Research Seminars

Our Research Seminars are open to academics, researchers and postgraduate research students from across the University, and postgraduate taught students in the Department. They provide an informal setting for intellectual debate, sharing ideas and collaboration.

All seminars are held in the ELMFIELD BUILDING (Building 31 on the Campus Map), unless otherwise indicated.

Forthcoming seminars




Wednesday 7 March 2018, 4-5pm Room 215, Elmfield Building

Dr Nathan Hughes, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

The discrimination and criminalisation of childhood neurodevelopmental impairment in youth justice systems

Childhood neurodevelopmental impairments are cognitive, emotional or communicative functional difficulties, caused by disruption in the development of the brain or other aspects of the nervous system. A growing body of evidence reveals a disproportionately high prevalence of neurodevelopmental impairments among young people in custodial institutions that is consistent across various international contexts. This suggests the widespread failure of current practices and interventions intended to prevent offending and reoffending to recognize or to meet the needs of young people with cognitive, emotional or communicative difficulties. In particular, it highlights the processes within policing and youth justice systems that serve to disable, and ultimately criminalize, young people with neurodevelopmental impairment. This includes inadequate assessment and screening, inappropriate assumptions of verbal and cognitive competence, the use of generic interventions that are unresponsive to learning needs or functional difficulties, and therefore a failure to address key underlying influences on offending behaviour.
This paper will consider the various steps in the criminal justice process at which young people with neurodevelopmental impairment may be disadvantaged, from police interview to court appearance to community intervention to experiences of custody. Furthermore it will critically reflect on the inherent difficulties associated with the key concepts of punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation that underpin such systems, when applied to the lives of young people with impairment. In doing so it will demonstrate how criminal justice systems at odds with international conventions on the rights of young people and those with disabilities.

ALL WELCOME. Please let us know if you plan to attend

Tuesday 20 March 2018, 4-5pm Room 109, Elmfield Building

Dr Warren Pearce, Faculty Fellow (iHuman)and Dr Ros Williams, Research Associate, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Further details and abstract to follow.

Arranged by STeMiS.

ALL WELCOME. Please let us know if you plan to attend

Wednesday 2 May 2018, 4-5pm Room G19, Elmfield Building

Dr Ysabel Gerrard, Lecturer in Digital Media and Society, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Platform policing: the moderation of pro-eating disorder content on social media

Social media companies make important decisions about what counts as ‘problematic’ content and how they will remove it. They often make decisions about moderation when they face public pressures, such as accusations that they host pro-eating disorder (pro-ED) content. This is precisely what happened in February 2012, when a Huffington Post writer published a widely read exposé on the ‘secret world’ of Tumblr’s thinspiration blogs. By May 2012, Tumblr - along with Instagram and Pinterest - had publically announced its plans to minimise the spread of pro-ED content. The platforms responded by moderating hashtags, blocking certain tags and issuing public service announcements (PSAs) when users search for troubling terms, like #proana and #thinspiration. The hashtag has thus become an indicator of where problematic content can be found, but this has produced limited understandings of how such content actually circulates.

Using pro-ED communities as a case study, this talk demonstrates the limitations of hashtag logics in decisions about, and discussions of social media content moderation. It explores how: (1) users are evading hashtag and other forms of platform policing, devising signals to identify themselves as ‘pro-ED’, and (2) platforms’ recommendation systems recirculate pro-ED content, revealing the limitations of hashtag logics in social media content moderation. It also turns to future directions for research on the relationship between eating disorders and social media.

This project was conducted during a summer spent at the Social Media Collective, Microsoft Research New England (see: for more details).

ALL WELCOME. Please let us know if you plan to attend

Wednesday 9 May 2018, 4-5pm Room G18, Elmfield Building

Dr Matthew Hughey, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Connecticut

White bound: nationalists, antiracists, and the shared meanings of race

Discussions of race are inevitably fraught with tension, both in opinion and positioning. Too frequently, debates are framed as clear points of opposition—us versus them. And when considering white racial identity, a split between progressive movements and a neoconservative backlash is all too frequently assumed. Taken at face value, it would seem that whites are splintering into antagonistic groups, with differing worldviews, values, and ideological stances.

White Bound investigates these dividing lines, questioning the very notion of a fracturing whiteness, and in so doing offers a unique view of white racial identity.

Dr. Matthew Hughey (Associate Professor, University of Connecticut) spent over a year attending the meetings, reading the literature, and interviewing members of two white organizations—a white nationalist group and a white antiracist group. Though he found immediate political differences, he observed surprising similarities related to how both groups make meaning of race and whiteness. His talk will examine these similarities to illuminate not just the many ways of being white, but how these actors make meaning of whiteness in ways that collectively reproduce both white identity and, ultimately, white supremacy.

ALL WELCOME. Please let us know if you plan to attend

POSTPONED - new date to be arranged

Dr Julia Swallow, Research Fellow, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

Fear and anxiety:  affects, emotions and care practices in the memory clinic

A nosological categorisation of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is highly contested and despite increased investment in scientific research on curing and more recently developing strategies for preventing the disease, it remains difficult to diagnose in the clinic. Concurrently, as Alzheimer's disease is increasingly medicalised the disease remains highly stigmatised and feared (Beard and Neary 2013: Beard 2016). This paper is subsequently concerned with the relationship between the fear and anxiety associated with developing AD, and the processes of diagnosing AD in the clinic. Drawing on qualitative ethnographic data gathered across memory clinics in the UK, this paper highlights the ways in which care practices are performed by clinicians to manage the affective consequences associated with diagnosing AD and accomplishing patient disposals. Feelings of fear and anxiety associated with dementia not only shape people's experiences and responses to a diagnosis, but also shape the practices and processes through which assessments and diagnoses are accomplished. What also emerges from the analysis is the relationship between the uncertainties that pervade the diagnosis of memory problems and the various strategies and practices employed to care for, divert, restrict or manage affective relations. This paper illustrates the implications of this relationship: on the one hand, it provides opportunities for care work through 'tinkering' with diagnostic technologies and extending and opening out diagnostic categories, while on the other, it can form part of clinicians' disposal work, restricting opportunities for alternative meanings of dementia to endure.