdom. Courses rarely afford students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research that allows them to discover something new, which is where most of the excitement resides in intellectual life.

A second approach to learning is the 'case method'. It presents students with an unresolved intellectual controversy and expects them to figure out how to solve it, learning required 2

skills along the way. Students are obliged to devise, discuss, defend and refine the decisions they make as they solve the controversy. The case method involves the identification of real-world problems, the systematic analysis of evidence and the application of reasoned decision-making. After more than half a century as a student and a professor, I am convinced that the case method is more engaging than the skills method and therefore the superior form of pedagogy in terms of learning outcomes.

And so I apply the case method in my social movements graduate seminar at the University of Toronto, expecting my students to help me resolve an ongoing theoretical dispute in the field by conducting research that results in a co-authored, published paper. It was an easy task to identify controversies in our field in 2012. The near simultaneous eruption of the Occupy movement, the Spanish indignados, the Arab Spring and other uprisings prompted analysts to debate a range of significant analytical issues. To what degree did these large, energetic and sometimes violent protests demonstrate the existence of a single movement whose regional variants sprang from similar, global causes? To what degree did the protests demonstrate the capacity of human agency to change structures of social inequality and cultural hegemony that had formerly seemed unyielding? To what degree did the protests result from the introduction of new communications technologies that made it possible for previously disconnected individuals and networks to challenge authority in a new way? Participants in the 2017 seminar will research the globalization question. Participants in the 2015 seminar researched the agency/structure/culture debate and wrote a paper that is now under review. Participants in the 2012 seminar focused on the relationship between new communications technology and protest and wrote the paper that won the BJS award.

As my students review the literature related to our problem, I make a habit of noting how frequently sociologists innovate theoretically when they pay little attention to Alfred Kinsey's insistence that "variation is everything" and how often they increase our understanding of a problem when they take Alfred Kinsey's mantra seriously (Kinsey 2004). Manuel Castells is an example of a theoretical innovator (Castells 2012). He insists that social movements form only when hope and outrage can be communicated to others on a large scale. In 2012 Castells wrote that such emotions 'spread by contagion in a world networked by the wired Internet'. Thus, in Egypt in 2011, activists 'planned the protests on Facebook, coordinated them through Twitter, spread them by SMSs and webcast them to the world on YouTube'. Castells forcefully brings an important new phenomenon to our attention, but there is little variation here, little sense that new communications media may be only one in a hierarchy of causes of protest, and not necessarily the most important one at that. In contrast, by admitting the possibility of such variation, we undertook research that tests the generalizability of Castells' assertion, thus increasing our understanding of the role of new communications media in contemporary social movements. That was the intent of our BJS article. Similarly, it is the intent of our still unpublished paper from the 2015 seminar not to insist that structure or culture or agency most strongly influences levels of activism - we already have plenty of sociologists who say that - but to identify the kinds of social contexts in which each of these causal forces predominate (Brym et al. 2016). And it will be the intent of our 2017 paper not to assume that common globalization processes give contemporary social movements a unity of purpose but to identify the social 3

conditions that account for variation in the capacity of globalization processes to have such an effect. Remembering that variation is everything allows us to pose questions in this way.

I end, as I began, with thanks - this time to the graduate students in my social movements seminar, whose intelligence, energy and enthusiasm continue to enrich and inspire me.

Robert Brym

Toronto, 24 September 2016

Bibliography

Brym, R., Broćić, M., Nevin, A., Pettinicchio, D., Slavina, A., Caron, C., Redquest, E., Cheung, E. and Picard, A. 2016 'The effects of structure, culture and agency on university student protest in high- and low-activism settings', unpublished paper, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto.

Brym, R., Godbout, M., Hoffbauer, A., Menard, G. and Zhang, T. 2014 'Social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising', British Journal of Sociology 65(2): 266-92.

Castells, M. 2012 Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet

Age, Cambridge UK: Polity.

Kinsey 2004, Condon, B. (dir.), 20th Century Fox (film).

Photo of Professor Bruno Latour

BJS Prize 2014 - a comment from Bruno Latour

The 2014 BJS Prize was announced and presented at the BJS 2014 Annual Public Lecture on 6 November 2014. Bruno Latour commented on behalf of his co-authors (Pablo Jensen, Tommaso Venturini, Sebastian Grauwin and Dominique Bouille): We are very honoured by your award especially because this is the first technical paper in English coming out of the medialab we created five years ago to connect social theory and what is now called 'big data' but that should really be called 'smart data' The medialab had been conceived largely to understand what Gabriel Tarde had in mind when he claimed that he could ssquantify social connections with better tools than statistics (he was himself the head of criminal statistics at the Ministry of Justice and his data set had been used by Marcel Mauss to feed Durkheim's book on suicide, a book where the said Durkheim  was more than happy to 'trash' Tarde's insights...) So, since  2004 I have assembled a multidisciplinary group with a biologist (it happens that bacteria are great for testing Tarde's theory!), cognitive scientists, media students and of course science studies scholars to see how we could 'operationalise'  Tarde with the web data newly available.  But it is only with the help of two physicists (PabloJensen and Sebastian Grauwin) and the medial lab researchers (Dominique Bouiller in media stdies and Tommaso Venturini in mapping controversies) that we have been able to see how the obscure notion of 'monads' could be made more amenable to empirical analysis.  To be complete I should add the technical director of the medialab, Paul Girard, whose role was essential in helping us through the long process.  There is of course a long way to go! Once again, we are very proud and thank you very much for such an honour.  Tarde vindicated by the Britts a century later, that's really great!

 

Bruno

Listen to the Podcast by Bruno Latour

 
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BJS Prize 2012
We are delighted to announce that Professor Anthony King (Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter) has been awarded the 2012 Prize for his paper 'The Afghan War and 'postmodern' memory: commemoration and the dead of Helmund' (BJS, Vol. 61,March 2010).

Listen to the fascinating  podcast by Anthony King who comments on his motivation for  writing of this paper.

 
Clare Saunders

Dr. Clare Saunders awarded the BJS Prize

We are delighted to announce that the BJS Prize in 2009 has been awarded to Dr. Clare Saunders (School of Social Sciences, Southampton University) for her paper: 'Double-edged swords? Collective identity and solidarity in the environment movement' (BJS, Vol 59, June 2009)

 

Podcast by Clare Saunders

This is the first BJS Prize to be awarded.  It is a biennial prize given to the author of an article published in the BJS that in the opinion of the judges makes an outstanding contribution to increasing sociological knowledge.

For details of previous prize awards please go to Prizes and awards page.
Rank No of Downloads Article Title Volume, Issue, Month and Year
Authors
1 637 Revitalizing sociology: urban life and mental illness between history and the present Vol. 67(1) March 2016 Des Fitzgerald, Nikolas Rose Ilina Singh
2 288 The globalization of football: a study  in the glocalization of the 'serious life' Vol.55(4) Dec 2004 Richard Guilianotti Roland Robertson
3 190 Before theory comes theorizing or how to make social science more interestng Vol.67(1) Mar 2016  Richard Swedberg
4 166 Making a difference: ethical consumption and the everyday Vol. 61(2) June 2010

Matthew Adams Jayne Raisborough

5 161 Mythscapes: memory, mythology, and antional identity Vol.54(1) Mar 2003 Duncan E. Bell
6 159 Beyond the binge in 'booze Britain': market-led liminalization and the spectacle of binge drinking Vol. 58(3) Sept 2007 Keith Hayward,  Dick Hobbs
7 150 Beck, individualization and the death of class: a critique Vol.58(3) Sept 2007 Will Atkinson
8 147 Surveillant assemblage Vol. 51(4) Dec 2003 Kevin D. Haggerty         Richard V. Ericson
9 145 Political power beyond the State: problematics of government

Vol. 61(s1) Jan 2010

Nikolas Rose and Peter Miller
10 144 Sexual politics, torture, and secular time Vol. 59 Judith Butler
 
For older podcasts please go to Podcasts page.