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TASA Blog


  • The World Congress of Sociology is coming to Melbourne

    Posted on May 17, 2016

    Katie Hughes (TASA President) and Dan Woodman (TASA Vice-President) write: 

    Dan and Katie during ISA 2022 presentationTASA will be welcoming the world’s sociologists to Australia for eight days in July, 2022. Melbourne has been chosen as the host city for the International Sociological Association’s 20th World Congress of Sociology (WCS). We will be building up to the Congress for the next six years and much work is ahead of us. Yet, winning the rights to host the WCS 2022 was itself a long process, one that we thought we’d share with TASA members and supporters.

    It began with a bid for the 19th WCS, which was led by Jo Lindsay (with Katie) in 2012. Although it was ultimately unsuccessful, we learned much by going through the bidding process, which we put to use in our second attempt.

    We worked on our bid documentation throughout 2015, with able support from staff at the Melbourne Convention Bureau, Marko Sanovic especially. After many emails and phone calls we had the support of Federal and State Government Ministers, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Qantas and other tourist operators, the Vice Chancellors of all Melbourne universities,  and our sister associations the Sociological Association of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the Asia Pacific Sociological Association. Crucially we were able to garner financial support of over $1 million dollars, allowing us to propose a Congress that kept costs as low as possible and included scholarships and support for sociologists from the South (or ‘Category C’ countries in ISA terminology). We created what we hoped was a convincing argument for holding the congress in Melbourne and submitted our bid documentation to the International Sociological Association (ISA) in December last year.

    Read more…


  • Applying the sociological imagination in the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

    Posted on May 11, 2016

    This is our second post in the ‘Applied Sociology’ blog series, to give readers insights into the ways in which sociology is used to address and solve problems. We are seeking sociologists who work in industry, public service, commercial or private enterprise, NGOs, and so on, to provide us with some insight into your roles and responsibilities beyond the academic teaching and/or research role within universities. Please contact [email protected] if you would like to contribute!

    Melanie Shier-Baker writes:

    Melanie Shier-BakerHeavily influenced by Foucauldian thinking and my aversion to stigma, I must confess that I recoil somewhat at the idea of writing myself into a short blog post. Alas, if I desist the invitation to be interpreted, how ever will I become imagined at all? I therefore carefully and respectfully take this opportunity to share a brief snapshot of my ‘now’ and my hopeful ‘next’.

    I’ve spent my career working across the Disability, Youth, Education and Justice sectors. I currently work for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services in Queensland, in a role that merges many of my skills and experience under one umbrella. My role is to effect the transition of young people with disabilities, who are under a Child Protection Order, into adult services upon turning 18 years of age. My role is a balance between administrative and clinical service provision; coordinating various government and non-government agencies to action priorities such as housing, income, support service and employment, as well as working directly with the young person and their carers to develop rapport, explore identity and increase independent living skills.

    Read more…


  • A strong voice for MND

    Posted on May 4, 2016

    rsz_kirsten_harleyRepublished from the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Australia website with kind permission. MND Australia is the national voice of people with motor neurone disease, their families and the countless others affected by the disease. You can make a donation to MND Australia via their website here.

    On 24 February, 2016 MND NSW Board member Kirsten Harley gave a speech at Parliament House, Canberra.  This is a transcript of Kirsten’s speech in which she talks about how MND has impacted her and her family’s life.

    A transcript of Kirsten Harley’s talk:

    I wish to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet today and pay respect to their elders, past present and future.

    Each of the 2094 Australians living with MND has a story about the personal impact of MND. I’m Kirsten and my story starts four years ago in 2012.

    Back then, I’d recently received my PhD in sociology and was in my third year of a postdoc at Sydney Uni. I was busy; researching, writing papers, applying for grants, organising workshops, supervising postgrads, and teaching about Australia’s health care system.

    My daughter Kimi was in 1st class at the local primary school. Together with my husband Densil – also an academic – I juggled work with school pick ups, plaiting hair, swimming lessons, birthday parties, laundry, cooking dinner and checking spelling. I loved ocean swimming and running but was struggling with fitness. I dashed off to the gym or pool a few times each week, and attended a weekly stretching class.

    The first thing I noticed was that my legs cramped when I tried to stretch my quads and calf muscles. I thought I should probably eat more bananas for potassium. Read more…


  • Vale Bill Martin (1956 – 2016)

    Posted on April 28, 2016

    Professor Bill Martin or William Craig (Bill) Martin is remembered for his intelligence, commitment to sociology, collegiality and being a much loved friend.  Bill graduated from the ANU with a BA (Honours) in 1977 and came to Flinders to study with Ivan Szelenyi and do a Master of Arts. He then moved to the University of Wisconsin, Madison to undertake his PhD with Ivan Szelenyi and Eric Olin Wright. After his PhD was conferred in 1988, Bill returned to Australia to a position at La Trobe University.  In 1992, he was appointed to a senior lectureship in sociology at Flinders University.  He worked at Flinders for 17 years as a valued member of the Sociology Department, including a term as Head.  He was a strong supporter of research at Flinders and led an Area of Strategic Research Investment that pioneered research on social futures. For several years he held a joint position in the National Institute of Labour Studies, making a significant contribution to their reputation for undertaking applied research. In 2009, Bill and his family moved to the ISSR at the University of Queensland where he led the Employment and Education Program. Bill retired at the end of 2015. Read more…


  • 2022 World Congress of Sociology to be held in Australia

    Posted on April 21, 2016

    Katie Hughes (TASA President) writes:

    rsz_2022-soc-congress-bidAs you may know, Dr Dan Woodman and myself recently went to Taipei to present a bid to the International Sociological Association for Melbourne to host the 2022 World Congress of Sociology.

    I am delighted to tell you that we were successful!

    The ISA President, Professor Margaret Abraham congratulated us on the quality of the bid, and on our regional focus. We are hopeful that situating it in Melbourne will enable more colleagues from the Asia Pacific to attend the World Congress.

    At this stage, the confirmation is contingent on a site visit. In December, Professor Abraham will visit the venue, the proposed accommodation, and Melbourne University where the Young Sociologists’ event is to be held. If this is all adequate, TASA and the ISA will then sign an MOU.

    Read more…


  • Early Career Researcher – Best Paper Prize

    Posted on April 17, 2016

    2016 Inaugural Prize

    TASA Prize for the most distinguished peer-reviewed (MDP) article published by an Early Career Researcher

    A new annual award for the best authored sociological paper nominated for this Prize. Nominations for the 2016 TASA Prize for the most distinguished peer-reviewed article published by an Early Career Researcher will close June 30, 2016.

    About the Prize

    The TASA Prize for the most distinguished peer-reviewed article published by an Early Career Researcher is an annual process that uses academic peer review to select a paper of outstanding quality published in any journal during the previous three calendar years (ie the 2016 Award will assess papers that were published from 2013 – 2015). The Prize was established in 2016 to provide more opportunities for early career sociologists to gain recognition for the quality of their scholarship and enhance their reputations, especially within interdisciplinary teams. Read more…


  • Academic mentoring: the how and why

    Posted on April 7, 2016

    Kristin Natalier (TASA Treasurer) writes:

    Last week, Laetitia Coles tweeted a question that resonated: Anyone have tips on academic mentoring?

    It’s a question I’ve been asking since my early days in academia.

    At its heart, mentoring is a relationship of support and strategy. A more experienced person assists someone with less experience to identify and meet their goals. Mentoring can overlap or emerge out of supervision, morph into collaboration or friendship, or involve sponsorship. Each of these relationships will differently inflect the central object of support.

    Read more…


  • Safe Schools review findings: experts respond

    Posted on March 31, 2016

    This piece, featuring one of our members, Dr Lucy Nicholas, has been republished from The Conversation.

    Authors: David Rhodes, Edith Cowan University; Lucy Nicholas, Swinburne University of Technology; Timothy W. Jones, La Trobe University, and Victoria Rawlings, University of Sydney

    After a three-week debacle, the findings of the review into the opt-in Safe Schools Coalition program are out.

    The review has proposed to limit the anti-bullying program to secondary schools only.

    Education Minister Simon Birmingham said:

    We will be making it clear that the program resources are fit for delivery in secondary school environments only.

    It found that a number of the resources had lessons and content not necessarily appropriate for all children and has called for schools to seek parental consent for student participation in program lessons or activities.

    Read more…


  • #TASA2015 Conference: Social Media Summary

    Posted on March 29, 2016

    Brady Robards (Multimedia Portfolio Leader, TASA Exec) writes:

    The 2015 Cairns conference was very busy in terms of multimedia engagement and activities. Contributions to the Twitter backchannel/hashtag (#TASA2015) more than doubled from the 2014 Adelaide conference, from around 1500 tweets to more than 3000. We had 316 different unique accounts posting to the #TASA2015 hashtag. Many contributors were not physically present, pointing towards the increasingly permeable and distributed nature of our conference.

    Read more…


  • Why we need a Chief Social Scientist

    Posted on March 21, 2016

    Associate Professor Katie Hughes (President, TASA) writes:

    One of the many puzzles of contemporary life in Australia is the lack of the insights of the Social Sciences in public conversations about anything from domestic violence, to poverty, to housing. When building social policies, governments are more likely to seek insight from Economists, Lawyers and Psychologists – instead of turning towards Social Scientists.

    But we do have a Chief Scientist who provides independent scientific advice to government. Essentially, the Chief Scientist is a broker of information and their office publishes occasional papers about scientific issues of interest to the general public. Recent examples include papers on the efficacy of vaccination, on climate change and the overuse of antibiotics. With seemingly ever-increasing – and competing – viewpoints on issues such as these, the Chief Scientists office cuts through to the data, and provides an explanatory narrative designed for a lay reader, and evidence-based advice to government.

    Read more…


  • What are better, public or private hospitals?

    Posted on March 19, 2016

    Karen Willis, Australian Catholic University and Sophie Lewis, University of Sydney

    Around half of Australians have private health insurance. So if they need to go to hospital, they may have the option of going public or private.

    Although some people try to research their options extensively, it’s a challenge to find any useful information about hospital options. Most rely on their own experiences, the experiences of friends and family, advice from their doctors, or what they see and hear in the media.

    The biggest users of private health insurance hospital benefits are 60- to 79-year-olds.
    Women in their 20s and 30s also have a higher claim rate for maternity care.

    But around a quarter of people with private health insurance choose to use the public system.

    Let’s look at how users choose whether to go public or private, and how the two systems compare. Read more…


  • On being a poster girl for ‘being positive in the face of adversity’

    Posted on February 4, 2016

    Dr Kirsten Harley writes:

    Those of you who inhabit the intertubes may have seen the powerful #fadingsymphony campaign for MND, in which the fabulous Tim Minchin and SSO perform Neil Finn’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ as a metaphor for the relentless and fatal series of bodily losses that is motor neurone disease (MND). (If you haven’t yet seen it, get thee to thefadingsymphony.com, where a small – or large – donation also enables you to hear the crescendoing resumption of the song, metaphorically describing the hope that research will one day lead to a cure).

    The website also features a couple of behind-the-scenes videos, one of which is a beautifully edited snippet from a long chat between Tim Minchin and lucky me, interspersed with each of us talking-to-camera. Unsurprisingly, the video doesn’t feature our discussion of Matilda (brilliant!), or US vs Australian health care and politics, or the exciting rare allergies that have further complicated my life of late. Read more…


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