Negotiating Brexit – A Clash of Legal Cultures?

Under English law, A can break the contract with B, provided they pay compensation, sharing the extra profit they get from selling to C instead. The exact share will depend upon how much notice they can give B, what other suppliers are available, etc. From an economic point of view, this is more efficient. If… Read More »

Social sciences lose out again in Common Rule reform

Ethics regulation is difficult to get right. The protection of human subjects must be balanced against the creation of areas of ignorance, encroachment on academic freedom, a chilling effect on innovation, and paternalist denial of participants’ rights to self-determination…The results are incoherent and unlikely to reduce the mistrust between social scientists and ethics regulators…The new… Read More »

In Search of Conservative Sociology

In a recent article in Times Higher Education, Musa al-Gharbi, a fellow in sociology at Columbia University, notes the dearth of conservative faculty, students and ideas in US universities. Consequently, conservative interests and politicians see little value in any social science other than economics. Since their views are not respected, they have no incentive to… Read More »

Brexit and British Science: The cliff edge starts to crumble

The UK science policy establishment has been remarkably sanguine in the face of its government’s plans for Brexit. Some of their public utterances would do justice to Voltaire’s Dr Pangloss in assuring the research community that it will all turn out all right in the end… Much of it resembles the wishful thinking of other… Read More »

Common Rule Reform – A Botched Job

US social scientists have long complained about the impact of the Common Rule, the main Federal regulation governing the ethical review of biomedical and behavioural research by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). In 2011, the relevant Federal agencies announced a review, leading to the publication of revised regulations on the very last day of the Obama… Read More »

Sociology’s (Selective) Diversity

Diversity is a fetish among sociologists. No minority is too small, and few too deviant, for us to champion their case for recognition. In many ways, this is one of the nice things about our discipline. We start from an assumption of common humanity. Our evolutionary roots also underline the value of difference in adapting… Read More »

Text of NTU Inaugural Lecture now online

The text of my inaugural lecture as professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University has now been posted here. I have also added a note of the questions raised by the audience and of my responses – I will confess to polishing those after the event but the spirit has been retained.

Why is qualitative research like Fawlty Towers?

At the risk of sounding opportunist, I thought I would post my own tribute to the genius of the late Andrew Sachs. This is a chapter that was originally commissioned for a conference in 1989, organized by Australian colleagues. Phil Strong had been invited but could not get out of various commitments and generously suggested… Read More »

An Inaugural Lecture by Professor Robert Dingwall: Public Sociology: Politics, Postures and Practice

In the UK, sociology has long had a poor public image. In contrast to the US, for example, we do not see car bumper stickers proclaiming the driver’s pride in their field of study. This lecture contrasts the mission of sociology as a science of society with its abuse to justify particular moral and political… Read More »

Health and Safety in a Changing World – Special Issue of Policy and Practice in Health and Safety now out

The IOSH research programme ‘Health and Safety in a Changing World’ is the subject of a special issue of Policy and Practice in Health and Safety. This contains six papers reflecting the work of the projects funded under the programme, together with an editorial introduction by Patrick Waterson, the journal editor, and myself. The programme… Read More »