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  • What is the ‘ideal’ self in old age?

    Posted on August 25, 2016

    Omori_AntiageingWritten by Maho Omori, Adjunct Research Fellow, Swinburne University of Technology and Research Assistant, La Trobe University (Shepparton campus)




    One evening, I was reading gossip news about Meg Ryan, a Hollywood actor. She is 54 years old and according to the article, at this age her appearance has not changed much since she was known as ‘America’s Sweetheart’ in the 1990s. Criticism follows –  she is having too much plastic surgery to maintain a youthful appearance. Another piece of gossip (linked to the above article) talks about the appearance of Cameron Diaz, who is 43 years old and now happily married. She looks ‘old’ because she has too many wrinkles and appears fatter. The article asks if she is comfortable with her changing appearance. These two stories are conflicting. Clearly, the media and the public have created a certain image of these two famous actors and people get confused, surprised and shocked when they face the reality with reference to the image. So, how should they look in the process of ageing? Read more…

  • Applied Sociology Webinar: Pierre Van Osselaer – “Pragmatic Use of Semiotics in the Everyday”

    Posted on August 22, 2016

    This Webinar is on Social Semiotics and its use in Applied Sociology.

    Friday August 26, 12:00pm – 1:00pm AEST

    Registrations is free but necessary. You can register here.

    We address social events on the basis of symptoms, of signs. These are elements of overlapping narratives; some societal, some individual. We observe events as narratives. Semiotics provides tool to analyse these narratives. It provides tools to identify conflicts, but also common ground. The relevance of semiotics is that it addresses symptoms as symbolic interactions. It offers a framework for comprehension of events.

    Social agents interact in conditions that may obscure the meaning of events. We make sense of what happens on the basis of a perception of events. To make sense we interpret signs. This translation of signs into meaning is at the core of the semiotic investigation.

    What may not always be obvious is that semiotics is also a tool for the emergence of applied sociology narratives aiming to mediate conflicting elements of the overlapping narratives under consideration. Semiotics provides tools for ways to integrate disparate narratives, leading to conflict resolution.

  • Micro-aggressions and the welfare card

    Posted on August 18, 2016

    This article was originally published on Power to Pursuade, a discussion blog focused on Social Policy. In this post, Kristin Natalier uses the concept of micro-aggressions to explain how single mothers experience a devaluing of their personhood through their interactions with Centrelink personnel.

    Researchers have shown that at the pointy end of the welfare state, where Lipsky’s street-level bureaucrats and citizens meet, socio-economically disadvantaged women describe interactions that are often rude, unresponsive to their circumstances, and distressing. These are more than a failure of communication or institutional systems: the concept of micro-aggressions suggests they are expressions of systemic power inequalities.

    Micro-aggressions were originally conceptualised with reference to race, but the concept has since been expanded to include the subtle forms of discrimination and devaluing directed against people who lack the socio-economic power of dominant groups in society. Today, micro-aggressions are most commonly discussed with reference to class, gender, sexuality, and race/ethnicity. They are typically experienced as every day verbal, behavioural and environmental exchanges that convey denigrating messages to people who are members of marginalized groups. They occur in specific interactions but they express broader cultural assumptions about the characteristics and value of social groups. The people who perpetrate micro-aggressions may not consciously hold discriminatory attitudes; micro-aggressions can be the logical expression of discourses or institutional practices that allow for few other alternatives. Read more…

  • Rethinking how we represent transgender children in the media

    Posted on August 17, 2016

    Damien Riggs, Flinders University and Clare Bartholomaeus, Flinders University

    Transgender children have been the focus of considerable media attention in Australia over the past two years. Two examples this week are episodes of Australian Story and 60 Minutes, where viewers shared in the journeys of Georgie, Emma and Izzie, three transgender teenagers.

    The episodes highlight how the media can either contribute to or inhibit the rights and inclusion of transgender children.

    The importance of representation

    Both episodes are important in that they involve transgender teenagers talking about their lives. Such representation is valuable as it allows other young people to see affirming images. Some young transgender people report better understanding their own experiences after seeing others who are similar.

    Both episodes also potentially combat negative attitudes towards transgender children. Exposure to personal narratives has been shown to contribute to positive attitudinal change.

    Media stories may also help parents who have transgender children, reducing their sense of being alone. Parents who are informed and feel a sense of inclusion are more likely to be supportive of their children. Children who are supported are more likely to have positive mental health outcomes. Read more…

  • New members for TASA’s Postgraduate Sub-Committee are now being sought

    Posted on August 15, 2016

    The Postgraduate Portfolio Leader is now calling for expressions of interests to join TASA’s Postgraduate Sub-Committee (PGSC) for the 2017-2018 term. This PGSC supports the Postgraduate Portfolio Leader in representing and furthering the interests of TASA’s postgraduate members. The PGSC consists of a maximum of seven members who usually serve a two-year term and meet online approximately three times a year as well as face-to-face at the annual conference.

    Key areas of focus for PGSC include international networks with similar postgraduate organisations, TASA Postgraduate web strategies and information, and postgraduate transitions to employment. Since forming, the committee have worked together on several projects including the postgraduate website. The PGSC roles can be established at the beginning of each term and depend on the direction the committee wants to go in. Current committee roles include thesis approver, blog poster, resources locator and uploader, podcast locater and uploader, and events finder and poster. The PGSC Terms of Reference can be accessed here.

    For queries, please contact Christina.

    If you are interested in joining TASA’s Postgraduate Sub-Committee please email your name and TASA membership number along with your institutional affiliation and a personal statement of up to 200 words to either Christina or TASA Admin at  by Monday October 31, 2016.

    Please note that you must be enrolled in a postgraduate degree to be considered eligible to serve on this sub-committee.

  • Three perspectives of the public referendum in the United Kingdom

    Posted on August 8, 2016

    Written by Sue Malta, outgoing TASA Nexus editor

    With all things Brexit monopolising the news landscape, it seems valid that I co-opt the catchphrase, as this issue marks my Nexit – my last edition as editor of Nexus. This edition contains two groups of themed articles on issues that are both topical and, for me, compelling. The edition, fittingly, begins with three perspectives of the public referendum in the United Kingdom. The first from Western Sydney University’s David Rowe, Last Exit to Little Britain, discusses the so-called ‘border’ between Britain and the rest of the EU. It draws comparisons between the more ‘informal’ borders – and their implications – within Britain itself, which have been brought into sharp relief by the Leave/Remain vote. The second article is a reproduction from Liz Morrish’s blog (Nottingham Trent University) entitled Brexit – is this Schrödinger’s neoliberalism? Like Rowe’s article, the piece highlights how the vote was divided along boundaries of class, privilege and education and bemoans the silencing of public intellectuals within academia who may have (could have/would have?) had an effect on its outcome. My thanks go to Liz for so generously allowing us to reproduce her article. The third article is from our very own Eileen Clark who, as a British expat (export), gives her own take on this moment in history in Lessons from Brexit. Eileen discusses the result of the Australian election and likens its outcome to that of the voting divide within Britain. As a British-expat myself from a low socio-economic background, but now with the middle-class privilege that comes from an Australian education and its ensuing social mobility, I found each of these unique articles compelling reading. I hope you do too. You can access the latest Nexus articles here.

  • Why multicultural policy looms as a Senate bargaining chip

    Posted on August 1, 2016

    Andrew Jakubowicz, University of Technology Sydney

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s allocation of the multiculturalism portfolio to conservative ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja could reflect a number of motivations, both rational and perverse.

    Multiculturalism is once more in the crosshairs of its opponents. With senator-elect Pauline Hanson and News Corp commentator Andrew Bolt drawing on apprehensions about Muslims to drive their contributions to the heightening of social anxiety, how will Turnbull’s oft-proclaimed “most successful multicultural nation in the world” handle the rumbling?

    Multiculturalism may well be supported by 80% of Australians, but this level drops when anxiety about border security rises. So, multiculturalism’s opponents have much to gain from heightened public concern about “Muslim immigration”. Read more…

  • Reimagining NSW: how the care economy could help unclog our cities

    Posted on August 1, 2016

    Ben Spies-Butcher

    This is part of our Reimagining New South Wales (NSW) series. For this series, vice-chancellors in NSW asked a select group of early and mid-career researchers to envisage new ways to tackle old problems and identify emerging opportunities across the state.

    The NSW economy is in reasonable shape. But it is also increasingly centralised, leading to congestion and housing affordability problems.

    Could rethinking the normal economic rules help create more rural jobs and make our regions more attractive and liveable?

    We need to decentralise our economy

    Australia escaped the worst of the global financial crisis that is still plaguing much of Europe, and the end of the mining boom has done little to slow down the state’s economy. But the boom is largely at the centre, concentrated in our biggest city.

    The boom is not just in Sydney – it is at the very centre of the city. Over the past five years, 40% of all jobs growth in Sydney took place within the City of Sydney council boundaries – an area that covers just 150,000 of Sydney’s four million residents.

    This reflects the changing face of the economy, where the industries that built regional Australia are employing relatively fewer people over time. Many of the industries that are growing – especially finance and some creative industries – like to cluster at the heart of outward-looking, diverse and globally integrated metropolises. Read more…

  • Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper Response from The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)

    Posted on June 24, 2016


    The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the National Innovation and Science Agenda’s proposed framework for developing the national assessment of the engagement and impact of university research and to comment on the Engagement and Impact Assessment Consultation Paper.

    Feedback Questions

    Definitions and scope

    1. What definition of ‘engagement’ should be used for the purpose of assessment?

    We suggest a modified version of the ATSE definition (p6)

    ‘the interaction between researchers and research organisations and their larger communities/industries for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, understanding OR resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.’

    Rationale: social research is often for the common good and researchers engage with stakeholders without the expectation of resource exchange or reimbursement

    1. What definition of ‘impact’ should be used for the purpose of assessment?

    We suggest that the broad UK REF definition is adequate

    ‘an effect on, change, benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life beyond academia.’

    1. How should the scope of the assessment be defined?

    A combination of qualitative and quantitative measures should be used. Quantitative – industry funding and competitive grants, citations in grey literature, contribution to parliamentary submissions (and other government consultations).

    Qualitative – qualitative measures of engagement include reports for external bodies, membership of boards (e.g. local, state and federal government, local, national and international NGOs, professional bodies), community participation in events, audience numbers (e.g. at performances, film screenings etc.), contributions to the media and public debate, engagement with community organisations, educational training and toolkits, e.g. for secondary school students.

    Read more…

  • It takes a village: law reform can’t be the only response to online child abuse material

    Posted on June 17, 2016

    This article was originally published on The Conversation.

    Marg Liddell and Anastasia Powell (RMIT University) write:

    The Victorian government introduced legislation this week to deliver on key changes recommended by an in-depth review of the state’s sexual offences.

    Among the changes is the replacement of the term “child pornography” with “child abuse material”. This shift in terminology is particularly welcome.

    What’s in a name?

    It might appear a small change to some. But naming this material to clearly identify the abuse it depicts is important.

    Rather than the minimising term “child pornography”, calling these images “child abuse material” makes clear that the images involve child abuse, and that consumers of these images are colluding in child abuse.

    However, this shift is not merely semantic. The new laws also extend the definition of child abuse material to include images involving other forms of abuse, regardless of whether or not the image is “sexual”.

    This is an important change that brings Victoria into line with several jurisdictions, such as New South Wales, that include depictions of a child as a victim of torture, cruelty or physical abuse in their criminal laws.

    Read more…

  • Research engagement and impact: How should this be measured in Sociology?

    Posted on June 7, 2016

    Jo Lindsay (Immediate Past President, TASA Exec) writes:

    As you may be aware, the research engagement and impact strategy is currently under development by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Consultations are being carried out this year with proposed implementation in 2018. In addition to the current Excellence in Research (ERA) process that measures quality in university research, Engagement and Impact will seek to assess the impact of university research outside academia.

    A consultation paper has been released by the ARC which asks for specific feedback on a series of questions. Information on Engagement and Impact and the consultation paper is available here:

    On behalf of the TASA executive I am collecting information for a submission from TASA for the consultation. We welcome your feedback and input.

    Read more…

  • The Netherworld between Work and Retirement

    Posted on June 7, 2016

    Michael McGann, Helen Kimberley, Dina Bowman and Simon Biggs

    A major theme within social gerontology is how retirement ‘is being re-organised, if not undone’. Institutional supports for retirement are weakening, with pension ages rising in many countries. Increasing numbers of older workers are working past traditional retirement age on a part-time or self-employed basis, and a growing minority are joining the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Drawing upon narrative interviews with older Australians who are involuntarily non-employed or underemployed, this article explores how the ‘unravelling’ of retirement is experienced by a group of older workers on the periphery of the labour market. While policy makers hope that higher pension ages will lead to a longer period of working life, the risk is that older workers, especially those experiencing chronic insecurity in the labour market, will be caught in a netherworld between work and retirement.
    Social Policy and Society,
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