‘I didn’t want to go anywhere else… UC has interesting courses, great teachers...’

Belinda Davies BA in Sociology and BSc in Psychology
(read profile)


Why study Sociology?

If you want to study how the modern world came to be the way it is, what is happening and why, and what alternatives are possible, Sociology is for you.

The raw stuff of Sociology is human experience. Sociology is where human experience, both individual and public, singular and collective meet. These public and private stories make up the sociological imagination and  this results in many different social realities.

We all exist within ever-changing social worlds, forces, groups, ideologies and institutions that make up what is called society.

Sociology is the study of these ever-changing social realities and the sociological imagination that gives rise to them. Sociology is where you research, argue and critique the social world in all its fullness.

Sociologists investigate the structure of societies, organisations and groups. Their subject matter ranges from the intimacy of the family, the criminal gang, activities at the rugby game and rock festival, through to divisions of ethnicity, gender and class. All of these and many more areas, including globalisation, postcolonialism, cities, technologies, environment, health and the social organisation of death, are included in the Sociology programme taught at UC.

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News and Announcements

Sociology & Anthropology

The Canterbury School of Continental Philosophy (CSCP) Seminar Series
Semester 2 – 2015
Fridays 11-12, Room 252 Soci-Psych building

SEMINAR 3: 7 August
In search of the time image

On Deleuze and his ideas about 'Cinema and Time' and by extension Henri Bergson and Spinoza (Through Deleuzian eyes. John Chrisstoffels (Fine Arts)

Visiting scholar in sociology and sessional lecturer in human services and social work, Dr Cindy Zeiher, recently attended the Enjoyment Plus Reason Conference in Sydney where Professor Joan Copjec was a keynote speaker. She presented a paper on Enjoyment, the Workplace and the Figure of the Mother. Dr Zeiher also presented a paper at the Historical Materialism Conference in Sydney where she was invited by Professor Roland Boer to respond to his Deustcher Award Winning Book, In the Vale of Tears. 

24th July 2015

The Canterbury School of Continental Philosophy (CSCP) Seminar Series
Semester 2 – 2015
Fridays 11-12, Room 252 Soci-Psych building

SEMINAR 1: 31 July 2015
Žižek and his Discontents

This paper will consider Zizek’s conceptualisation of enjoyment as influenced by theorists such as Lacan and Althusser. Dr Cindy Zieher (LSAP)
17th July 2015

The Canterbury School of Continental Philosophy (CSCP) Seminar Series - Semester 2 – 2015
Fridays 11-12, Room 252 Soci-Psych building.

Seminar 1: 24 July 2015
The Concrete Violence of History & the Apocalyptic Messianic Dwarf.
(On the intersections of religion, violence, politics and continental thought via Zizek, Benjamin, Futurism, Schmitt & Taubes).  Assoc. Prof. Mike Grimshaw (Sociology).
All staff and students welcome.

What is The Canterbury School of Continental Philosophy (CSCP)?
Inspired by the rise of Schools of Continental Philosophy in Melbourne, Queensland and Sydney we are pleased to announce and invite you to attend the Canterbury School of Continental Philosophy (CSCP)
CSCP is a common space and community for staff, students and the wider public to engage in and debate continental thought.  Prior to the CSCP, Canterbury lacked a common space to engage with and promote the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas inspired by the diverse traditions of European thought (such as phenomenology, existentialism, critical theory, hermeneutics, feminism, deconstruction, poststructuralism, and so on).  Drawing in the nature of Continental thought, the Canterbury School of Continental Philosophy aims to foster the development of a pluralistic philosophical community here at Canterbury. 
As part of CSCP, its founders, Assoc. Prof. Mike Grimshaw and Dr Cindy Zeiher are also launching an open access journal: Continental Thought & Theory. A Journal for Intellectual Freedom.
michael.grimshaw@canterbury.ac.nz cindyleezeiher@yahoo.com
22nd June 2015

Mike Grimshaw (Sociology) has an essay titled, "The Irrelevance and Relevance of the Radical, Impure Tillich," in Retrieving the Radical Tillich.  Full details of the books can be found on the Palgrave Macmillan web site.

29 May 2015

Associate Professor Mike Grimshaw is part of a multi-university team that has had an article "One size does not fit all: organisational diversity in New Zealand tertiary sector ethics committees" published in Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online

Lois Tonkin, Visiting Scholar in Sociology, is currently in the UK where she presented a seminar titled "Using psychosocial methods to explore fantasy, loss, and grieving in 'circumstantial childlessness'" at Sussex University on May 21.  She will be presenting a paper called "Articulating a “sense of myself as a mother”: Drawing as a creative exploration of ‘circumstantial childlessness’" at the 'Motherhood and Creative Practice' conference at London South Bank University in June.

2016 Death Down Under Conference - 13-15 January 2016, University of Canterbury

This conference aims to promote the dissemination of social aspects of death studies research in New Zealand, Australia, and the wider Pacific region. Continuing the momentum of the first two conferences in Sydney and Dunedin, DDU2016 will showcase the research being undertaken in the areas of death, dying and bereavement throughout Australia and New Zealand.   This two-day conference will provide a forum for academics, practitioners and professionals to share their research and experience, and develop collaborative knowledge networks.

8 May 2015

Mike Grimshaw (Sociology) is part of a multi-university research team that has had a paper "Regional Differences in the Psychological Recovery of Christchurch Residents Following the 2010/2011 Earthquakes: A Longitudinal Study" published in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

Dr. Anne Scott, with associated community based researchers, received a small grant of $2580 to pilot some research on child custody issues for parents with mental illnesses or addictions.
The grant came from the New Zealand Schizophrenia Research Group’s, ‘Annual Schizophrenia Research Awards’ for 2015.

17 April 2015

Piers Locke has had an article published in Gajah, the journal of the IUCN’s Asian Elephant Specialist Group titled “The Anomalous Elephant: Terminological Dilemmas and The Incalcitrant Domestication Debate”. It considers the constraints of conventional nomenclature through an exploration of theories of domestication as biological intervention and social appropriation, arguing that the boundary between captive and free-ranging elephants is permeable, and that researchers should therefore acknowledge the complexity of social, historical, and ecological relations between humans and elephants.

27 March 2015

Anthropology PhD student Kathleen Harrington-Watt’s has had her article “Photographs as adaptive, transitional objects in Gujarati migrant homes” published in Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture, Volume 5, Numbers 2-3, 1 September 2014, pp. 273-287(15) this month.

20 March 2015

Piers Locke has had a short article published in the Making Tracks series of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, titled "Interspecies Ethnography and Human-Elephant Relations in South Asia”. In this series fellows and alumni present their experiences in environmental humanities, retracing the paths that led them to the Rachel Carson Center.

A reminder: Identity Construction in a Han Immigrant Community 12-12:40pm, Friday 20 March Psych-Soci Room 311 the inaugural Sociology and Anthropology seminar. Please bring your lunch.
For queries about this seminar or the series, please contact Alison Loveridge alison.loveridge@canterbury.ac.nz

13 March 2015

Patrick McAllister and Zhifang Song are participating in an international research project on the revival of the interconnections between Southeast Asian overseas Chinese temples, native-place and common surname associations and their founding temples and ancestral halls in coastal Southeast China. With funding from the Max Planck Institute for Ethnic and Religious Diversity in Goettingen, Germany, they will be responsible for  a project entitled  Chinese-Vietnamese Temples: Temple Associations, International Links and Ethnic Identities in Ho Chi Minh City.

The most recent output resulting from Patrick McAllister’s research on the Vietnamese lunar new year (Tet) is an article entitled “The Kitchen God Returns to Heaven: [Ông Táo Về Trời]: Popular Culture, Social Knowledge and Folk Beliefs in Vietnam” co-authored with Thi Cam Tu Luckman and published in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies (UC, Berkley),  Vol. 10, Issue 1, pps. 110-150

6 March 2015

Piers Locke’s ethnographic documentary film Servants of Ganesh, about captive elephant management at the Khorsor Elephant Breeding Centre in the Chitwan National Park, Nepal is now available to watch on You Tube

24 February 2015

Congratulations to Kathy Harrington-Watt (Anthropology) who has had the following article published from her Masters Thesis:

16 February 2015

On January 8 Piers Locke gave a presentation at the weekly colloquium of the Rachel Carson Center, Munich, on the topic of “Humans, Elephants, and Interspecies Intimacy in Nepal”. He spoke about his apprenticeship as a mahout in the elephant stables of the Chitwan National Park, arguing for the need to think through the implications of human exceptionalism in the humanities, the need for more-than-human forms of ethnography, and the possibility of extending personhood to elephants in order to rethink human-elephant relations. Piers also chaired a graduate seminar in which students discussed his work further.

Dr Ruth McManus’s  ground-breaking research  into attitudes to funeral costs in New Zealand gained national media attention over the weekend with a live radio interview on Newstalk ZB, RadioLive, coverage by Maori TV and TV3 an article on p3 of the Press on Monday the 12th January.  Also in the Dominion Post   13th January 2015.  

Basic findings are that: 

  • The  funeral  grants available  don’t cover the cost of  the most  basic funeral.
  • The process of  getting grants is overly complicated  and adds to the stress of the bereaved.
  • People have to ‘make do’ and  that can involve going into  debt formally  (e.g. on the credit card) and or to family and friends.
  • Those who go into funeral debt are  not always those who are on the poverty  line.
  • Those who are on the poverty line more likely to do  as much of the preparation  work themselves / informally as they can. Funeral directors are willing to help customers achieve a good funeral without bursting the bank.  Increase in DIY and no funerals for those reasons - even though they may not be how the bereaved want to send off their loved ones.
  • On an annual basis, we estimated that  approximately 2800 could feasibly experience financial hardship over the costs of a funeral in NZ. Though a small number relative to the overall population, it’s important to recognise that financial hardship is concentrated in vulnerable groups in NZ that include for instance the old, (especially elderly women), and those who are experiencing difficult life events such as illness. Government administrated (and means tested) funeral grants: WINZ, ACC. Informally: RSA, Lions Club and there are links to Veterans Affairs as there is a small grant for a memorial for  veterans, which also sometimes covers repatriation of remains costs.  Average cost of a basic funeral in 2008 was $6,500 – Funeral  grant was $1,760.57. Average cost 2014/5,  $7500 - maximum funeral grant is $1,998.57.
  • While this research project finished a few years ago before the earthquakes, currently and in collaboration with CEISMIC, we have a summer studentship working on a project called Transitional Memorialisation comparing online memorials for Chch earthquake and Pike River  Disaster.

Mike Grimshaw has been asked to guest edit a special issue on radical theologies for the open access journal Palgrave Communications.


27 January 2015

Sports has inspired people after the earthquakesA Sports has inspired people after the earthquakes - University of Canterbury postgraduate student says sports inspired people in Christchurch after the earthquakes. (read article)

16 January 2015

Greater understanding of women neededA Greater understanding of women needed - University of Canterbury sociology graduate researcher has identified a need for a greater understanding of the ways unintended childlessness impacts on women's lives. (read article)