Provisonal Programme - University of Warwick

Culture, Media and Representation Research Cluster
Department of Sociology, University of Warwick
Cutting edges: A Warwick-Goldsmiths Dialogue
Wolfson Research Exchange
13-14th May 2010
Thursday 13th May
12.30 Lunch, EAT
1.30 – 3pm Inspiration and Perspiration: Exploring Theory and Empirics
Facilitated by Christina Hughes and Bev Skeggs
Where do you turn for new inspiration? Who or what is your ‘must read’? Has an event or
an empirical example captured your imagination such that it is informing or troubling your
thinking? We would like to use this first session to open up a discussion about sources of
insight and understanding that capture our (perhaps personal) imaginations. As well as
beginning to get to know each other, the aim of this opening session is to explore the array of
influences that inform our work. Come prepared to respond to the ‘inspiration’ questions set
out here. Nonetheless, we cannot have inspiration without recognising the hard work of
connecting theory and empirics or even just of thinking! Also be prepared, therefore, to
consider some perspiration questions – What stumps you presently? Do these inspirational
insights resolve your dilemmas or create new ones? Do they set hares running with nowhere
to go? Or do they become eureka moments or none of the above!
3-3.30pm Coffee
3.30 - 5pm Changing the world we live in through research (aka ‘impact’)
Facilitated by David Oswell and Clare Anderson
Social and cultural scientists don’t only interpret the world, they also change it. The purpose
of this session will not be to capture post-Enlightenment thought on the relation between
knowledge and social practice in a couple of hours, but rather to think outside what may be
considered as a highly instrumental governmentalised demonstration (assessed and
measured) of value. To think, that is, about ‘impact’ across the lines of public value (inasmuch
as the presentation of academic knowledge as a ‘public service’ sits uneasily with a postnational political-economic field and with the marketisation of higher education) and of extraacademic dialogue (inasmuch as academics are now encouraged either to engage their
knowledge with non-academic parties or explicitly to produce their knowledge with those other
parties). But also to think of social and cultural research in the context of address, connectivity
and scale. How, for example, do we talk as public sociologists (or even as sociologists who
might want to speak with publics)? How might we facilitate connections that enable particular
productive trajectories for our research (i.e. not simply a question of who we talk to, but how
we reach out to them, with what resources, through what material infrastructures, etc)? And
how might we think through the scale of our social and cultural research (i.e. in the context of
changing people’s ideas, behaviours, and material worlds and in the context of thinking about
‘big’ and ‘small’ sociology)?
7pm Dinner (venue tbc)
Friday 14th May
9 -10.30am Ethnography’s for life…not just for PhDs
Facilitated by Hilary Pilkington and Phil Mizen.
This session starts with some reflections from the facilitators (supplied as background
reading) on the pleasures and frustrations of ethnographic research practice. This sets the
scene for opening up discussion of our changing engagement with ethnography over the
academic life-course and potential strategies for extending the capacity of ethnography as a
methodology to allow it (and us) to move beyond discrete, small scale studies. In particular,
we would like to consider how ethnography can be employed effectively in transnational
comparative research and how we can best use audio, communicative, visual and digital
technologies in ethnographic practice. The session also invites participants to consider the
epistemological and ethical challenges of working on ethnographic projects collaboratively
and the implications of such research for a reflexive research practice.
Reading for advance reflection:
 Phil Mizen and Yaw Ofosu-Kusi (2008) ‘Street children visualise their working lives:
Lessons from the “Kubolo”’, conference paper, Harvard University, November 13-15th.
 Hilary Pilkington (2010) ‘Does it have to end in tears? Reflexivity and team-based
ethnography’ in H. Pilkington, E.Omel’chenko and A. Garifzianova Russia’s
Skinheads: Exploring and Rethinking Subcultural Lives, London and New York:
Routledge, pp. 211-223 (plus Chapter 2 ‘The weight of the Vorkuta sky: Placing
youth cultural identities’ supplied for context).
10.30-11am Coffee
11-12.30 Session 4: tbc
12.30 – 1pm Reflections and ideas for developing the Warwick-Goldsmiths
1-2pm Lunch, Wolfson Research Exchange