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  • What would another review of child support achieve? We know the problems, and how to fix them

    Posted on October 25, 2016

    Kristin Natalier, Flinders University and Kay Cook, RMIT University

    The Australian National Audit Office recently listed child support program arrangements between the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Department of Human Services as a priority issue. This comes as the One Nation party calls for a review of child support.

    While the ATO changes were flagged in the 2015 parliamentary inquiry into the child support program, the two announcements have been linked. But this does not recognise that Australia’s child support program has been an ongoing policy challenge.

    Since 2003, it has been the subject of two parliamentary inquiries, a ministerial taskforce and major reforms. The program is consistently among the top-five Australian government agencies about which the Commonwealth Ombudsman receives complaints. So what are the key child support challenges in Australia? Read more…

  • Digital Data & Society Consortium

    Posted on October 23, 2016

    Deborah Lupton & fellow researchers have come together and created a new website especially for researchers interested in the social and cultural aspects of digital data. Their work has culminated in the Digital Data & Society Consortium website.

    They are a group of researchers who take a social and cultural perspective on digital data, both ‘small’ or personal data and large or ‘big data’ sets. We bring together expertise across the social sciences, humanities and legal studies to engage in critical data studies. They are researching the following areas:

    • How people make sense of the personal data that digital devices collect about them
    • How they incorporate these data into their everyday lives
    • What people know about the other actors and agencies who are using their data
    • The sensory and affective aspects of digital data
    • Locative devices, mobilities and data
    • Data literacies
    • The implications of big data for humanities and social science research and practice
    • How big data are influencing ideas about the social and society
    • The politics of big data
    • The sociomaterial dimensions of digital data collection, storage and use
    • Dataveillance, data privacy and security issues
    • The legal issues around personal and big data, including human rights
    • Innovative methods for using and researching personal and big data

    See their website for all the details.

  • Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

    Posted on October 21, 2016

    TASA member Anna Halafoff, & fellow researchers, partnered with the national and state Buddhist Councils of Australia, and filmmaker Freeman Trebilcock, to record life stories of prominent Buddhists in Australia. Their work culminated in the Buddhist Life Stories of Australia website.

    Buddhism is Australia’s second largest religion, and has a long history dating back to at least the 1850s Gold Rush period, yet the life stories of prominent Buddhists in Australia have remained largely undocumented until now. Buddhist leaders and community members in Australia felt there was an urgent need to record these stories and to preserve them for future generations. Dr Anna Halafoff, Dr Edwin Ng, Praveena Rajkobal and Jayne Garrod, researchers from Deakin University, responded to this call in partnership with the national and state Buddhist Councils of Australia and filmmaker Freeman Trebilcock.

    With the assistance of the Research my World program, the crowd funding joint venture between Deakin University and, we raised $10,000 to begin to record these stories and increase understanding and awareness of Buddhism in Australia. This website, built by Jayne Garrod in consultation with Dr Halafoff,  provides free access to interviews with prominent Australian Buddhist leaders from diverse traditions, as an educational tool for communities, schools and universities. For more details, see the Buddhist Life Stories of Australia website.

  • Writing for Research: Logic and Practice

    Posted on October 19, 2016

    TASA member Raewyn Connell’s article below was originally published by The International Sociological Association (ISA) in their online magazine Global Dialogue. Raewyn’s article is republished here with ISA’s permission. You can view more of ISA’s Global Dialogue articles here.

    Myths and Realities
    Two great myths distort our picture of writing – one old, one new. The old myth views writing as simply a matter of genius and inspiration. Someone blessed with the gift sits down on a fine morning with pen in hand, the ghostly Muse whispers in his or her ear, and a brilliant text springs forth. No one understands how. All we can do is gasp in admiration, and hope the Muse will whisper in our ear, next time.

    The new myth is less poetic. It arose in the brains of neoliberal managers, reflecting their obsession with competition. In this myth, writing is no more than a marketable product, which dedicated individuals manufacture and sell in their competitive struggle for achievement. The best profits, in terms of prestige and promotion, come from targeting highly-cited journals.

    Both myths reflect enough reality to seem plausible – at times. Much writing is actually done by someone sitting alone with a pen or computer and agonizing over their ideas. Increasingly, writing for research is published through a competitive and commercialized industry. Read more…

  • Refugee women as entrepreneurs in Australia

    Posted on October 17, 2016

    TASA member John van Kooy’s article below was originally published on the Forced Migration Review. You can view the original article here.

    The ‘Stepping Stones to Small Business’ programme in Australia is appreciated by participants but has shown that ‘entrepreneurship’ is a problematic concept in the context of women from refugee backgrounds.

    Starting a small business in Australia is often discussed alongside the ‘risk-taking’ attributes of entrepreneurs. This characterisation casts entrepreneurship as positive and adventurous, with the promise of rewards. However, some groups in Australia have no choice but to pursue self-employment due to their constrained opportunities in the labour market. Refugee women, in particular, face barriers to being part of the workforce that relate to language, culture, gender and family, and employer attitudes and practices. For many of these women, entrepreneurship has significant risks and is motivated not by opportunity and ambition but by necessity. Read more…

  • Emerging issues for sustainable development

    Posted on October 15, 2016

    TASA member Stewart Lockie, from James Cook University, speaking on emerging issues for sustainable development at the UN’s 16th meeting ‘Prospects for the future (projections, scenarios and new and emerging issues) – High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2016’. Stewart’s talk can be viewed at 37:20 and 1:27:00.

  • On The Role Of A Chief Social Scientist – A Response

    Posted on October 13, 2016

    Andrew Glover (RMIT)

    Recently on this blog, TASA president Katie Hughes made the case as to why Australia should create a position for a chief social scientist. Katie argued that Australia needed someone who could publicly speak with authority about issues related to social science, much as the chief scientist does currently about issues related to science. I share this desire as well, as I would like to see more sociological thinking in governance, and policy based on robust evidence provided by the social sciences. However, I think this is a more difficult task than Katie presents, and the example she provides of the Safe Schools debate demonstrates why.

    Katie characterised the debate as being agitated by Cory Bernadi & other conservative politicians, who’s alleged ‘complaints’ about Safe Schools were so out of touch they could’ve landed themselves in legal hot water. However these were not the only people who were concerned about aspects of the program. Feminists were also making criticisms of the program – outside of parliamentary privilege – that were reasoned, measured, and worthy of consideration. If a chief social scientist role were to exist, one would hope they would take these feminist voices into account too. Read more…

  • Sex Work and Southern Theory

    Posted on October 12, 2016

    John Scott, Queensland University of Technology
    Victor Minichiello, Queensland University of Technology
    Cameron Cox, CEO, Sex Workers Outreach Project Inc.

    A diverse global network is fighting to stop discrimination and human rights violations towards sex workers. Yet, historic concerns around sex work, grounded in the moral view that the commercialization of sex is degrading and damaging persist. So, what has been preventing sex industry reform? While the dichotomy between erotic and commercial life has remained, recent concerns include the idea of sex work as inherent victimization and the notion that reform equates with increased oppression of children and women. Following a period of increasing liberalization of sex work in western nations, achieved by sex worker advocacy groups and often supported by research in the social sciences, there has been a recent punitive shift in international policy. Indeed, advocacy and adoption of the so-called ‘Nordic model’ of regulation, which criminalises buying, as opposed to selling of sexual services, has marked recent reform initiatives in liberal democracies.

    While Australian sociology has been relatively silent on researching the social, economic and health benefits of decriminalisation on the sex industry, and those who work and use this service, there is a significant body of Australian and international research which supports decriminalization of the sex industry. And as we discuss below, sex industry research reform offers a potent example of how sociological research in Australia has achieved significant policy impacts which are grounded in local experiences and social dynamics. Read more…

  • Do-it-yourself Careers

    Posted on October 11, 2016

    From the archives: TASA member Steven Threadgold, from the University of Newcastle, talking about DIY Careers.

  • PhD students can publish!

    Posted on October 9, 2016

    Postgraduate students can publish before they complete their studies and are awarded their doctorate. Some students publish something as the soul author while others team up with their supervisor or another established academic in the same field. The type of publications PhD students have been successful with include blog posts and in other online platforms, such as The Conversation, as well as journal articles. Recently, Kirsty, a PhD student member of TASA, had an article published in Pursuit, an online Melbourne University multi-media platform, showcasing the latest research and opinion from world-leading experts. You can access Kirsty’s article below:

    Kirsty Forsdike-Young and colleague: The Sexism Games

    Why not test the waters by starting with a blog post. You could submit your article to the TASA Office and have it posted on this blog as well as on TASA’s Postgraduate Blog. Oh, and don’t forget to submit all of your publications to the TASA Office so that they can be included in the weekly newsletter. It gets your name out there:-)

  • Latest Journal Articles by TASA members

    Posted on October 8, 2016

    West, B., & Matthewman, S. (2016). Towards a strong program in the sociology of war, the military and civil society, The Journal of Sociology.  Vol. 52, No. 3

    Wadham, B., (2016). The minister, the Commandant and the cadets: Scandal and the mediation of Australian civil–military relations, The Journal of Sociology.  Vol. 52, No. 3

    Lindsay J, Dean A and Supski S (2016) ‘Responding to the Millennium Drought: Comparing domestic water cultures in three Australian citiesRegional Environmental Change 10.1007/s10113-016-1048-6

    Stefanie Plage, Indigo Willing, Zlatko Skrbiš, &  Ian Woodward (2016) Australianness as fairness: implications for cosmopolitan encounters, The Journal of Sociology, OnLine First

    Miller, T and Nash, M (2016) ‘I just think something like the “Bubs and Pubs” class is what men should be having’: Paternal subjectivities and preparing for first-time fatherhood in Australia and the United Kingdom, Journal of Sociology

    Murray, L and Nash, M (2016) The challenges of participant photography: A critical reflection on methodology and ethics in two cultural contexts,Qualitative Health Research

    Soldatic, K., (2016). Mind the gap: The extent of violence against women with disabilities in Australia. Australian Journal of Social Issues, The. Volume 51 Issue 3 (Oct 2016)

    Kemp, D., Worden, S., & Owen. J. (2016).  Australia Differentiated social risk: Rebound dynamics and sustainability performance in mining. Resources Policy 50 (2016) 19–26

    Martin Behrens and Andreas Pekarek (2016) Umkämpfte Einheit: Neue und alte Muster der Lagerbildung in der deutschen Gewerkschaftsbewegung, Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft (German Journal of Political Science). First Online:  05 September 2016  DOI: 10.1007/s41358-016-0040-5

    Holdsworth, Louise. (2016). The Impact of Mutual Obligation for Sole Parents. Journal of Sociology, DOI: 10.1177/1440783316667639.

  • Ford workers willing but unlikely to find decent jobs: study

    Posted on October 7, 2016

    Tom Barnes, Australian Catholic University

    When Ford closes the doors on its vehicle manufacturing operations today about 600 workers will walk out of the factory gate for the last time at the Broadmeadows assembly plant in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and at the company’s engine and stamping plants in Geelong. Preliminary results from a survey of more than 400 auto workers show that most of them still want to work but are unlikely to find secure, long-term jobs.

    Most will become jobseekers in regions which are already socio-economically disadvantaged with higher than average unemployment levels and lower than average household income. While 46% expect to be made redundant at some point in the next 12 months and 24% expect to remain with their current employer (either in the same role or redeployed within the company), 27% still don’t know whether or not they will have a job. This partly reflects the large number of workers employed in the supply chain and uncertainty about the survival chances of many of these businesses. Read more…

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