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Plenaries and Panels

 Please click on each of the menu headings below to view the TASA 2020 events:

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Postgrad Peer Coaching Workshop
Postgrad Peer Coaching Workshop
Nov 23, 2020 from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM (AEDT)


Peer coaching is an adult learning strategy in which peers coach each other to maximise performance. Research shows that benefits of peer coaching include mutual problem solving and goal setting, self and peer personal development, and increased support and wellbeing.
In the absence of a in-person conference this year, this session provides TASA Postgrad with an opportunity for connection, support, and self-development.

Session includes:

- An ‘Introduction to peer-coaching’ with A/Prof Meredith Nash (an accredited organisational coach)
- Matching with a peer during the session
- Resources for continued self-directed peer coaching after the session

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November Executive Meeting: session 1
November Executive Meeting: session 1
Nov 23, 2020 from 10:45 AM to 12:45 PM (AEDT)
This meeting is for current and incoming Executive members. 

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Professoriate Meeting: Sociology and 2020 – insights from the professoriate
Professoriate Meeting: Sociology and 2020 – insights from the professoriate
Nov 23, 2020 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM (AEDT)

Professoriate members of TASA are invited to attend the regularly scheduled professoriate meeting to discuss the year 2020 and its impacts on the discipline of sociology and higher education. The disruption of the bushfires, COVID19 and associated financial challenges of 2020 present an opportunity to reconceptualise new ways that sociology can deliver teaching and learning, research, and engagement. We hope you can join us for this constructive meeting.

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November Executive Meeting: Session 2
November Executive Meeting: Session 2
Nov 23, 2020 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)
This meeting is for current and incoming Executive members. 

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Thematic Group Conveners' Meeting
Thematic Group Conveners' Meeting
Nov 24, 2020 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM (AEDT)
This meeting is for all thematic group conveners. 
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Presidential Address
Presidential Address
Nov 26, 2020 from 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)
TASA President Dan Woodman will make his final presidential address before handing the baton over to incoming president Alphia Possamai-Inesedy. 

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Awards Presentation
Awards Presentation
Nov 26, 2020 from 1:15 PM to 2:00 PM (AEDT)

There will be 8 Awards presented:

1. Distinguished Service to Australian Sociology Award
2. Stephen Crook Memorial Award
3. Raewyn Connell Prize
4. Sociology in Action Award
5. Journal of Sociology Best Pa PM Award
6. Early Career Researcher Best Paper Award
7.  Inaugural Postgraduate Impact & Engagement Award, recipient A
8. Inaugural Postgraduate Impact & Engagement Award, recipient B

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Annual General Meeting
Annual General Meeting
Nov 26, 2020 from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM (AEDT)
Ratification of TASA's 2019/2020 financial records & the incoming Executive members as well as the a discussion/decision about proposed constitutional changes. Detailed information will be emailed to members ahead of the meeting. 

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Social distancing getting you down? Isolation causing you to develop an unhealthy case of cabin fever? Well TASA 2020 Is-aoke is here to help you sing, and dance if the mood takes you, all your worries away!

Join Melbourne-based queer performance artist and karaoke extraordinaire Bae Marie and belt out your favorite tunes from the comfort of your own home!

Wednesday November 25th, 7:00pm - 8:30pm AEDT.

If you're interested in performing all you need to do is choose your favorite karaoke song, find a karaoke backing track on YouTube and complete this Google Form. Oh, and register for TASA 2020 so that you can gain access to the Zoom details!

If performing is not your thing, never fear as your fellow isolators will be there to entertain! You'll enjoy group singalongs (with your microphones on mute) this is as close to singing in the shower as you can get on the internet!

We couldn't have a TASA Conference without some dancing. Adding in the singing factor will be the icing on the cake! So clear out those pipes and fill in the Google form today!

Looking forward to seeing you there:-)

Alphia Possamai-Inesedy
TASA Vice-President

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Plenary: COVID-19
Plenary: COVID-19
Nov 24, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 11:45 AM (AEDT)

Kate Huppatz and Karen Willis

Covid-19 is a devastating health crisis that has had serious social consequences. TASA’s two journals, Journal of Sociology and theHealth Sociology Review, have considered how sociologists might respond. For this panel event, contributors to two special sections will present sociological perspectives on the theoretical and empirical conditions and implications of the pandemic.

Note, both journals have published COVID specials recently:

Journal of Sociology Special Issue 'A Sociology of COVID-19
Health Sociology Review's Special Section on ‘Sociology and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic


Raewyn Connell
Raewyn Connell 

Deborah Lupton
Deborah Lupton 

Lyn Craig
Lyn Craig 

Sereana Naepi 

Sereana Naepi 

Henry Kwok

Henry Kwok

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Plenary: The impacts of 2020
Plenary: The impacts of 2020
Nov 25, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 11:45 AM (AEDT)
Charied by Ash Watson, this plenary will discuss the year 2020 and its impacts to our discipline and the sector. COVID19 and its associated financial challenges of 2020 as well as the recent Job Ready Graduate Bill present an important opportunity for us to speak about the challenges and opportunities that we face. Join us as David Rowe, Alphia Possamai-Inesedy, Catherine Robinson, Dan Woodman and Julia Cook explore this space. Impacts on research, learning and teaching, applied sociology outside of the university, ECRs, sociology as a discipline and the higher education sector as a whole will be discussed.

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Book Launch - How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things
Book Launch - How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things
How artifacts Afford

Nov 24, 2020 from 2:30 PM to 3:00 PM (AEDT)

About Jenny's book: Technologies are intrinsically social. They reflect human values and affect human behavior. The social dynamics of technology materialize through design features that shape how a technology functions and to what effect. The shaping effects of technology are represented in scholarly fields by the concept of “affordances.”

Affordances are the ways design features enable and constrain user engagement and social action. This has been a central construct for designers and technology theorists since foundational statements on the topic from JJ Gibson and Don Norman in the 1970s and '80s. With the rise of digitization and widespread automation, “affordance” has entered common parlance and resurged within academic discourse and debate.

Davis provides a conceptual update on affordance theory along with a cogent scaffold that shifts the key question in affordance analysis from what technologies afford to how technologies afford, for whom, and under what circumstances?

“How Artifacts Afford” introduces the mechanisms and conditions framework of affordances in which technologies request, demand, encourage, discourage, refuse, and allow social action, varying across subjects and circumstances. Underlying this mechanisms and conditions framework is a sharp focus on the politics and power encoded in sociotechnical systems.

In this timely theoretical reboot, Davis brings clarity to the affordance concept, situates the concept within a broader history of technology studies, and demonstrates how the mechanisms and conditions framework can serve as a transferrable tool of inquiry, critique, and (re)design.

For more information, see Book webpage:

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Book Launch - (Inter)Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty
Book Launch - (Inter)Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty
Nov 24, 2020 from 2:45PM to 3:15 PM (AEDT)

Sam Han (Senior Lecturer of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Western Australia)
Sam Han

in conversation with:

Vinay Kumar (Research Fellow, Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University)
Vinay Kumar


(Inter)Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty (Routledge, 2020)

*For this event, the publisher has offered a discount code for a 30% discount off the print or eBook on ADC20. Valid until end of 2020.

About this book:
In modern times, death is understood to have undergone a transformation not unlike religion. Whereas in the past it was out in the open, it now resides mostly in specialized spaces of sequestration—funeral homes, hospitals and other medical facilities. A mainstay in so-called traditional societies in the form of ritual practices, death was usually messy but meaningful, with the questions of what happens to the dead or where they go lying at the heart of traditional culture and religion. In modernity, however, we are said to have effectively sanitized it, embalmed it and packaged it—but it seems that death is back. In the current era marked by economic, political and social uncertainty, we see it on television, on the Internet; we see it almost everywhere. (Inter)Facing Death analyzes the nexus of death and digital culture in the contemporary moment in the context of recent developments in social, cultural and political theory. It argues that death today can be thought of as "interfaced," that is mediated and expressed, in various aspects of contemporary life rather than put to the side or overcome, as many narratives of modernity have suggested. Employing concepts from anthropology, sociology, media studies and communications, (Inter)Facing Death examines diverse phenomena where death and digital culture meet, including art, online suicide pacts, the mourning of celebrity deaths, terrorist beheadings and selfies. Providing new lines of thinking about one of the oldest questions facing the human and social sciences, this book will appeal to scholars and students of social and political theory, anthropology, sociology and cultural and media studies with interests in death.

For more information, see Book webpage:

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Book Launch - The Sage Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion
Book Launch - The Sage Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion
Nov 25, 2020 from 2:00PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)

Sage Sociology

This book by Adam Possamia will be introduced by Anna Halafoff:

The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion takes a three-pronged look at this, namely investigating the role of religion in society; unpacking and evaluating the significance of religion in and on human history; and tracing and outlining the social forces and influences that shape religion.

This encyclopedia covers a range of themes from:

• fundamental topics like definitions

• secularization

• dimensions of religiosity to such emerging issues as civil religion

• new religious movements

This Encyclopedia also addresses contemporary dilemmas such as fundamentalism and extremism and the role of gender in religion.

For more information, see Book webpage:

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Book Launch: Sociologic 2ed Analysing Everyday Life and Culture
Book Launch: Sociologic 2ed Analysing Everyday Life and Culture
Moved to Nov 26, 2020 from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM (AEDT)

A contemporary introduction to the study of Australian society

Sociologic introduces students to the study of contemporary society, through everyday life examples and themes. It encourages a boundless curiosity about the social world around us and what it means to take a sociological perspective on Australian society.

Written by teachers of sociology, this new edition has been thoroughly revised and updated with current sociological, cultural and geographical theories and examples. It guides students through the various sociological concepts and how they can relate and apply these theories to their own experiences of everyday life. This insight equips students to have informed discussions about what traditions of our society are important for us to protect and keep, and what parts of society we believe we should challenge and change.


Five new chapters:
Nation and Nationalism in a Globalised World
Society and the Environment
Technology and the Digital Childhood
Social Movements
Religion and Contemporary Society
Takes a sociological view of how society has been affected by current events including COVID-19 and the 2019/20 bushfires
Updated student and practitioner profiles help students learn practical examples through the voices and perspectives of real people
New themed theory boxes make the text easier to navigate and provide students with historical and current day examples; theory discussion; and sociology methods in action
Critical reflection and discussion questions encourage students to reflect on their own lives and how the theories outlined relate to their experiences
New contributors of the text are current teachers who understand the tools students need to analyse how society functions, operates, and changes.

For more information, see Publisher's website and book flyer.

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Book Launch - Into the Sea
Book Launch - Into the Sea
Nov 26, 2020 from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM (AEDT)

Into the Sea high res

Ash Watson
Author: Ash Watson

Shanthi Robertson
Shanthi Robertson

Shanthi Robertson will launch Ash Watson's Into the Sea, a sociological novel about the glow of late youth. Following a group of twenty-somethings through parties, weddings, work and crises, the story considers if choices define our lives and offers a sociological meditation on the Australian Dream.

About this book: Taylah Brown is happy. She is. She has graduated university and she is in love and Sydney is a wonderful city to be in love in – all sunshine and blue water everywhere. It’s 2014 and the future is paved out in front her, a heat shimmer of possibility. Haircuts. Concerts. Holidays. Birthdays. Getting engaged, being engaged, going to brunch to show off the ring. More birthdays, a promotion, finding the right white dress. Getting married, going on her honeymoon, buying a house, having a child, getting a dog, going to the gym, moving house, camping at beach, weekends spent baking in the kitchen. New haircuts, new jobs, more birthdays, more birthdays… Choice-laden, picturesque, this is the good life. Isn’t it?

Into the Sea is a novel about ‘the Australian way of life’, grounded in ethnographic research, and crafted to engage readers in sociological imagination. A glocal frame sees contemporary cultural tensions play out through the panoramic dimensions of relationships and life events. Designed with layers and levels of reading, this novel will appeal to contemporary fiction readers and makes a lively addition to undergraduate and graduate curriculum across sociology, cultural studies, gender studies, arts-based research, and contemporary literature.

For more information, see Book webpage:

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Book Launch - The Stability of Society
Book Launch - The Stability of Society
Nov 26, 2020 from 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM (AEDT)

The Stability of Society

About the book: In this book, Erik W. Aslaksen builds on the view and model of society introduced in The Social Bond (Springer 2018), which portrays society as an information-processing system, and as both the result of the information and of the environment in which the information processing takes place. The processing power is provided by the individual, but is also greatly enhanced by the interaction between individuals, forming the collective intelligence that drives the evolution of society. In particular, this book focuses on the stability of that evolution, an issue that is of increasing concern given the current polarisation of the world society, both politically and economically, and the resultant interference in the operation of the collective intelligence. When we approach society as a genus and its evolution as a sequence of species, such as the family, clan, fiefdom, kingdom, and nation-state, the development of the next species – the world society – is now being thwarted by the desire of a minority to maintain a hegemonial position that resulted from a singularity in the process.

For more information, see Book webpage:

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Seminar 1: A Basic Income for a Complex Society
Seminar 1: A Basic Income for a Complex Society
Nov 25, 2020 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM (AEDT)

The Work, Labour and Economy thematic group would like to invite TASA members to a two-seminar presentation of current sociological research concerning the possibility of a Universal Basic Income for Australia. These seminars aim to inform audience members as well as support early-career sociologists in developing their research to focus on areas of Australian social life that have relevance for UBI debates. Each seminar will include presentations by early-career sociologists, as well as time for floor discussion of the issues raised by their research.

What’s really essential? Rethinking the social value of labour for a worker-centred response to Covid-19

LAUREN KATE KELLY, United Workers Union

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed and exacerbated many of the structural inequalities that have long undermined Australia’s workplaces and industrial relations system. Whilst Australian politicians have recently praised frontline workers as “essential,” these same industries have endured decades of neoliberal restructuring efforts to erode workers’ bargaining power and increase the incidence of precarious work, wage stagnation and wage theft. This moment of great disruption presents an opportunity to reconsider the social value of labour and advance new solutions for enduring problems. While the concept of universal basic income has received renewed attention in recent months, this paper considers three alternative measures to address inequality and transform the world of work. First, a universal basic dividend as a mechanism for redistributing the nation’s wealth and ensuring greater returns to labour. Second, implementation of universal basic services that extend to temporary visa holders and undocumented workers. Lastly, a coherent project to rebuild Australian unions and an industrial relations system that is fit for purpose in the modern economy. Taken together, these proposals could go a long way towards advancing a more sustainable vision for the economy and future of work.

Homelessness in Australia: Can a UBI help?

ANDREW CLARKE, University of Queensland

Homelessness remains a significant issue in Australia, despite decades of policy and practice ‘innovations’ that have promised to address it. There are a range of factors undermining efforts to address homelessness, and this paper aims to outline some of these in order to facilitate consideration of whether and how a universal basic income (UBI) can contribute to addressing homelessness. It focuses on two aspects of the homelessness problem: welfare conditionality (as it manifests in both social security payments and in homelessness support systems) and housing affordability (particularly under-investment in social housing). The paper will conclude by raising a set of discussion questions regarding the capacity of UBI to address these issues, such as: to what extent can a UBI mitigate the impact welfare conditionality on homelessness? What, if anything, can a UBI achieve in the absence of government investment in social and affordable housing? What are the alignments and contradictions between campaigns for a UBI and those for ending homelessness or expanding social and affordable housing?This is some placeholder content. Select/Highlight and simply type over or press delete to replace. Insert images, text or whatever you'd like.

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Seminar 2: A Basic Income for a Complex Society
Seminar 2: A Basic Income for a Complex Society
Nov 25, 2020 from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM (AEDT)

In the Beginning there Was(n’t) Basic Income – Basic Income & the Work Problem

TROY HENDERSON, University of Sydney

Elaborating Basic Income’s (BI) form and function in relation to various conceptions of work is one of the thorniest issues with which BI scholars and advocates have had to grapple. BI is framed, variously, as a solution to technological unemployment and as a means to reduce paid work in favour of more freely chosen activity (Stern and Kravitz, 2016; Gorz, 1999). At the same time, analyses of various BI trials have shown a marginal effect on labour supply but in experimental settings from which it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions regarding the implementation of BI at the aggregate level (Widerquist, 2005; Forget, 2011; Standing, 2017; Hilamo, 2020).

BI scholars and advocates are, therefore, left arguing that BI is inevitable due to automation and digitisation, desirable as an “exit option” from oppressive forms of paid work, and feasible because it does not seriously threaten aggregate labour supply. The analytical landscape is further cluttered once we introduce debates regarding participation and compensation for unequal endowments (Atkinson, 1996; Van Parijs, 1997).

This paper argues that these issues, while important, must be treated as second order debates in relation to justifying BI. The first order justification of BI is based on one principle, Van Parijs’ (1997) ‘real freedom for all’, and one fact, that wealth is cumulative and socially produced (Henderson, 2017). The right to a share in the cumulative proceeds of social wealth must be treated as prior to any right to paid employment and categorical benefits. Ethically, Basic Income is not a residual or a safety net, but a continuous ‘rightful share’ (Ferguson, 2015) in the form of a monetary flow.

Moving away from punitive ‘workfare’ in remote Australia, but headed in which direction?

ZOE STAINES, University of Queensland

It is now widely recognised that Australia’s Community Development Programme (CDP, 2015-present) has had overwhelmingly negative impacts on remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. These impacts have been widely documented, including by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in several research studies and in the Australian Government’s own evaluation of the Programme. While the Australian Government has not committed to removing CDP, many are now calling for an end to the programme and proposing alternative approaches. This paper considers three possible future alternatives: a Remote Development and Employment Scheme (RDES) (proposed by the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory), a Job Guarantee (proposed by Noel Pearson and William Mitchell), and a Liveable Income Guarantee (proposed by Quiggin et al. 2020), which might draw on the strengths of the previous Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme (1977 until ~2015). The aim of the paper is to draw these options together as a means of focusing debate on a critical assessment of their possible implications. Ultimately, however, if the kinds of harms produced by CDP are to be avoided in future, decision-making in this space must be led and driven by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities themselves, as the definitive experts.This is some placeholder content. Select/Highlight and simply type over or press delete to replace. Insert images, text or whatever you'd like.

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Panel: Alienation, Norms of Sociality and Anxiety in the Now Normal
Panel: Alienation, Norms of Sociality and Anxiety in the Now Normal
Nov 24, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)

John Cash
Dr. John Cash is Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne.

John Cash Paper Title: Norms of Sociality and the Demise of Symbolic Efficiency in the Now Normal

ABSTRACT: In analysing contemporary societies, from the local to the global, Slavoj Zizek refers to the demise of symbolic efficiency, Ulrich Beck to the loss of trust and the excoriating effects of “linear doubt”, Julia Kristeva highlights the risks entailed in human subjects remaining “strangers to ourselves” and Judith Butler highlights human vulnerability, commencing with the helplessness and dependency on others of the human infant, and develops an account of precarious life that is always already deeply embedded in competing norms of recognition. All four recognise how globalisation and/or the world risk society have heightened anxiety by destabilising established ways of being, thinking, feeling and relating, especially as these have derived from ideologies of nation, class, gender, race and ethnicity. Despite some significant differences, all four converge in recognising the declining capacity of established cultures and institutions to quell anxiety and, implicitly, to support defences against ontological insecurity. This dilemma has been intensified with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic and has thrown a heavy burden on the prevailing norms of sociality that are drawn upon in the performance of identities and social relations and in the negotiation of the trials of the “now normal”.

Rebecca Olson
Rebecca OlsonDr. Rebecca E. Olson is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Queensland.

Rebecca Olson Paper Title: Analysing COVID-19 as a Mass Emotional Event in late modernity: Implications for trust and anxiety in health care

ABSTRACT: COVID-19 can be conceptualised as a Mass Emotional Event – an event powerful enough to disrupt and re-write an emotional climate, with effects felt individually and collectively. The experiences of health care professionals offer insight into the widespread and contradictory impact of COVID-19 as a Mass Emotional Event, with feelings of both alienation and solidarity, anxiety and trust being commonplace.

In the context of the current ‘double burden’ of disease era – where both lifestyle and communicable diseases predominate – we see a simultaneous return to Medicine’s ‘golden’ age and a crisis regarding our trust in medicine, healthcare and science during COVID-19. Drawing on public discourse related to masks and vaccination, along with narratives from frontline responders which cast doctors and nurses as heroes, humans and vectors, this presentation examines the growing (mis)trust in science and medicine, along with the alienation and solidarity experienced by healthcare professionals. Rather than ambivalence, I argue that the contrasting emotions that characterise COVID-19 as a Mass Emotional Event may require each other.

Sam Han

Sam Han
Dr. Sam Han is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology at the School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia.

Sam Han Paper Title: (Inter)Facing the tragic: The metapicture of banal suffering in unsettled times

ABSTRACT: Events in the world today appear to be increasingly uncontrollable. Climate change, refugee crises and global pandemics seem to demonstrate the limits of human reason, science, technology and medicine. In the wake of these developments, “tragedy” and “tragic” have come into use, perhaps with greater frequency. This presentation asks: What does the register of the tragic do? What does its deployment in the contemporary context and other times of crisis do? Does viewing death and suffering from afar and so frequently affect the capacity for understanding and sensing “the tragic”? With so much of tragic news mediated, this paper explores the question of whether tragedy’s mediatization has made it become banal. If so, can banal death be tragic? By approaching these questions through recent theories of the tragic, this presentation attempts to demonstrate that some deaths are made tragic and others are not as a result of a particular “media logic.” Analysing these mediations through the concept of art historian WJT Mitchell’s concept of “metapicture,” it argues that not all deaths are recognized as tragedy, or at least not equally, thus occasioning the question of whether we are creeping toward nihilism.

Ben Gook
Ben Gook
Dr. Ben Gook is Lecturer in Cultural Studies (from Jan 2021) in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne.

Ben Gook Paper Title: Imaginaries and Conjunctures in Crisis Times

ABSTRACT: For at least a decade, if not three, western social formations have lived in “crisis times.” The Covid-19 pandemic arrived as an acute moment in this chronic crisis period. Nevertheless, we need to pause over this spontaneous shift to crisis talk – to think about what’s at stake, and who communicates stakes, when a moment is heralded as a crisis. In this paper, the connections between crisis imaginaries, legitimacy crises, and conjunctural analysis emerge as a productive set of tools for thinking about our moment – above all, the multiple causes of the discontent attached to new crisis symptoms in 2020.This is some placeholder content. Select/Highlight and simply type over or press delete to replace. Insert images, text or whatever you'd like.

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Panel:Applied Sociologists:our work and ideas about diversifying employment and career opportunities
Panel:Applied Sociologists:our work and ideas about diversifying employment and career opportunities
Nov 24, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)

Sociology as a discipline can be useful for problem solving and trouble shooting real-life issues. Sociologists think about the ways in which we are all interconnected in our everyday life to social institutions and how they affect us and the people we work with. We come with a very different approach to, say, economists, lawyers and engineers; and are often guided by social justice principles. Given the recent instability in academic careers and general derision from certain politicians about the Humanities, we thought we would share with the audience our learnings from our own professional careers as applied sociologists that might be of use to those considering diversifying their employment opportunities.

We will cover:

Our different career trajectories, inside and outside academia, across a range of topic areas (e.g. family services, health, housing)
“Must-have” skills when seeking industry work
Unique challenges for applied sociologists
Decisions around methodological choices (e.g. when undertaking action research, evaluations)
Facilitating access to sociological knowledge to those who might benefit from it (e.g. communicating to a lay audience)

Panel Chair: Dr Sophie Hickey, convenor TASA Applied Sociology Thematic Group

Postdoctoral researcher, Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University

Panel members:

Mithzay Pomento (Clinical sociology)
Keith Noble (Architecture/planning)
Eileen Clark (Self-employed)
Catherine Hastings (Methodology, consultancy)
Sienna Aguilar (Community/action research)
Alan Scott (retired)
Kim Stace (Family services)

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Panel: Queer in the time of COVID
Panel: Queer in the time of COVID
Nov 24, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)

Title: The spatial impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on LGBTIQ Wellbeing, Visibility and Belonging in Tasmania, Australia

1. Ruby Grant, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania
2. Andrew Gorman-Murray, School of Social Sciences, Western Sydney University
3. Briohny Walker, School of Humanities, University of Tasmania

International emergency management and disaster risk reduction policies and planning have rarely included lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people’s specific health and wellbeing concerns, despite increasing research showing that these groups face some specific vulnerabilities and additional challenges in such contexts. Emerging studies in the US and UK have noted increased feelings of loneliness, minority stress, and vulnerability to family violence since the outbreak of COVID-19. However, little is known about LGBTIQ people’s experiences of COVID-19 in Australia. To address this knowledge gap, this article explores the effects of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ mental health and well-being in Tasmania, Australia. Drawing on a mixed-methods survey sample of 231 LGBTIQ respondents between the ages of 14-78, we use the spaces of well-being framework to examine the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on LGBTIQ (in)visibility in relation to public, private, and online spaces. We argue that COVID-19 spatial restrictions affected LGBTIQ Tasmanians’ experiences and use of spaces in ways that detracted from and contributed to wellbeing, visibility, and belonging.


Title: Queer and Crip Temporalities During COVID-19: Sexual Practices, Risk, and Responsibility


Ryan Thorneycroft, University Western Sydney University
Lucy Nicholas, University Western Sydney University

In this chapter, we use Ryan’s story and experiences to ask a series of questions about the politics of sexual practices during the COVID pandemic. In a time of social distancing — which should otherwise be called physical or spatial distancing — people continue to engage in casual sex, and particularly within the gay community through sex-on-premises venues, beats, and apps such as Grindr and Scruff (Banerjee and Nair, 2020; Thomas, 2020). We are interested in these practices given the material (and potentially deadly) consequences that this may have on certain populations, and we seek to reflect on the questions of risk, responsibility, deviance, and desire. We invoke the concept of ‘responsibilisation’ – a symptom and outcome of neoliberalism – to signify the ways in which individual subjects are rendered responsible for practices that would otherwise be the duty of collective others (or historically no individual at all) (see Rose, 1996, 2007). This approach aligns with a crip and queer theory and politics that imagines realities and futurities in new and different ways (Ramlow, 2016), and seeks to rebut the normalising effects of gay and lesbian and disability studies through modes of (radical) subversion and deconstruction (Jagose, 1996; McRuer, 2006). While responsibilisation discourses are traditionally heteronormative and ableist (Race, 2018), as well as assuming individualistic agency while invoking a responsible sociality, we suggest that COVID has cripped and queered responsibility and time. This has made crip and queer perspectives and experiences more central, providing the opportunity to imagine alternatives of a ‘new future’ for everyone, and to reimagine sexual practices and ethics. Thus, we use the crisis of COVID as an opportunity to rewrite crip/queer times, futures, cultures, responsibilities, and sexual practices.


Title: Queer Bedroom Cultures in COVID


Megan Sharp, University of Melbourne
Barrie Shannon, University of Newcastle

The bedroom as a site of youth culture and private life has been increasingly interrogated by social scientists to understand the ways young people experience, curate, produce and transform identity. In the time of COVID-19, the bedroom has become particularly salient as a medium by which to telegraph queerness, to perform queer rites of passage and to resist heteronormativity. Drawing on our previous research, ‘Becoming Non-Binary’, which considered the ways in which young non-binary people engage with gender, sexuality, sex education and social citizenship, this paper discusses themes of community, wellbeing and representation as private and public discourse. In a time where physical spaces are absent of queer bodies and affects, we suggest that young people are finding new queer(ed) languages by which to communicate. The significance of queer communication in online space has never been so vital, yet these languages and the spaces in which they exist are increasing public as content is shared rapidly, such as in the case of Tik Tok. This leads us to ask, is the bedroom still a refuge in the time of COVID-19?

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Panel: The Sociology of Sport and Leisure: A Theme Group Panel on the State of Play and Replay
Panel: The Sociology of Sport and Leisure: A Theme Group Panel on the State of Play and Replay
Nov 24, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)

Panel Convenor: David Rowe (Western Sydney University)

Panellists: David Rowe, Jennifer Cheng, Ramón Spaaij, and Catherine Palmer

Affiliation/s: Western Sydney University, Victoria University and University of Tasmania

This Sport and Leisure Theme Group Panel takes the opportunity to consider the ‘now normal’ and ‘abnormal’ in this sub-field of Sociology in and beyond the global pandemic. The panellists are all active in academe and the wider public sphere. They will briefly address their specific areas of research – including ethnicity, religion, gender, sport for development, participation, inclusion, culture and media – as well as engage with the broader research and scholarly field. The principal questions underlying the Panel are: How can the Sociology of Sport and Leisure come to terms with the intellectual and social problems that pre-existed, persisted and have now been exacerbated by the pandemic? Is the ‘now normal’ in sport and leisure a decisive break with the past or, primarily, a means by which it can be repeated, not as tragedy or farce, but as competitive reality media genre?

Speaker Bios:
David Rowe
Emeritus Professor David Rowe

David Rowe is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University; Honorary Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath; and Research Associate, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London. His main research concerns in the Sociology of Sport and Leisure revolve around the relationship between the institutions of media and sport in the constitution of socio-cultural symbols, myths and ideologies of power. He has also investigated a range of subjects regarding leisure and tourism, including the urban night-time economy, cultural diplomacy, and significations of nation in tourism discourse.

Jennifer Cheng
Dr Jennifer E. Cheng

Jennifer E. Cheng is a Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University. Her research contributions lie at the intersection of sport, migration and gender, Islamophobia and anti-Islamophobia, racism and anti-racism, and integration. Her recently funded projects include ‘Muslim Women’s Participation in the Auburn Giants AFL Team’, ‘Reimagining Muslim Women through Sport’, and ‘CALD Parental Experiences of Children's Extracurricular Activities’. She has published on anti-racist and anti-Islamophobic discourses, discourses on Australian values, and Australian Muslim women’s experiences of participating in sport.


Professor Ramón Spaaij

Ramón Spaaij is a sociologist whose interests focus on questions of diversity, social inclusion, conflict and social change. He has two established fields of research that address these questions: the sociology of sport and the sociology of violent extremism. The bulk of his current research focuses on socio-cultural aspects and impacts of sport, with a particular focus on the intersections of diversity, social inclusion and community sport. Ramón is a Professor in the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University, Melbourne. He also holds the Professorial Chair in Sociology of Sport at the University of Amsterdam.

Catherine Palmer
Professor Catherine Palmer

Catherine Palmer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Tasmania. Her research marries empirical and theoretical insight across three main areas: i) sport and alcohol, ii) fitness philanthropy and iii) sport, inequality and social change. She is currently exploring women and alcohol in Australian sport has funded by the Australian Research Council. Catherine has worked with the National Commission for Women (UK) and the London Olympic Development Authority on women's safety at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Western Australian Sports Federation and the South Australian National Football League on alcohol policy in Australian sport.This is some placeholder content. Select/Highlight and simply type over or press delete to replace. Insert images, text or whatever you'd like.

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Panel: Religion and Public Life in Australia
Panel: Religion and Public Life in Australia
Nov 24, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)

Chaired by Dr Alex Norman, Western Sydney University

Religion remains at the forefront of contemporary Australian public life, despite earlier predictions of secularisation. The influx of diverse religious beliefs, facilitated by migration processes over time, has led to an increase in religious diversity and complexity in Australia. Institutional religions continue to wield socio-political influence over Australian culture and society; concurrently an increasing number of Australians are identifying as spiritual and/or not-religious. This panel will present papers that examine various aspects of Australian public life, religion and spirituality.

Dr Kathleen McPhillips, will examine challenges and negotiations to religions and church-state relations subsequent to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Dr Joshua Roose will speak on the paradox of secularism and fragmentation of religious authority, as whilst populist movements are using religious motifs and narratives to strengthen their appeal, organised religion is also jostling for social and political influence with or against government and populist movements. Dr Anna Halafoff and Dr Enqi Weng will speak on representations of religious diversity in the Australian media and the Australian curriculum. And Geraldine Smith will present her doctoral research on hybrid religious identifications of young Australians and their involvement in multifaith movements.


Dr Kathleen McPhillips
Kath McPhillips
Dr Kathleen McPhillips, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle

Religion After the Royal Commission: Challenges to Church-State Relations

Abstract: This paper will examine the multiple wide-ranging recommendations that the Australian Child Abuse Royal Commission made in response to damning evidence from religious organisations across Australia. The recommendations cover legal, organisational and cultural-theological changes and were considered imperative as religious organisations are the least child safe organisations in Australia. I will argue that the proposed changes signal important changes to church-state relations, which have been characterised by positioning religious organisations as special institutions that enjoy exemptions from certain human rights legislation, on the basis of protecting religious freedom. The post-Royal Commission environment is engaged in contested claims around the meaning and value of religious freedom versus the necessity of institutional reform to ensure that religious organisations can demonstrate safety for children and other vulnerable groups.

Dr Joshua Roose
Josh Roose
Dr Joshua Roose, Senior Research Fellow, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Religion and Populism

Abstract: This paper, drawn from my forthcoming book The New Demagogues (2021) challenges a notion that has become popular in some academic quarters that religion has been ‘hi-jacked’ by populists in the name of identity politics and that organised religion remains external to contemporary developments. I argue that whilst populist movements are using religious motifs and narratives to strengthen their appeal, organised religion is also jostling for social and political influence with or against government and populist movements. This requires an examination of dominant theoretical perspectives on the paradox of secularism and fragmentation of religious authority alongside an exploration of the historic relationship between religion and populism.

Associate Professor Anna Halafoff
Anna Halafoff

Dr Enqi Weng

Associate Professor Anna Halafoff and Research Fellows Dr Enqi Weng, Dr Ruth Fitzpatrick and Dr Kim Lam, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

Christian Privilege? Representations of Religion and Spirituality in State Curricula in Australia

Abstract: Whether or how best to teach about religion in Australia’s state school system has been the subject of considerable controversy since these schools were first established. This article presents the findings of a critical discourse analysis of how diverse religions and spirituality are represented in the Australian Curriculum and the Victorian Curriculum. This study has been undertaken as part of an Australian Research Council Discovery Project on Religious Diversity in Australia, and using a coding tool first developed by Kim Knott, Elizabeth Poole and Teemu Taira, for their research project on ‘Media Portrayals of Religions and the Secular Sacred’. This coding tool was slightly adapted and used in the ‘Religion on an Ordinary Day,’ a media study conducted as part of the ‘Religion, Discourse and Diversity Project’, co-led by Kim Knott and Lori Beaman, within the broader ‘Religion and Diversity Project’ led by Beaman. This paper’s author’s Enqi Weng and Anna Halafoff conducted the Australian component of the ‘Religion on an Ordinary Day’ study, and this presentation will compare the findings of the Australian media analysis with the curriculum analysis, to share reflections of the place of religion in Australian public life.

Geraldine Smith
Geraldine Smith
Geraldine Smith, PhD Candidate, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania

Finding Ways to ‘Jazz it Up’: Millennials and Generation Z’s Involvement in the Multifaith Movement

Abstract: This presentation offers insight into why there is a lack of meaningful engagement with and by young people in the multifaith movement in Australia. Drawing from recent studies on Millennials and Generation Z, as well as my own interviews with multifaith actors in Australia, I will argue that the equivocal ways that a large portion of young people are engaging with religion excludes them from the dominant logocentric approach to multifaith. A logocentric approach to multifaith assumes that its participants are unambiguous full members of their religious tradition who act as delegates of their tradition and are imbued with the legitimacy of the institution. Yet, a lot of young people have hybrid religious identities, identify as nonreligious, and/or operate on the margins of religious institutions. The pressures caused by COVID-19, which are pushing multifaith into the online realm, raises questions around where young people ought to place themselves within the changing currents of multifaith, and how multifaith will be re-shaped to reflect the religious experience, as well as the external pressures, of upcoming generations.

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Panel: Defining Social Problems in the ‘Now’ Normal: Inequality and the Issue of Ontological ...'
Panel: Defining Social Problems in the ‘Now’ Normal: Inequality and the Issue of Ontological ...'
Nov 24, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (AEDT)

Chaired by Kate Henne, Australian National University –

Other participants:

Vijetta Bachraz, Australian National University –

Jenna Harb, Australian National University –

Madeleine Pape, University of Lausanne –

Note: Affiliation effective in September so email address will change
Renee Shelby, Northwestern University –

Note: Affiliation effective in September so email address will change


The crises of 2020 have spanned a range of issues, drawing attention to deeper societal strains in and beyond Australia. For example, bushfires have brought emergency preparedness and climate change into stark relief, the pandemic has raised awareness of intersectional health inequities, and ongoing protests make clear that political and racialised tensions remain unresolved. In doing so, the ‘now’ normal is an ideal moment for sociologists to revisit approaches to the study of social problems within interlocking systems of power and inequality. The panel embraces this opportunity by revisiting Woolgar and Pawluch’s 1985 critique of accepted sociological explanations of social problems, which argues that the tendency to rely on definitional approaches privileges certain phenomena while obfuscating others. To do so, five researchers affiliated with JusTech, the Australian National University’s Justice and Technoscience collaboratory, share their work as case studies for further scrutiny. They identify distinct instances of contemporary ontological gerrymandering: reforms focussed on students’ poor educational performance, scientific interventions targeting sex/gender differences in health, the digitisation of welfare provision and delivery, surveillance as a response to police violence, and technologies for reporting sexual assault and rape. After illustrating how each example evinces a form of ontological gerrymandering, the panel discussion considers alternative framings and sets aside time for other participants to reflect on wider sociological challenges related to issues identified by presenters.

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Panel: Pandemic Atmospherics, Material Cultures and Sensory Practices: Everyday Life under COVID
Panel: Pandemic Atmospherics, Material Cultures and Sensory Practices: Everyday Life under COVID
Nov 24, 2020 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (AEDT)

“Holidays celebrated alone, languages that go unspoken”: Continuities and ruptures in everyday cultural participation in the UK during COVID-19

Tally Katz-Gerro and Neta Yodovich, University of Haifa


In March 2020, the United Kingdom government declared a general lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New social distancing rules and the shutdown of stores, theatres, and other leisure sites have made those living in the UK reshape the ways in which they engage with culture. In our presentation, we ask: what changes in cultural engagement took place during this time and how did individuals feel about them? As part of a larger research project about the meaning of culture in everyday life, we conducted a survey in June and July 2020 with 100 respondents. The survey, which asked participants to reflect on the changes in their cultural consumption and participation during the lockdown, revealed three main themes. All themes portray the conflicted, complex approach participants held toward the lockdown. In the first theme, respondents reported both a decrease and an increase in social interactions and a sense of togetherness. A second theme details the contrast between opportunities and barriers. Lastly, we found a tension between spaces, where the home became a mixed-use space where leisure and work blend together. Our survey findings point to a division between Brits, where some feel inhibited by the pandemic and the lockdown, while others feel catalyzed to consume and engage with culture. As predictions and news reports indicate that the UK will soon go under a second lockdown, such findings are imperative as they point to a potential threat to individuals’ well-being as well as to the future of the cultural industry in the UK.

Youth, music-making and well-being during a public health crisis


Andy Bennett
Ernesta Sofija

Ben Green
Ben Green 

Andy, Ernesta and Ben are all at Griffith University.

This paper presents preliminary findings from a cross-disciplinary pilot project, funded by the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, that seeks to understand the importance of music-making for young people (between the ages of 18 – 35) as a source of well-being during the COVID-19 crisis. A key objective of the project is to evaluate whether music-making has contributed in palpable ways to young people’s individual well-being and their sense of connection with others. For the purposes of the project, well-being is defined in relation to both physical and mental health. Given the unprecedented circumstances created the COVID-19 pandemic, its rapid spread and ensuing disruptions to everyday life, the project findings offer a significant opportunity to examine and evaluate the importance of music-making for young people’s well-being in a time of rapidly shifting and increasingly uncertain socio-economic conditions. The paper draws on data collected during 20 online interviews with young people based in different locations around Australia. Participants for the project were recruited through calls posted on social media with additional internal recruiting through Griffith University’s monthly call out for volunteers for research projects.

A digital textural sociological exploration of alternative modes of ‘touch’ and ‘contact’: Lessons from queer digital spaces

Mohammed Cheded and Alexandros Skandalis, Lancaster University


This paper explores the transformation of socialisation processes due to the digitalisation of entertainment and community formation in the current pandemic. In line with de la Fuente (2019), we question how the world is shaped and sensed in a post-COVID-19 society. We focus on queer digital spaces since touch and contact have been historically policed for queer people in a variety of modes. Our aim is to develop a digital textural sociological understanding of both current and historical experiences of queer resilience and creativity in mobilising digital technologies to create digital entertainment spaces that engage artists, creatives, organisers, promoters and audiences. Following Barad (2012), we consider the vast alternative possibilities of intimacy through imagining a diversification of modes of haptic encounters. We argue that the queering and digitalisation of interaction, touch and contact requires creativity, resilience, and courage.

How movement comes to matter: Exploring the sensory atmospheres and embodied affects of physical activity during COVID-19

Marianne Clark, UNSW

As the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically and swiftly upended everyday routines, our relationships with our bodies and movement were altered. With restrictions on when and where people were ‘allowed’ to move, movement experiences and spatiality came to matter in new and specific ways. In this paper I explore the sensory and affective dimensions of movement and physical activity during the COVID crisis by examining how moving bodies engage with space, place, and other human and non-human forces in pandemic conditions. Drawing on preliminary findings of an ongoing research project about Australians’ experiences of physical activity and use of space and place during COVID, I explore the materialities and affects that emerged through movement experiences, the sensory atmospherics of both indoor and outdoor ‘natural’ spaces used for movement, and the multiple meanings these experiences held for participants.



Ian Woodward and Signe Banke, University of Southern Denmark



On March 6, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen declared that all gatherings over 1000 people would be banned until at least August 31, 2020. This announcement, and subsequent further reductions in gathering numbers, effectively ‘cancelled the summer’ of music festivals and much more in 2020. In this paper, based on a study of three music festivals in Denmark, we focus on the un-making of music festivals and their creative re-making across diverse social spaces and contexts by multiple agents in response to the trauma of cancellation. The absence of music festivals points actors to a Corona-induced social and cultural lack, an emblematic fact referring to the loss of spaces of intense sociality and connection which we interpret via literatures on compressed cultural trauma. Our field research shows that lack and loss are not the defining features of this event. Instead, a suite of strategies is enacted to protect and repair the festival ritual, its history, community, and commercial interests in the wake of Corona’s attack. The paper draws upon extensive ethnographic and qualitative research, including a 7-month ongoing longitudinal phase of interviews with audiences and various types of organisers associated with three cancelled Danish music festivals, as well as a 9-month ongoing large-scale longitudinal media and netnographic analysis. We examine how agents of festivalisation - festival organisers, musicians, audiences, local entrepreneurs, and festival spaces – have gone about remembering, commemorating, and mobilising festivals in the wake of Corona. We explore the ways festival agents use materials, spaces, symbolic resources and creative strategies to respond to the external threat of the virus and reflect on who these festival agents are acting for, what they end up making, and why. Specificities of responses differ depending on festival type, history and context. Further, responses are also relationally and temporo-spatially anchored to interpretation of wider Corona developments. However, we observe widespread evidence of creative re-materialisations of festival experiences, pointing to processes of remembrance, repair, and the ongoing constructive re-making of ritual festival experience in novel contexts.

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Panel:“War from home(land)”: digital media and the participatory futures of armed conflicts in a...'
Panel:“War from home(land)”: digital media and the participatory futures of armed conflicts in a...'
Nov 24, 2020 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (AEDT)

Panel abstract

In a time when we study, work, shop, and socialise remotely, digital media also afford unprecedented opportunities for remote participation in armed conflicts happening around the world. Blurring the boundaries between military and civilian actors, physical and mediated battlefronts, weapons and witnesses, citizens and diasporas, digital technologies do not simply offer new capabilities in conducting military operations – extending the battlefronts into the realms of communication and perception, they reconstitute the social conditions shaping people’s relationship to wars. In this context, sociologists are uniquely positioned to foreground the emerging participatory patterns in military conflicts, attending to the higher-order social transformations that challenge and transform our understanding of wars. This panel presents a collection of insights and perspectives on participatory futures of armed conflicts in a post-pandemic world.

Witnessing Remote War: Google, Project Maven and the Elusive Politics of Drone Violence

Michael Richardson, University of New South Wales,

Witnessing is crucial to public engagement with war, but remote war presents particular challenges: its victims are largely invisible to Western publics; operations are cloaked in secrecy; and promises of precision targeting, accurate surveillance and legal monitoring obscures the brutalities of the system. Big data and AI systems compound the problem, blurring distinctions between war and social life through shared technics, processes and platforms, while enclosing lethal knowledge-making within ever more inscrutable blackboxes. This paper considers the implications of aerial drones, machine learning processes and big data systems for how war is witnessed. Taking Project Maven as a case study, Google's controversial initiative to provide machine learning analysis for the US drone program, this paper argues that the algorithmic systems roiling contemporary social life are deeply entangled with war. It calls for reconceiving witnessing as nonhuman to help bring the algorithmic systems of war into the public contestation of politics.

Participatory warfare in the era of Covid-19 and the erosion of private space: mediational perspective

Gregory Asmolov, King’s College London,

The domestic space become a site of struggle between internal and external forces “for the control and management of its space and times” (Silverstone, 2005). The nature of struggle has been addressed as a shift in boundaries between the interior and external worlds. Digital platforms are considered as “key mechanisms in the erosion of the boundary between public and private spaces” (Silverstone, 2005). The paper argues that crises offer new opportunities for intrusions into domestic space relying on participatory affordances and digital mediation. Building on the notion of activity systems (Engeström, 1987) it illustrates the increasing scope of digitally-mediated activities for participation in warfare that can be conducted from home. The erosion of private space has been enhanced by Covid-related isolation due to an increase in the proportion of digitally-mediated activities in everyday life.

Battlefront geographies: militarisms and fighting remote wars in the digital age

Olga Boichak, the University of Sydney,

Digital media have turned into an important arena for shaping and contestation of geopolitical outcomes, neccessitating a shift in epistemological paradigms of warfare. As the Crimean War of 1853-56 came to represent a momentous shift in the conduct of warfare once it could be mass mediated, the Annexation of Crimea in 2014 was characterized by vastly different, diffused and obscure dynamics that are partially a product of deeply mediatized environment of their time. Yet, one of the most interesting changes in the conduct of warfare is the emergence of international participatory opportunities afforded by social media. As audiences and consumers have morphed into the networked publics of the digital age, mediatized contexts have opened new avenues for human geopolitics, linking people’s everyday practices to war efforts of states. My presentation maps geographies of remote participation in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict to reflect on the shifting nature of militarism(s) in the digital age.

Diaspora and alter-activism in the homeland

Ayesha Khan, University of Wollongong,

Access to computing technologies and the Internet has redefined the personalization of politics and contributed to shifting participatory patterns in military conflicts around the world. Among millions of beneficiaries of this networked era are also diasporic communities, who now have a chance like never before to remotely participate in national politics and conflict(s) in their home country. These opportunities have led to the emergence of new cultures and patterns of virtual participation and the digital praxis of alter-activism. Alter-activism among diasporic communities in a multi-cultural society, such as Australia, demonstrates their political commitment and a form of cultural expression through collaborative practice(s) in the digital sphere. Through ethnographic analysis of shared discourses, I explore the emerging trends of digital participation among Australian-Pashtuns who are successfully supporting a civil rights and resistance movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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Panel: Experiencing pleasure in the pandemic through digital technologies
Panel: Experiencing pleasure in the pandemic through digital technologies
Nov 25, 2020 from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM (AEDT)

This panel proposes to discuss how pleasure, as an embodied experience, combines with digital technologies through products which elicit a desired physiological response. This class of products, which we refer to as resonant media, generates pleasure through carefully crafted stimuli, delivered in digital form. The panel will consider ASMR, through which content creators evoke that “tingly” sensation, Cam models and the evocation of sensual pleasure, alongside binaural beats and their association with digital drugs.

In this panel we seek to position digital pleasures through the ways in which technology expands sensory experiences. We will discuss the capacity of resonant media to entwine with and expand the biological capacities of the body, such that technologically mediated interactions can be warm, sensuous embodied, and close. Through exploring the affordances of the technologies that facilitate and encourage pleasure, the panel will highlight how pleasure is being (re)made in the ‘now’ normal. Pleasure for pleasure’s sake is not only personally sustaining, but should be a serious object of sociological examination in our changed world.

The COVID-19 pivot

As the world grapples with COVID-19, staying at home has meant an increased reliance on screens and mediation as sites of pleasure and connection. Warm visceralities combine with cold-coded tools to produce pleasurable sensations.

Content creators have capitalised on this entanglement to create products and services that stimulate pleasure by design. Understanding how these products work, for whom, and under what circumstances will not only illuminate an emergent cultural practice, but also re-centre bodies in the study of human-technology interaction.

This reading resists the framing of technology as individualising, deficient and distancing. Instead we argue that the intensification of online activity has not left the body behind. Not only is pleasure embodied, but so is our engagement with technology.

The panel will consider how focusing on pleasure as a source of well-being and meaning in a socially distanced world also points to ways in which we can be ‘well’ outside of the wellness model advanced by neoliberalised workplaces. Now more than ever it is important to decouple pleasure from commodified concepts of wellness and understand how people experience pleasure and connection, in mediated digital contexts.

The Speakers

Jenny L. Davis is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Sociology at the Australian National University. She is a social psychologist and technology theorist. Her new book How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things (MIT Press 2020) introduces a critical framework for the study of sociotechnical systems.

Naomi Smith is a Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Arts at Federation University (Gippsland). She has a broad range of scholarly interests, including emerging technology, place and bodies. She is primarily focused on the intersection of the internet and bodies, how online communities influence the way we make sense of our bodies, and how we manage them. Her recent publication, ASMR, affect and digitally-mediated intimacy highlights the affective and embodied capacities of technology.

Alexia Maddox is a Lecturer, Communications at Deakin University. She is a sociologist of technology and is interested in the social implications of emerging technologies. Her research into the communities surrounding cryptocurrencies and cryptomarkets has sensitised her to the internet cultures occupying digital frontiers. Her recent publication, Disrupting the ethnographic imaginarium, presents her critical reflection on the practice of engaging with online populations reconfiguring at the socio-technical fringes of change.

Accordion Widget
Panel: Multispecies Relations: past, present and possible futures
Panel: Multispecies Relations: past, present and possible futures
Nov 25, 2020 from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM (AEDT)


Sociology and Animals Thematic Group panel – Gavin J.D. Smith, Zoei Sutton, Dinesh Wadiwel, Josephine Browne.

Author/s: Assoc Prof Gavin J.D. Smith

Affiliations: Australian National Univerity

Abstract: “Fixing broken habitats? The contribution of sociology to ecology, and ecology to sociology”

The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that 3 billion animals were either killed, displaced or adversely influenced by the devastating intensity of the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires in Australia. During this national disaster, which has since become the focus of a Royal Commission, 24 million hectares of land – and therefore precious habitat – burnt, and the hottest and driest year on record was registered. We are now in a regrettable position of having to consider how or whether we can provide a future for the more-than-human entities situated in and dependent on what are currently disturbed ecosystems. As the Royal Commission Report observes, ‘Recovery will take years.’ But what precisely does recovery look like, especially in a pandemic society? And what role can sociology play in this recovery and futuring of the Australian landscape? How can sociologists make sense of, conceptualise and confront the insecure position of many wild creatures? This paper confronts such questions by exploring the critical contribution that different forms of sociological thinking and practice can make to understanding broken environments. I argue that sociology needs to inform – but also be informed by – precisely the kinds of epistemic and environmental turbulences, struggles and transformations that mediate and are mediated by ecospheric agency.

Author/s: Dr Zoei Sutton

Affiliation/s: The University of Adelaide

Abstract: “Captive companions? Provocations on shared multispecies life in “the new normal”

This year has seen many humans spending increasing amounts of time in their homes, often accompanied by existing or newly acquired animal companions. This shift presents an opportunity to critically examine the ways humans buy, bother, and coexist with other animals in our homes, cities and the broader environment. This short provocation will touch on aspects of shared multispecies life during the pandemic to highlight prevailing human-centric norms and open up discussion for a reimagining of multispecies relations in these shared spaces.

Author/s: Dr Dinesh Wadiwel

Affiliation/s: The University of Sydney

Abstract: The twin crises of human induced climate change and COVID-19 highlight the effects of the brutal intersection of capitalism and hierarchical anthropocentrism. This paper draws attention to the unique opportunity presented by the current situation for diverse social movements to collaborate towards achieving structural change. For animal advocates, this is an opportunity to move from the periphery and to the centre of debates around the future of capitalist food systems and the economies we need to enable multispecies flourishing.

Author/s: Dr Josephine Browne

Affiliation/s: Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University

Abstract: While sociology arose in response to the significant impacts of modernity in reshaping human lives, it has historically failed to address the interdependence on which all lives on the planet are premised. The Covid crisis has intensified evidence of the costs of human exceptionalism, exposing the limits of dominant ideologies. This paper considers an inclusive sociology as a means of rethinking our theoretical frameworks, encouraging sociologists to extend their analysis to imagine viable
Panel: Social Trust and Political Practices in the New Normal
Panel: Social Trust and Political Practices in the New Normal
Nov 25, 2020 from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

                                Panel Session Organizer: Sanghamitra Nath

Is there a relation between the ‘new’ normal and social trust? From a sociological perspective, the pervasiveness of infection from corona virus has led to the spontaneous emergence of a new culture of fear. However, fear runs in society not only due to mass awareness of the notoriety of the virus but also due to political practices that overlook fundamental freedoms, inclusiveness and human rights while mitigating the bio-disaster. Measures meant to ensure public health safety has been used by ruling elites to consolidate more power and tighten control or surveillance over citizens. As a result, the ‘new’ normal becomes characterized by a crisis of legitimacy arising out of disillusionment with the political authority. Adjusting to the ‘new’ normal also prompts an adjustment in social trust. The new reality, therefore, brings about a re-configuration of social trust in political elites.

Governments across the world have implemented multitudinous programmes, policies and laws to control the rate of infection. Ideally, the methods and techniques to contain infection should take into consideration gender, ethnicity, class, caste, religious and socio-cultural concerns to guarantee non-discriminatory access to public healthcare and other essential services. Nevertheless, reports from many countries speak of the contrary. In countries like Australia and India, app-based technologies meant to establish contact tracing collects personal data of millions of users even as chances of data leak or breach of privacy and/ or misuse of personal data cannot be ruled out. Complaints of corruption in public offices are often in news which disadvantage ordinary citizens and increases vulnerability of the marginalised. Shutdown followed by phased re-opening of various sectors of the society makes checking accountability and transparency challenging. The ensuing social trust deficit in the ‘new’ normal affects durability of any legitimate government as well as citizen compliance to government guidelines on covid-19.

Associate Professor Grazyna Zajdow

Complexity, multiplicity, and upending the assumed discourses of social trust.

The assumptions and stated aims of the panel are that the Corona virus pandemic and the concomitant policies of governments have produced a crisis of legitmacy because of increased surveillance and the use of state power to undermine civil and individual rights. My initial responses early in the crisis would have been to agree to this proposition. But I would argue now, that, in Victoria at least, this is much more complex than first thought. Complexity and multiplicity, as Mol and Law (2002) write are about different orders that are dealt with at the same time, ‘coexistences at a single moment’. So the narrative of the Victorian situation means that modes of ordering and the different experiences of the population do not easily slide into a clear theoretical linearity.

From the failed surveillance technology of the Covid Safe app, to the police-secured lockdown of high rise public housing tenants, to the lockdown of 5 million people in Melbourne, consideration needs to be given to why the city’s population willingly (for the most part) agreed to the policies of the state. I will also consider that those who argued the costs of the lockdown were too great (as indeed some mental health practitioners have claimed) have been shown to be unsupported by most of the population. Indeed consideration might be given to a functionalist understanding of social cohesion in the face of an external threat- a proposition that is difficult for someone like myself to make.

Associate Professor Grazyna Zajdow
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Education
Deakin University,


Louis Kriesberg
Louis Kriesberg
Professor Emeritus of Sociology
Department of Sociology
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 13244, USA

Managing COVID-19 Impacts on Social Trust in the USA

Donald J. Trump’s administration demonstrated extraordinary incompetence and great corruption in confronting COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, that decreased trust in the federal government and social trust in general. What is surprising is that he and his government were as popular as they were. His bullying, ignorance, corruption, and divisiveness were evident before COVID-19 struck. That has to be understood by changes in American society that contributed to widespread distrust in the government and to social trust generally. Americans’ trust in government dropped in the 1960s and the1970s, then recovered some, only to fall again.

Most significantly, the Republican Party leaders, some conservative intellectuals, and the very rich attacked big government and government solutions and pointed to immigrants and other scapegoats to explain social problems. They exploited American libertarianism. Trump used these phenomena and added right-wing populist language to get nominated and elected president. Once in office, he fostered incivility, prejudice, and social distrust. The public, however, is not entirely passive. Trump and his enablers overreached. The public generally recognized that social trust had been declining and they desired more not less. That has bolstered resistance and opposition to Trumpism and lent support for greater civility, cooperation, and mutual respect.

Saikat Kumar Basu
Executive Research Director, Performance Seed, 2716 2nd Avenue North, Lethbridge AB T1H 0C2 Canada

Socio-political challenges of the new normal from a Canadian perspective

The COVID-19 global pandemic has transformed into one of the most significant incident impacting socio-political life and economy negatively across the planet. Like every other country, an under-prepared Canada has also suffered a massive blow from this pandemic to both her socio-political as well as economic platform of the nation. The nation has been struggling to flatten the curve which varies in nature across the provinces from West to East. A deep division of the society and political life has thus surfaced without a prior warning. Furthermore, the disruption in regular business due to repeated lockdowns and containment restrictions have undergone further deterioration in the sociology-political platform opening up a Pandora’s box that the political elite of the nation has been visibly struggling to resolve. Huge economic bail outs has been extended by the government. However, the logistics of the distribution network and the highly pressurized health care system is struggling to cater to the ordinary citizens flawlessly. Under these circumstances of the new normal, Canada faces an uphill struggle to take the nation forward with limited human and financial resources. Post COVID Canada will be a different nation with new challenges and priorities.

Keywords: pandemic, sociopaths-political challenge, Canada

Kallol Basu,
Advocate, High Court at Calcutta, India

Pandemic and Lack of Governance

A deliberation on whether the faith of the public on the government has eroded, due to its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, should entail a discussion on the two National Health Bills which were introduced in the Parliament neither of which were ultimately promulgated or received Presidential assent. At present, India has no overarching health legislation that provides for pandemic response measures. The Government of India and the respective State Governments had largely relied upon two Acts, namely, the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

When a nationwide lockdown was announced within four hours’ notice on 24 March 2020, lakhs of stranded workers tried to migrate from large cities to somehow return to their villages. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs prohibited all inter-State and inter-District movement of migrant workers, directing that they be brought back from wherever they might be, and detained in the nearest quarantine facilities “for a minimum period of 14 days as per standard health protocol”. This order threatened that the district magistrate and senior police functionaries would be held personally liable for the implementation of these draconian orders

Surprisingly, on 14th September, the government informed the Parliament that it had no data on the migrant workers including the number of deaths. Based on the various instances and actions of the Government, it bound to shake the confidence of the citizens of India.

Nancy Sebastian,
Sessional Lecturer, University of Newcastle (UON), Singapore


Public Trust amidst COVID-19 Pandemic in Singapore

Trust in public institutions is vital for governments’ ability to respond rapidly, secure public support and for planning and implementing an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 emergency. Government’s values (integrity/fairness/openness) and competence - its responsiveness and reliability in delivering public services and anticipating new needs -are strong predictors of public trust. To contain the economic and social downswings lashed out by the pandemic, the Singapore Government initially started with 3 budgets in less than 2 months to cope with the current crisis, followed by a partial lockdown (circuit breaker), then an extension of the lockdown, followed by a staggered re-opening of the economy. Amidst these measures taken by the government, public trust in authorities has definitely seen its ups and downs, especially with the previous government retaining its place by a rather tough fight, after an election held during COVID. The paper examines the various phases of public trust in authorities amidst the global pandemic. It explores how communicating the risk of pandemic and the measures taken by the government like advising, tracking, testing, stimulus packages, phased-re-opening can play a role in influencing trust and compliance. It examines how trust influences public behavior to address the pandemic and rebuild the social and economic life.

Alminda M. Fernandez, PhD
Rizal Memorial Colleges, Inc. Davao City, Philippines;



Philippines surge a case fatality rate of 1.90 percent after a national lockdown of three months since March 19, 2020 and modified enhanced community quarantine for four months now. The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed a total of 380,729 cases, of which 42,462 are active and total of 7,221 deaths of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) as of October 31, 2020. DOH also reported 1,803 new cases and 36 new deaths due to COVID-19 with 606 new recoveries and 331,046 recoveries in total. The government has tested more than 3.4 million people and aims to test 10 million nearly a tenth of the population by next year.

Public schools reopened with virtual classes on Oct. 5, 2020 while face-to-face classes are still not allowed until a vaccine becomes available. Most businesses, including dine-in services, have been allowed to reopen since strict lockdown measures ended on Aug. 19, 2020 to support the economy, which fell into recession for the first time in 29 years in the second quarter. People must still wear masks, face shields and observe one-meter social distancing, while children, the elderly and pregnant women are urged to stay at home.

Keywords: Philippines, Lockdown, General Quarantine, Covid19, Pandemic

Miss. Atrayee Saha
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Muralidhar Girls’ Calcutta University

The paper is Atrayee's sole contribution. Any inquiry towards the paper should be directed at


Understanding ‘social trust’ and rights of Tribal people during pandemic in India

Abstract: 10.45 crore tribal people who reside in India are at stake as a result of persistent backwardness; economic dependency; inequality in education, medical facilities and nutritional status and existing stigma due to lack of implementable policies, since Independence. These tribal communities mostly dwell on the procurement and sale of forest produce for their sustenance and many others also work as migrant workers in the cities and distant states. The lockdown announcement due to COVID-19 and government-imposed restriction on movement in the forest regions, led to loss of livelihood for many tribal communities which are isolated from the urban areas. The distress was further intensified with approval of proposal by the government for introducing developmental projects in the forest regions inhabited by the tribal communities, thus affecting forest rights and tribal rights. With the help of secondary data and experience gathered through fieldwork Santhals in West Bengal, conducted before the pandemic, this paper tries to analyse the factors of persistent backwardness of the tribal communities and also with the help of news reports gathered from different parts of the country, the paper discusses the various ways in which the ‘social trust’ and rights of the tribal communities have been hindered during the pandemic.

Bio: Miss Atrayee Saha is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Muralidhar Girls’ Calcutta University and is in her final stage of completion of PhD at the Centre for Studies in Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University. 

Her research is mainly based on rural sociology, agrarian studies, caste and class relations in the rural economy and tribal education and development. She has conducted fieldwork in different states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal on the issues of agricultural development and agrarian relations in the rural economy. She has published in several journals like South Asia Research, Contemporary Voice of Dalit and in edited books like Encylcopedia of Gerontology and Aging and others. 

Keywords: tribal rights, forest rights, pandemic, social trust, policies, inequality, stigma

Associate Professor Greg Martin
University of Sydney:


Effects on social trust of pandemic policing during the Covid-19 crisis

Biographical note: Greg Martin is Associate Professor of Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia. He has published widely in criminology, law and sociology, and is author of Understanding Social Movements (Routledge, 2015), Crime, Media and Culture (Routledge, 2019), and co-editor of Secrecy, Law and Society (Routledge, 2015). He is founding Editor of the book series, Emerald Studies in Activist Criminology, is an Associate Editor of Crime Media Culture, and is a member of the Editorial Board of Social Movement Studies and The Sociological Review.

Abstract: This paper focuses on political practices as they relate to state responses to the Covid-19 crisis via enhanced policing powers. In responding to rising infection rates of Covid-19 liberal democracies have sought to balance securing public health and safety, on the one hand, and fostering citizen responsibility, on the other. Arguably, this situation is analogous to state responses post-9/11 where civil liberties were eroded on the pretext of safeguarding national security. While many of the post-9/11 measures became permanent features of law enforcement and state surveillance encroaching upon individual rights and freedoms, it remains to be seen whether rights suspended during the coronavirus pandemic will endure. Certainly, when rates of coronavirus infection have increased, the state has relied upon police intervention – rather than citizen responsibility – to enforce social distancing rules and restrictions on gatherings. This paper looks at two aspects of “pandemic policing” – everyday policing and protest policing – to explore the effects on social trust not only in respect of citizen reactions to state institutions and state agents such as police, but also amongst the citizenry of liberal democracies, which has at various points during the pandemic adopted oppositional roles, ranging from “sovereign citizen” to “citizen cop”.

Accordion Widget
Concurrent Session: COVID-19
Concurrent Session: COVID-19
Nov 24, 2020 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

Sarah B. Faulkner

Juggling Babies and Writing Words: An autoethnographic account of academic opportunities for full-time academic mothers during COVID 19

Dr Alexandra Ridgway

Affiliation/s: No current affiliation. Completed PhD in Sociology through The University of Hong Kong with conferral in May 2020.

Abstract: In a recent edition of The Lancet, Gabster et al (June 27, 2020) share the particular challenges that female academics have faced during COVID19 restrictions, particularly in terms of maintaining publication outputs. Considering that women still bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities in society (Grant, 2004), it is unsurprising that women academics have had less time for their academic pursuits whilst they, and their families, are impacted by lockdown measures. Nevertheless, more flexible working arrangements and new uses of technology have potential advantages for women academics, and these should not be relinquished as restrictions loosen. In this autoethnographic account, I reveal the benefits I have gained from responses to COVID 19 and how these have advantaged me as an early career scholar with primary carer responsibilities. I argue that these new ways of working and connecting have provided academic mothers like me with access to opportunities which would not have been possible but for the rise of this global health pandemic.


Gabster, B. P., van Daalen, K., Dhatt, R., & Barry, M. (2020). Challenges for the female academic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet, 395(10242), 1968-1970.

Grant, K. R. (Ed.). (2004). Caring for/caring about: Women, home care, and unpaid caregiving. University of Toronto Press.

Disrupting higher education? Student and teacher reflections on striving for interdisciplinary effectiveness in emerging multidisciplinary classrooms

Presenter: Dr Elisabeth Valiente-Riedl and Dr Jinqi Xu

Author/s: Dr Elisabeth Valiente-Riedl and Dr Jinqi Xu

Affiliation/s: Deputy Vice Chancellor – Education, Enterprise & Engagement/ University of Sydney

Abstract: Universities increasingly recognise the need to provide students with an interdisciplinary learning experience. With growing recognition of the challenges posed by so-called ‘complex’ or ‘wicked’ problems, interdisciplinary learning has become the new mantra for many tertiary institutions seeking to maintain their vocational relevance for graduates entering an increasingly diverse and disrupted labour market. This has only been underscored emphatically by the recent and ongoing upheaval to labour markets – including that of the tertiary sector itself – produced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, while interdisciplinary learning pedagogy is not new, it has been stifled by the entrenched disciplinary structure that still prevails in Higher Education. The University of Sydney is working to overcome these barriers in a new suite of undergraduate interdisciplinary curriculum, which brings students together in truly multidisciplinary classrooms. This research provides a phenomenological study of the experience of two teachers and their students within this program. It evaluates the opportunities and challenges teachers and students face in achieving a core graduate attribute – interdisciplinary effectiveness – within this context.

Conducting overseas fieldwork during a global pandemic: challenges, changes and lessons from the field.

Sarah B. Faulkner
University of South Australia


Living on the Island of Newfoundland from January to September 2020, I explored the role of place-belonging within the context of regional settlement, drawing attention to former Syrian refugees evolving relationship to home and place. Having already begun my ethnographic fieldwork when the COVID-19 pandemic arose, however, a change in sociological imagination had to be acknowledged in order to accommodate ‘the new normal’ facing the world today. Examining the settlement experience of people from a refugee background as it relates to their sense of belonging and home relies on the personal narratives of the Syrian people themselves, in which opportunities to share their story must still be realized. Within this presentation, I reflect on some of the challenges, changes, and lessons learned in adapting overseas ethnographic research to accommodate a diversity of both virtual and in-person methods. Moving to include more online innovations in interviewing, including photo elicitation, and further unobtrusive distance methods was necessary in order to continue conducting ethnographic fieldwork during times of physical distancing. This report works to highlight some of the challenges and unexpected benefits of taking a more ‘blended’ approach to traditional qualitative methods in order to support the sharing of personal narratives and people’s stories of home.

Accordion Widget
Concurrent Session: Cultural Sociology
Concurrent Session: Cultural Sociology
Nov 24, 2020 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

“The barrier has to be jumped out with this music”: Collaborative Creation in a Metropolitan Community Music Program

Presenter: Associate Professor Jeremy Smith, Associate Professor Jenene Burke, and Dr Majida Mehana

Author/s: Associate Professor Jenene Burke, Associate Professor Richard Chew, Dr Majida Mehana and Associate Professor Jeremy Smith

Affiliation/s: Federation University Australia

Abstract: Contemporary research into community music programs highlights a diversity of contexts for collaborative music making. Sociological endeavours feature in a growing literature on this domain of creative practice. This paper reflects on a qualitative case study that examined an after-school program providing free, classical instrumental music instruction to primary school-age students who would not normally have an opportunity due to their socio-economic circumstances. The Pizzicato Effect, run by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Broadmeadows, has operated in the northern suburbs of Melbourne since 2009. Through focus group interviews with students, family members, and teaching artists, the researchers examined community experiences of making cultural capital in conditions of social inequality and multicultural practice. Working on phenomenological premises, the study aimed to position respondents as experts in their own lives, who own their knowledge of their worlds and are experts in knowing their own worlds. We found that (a) socio-economic factors do not necessarily present a barrier to students in acquiring music skills provided they have access to opportunities to learn, (b) intercultural encounters with chamber music practice can be surprisingly empowering, and (c) chamber music practice could be a bridge to successful integration/transition from own culture to the surrounding multicultural environment.

Accordion Widget
Concurrent Session: Genders & Education
Concurrent Session: Genders & Education
Nov 24, 2020 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

Engineering Education in India: Does gender make a difference?

Presenter: Dr. Nidhi Bansal, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, MNIT Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Author/s: Dr. Nidhi Bansal, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences,

Affiliation/s: Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Abstract: Engineering is a male dominated field and there is a disproportionate number of females globally. Despite of modernization and strategic reforms by the government, the enrolment of females has been very low in engineering programs in India over the last decade, which indicates gender ghettoization in educational programs. Underrepresentation of women in engineering not only leads to marginalization of women in technical fields but also lack in embracing women’s perspective in engineering design and innovations.

Educating females and their engagement in paid work has not been endorsed in traditional Indian society. Since long, gendered division of labour, subjugation of women embedded into patriarchal ideology and practice, and their part in childbearing and managing households has resulted into their confinement into four walls of household or not prioritizing their education.

The present study is a qualitative study to identify barriers and enablers for females for joining engineering courses. Based on in-depth interviews with female engineering students, investigator makes an analysis of social and individual factors influencing the choice and decision-making. Results indicate that socio-cultural beliefs, self-efficacy and awareness about one’s own interest, family support and government policies play significant role.

Accordion Widget
Concurrent Session: Health 1
Concurrent Session: Health 1
Nov 24, 2020 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

Institutional inertia: Interrogating the everyday work of hospital staff trying to improve healthcare for First Nations people

Sophie Hickey

Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University

First Nations people have been calling-out unsafe healthcare services in Australia for decades. New National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards require hospitals to implement specific actions to address the needs of First Nations people. For some hospitals this represents significant organisational change. I present findings from a two-year institutional ethnography conducted at a large Australian hospital using participant observation, policy reviews and qualitative interviews. I interrogate the everyday work of staff trying to plan for and provide culturally responsive healthcare to First Nations people. I will describe the tensions of working to ‘meet accreditation’ versus ‘meeting the actual needs of First Nations people’. I map how First Nations people remain largely absent from key institutional decision-making processes. I will demonstrate how institutionalised racism and whiteness, under a guise of neoliberal managerialism and economic rationalism, perpetuate institutional inertia and render the work of ‘meeting the actual needs of First Nations people’ institutionally invisible. These findings support Juli Coffin’s calls for cultural security in Australian institutions: converting policy into evidenced actions; ensuring purposeful cultural brokerage; and including First Nations people in decision-making.

Abstract fatties and sociological stigma: A researcher-as-instrument examination of the sociological literature on excess weight between 2010 and 2019

Rebekah Lisciandro

James Cook University

Sociology has contributed to research into excess body weight, which accelerated since the ‘obesity epidemic’ declaration in 2000. But how has sociology itself problematised the topic of excess weight? This thesis aimed to investigate the sociological discussions of excess weight by reviewing recent sociological literature between 2010-2019 and using a self-reflexive lens to analyse the ways sociologists discuss fat people. A sample of 74 journal articles from the last ten years was created using a systemised approach. Engaging in a researcher-as-instrument literature review, in which the researcher’s insider status as a fat person assists critical assessment, the sample was read and coded. While sociology has made important contributions to excess weight research, the sample was inconsistent with measures (primarily Body Mass Index), with language, and with reporting reflexivity. The sample, which largely dealt with stigma and stereotyping, re-created stigma by researching on, and not with, fat people. This created the ‘abstract fatty’: a fat research participant who is silenced or undermined by the research, becoming simply problematic adipose tissue. Implementing practices such as transparent reflexivity and critical engagement with weight measures can help reduce the abstract fatty and create relevant research for fat people.

Urban Planning — “it’s all about sustainability”: urban planners’ conceptualizations of sustainable development in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Adaku Echendu

Queen’s University Kingston, Canada

Sustainable development forms the core of urban planning in contemporary times. Urban planning has been recognised as being central to sustainability because well planned urban centres can be engines of economic prosperity, social well-being and environmental sustainability. Port Harcourt, a major Nigerian city faces many environmental challenges like flooding that impacts achieving sustainable development and which has been linked to urban planning. Urban planners carry out spatial planning but there is a paucity of research that engages with these professionals to gauge their understanding of sustainability. This paper seeks to fill this gap. It draws on qualitative interview data from five urban planners in Port Harcourt city, Nigeria, to explore their understandings of the concept of sustainable development and how they implement this understanding in their day-to-day work. This research reports the urban planners have a solid understanding of sustainability and the role of planning in its achievement. Their understanding centres around longevity and building long lasting human settlements in consideration of future planning decisions. This aligns with current global thinking whereby planning is key to achieving sustainable development. This finding suggests the environmental problems experienced in Port Harcourt are likely due to weak infrastructural base and a failure to implement/enforce planning regulations that aim to promote sustainable development.

‘Good and Gone’: euthanasia creep in Australia

Rock Chugg


Events leading to ‘new’ euthanasia laws effectively reinstate capital punishment in Australia. Euthanised wild-life entails objective harm reduction. With ‘mercy-killing’ of the disabled precedents in the 20th century Nazi state, a nationwide celebrity led media campaign defied health expertise, in effect restoring the death penalty (already practised on children abroad). As predicted by indigenous activists, such Centaur state-craft (liberal on top and paternalist below) would also prey on the disadvantaged. In this paper, mixed-methods of sociology and psychoanalysis are applied in a case study approach. Deregulated networking growth in the context of health is revealed by, (i) process-tracing ‘neo-bourgeois’ youth-abuse on privatised public transport, (ii) middle-range theory of corporatised institutional ‘ageism’ elder-abuse, and (iii) ideological-analysis of new Labor electoralist ‘snobbery’. Findings indicate a creeping Australian neo-colonial penal state within executive, legislative and judicial powers. Euthanasia creep founds a hidden content or blindspot, now legal in two states. A pre-existent medical concern and separate powers compromise, this extraordinary issue was the globalising feeding-context long before COVID-19.

Transitioning to adulthood after a biographical disruption during adolescence: A life history case-study

Deborah Yap

The University of Sydney, Australia

Background: Biographical disruption frames acquired disabilities or chronic illnesses as an ‘assault on selfhood.’ A biographical disruption during adolescence—a seminal life-phase characterised by rapid biological, psychological and social changes—further compounds the already tumultuous and complex process of transitioning to adulthood.

Objective: Explore how the onset of a disabling chronic condition during adolescence impacts a young woman’s social status, biography, psychosocial identity, relationships and transition to adulthood.

Method: Two life history interviews conducted with one participant and developed into a life-history case study.

Results: The invisibility of participants’ disabling chronic pain meant it went undiagnosed and untreated for several years. This delay, along with changes in family relationships, could be associated with participant’s development of depression, social anxiety and sensory-processing disorder. Despite the disruption during transition to adulthood, participant’s affluent background, life experiences and personal strengths ultimately mediated her adaptation to a differently functioning body through acceptance of her multiple diagnosis.

Conclusion: Invisible conditions add extra difficulties to the daily lives of young adults navigating the social expectations, changes and challenges towards adulthood. Findings will add to our understanding of the barriers to transitioning to adulthood with an acquired conditioninto more inclusive practices addressing those barriers.

Adolescence and sex work: stories of adolescent female sex workers through the eyes of peers during night life at bantama, kumasi.

Terra Nyarko

Nyarko T.& Graham O.

Ghana AIDS Commission (Ashanti Technical Support Unit)

Sex work like sex is both pervasive and timeless. There is however an ambivalence response to sex work as it is both covertly solicited and overtly thrown into the social dust bin of pariahdom. Sex workers are loved and loathed in equal measure. The extant literature show that sex work adversely affects adolescent reproductive health outcomes. Purposive and snowballing sampling techniques were used to select the respondents. These sampling techniques helped to get information from adolescent sex workers through their peers which will not be possible directly. Two peers interviewed the sex workers for a period of 3 nights at 5 hotspots. Hotspots are places were the sex trade are prevalent. 32 adolescent sex workers were interviewed in the study by the 2 peers. The average age of participants was 16 and most started sex work at age 14. Poverty and broken homes are the major drivers of the practice. Condom use is rare as unwanted pregnancies, risky abortions and STIs were common. There were Sexual and physical abuse as well as the use of drugs. Broken homes and poverty should be considered in any intervention and condom promotion scaled up. Strengthening of structures to reduce all forms of abuse.

Accordion Widget
Concurrent Session: Health 2
Concurrent Session: Health 2
Nov 24, 2020 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

This session is being chaired by Rebecca Olson. 

Feel like quitting? Lung screening and smokers’ emotions

Rebecca E. Olson

Author/s: Rebecca E. Olson,1 Lisa Goldsmith,2 Sara Winter,3 Elizabeth Spaulding,4 Nicola Dunn,2 Sarah Mander,5 Alyssa Ryan,6 Henry M. Marshall7

Affiliation/s: 1 School of Social Science, University of Queensland; 2The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Queensland, Australia; 3School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Queensland, Australia; 4 Tickle College of Engineering, University of Tennessee Knoxville; 5Psychology Department, The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Queensland, Australia; 6Cancer Care Services, The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Queensland, Australia;  7University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre and Department of Thoracic Medicine, The Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Queensland, Australia


Abstract:  Lung screening using low-dose computed tomography technology is currently being trialled in Australia. Much of the research into screening uptake has focused on smokers’ attitudes, beliefs and knowledge as barriers and facilitators to screening, aligned with the Health Belief Model. Moving beyond such individualistic conceptualisations of smokers as calculative risk analysts, in this presentation we present findings from a qualitative study into the emotional dimensions of smokers’ experiences of lung screening. Drawing on thematic analysis of interviews with 27 long-term smokers immediately following lung cancer screening and prior to receiving scan results, we depict lung screening’s social and emotional Australian landscape. Although screening itself infrequently elicited strong emotions, interviewees felt stigmatised as smokers, and described guilt and fear related to lung cancer as emotions motivating them to undertake screening. Importantly, participants positioned smoking as a source of emotional support in relation to life stressors. Acknowledging the wide range of emotions that smokers experience in conjunction with screening may help to shift the approach in pre- and post-screening counselling, from prioritising cessation towards prioritising care. Overall, findings suggest that screening poses an important opportunity to talk to smokers – not just about their intentions to quit – but their emotions and wellbeing.



No Time for a ‘Time Out’? Managing Time around (Non)Drinking

Gabriel Caluzzi

Author/s: Gabriel Caluzzi1, Amy Pennay1, Sarah MacLean1, 2 & Dan Woodman3

Affiliation/s:1Centre for Alcohol Policy research, La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3086, Victoria, Australia

2School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport, La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3086, Victoria, Australia

3School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Victoria, Australia


Abstract: The relationship between free time and alcohol may be changing for young people due to the demands of education and (future) work. While alcohol use and intoxication have previously been considered a way to achieve a youthful sense of ‘time out’, drinking by young people in Australia is declining. Drawing on interviews with 50 light and non-drinkers aged 16-19 years from Melbourne, Australia, we develop Adorno’s concept of ‘free time’ to show how young people’s time use practices – including how they incorporate alcohol into their lives – is more than ever shaped by social and economic pressures. Participants described three main functions of time. These were a) using free time ‘productively’, b) being opportunistic around busy schedules, and c) the importance of free time as restoration time. These themes suggest fragmented and pressure-filled patterns of free time that may challenge drinking as an important ‘time out’ activity for contemporary young people.


Socio-demographic factors associated with the accumulation of stressors in Australian families

Carys Chainey

Author/s: Carys Chainey,1 Dr Kylie Burke,1 Professor Michele Haynes2

Affiliation/s: 1Department of Psychology, The University of Queensland; 2Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education, Australian Catholic University

Abstract: Families’ socio-demographic contexts may influence social, emotional and behavioural outcomes across the lifetime.  Families who experience cumulative stressors may be at additional risk for poor outcomes.  Little is known however, about the socio-demographic factors that are associated with an increased risk for accumulated stressors among Australian families.

This study uses a sample of 4161 Australian families in the National Health Survey 2014-15, to explore the associations between socio-demographic characteristics and the accumulation of three stressors: relationship breakdown, substance use and mental health conditions. 

Over one-third of families had experienced at least one stressor, and 8% had experienced multiple stressors.  Stressors were reported across all socio-demographic groups.  Correlations and hierarchical multiple regression revealed that experiencing a higher number of stressors was significantly related to a range of socio-demographic characteristics measured at the levels of geographic area, household, and individual. 

While stressors may be experienced in all socio-demographic contexts, some families may be at increased risk.  Supports for Australian families should consider the dual influence of the socio-demographic context and cumulative stressors. 


‘Scene’ as a critical framing device: extending analysis of chemsex cultures

Dr Kerryn Drysdale 

Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney

Abstract: The term ‘chemsex’ refers to the use of illicit substances to facilitate, prolong and/or enhance sexual encounters, notably among men who have sex with men. Increasingly, the word ‘scene’ is used in association with ‘chemsex’ in media reporting, expert commentary and research; that is ‘the chemsex scene’ is invoked as a socially organised system wherein clusters of sex and drug-using practices are assumed capable of achieving a singular and coherent form. ‘Scene’, then, offers a fruitful framework to explore the combination of sex and drugs conceived of in two complementary ways: as a momentary event (that is, an assemblage of people, place and practices that shape sexual experience), and as a social configuration (that is, a more enduring form that gives unity to dispersed practices). This paper is an attempt to reframe analysis of chemsex within the material and representational framework offered by ‘scene’. I first attend to the temporality by which scenes are enmeshed within wider interactions that form the backdrop of everyday activity but how they are then retrospectively and collectively consolidated into socially recognised form. I then speculate on the value of ‘scene’ in yielding unique and innovative harm reduction and health promotion responses to chemsex.




Accordion Widget
Concurrent Session: Media / Migration, Ethnicity & Multiculturalism
Concurrent Session: Media / Migration, Ethnicity & Multiculturalism
Nov 24, 2020 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

‘Foreign thugs’ and ‘the new menace’: Racialized constructions of ‘gangs’ in Australian news media discourse

Presenter(s): Ashleigh Haw and Areej Nur

Author/s: Ashleigh Haw, Areej Nur, and Karen Farquharson

Affiliation/s: School of Social and Political Sciences, The University Melbourne

Abstract: In recent years, Australia has witnessed a growing proliferation of media and political discourse surrounding ‘ethnic gangs’, notably those from African and/or Arab backgrounds. Here, the supposed ‘threat’ posed by these groups is routinely used to legitimise anti-immigration rhetoric and hardline refugee policies. These narratives have also been found to dehumanise the non-white Australian ‘other’, with harmful consequences for their sense of belonging, inclusion, and social cohesion. In this presentation, we discuss research using Corpus Linguistics to examine constructions of ‘gangs’ published between 2010 and 2019 across six Australian newspapers, focusing on the varying ways the ‘gang’ label is used to describe different groups of people. More pointedly, we draw comparisons between representations of organised criminal networks - notably ‘bikie gangs’ and underworld figures - and the use of the ‘gang’ epithet to describe groups of youth from racially diverse backgrounds, irrespective of their involvement in criminal activity. We also examine whether organised ‘gangs’ are described using similarly racialized tropes. We highlight the implications for scholarship surrounding race-relations, communications, and criminology, as well as for broader public opinion and antiracism advocacy.

Time, Social Theory and Media Theory: contributions of A Schutz to the understanding of new social realities.

Presenter: Ana Beatriz Martins

Author/s: Ana Beatriz Martins and Victor Piaia

Affiliation/s: University of New South Wales and State University of Rio de Janeiro

Abstract: This presentation aims to contribute to the debate about Time and the new social realities resulting from recent changes in the media field, bringing social theory and media theory together. For this, we propose a re(reading) of a well-known author in social theory: Alfred Schutz.

Schutz was one of the most productive authors of social theory and designed a broad theoretical framework, involving many aspects of social life. He also emphasised the importance of media, and brought significant contributions to the debate, through the discussion of the concept of Time. The author did not think Time only descriptively but opened a deep and conceptual dialogue that is useful for understanding new social realities brought by the internet, both for media theories and social theories.

The presentation has two sections, each corresponding to an approach to Time made in Schutz, and in media theories and recent social theories. The first one discusses a possible acceleration of time, and the second one discusses the relation of time and memory. We bring the debates to the presentation, and Schutz’s contribution to them, fostering the debate between social theory and media theory, as well as contributing conceptually to recent reflections.

Making a home: house metaphors and symbolic violence in Australian press reports on immigration

Catherine Ann Martin
University of Western Australia

Abstract: The house metaphor is a feature of political and social discourse around the world. Used to construct the nation as a self-contained, self-sufficient unit, it structures our understandings of who belongs and who does not. Within Australia, the house metaphor has consistently been a feature of press reports on immigration, delineating the boundaries of belonging for immigrants, while simultaneously constructing the Australian nation. Through a critical discourse analysis of the house metaphor within Australian press reports on immigration since Federation (1901-2018), utilizing Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence, the presentation argues that, more than simply descriptive, the metaphor is used prescriptively to shape understandings of national belonging. While during the White Australia period, belonging was explicitly based on ethno-nationalist criteria that centred an Anglo-white subject as the ‘true’ occupants of the Australian national house, the presentation argues that, in contemporary press reports, house metaphors continue to implicitly and unproblematically ‘flag’ a particular form of Australian nation(alism) that, despite being ostensibly inclusive and multicultural, remains centred on whiteness.

Belonging of Dutchies in Australia: Comparing White Australia Policy to Multiculturalism

Presenter: Jora Broerse

Author/s: Jora Broerse, Karien Dekker, Nonja Peters


Jora Broerse – Victoria University, Melbourne

Karien Dekker – RMIT University, Melbourne

Nonja Peters - Curtin University, Perth

Abstract: More than 300,000 Australians claim Dutch ancestry, yet little is known about these ‘invisible migrants’. Feelings of belonging and identity among Dutch people are likely to be affected by ‘Assimilation policy’ versus ‘Multiculturalism policy’ in Australia. We explore the ways in which the cultural diversity policy framework affects the ways in which Dutch migrants identify as Dutch, and their feeling of belonging to Australia. This article uses Ben-Rafael’s concept of diaspora which claims that symbols of culture can reproduce transnational identity. Migrants become more aware of their own and other people’s cultures through participating in culture-specific activities. We analyse the ways in which diverse waves of migrants present at a Dutch Community Music Day in Melbourne’s Hills and construct a sense of belonging and a collective and individual Dutch identity. Follow up interviews with 10 key persons present at the day create an understanding of the implications of a multicultural policy for identity and belonging. The authors are Dutch migrants in Australia and hence able to present a unique insight into the migrant experience through an analytical lens. The findings show that participation in Dutch community music allows participants to explore their Dutch identity in multiple, often chaotic, ways.

Australian interculturalism in practice: how practitioners believe interculturalism and multiculturalism differ.

Annie Bernecker-Musgrove

Swinburne University of Technology

Abstract: Interculturalism is a new policy for viewing and managing culturally diverse societies at the local level that prioritises dialogue and interaction across cultural boundaries. In 2017, the City of Ballarat, a regional city in western Victoria, became the first city in Australia to adopt an intercultural policy through the Council of Europe's Intercultural Cities Programme. Marking a significant shift in the Australian cultural diversity context, where multiculturalism remains dominant.

There is an international scholarly debate about the relationship between intercultural policy and multicultural policy. This debate centres on whether interculturalism is a distinct policy or merely a reinvention of multiculturalism. Drawing from the thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with 12 local government staff and volunteers at the City of Ballarat, this study presents their understanding of the relationship between the two policies. Their responses show how practitioners view interculturalism as a beneficial policy, which is distinct because of its focus on elements of inclusion and positioning of diversity as an advantage. This study highlights how participants believe interculturalism and multiculturalism differ, arguing that the exploration of implementing interculturalism may shed more light on this debate.

Accordion Widget
Concurrent Session: Religion
Concurrent Session: Religion
Nov 24, 2020 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (AEDT)

Grants Capture in the Australian Research Council’s “Religion and Religious Studies” Field Code

Presenter: Adam Possamai

Author/s: Adam Possamai, Gary Long, and Victor Counted

Affiliation/s: Western Sydney University

Abstract: Research quality is often difficult to measure, especially in the humanities and social sciences. Even if metrics are one of the most effective ways of measuring research quality, using such tool requires following a set of guidelines that weighs the strength of the research based on certain attributes. In this article, we used the meta-metrics approach to analyse research grants in the Religion and Religious Studies field of research (FoR) in Australia with respect to their metric properties, significance, similarity, and usage characterization. Whilst comparing and contrasting various results from the dataset of the Australian Research Council (ARC) on the success of its grant capture, we found the following: an imbalance in the FoR between the quantity of publications and that of national competitive grant capture in Australia (highlighting the problem of research significance) and a disparity between the use of keywords on religion without using corresponding FoR codes (as an expression of usage characterization). These findings are examined in parallel with the recent decline of quality in the last ARC’s Excellence in Research for Australia report.


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