PGF Pre-conference Day 2015: Session Two – Value-free or Politically Partial? Sociology and Teaching

 

matt dDr Matt Dawson, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Glasgow: “But what do Sociologists Do? Public Sociology, Teaching and the Spirit of Max”

Abstract: Recent attempts to reimagine the purpose and scope of sociology, of which public sociology is here taken as a case study, have tended to emphasise the role of sociologists as researchers and public intellectuals.  Teaching, in such analyses, has been downplayed.  While Burawoy makes encouraging noises about the importance of teaching to public sociology these are generally afterthoughts to arguments about the researcher role.  This not only marginalises the fact that for many sociologists teaching is a key, sometimes even the most prominent, thing they do but is also a departure from classical writings on the role of the discipline.  This paper will return to Max Weber’s writings on social science, where teaching – conceived as the providing of ‘inconvenient facts’ – is often given equal place to research.  It is this ‘spirit of Max’ which the paper will then apply to the current day, while departing from the ‘substance of Max’.

Biography: Matt Dawson is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Glasgow.  He is the author of Late Modernity, Individualization and Socialism: An Associational Critique of Neoliberalism (2013, Palgrave Macmillan) as well as a forthcoming book on the history of sociologists offering visions for alternatives worlds.  He is also, with colleagues from the University of Sussex, currently engaged in research on asexual identity and practices of intimacy.  Matt has taught topics such as social theory, class, globalization, everyday life, methods and political sociology at both Glasgow and Sussex.

535960_10205682332806676_5942411361430623690_nDr Vikki Turbine, Lecturer in Politics, University of Glasgow: “The politics of ‘teaching’ feminist politics: responsibilities, risks, rewards”

There is an abundance of research exploring the responsibilities and risks of being feminist in the academy and recent debate has centred on the continued marginal status of feminist approaches to research and teaching within higher education. This paper begins in agreement with the findings of many feminist scholars that the social sciences remains at best dismissive and at worst hostile to feminist approaches and politics.  This is puzzling given the theoretical and empirical contributions that feminist research has generated for social theory and pedagogy, and in light of the apparent ‘resurgence’ of feminist activism among the student body. The paper considers why this resistance may persist by reflecting on my own experiences as a feminist researcher and lecturer in a politics department, teaching an undergraduate course on feminism. It ends by arguing that in spite of difficulties, there are rewards in occupying the marginal, but overtly political, positionality of a feminist teacher.

Biography: Vikki Turbine is a lecturer in Politics in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. She has a long standing research interest in contemporary Russian politics and particularly women’s experiences of post-Soviet neoliberal reform. Her doctoral research undertook a qualitative feminist analysis of women’s perceptions of and access to human rights in Russia, exploring how gender and class shape this, and what impacts this has for women’s citizenship. She has published work from this body of research in various journals and edited collections, most recently in Europe Asia Studies. Her latest body of (forthcoming) work is based on an ESRC funded project exploring citizens’ use of the internet to mobilise rights claims and protest in Russia (RES-000-22-4195) and she is currently researching young women’s engagements with politics and feminism in Russia. She tweets @VikTurbine

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