Author Archives: Robert Dingwall

Research on Research

Unfortunately the residual effects of some significant surgery this summer prevented me from attending the recent launch of the Research on Research Institute (RoRi). This initiative has the laudable aim of better informing funders and policymakers about “how research is funded, practiced and evaluated, and… how research cultures and systems can be made more efficient,… Read More »

The Academic Conference – and its Discontents

Every few months, my Twitter timeline fills with complaints about academic conferences from graduate students and early career scholars. Why, they ask, do I have to pay X hundred dollars/pounds/euros to attend the main annual meeting of my discipline’s learned society? Why is always in an expensive city? I end up giving a 15 minute… Read More »

Social Precognition and Sociology: The Case of Resistentialism and ANT

A small group of us have recently been working informally on a hypothesis that we have called ‘social precognition’. In summary, this proposes that the world of STEM cannot make any major advances that have not already been imagined by creative artists. Science fiction precedes science… However, my researches have raised the troubling thought that… Read More »

Health Visiting and the MMR: a matter of mutual decline

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is reported to be concerned about the falling level of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination in the United Kingdom. The country has now lost its measles-free status… He has asked social media companies to block the spread of information from groups opposing vaccination (see previous post on this topic)… Read More »

Negotiating against a Script

Scripts or playbooks created by corporate managers to handle consumer and other claims reduce the discretion for negotiators to resolve individual disputes. How can one possibly “get to yes” by offering creative options to solve problems when the other party won’t even engage in basic negotiation behaviors (questioning and responses, information exchange, agenda setting, offers,… Read More »

Why does the British Labour Party struggle with Antisemitism?

The relationship between the British Labour Party and sections of the UK Jewish community goes back a very long way. This is why Labour’s evolving policy on Israel has been so emotive for so many people… Within this context, some Labour Party members have clearly not thought carefully enough about the words they have used… Read More »

Understanding the Slave Trade

I have long thought that sociologists should read more history. It might correct some of their sweeping generalizations about the emergence and development of Western societies. This reflection has been reinforced by a recent book, A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution by Toby… Read More »

Reflections on the Death of Doris Day

The recent death of Doris Day severed one of the last links with a Golden Age of Hollywood. Many tributes have been paid to a woman whose talent was rarely fully used in her screen roles. In the course of these obituaries and memorials, it is interesting to note the songs that are picked out… Read More »

What counts as “Real Sociology”?

…if one looks around a typical campus, it is striking how much sociology has abandoned to other fields. The consequence is that those fields have invented their own social sciences to compensate. Engineering has human factors, computer science has user experience, transport planning looks almost exclusively to behavioural economics. Students have the message that sociology… Read More »

Whatever happened to Conservative Social Thought?

…This post focusses mainly on conservative thinking, partly because it is increasingly difficult to identify when and where many students would meet a respectful presentation of this stream of ideas. How many social science departments actually teach a core component on Conservative Social Thought? Conservative social and political thought rests on three quite distinct foundations… Read More »