Students – fees – and protest

13 12 2010

London has seen several waves of protest recently over the proposed student fees increases, the first of which I discussed here.

After students got a bit rowdy and broke some windows last time round, the police have taken revenge by penning thousands of them in a ‘kettle’ and then charging at them with horses untill boiling point.

There’s some good coverage of the ‘dubstep rebellion from the British banlieue‘ by Paul Mason, Newsnight’s Economics editor. He makes a valiant attempt to get down with the kids, one of very few journalists who has covered the story from this point of view, although I have been reliably informed by one SOAS undergraduate that his analysis of the latest yoot music trends is a bit off the mark.

And a first hand account from Cambridge PHD student Delwar Hussain here.

Today students are protesting against the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance which gives students from disadvantaged backgrounds a stipend for staying in school. (Something that the British government has helped to fund in Bangladesh with encouraging results)

Some of the protests turned pretty nasty, as you can imagine what happens when the police pen protesters in and then charge horses into the crowded space and hit anyone who tries to escape over the head with a stick. Some injured protesters, unconscious with head wounds took hours to get to hospital after police prevented them from leaving the kettle.

Somehow Prince Charles and his Courtesan got caught up in the mess and when spotted were chased by students chanting ‘off with their heads’. Somehow Camilla got poked with a stick (photo below)

This is not funny at all.

The students chanting and poking and banging the roof of the car were lucky not to be shot by the ‘enormously restrained’ police officers according to the national restraintometer – The Daily Mail.


Research Committee 21

13 12 2010

deadline for abstract submission approaching!

Research Committee 21 on Sociology of Urban and Regional Development of the International Sociological Association

The struggle to belong. Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings

Amsterdam (The Netherlands), July 7-9 2011.

Deadline for abstract submission December 21st, 2010.

Check out the website and view the available panels.

The RC-21 2011 Conference will analyze how globalization and individualization have given rise to new forms of diversity ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, class and otherwise, and new deliberations and conflicts over citizenship and belonging in urban settings in both the Global South and North. We want to know how people with diverse backgrounds locate themselves and others in new social hierarchies, how they struggle to create meaningful places, in what ways they develop strategies to belong, and with what consequences. Moreover, we aim to understand better what types of (new) policy responses and forms of governance have developed to manage diversity in urban settings.

The struggle to feel at home can be understood as a response to the process of globalization. On the one hand, there are indications that traditional loyalties evaporate, which seems to hold particularly for those who operate in what Castells has called the ‘space of flows’, for example for people involved in the tier of internationally oriented knowledge workers. On the other hand, there are also indications that traditional or local orientations and loyalties become more significant, and corresponding groups are strengthened. This is especially the case for those people who are, for Castells, in the space of place, and who often comprise the less privileged groups in society. In this way, globalization goes hand in hand with localization, i.e. a greater stress on the meaning of local traditions and practices. This process of glocalization results in new societal cleavages to which new notions of citizenship have been viewed as a possible response. Some of the research questions orienting the meeting are: how do social, political, economic and cultural processes at the international or transnational level influence new forms of diversity and, consequently, new forms of belonging? What type of (new) policy responses and governance forms have developed to manage diversity in urban settings? How can we understand the recent culturalization and emotionalization of citizenship, e.g. by way of rising demands on feelings of loyalty, national or local pride and on the need to feel at home? How do these homogenizing tendencies relate to the development of transnational citizenship and multiple and hybrid identities?

Secondly, the struggle to belong can be understood as a response to individualization. There is considerable debate on the meaning and extent of individualization. Individualization is often understood as a socio-cultural phenomenon: the duty to behave as autonomous and free as possible. While individualization processes are rooted in long term historical forces, neoliberal pressures have accelerate these processes by privatizing risk, making individuals financially independent, and requiring people to become calculating citizens. During the conference, we want to discuss how individualization influences identities, chances and tasks for individuals living in urban settings. How do citizens experience these changes? What new duties, rights and communities come into existence in response to (which kind of) individualization? Which emotions does individualization evoke or demand, e.g. joys or pains that come with autonomy and freedom of choice? What new forms of mutual help and solidarity are created or expected in local communities? How does individualization give rise to new social and political communities and to new notions of publicness?

In sum, the central concern of the 2011 RC-21 annual conference is the ways in which individuals and communities in an urban context respond to the major social processes of globalization and individualization: how do they articulate various forms of diversity and develop inclusive or exclusive strategies to belong.


Filming Ethnographically – 12th RAI Festival of Ethnographic Film

6 12 2010

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Do you have a spare film from your ethnographic fieldwork and thought about submitting it somewhere here is your chance:

The 12th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film
Will be hosted by UCL in London, 24-26 June 2011:
Submission deadline: 15 January 2011

Submissions are invited from any field of ethnographic film. Only films released (first screened in public) after 1st January 2008 are eligible for competitive screening.

Please submit the form and stills by e-mail ( and send the preview DVD and proof of entry fee by post. Deadline for Submission is 15 January 2011 (post mark date; Please ensure that preview tapes arrive by 26 January) – Thanks!

Check the website for application documents.

Contact for any inquiries: Susanne Hammacher (