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TASA Blog


  • 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.

    Bill’s research focused on work, labour markets and inequality and, for most of his career, he enjoyed analysing the structure and dynamics of various workforces, particularly the social care workforces. In more recent years he turned his sociological eye to the retirement pathways of baby boomers in large companies and to areas of applied policy including the evaluation of Australia’s first national paid parental leave scheme.

    A longstanding member of TASA, including stints as a co-Editor of the Journal of Sociology (2001-2004), Chair of the Jean Martin Award (2015), and Treasurer of TASA. Bill was a regular participant at the annual TASA conference and was very supportive of postgraduates and early career researchers. He was a valued colleague, mentor and friend to many in sociology and more widely. He always had time to chat with colleagues about research, developments in sociology, social sciences more broadly, and university life.  Bill worked collaboratively with colleagues in sociology and across the university. He was a generous, thoughtful and considerate person who was a pleasure to work with.

    Bill died this week after a short illness. Our thoughts are with his wife Maria, and children, Kate and David. He will be sadly missed.

    Debra King and Sharyn Roach Anleu (Flinders University)

    Bill Martin TASA conference 2015

    The late Bill Martin (left) at last year’s TASA Conference in his role as Chair of the 2015 Jean Martin Award. Bill is seen here congratulating Ben Gook, the 2015 JMA recipient.


  • 2022 World Congress of Sociology to be held in Australia

    Posted on April 21, 2016

    Katie Hughes (TASA President) writes:

    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…


  • A day in the life of an Applied Sociologist

    Posted on February 3, 2016

    This is our first post in what we hope will be a series of posts on the topic of ‘Applied Sociology’ which will give people some insight 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 traditional academic teaching and/or research role within universities. Please contact blogeditor@tasa.org.au if you would like to contribute!

    Mithzay Pomenta writes:

    My name is Mithzay Pomenta, owner and consultant at Fossickpoint. I use Sociology and Semiotics to design visual communication and deliver personal development and mental health. In my practice I help clients identify, understand, and better manage problems within their social environments, whether in personal relationships, community or professional settings.

    Read more…


  • Neoliberalism, Apocalypse and Activism – Sociology of Religion at #TASA2015

    Posted on January 20, 2016

    Dr Rosemary Hancock and Dr Anna Halafoff write:

    The TASA 2015 conference theme, Neoliberalism and contemporary challenges for the Asia-Pacific, saw many of the plenary speakers and panellists addressing the perceived ills neoliberalism has brought to Australian and global societies. The dominance of an economic mindset, the trend towards individualism, the atomisation of society were all addressed by sociologists from a range of fields.

    Read more…


  • #TASA2015 and the Case for Political Economy in Our Sociological Imagination

    Posted on January 19, 2016

    Anoushka Benbow-Buitenhuis, Sociology of Economic Life Thematic Group, (RMIT University)

    In 1959, C.W. Mills coined the term ‘sociological imagination’ to illustrate how sociologists can provide unique insight via a broad analysis of the social. Via this critical process, we can remove our selves from everyday life, seeing the social in the personal. This year’s TASA conference focused on neoliberalism and how it has effected the Asia-Pacific. Through stepping back and thinking “ourselves away” from the milieu, we approached this problem via many sociological frameworks that addressed a variety of structural, agential, empirical and theoretical topics. However, over the course of the conference, I could not help but notice a succinct trend within each of the presentations. Despite the diversity of the lenses being used the view the issues at hand, we were mostly discussing the systemic problems of a late modernity that overly favoured elite interests and economic rationalities.

    Let me explain this via some examples. Read more…


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