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British Journal of Sociology

Tuukka Kaidesoja
This article develops a novel account of middle-range theories for combining theoretical and empirical analysis in explanatory sociology. I first revisit Robert K. Merton's original ideas on middle-range theories and identify a tension between his developmental approach to middle-range theorizing that recognizes multiple functions of theories in sociological research and his static definition of the concept of middle-range theory that focuses only on empirical testing of theories. Drawing on Merton's ideas on theorizing and recent discussions on mechanism-based explanations, I argue that this tension can be resolved by decomposing a middle-range theory into three interrelated and evolving components that perform different functions in sociological research: (i) a conceptual framework about social phenomena that is a set of interrelated concepts that evolve in close connection with empirical analysis; (ii) a mechanism schema that is an abstract and incomplete description of a social mechanism; and (iii) a cluster of all mechanism-based explanations of social phenomena that are based on the particular mechanism schema...
November 21, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Nelly Bekus
The article examines the limitations of methodological nationalism in the studies of social memory through a case study of memory of Stalinist repression in Belarus. It analyses how various social agencies - national and local activists, religious organisations, and international foundations - use the memory of repression for constructing post-Soviet Belarusian identity by embedding their national representations in larger transnational frameworks. Drawing on the concept of 'internal globalisation', this article develops the idea of 'internal transnationalism' that suggests the importance of wider transnational configurations for the definition of nation...
November 21, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Magne Paalgard Flemmen, Vegard Jarness, Lennart Rosenlund
In this article, we address the classical debate about the relationship between the economic and cultural aspects of social stratification, typically cast in terms of Weber's distinction between class and status. We discuss in particular Chan and Goldthorpe's influential, yet largely unchallenged, attempt to reinstate a strict version of the class-status distinction, mounted as an attack on 'Bourdieusian' accounts. We argue that this is unconvincing in two respects: There are fundamental problems with their conceptualization of status, producing a peculiar account where one expression of status honour explains the other; in addition, their portrayal of the Bourdieusian approach as one-dimensional is highly questionable...
November 11, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Hadrien Saiag
This paper provides a contribution to the institutionalist approach to money through ethnographic research carried out in two local currency systems in Argentina (known as trueque). It argues that Argentinian local currencies must be considered as monies in their own right even if they differ from state and bank issued currencies, because they can be understood as systems of evaluation and settlement of debts denominated in a specific unit of account (the crédito). Money is said to be an ambivalent social relation because in the two cases studied it mediates very different dynamics, exacerbating inequality in one context and promoting collective emancipation in another...
November 8, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Alex Broom, Katherine Kenny, Emma Kirby, Zarnie Lwin
Whether within an atmosphere of hope, or amidst relations of fear, the emotions of cancer are unavoidably collectively produced. Yet persistent individualistic paradigms continue to obscure how the emotions of cancer operate relationally - between bodies, subjects, discourses, and practices - and are intertwined with circulating beliefs, cultural desires, and various forms of normativity. Drawing on interviews with 80 people living with cancer in Australia, this paper illustrates why recognition of the collective enterprise of survivorship - and the collective production of emotion, more generally - is important in light of persistent, culturally dominant conceptions of the individual patient as the primary 'afflicted', 'feeling', and 'treated' subject...
November 8, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Eeva Luhtakallio
This article argues that in order to analyse democracy as a pattern constantly processed in a given society, it is useful to look at activist groups' agenda setting and recruitment principles, group bonds and boundaries, and how these actions direct and influence ways of creating the common. Based on an ethnographic study on bicycle activism in Helsinki, Finland, it describes a local critical mass movement that was successful in promoting a bicycle friendly and sustainable city, yet dissolved due to lack of people involved, and the bicycle demonstrations stopped at a moment of high public interest...
November 8, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Stefan B Andrade, Jens-Peter Thomsen
This article presents a new way of analysing educational assortative mating patterns, using a detailed 'micro-educational' classification capturing both hierarchical and horizontal forms of educational differentiation. Taking advantage of rich Danish population data, we apply log-linear models that include four ways of measuring educational homogamy patterns: (a) by returns to education, (b) by macro-education (five aggregated levels), (c) by field of study (16 categories), and (d) by a disaggregated micro-educational classification, combining levels and fields of study (54 groups)...
November 8, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Georgi Derluguian
Studying the varieties of welfare can offer surprising insights in the workings and tensions of Islamist social movements in such major countries as Iran, Egypt, and Turkey. Based on extensive fieldwork and (for Iran) the batteries of socio-economic data, the recent monographs of sociologists Kevan Harris and Cihan Tuğal offer a high-resolution yet panoramic overview. Harris re-positions the Iranian historical 'improvisation called Islamic Republic' as the 'warfare/welfare state' forged in the sacrificial defense against Saddam Hussein's onslaught in the 1980s...
October 31, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Thomas O'Brien
Individual actors have the potential to shape political outcomes through creative use of opportunities. Political entrepreneurship identifies how such actors recognize and exploit opportunities, for personal or collective gain. The existing literature focuses on individuals operating within institutional settings, with less attention paid to other types of actors. In this article, I argue for an expansion of the political entrepreneurship framework, by considering individuals in the electoral and protest arenas...
October 30, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Olga Zeveleva
This article contributes to denationalizing Bourdieu's field theory by analysing the relationship between a regional news media field, the state and transnational influences. The article seeks to answer the question of how a state can impose limits on the autonomy of the news media field during political transition. Field theory is applied to changes that have taken place in Crimean news media since Russia's annexation of the peninsula in 2014. Drawing on narrative interviews with journalists who worked in Crimea in 2012-17, expert interviews, and secondary sources, I demonstrate how Crimea's news media field went from being dominated by varied Ukrainian private news media owners to becoming dominated by the Russian state...
October 26, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Aurel Niederberger
How do political investigations affect relations of power? Earlier studies have focused on the empowering effects of political knowledge - in contrast, I analyse how the pursuit of such knowledge makes the investigator dependent on others. I hypothesize that where the will to know empowers others, ignorance becomes a strategic alternative. This mechanism should play out strongly at the intersection of global governance and local political crises: here, global governance actors lack knowledge, investigations often constitute the first direct interaction between actors from both sides, and solidification of power (instead of empowering others) should be a central interest of global governance actors...
October 25, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Robert Evans, Harry Collins, Martin Weinel, Jennifer Lyttleton-Smith, Hannah O'Mahoney, Willow Leonard-Clarke
The nature and role of social groups is a central tension in sociology. On the one hand, the idea of a group enables sociologists to locate and describe individuals in terms of characteristics that are shared with others. On the other, emphasizing the fluidity of categories such as gender or ethnicity undermines their legitimacy as ways of classifying people and, by extension, the legitimacy of categorization as a goal of sociological research. In this paper, we use a new research method known as the Imitation Game to defend the social group as a sociological concept...
October 23, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Hartmut Ditton, Michael Bayer, Florian Wohlkinger
This paper takes up ongoing discussions on the inequality of educational opportunities and formulates a conceptual model to link separate lines of research. Our particular focus is on combining motivational and structural approaches into a mediation model that explains differences in academic achievement. In the literature, four main mechanisms of social reproduction are discussed. Two main pathways refer to (1) parents' expectations regarding their children's academic success and (2) replicating cultural capital through intra-familial cultural practices...
October 17, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Rosie Campbell, Teela Sanders, Jane Scoular, Jane Pitcher, Stewart Cunningham
It has been well established that those working in the sex industry are at various risks of violence and crime depending on where they sell sex and the environments in which they work. What sociological research has failed to address is how crime and safety have been affected by the dynamic changing nature of sex work given the dominance of the internet and digital technologies, including the development of new markets such as webcamming. This paper reports the most comprehensive findings on the internet-based sex market in the UK demonstrating types of crimes experienced by internet-based sex workers and the strategies of risk management that sex workers adopt, building on our article in the British Journal of Sociology in 2007...
October 14, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Michelle Jackson, David B Grusky
The iconic 'liberal theory' of stratification fails to attend to the many types of downward mobility and wage loss generated by late-industrial stratification systems. Although the liberal theory and its close cousins assume that loss and failure will be interpreted in individualistic terms, recent developments suggest instead that they are generating solidary groups that are increasingly locked into zero-sum contest and successfully mobilized by politicians and other norm entrepreneurs. These developments imply a Marxisant future for late-industrial inequality that bears scant resemblance to the highly individualized, unstructured, and non-conflictual stratification system envisaged by the liberal theory...
October 11, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Julien Seroussi
The International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates international crimes committed in different parts of the world. Earlier scholarly analysis of the work performed by the ICC judges has pointed out that judges often lack cultural and national understanding of the local norms and customs of regions where defendants come from. This article treats this lack of contextual knowledge displayed by the court as a case of structural ignorance rather than an aberration to be 'exposed' or censured. International lawyers indeed must ground their legal narratives with plausible sociological explanations of contextual elements to overcome their lack of familiarity with the field and the scarcity of their investigative resources...
October 9, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Grégoire Mallard, Linsey McGoey
How can we account for the role of ignorance and knowledge in global governance? It is a contention of earlier scholarship in international relations and political sociology that knowledge production is tightly coupled with rational action - regardless of whether knowledge widely influences different stakeholders or not. This scholarship equally tends to assume an ignorance-knowledge binary relationship that associates ignorance with powerlessness and knowledge with power. This is a view we dispute. Calling for a new approach to the study of ignorance and knowledge in international politics, our article builds on research from ignorance studies, science and technology studies and critical race theory to derive a novel typology of epistemologies of power in which truth and ignorance are defined and combined in a plurality of ways...
October 9, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Michael Toze
Within existing academic literature, ageing within trans populations has primarily been addressed from the perspective of offering advice to service providers and clinicians, with relatively limited application of critical sociological perspectives. This article seeks to integrate the critical perspectives on gerontology with transfeminism, identifying areas of commonality regarding accounts of an integrated lifecourse, scepticism of biomedicalization, and an emphasis on local context. The article suggests that this integration provides a fruitful basis for developing future research into the study of trans ageing, and also provides theoretical development across many debates around age, gender and the lifecourse...
October 9, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Liz Moor, Shireen Kanji
Research on intra-household resource allocation practices has largely ignored the role of communication within but especially beyond the household. This article shows that discussions engaged in outside of the household shed light on intra-household deliberation and also contribute to an understanding of how norms are formed and used in discussions and negotiations. Using data from the website Mumsnet, and grounding our analysis in a framework that combines the literature on gender norms in allocation practices with insights from the study of online communication, we contribute to the sociological literature on household distribution in three ways: first, we show that women use discussion sites like Mumsnet to clarify and sometimes contest social norms regarding money and relationships; second, we show that users conceive the ability to communicate with partners as a source of 'relationship power' and use online discussion with other women to develop that skill; third, we argue that sites like Mumsnet provide fresh insights into household resource allocation processes...
October 7, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
Pierre Pénet
This article builds on ignorance studies to revisit how we understand the role of expertise in international policymaking. A fundamental component of ignorance is concealing what you know. For experts, risk ignorance is a strategic resource when the policymaking process becomes a contested exchange. This article covers IMF lending programmes in Europe in 2008-13 with a special focus on Greece. Empirical data is drawn from policy documents. I find that risk ignorance at the IMF resulted from a joint process of 'private alteration' and 'public obfuscation': the alteration of normal scenarios of debt sustainability in private negotiations worked in tandem with the obfuscation of programme risks in the public stage...
October 6, 2018: British Journal of Sociology
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