Student Profile

‘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)

Sociology

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.

News and Announcements

Sociology & Anthropology

September

Piers Locke has been invited as a guest of honour to the 2014 Asian Elephants in The Wild conference to be held in Guwahati, Assam, India from November 5-8.  Speaking on the role of the social sciences for human-elephant relations, he will serve as a lead session speaker at an event intended to facilitate a unique inter-governmental partnership between Bhutan, India, and Myanmar, with support from the conservation community, to ensure the future of Asian elephants through coordinated, trans-boundary management of elephant habitats and corridors.  The event will be attended by representatives from the governments of India, Bhutan, and Myanmar as well as key conservation INGOs including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

August

Mike Grimshaw has just received a contract from Palgrave Macmillan to edit the letters of American death of god theologian and intellectual, Thomas Altizer, whose work stretches from the 1950s to today. As well as continuing a steady output of papers and books, Altizer has also more recently embraced the communicative possibilities of the internet to write circular letters in the form of meditative essays on religious, theological, political and philosophical matters. The recipients are a global group of scholars and friends of Altizer who work in a number of disciplines.

Mike Grimshaw has just received a contract from Palgrave Macmillan to edit the letters of American death of god theologian and intellectual, Thomas Altizer, whose work stretches from the 1950s to today.  As well as continuing a steady output of papers and books, Altizer has also more recently embraced the communicative possibilities of the internet to write circular letters in the form of meditative essays on religious, theological, political and philosophical matters.  The recipients are a global group of scholars and friends of Altizer who work in a number of disciplines.

Over the weekend, in her capacity as President of the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr Ruth McManus judged entries in this year’s Canterbury and Westland Schools’ Science and Technology Fair for the “SAANZ Special Prize for Sociology”.  The winner was judged in terms of representing the best use of sociological methods of enquiry, consideration of ethical issues and/or consideration of practical or policy –orientated implications arising for individuals, communities and society from their science fair  project work.  The winner, Ben Wagstaff from Ladbrook examined the barriers stopping people choosing means of transport other than cars to travel to and from school.  Ben used multiple surveys with parents and pupils and interviews with key policy spokespeople in Selwyn District Council and Department of Conservation.  A coherent and consistent application of method and analysis identified barriers that included being too young unsafe roads, living too far to walk/ bike to school but not far enough for school bus.

Piers Locke has been awarded a writing fellowship to the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich (http://www.carsoncenter.uni-muenchen.de/index.html).  He will spend three months among a cohort of international scholars who work in the environmental humanities, presenting his work on a regular basis.  He has been granted the fellowship in order to complete his monograph on human-elephant relations in Nepal.

Mike Grimshaw (Sociology) has been invited to join New Zealand Attitudes and Values Survey research group of the University of Auckland.  He will be participating in supporting research involving Christchurch and more widely, religion and society in New Zealand.

The New Zealand South Asia Centre (NZSAC) will be holding its annual symposium in Macmillan Brown 208 on Friday, 22 August. Faculty and post-graduate students from the College of Arts and from other Colleges across the university will be presenting their research at the symposium. The plenary speaker is Dr. Jyoti Atwal from the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her talk is entitled: Dimensions of Vulnerability: Caste, Gender and Hierarchy in India. The programme and flyer for the symposium are attached. All are invited.

Mike Grimshaw (Sociology) has an introductory essay in the just published Theopoetics of the Word. A new beginning of word and world (Palgrave Macmillan 2014) by the the famed death of god theologian Gabriel Vahanian.  He had been editing the manuscript with Vahanian who unfortunately died two weeks after submitting the last chapter. Mike completed the manuscript for publication in consultation with Vanhanian's daughter, Professor Noelle Vahanian.

Mike Grimshaw (Sociology) has been invited to join the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Survey research group of the University of Auckland. He will be participating in supporting research involving Christchurch and more widely, religion and society in New Zealand.

July

Mike Grimshaw (Sociology) was interviewed for the Radio New Zealand Spiritual Outlook programme on the life and work of Sir Lloyd Geering.  The programme on Geering is due to play in late July.

Anthropology PhD student Kathleen Harrington-Watt has been featured on the National TV station of Mauritius and its leading national newspaper Le Matinal.  Currently conducting fieldwork in Mauritius on the contemporary significance of the photographic archives of Indian indentured labourers, Kathy gave a presentation to Mauritian academics on visual anthropology and her research about the political and affective consequences of citizens accessing the archives to trace their ancestry.  This coverage shows how her research on this contentious resource implicated in the politics of identity is garnering public interest across the nation.

June

Patrick McAllister (Anthropology) attended a conference on “Communal Festivals”  at the National University of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on 27 June 2014, and presented a paper entitled “Researching Tet: Method and methodology for investigating Vietnam’s premier national festival.”  He was also invited to address post-graduate students in the Arts and Social Sciences at the same University on 25 June, giving a talk entitled “Methodology and methods in anthropological research”.

Adjunct Associate Professor Rosemary Du Plessis is the 2014 recipient of the Mary Fran Myers Gender and Disaster Award.  This award was established by the Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado, and the Gender and Disaster Network in 2002 to recognise women and men whose advocacy, research or management efforts contribute to reducing disaster vulnerability. It also recognises those who promote research on gender issues in disasters and emergency management. This award is the outcome of Rosemary’s coordination of the NCWNZ Christchurch Branch Women’s Voices oral history research project – a community-based project that has involved the work of many volunteer researchers, several research assistants, summer scholarship research students and a very active research committee. The UC CEISMIC team have also made a crucial contribution to the public availability of the research findings through the QuakeStudies digital archive.  

An article featuring Dr Piers Locke appeared in the latest UC annual research report Piers was interviewed about his research activities concerning human-elephant relations.

Associate Professor Aditya Malik (Anthropology), currently Fellow, Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Study, Erfurt (Germany), and former Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, Antje Linkenbach (also currently Fellow, Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Study, Erfurt) are organizing an international conference on: Realizing Justice? Encountering Normative Justice and the Realities of (In)Justice in South Asia between 11-13 June (flyer and programme). The participants and session chairs are from USA, Europe, India and New Zealand with disciplinary backgrounds in Intellectual History, Law, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Art History, Sanskrit, Social Philosophy and South Asian Studies including the History of Indian Religions. The conference has received funding worth approximately 19,000 Euros from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), the Max Weber Center, and the University of Erfurt. The theme of the conference draws inspiration from Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s work on The Idea of Justice (2009).   Although Prof. Sen is unable to attend the conference because of a busy schedule, he has recently conveyed his interest in the questions being asked at the conference and the outcome of the discussion.

May

Dr Ruth McManus  (Sociology)  and colleague Cyril Schafer ( Anthropology, Otago), hosted the inaugural  meeting of the Society for Death Studies (New Zealand)  on the 14th May 2014.  The Society’s aim is to promote scholarship in death studies across academic and professional domains. It spans across social and natural science researchers, palliative, funeral and end of life healthcare professionals, historians, curators and cultural commentators who have an interest in death studies.  
The Society passed the motion to Incorporate the Society, Ruth was voted in as inaugural President of Society for Death Studies (NZ) and Cyril Schafer the secretary.   Details of the SDS (NZ) can be found at: http://rumcmanus.wordpress.com/

Associate Professor Mike Grimshaw has had the following book published by Plagrave-Macmillan Press in the USA: The Counter-Narratives of Radical Theology and Popular Music - Songs of Fear and Trembling (available at the end of this week).

April

Professor Patrick McAllister has been invited to visit School of Ethnology and Sociology, South-Central University for Nationalities of China from 27 April to 2 May. During his stay there, he will give a series of talks and seminars to staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students. Patrick's visit is an important step towards establishing a long-term collaboration between Department of Sociology and Anthropology of UC and School of Ethnology and Sociology, South-Central University for Nationalities of China.

On Friday May 2 Piers Locke is giving a talk for The Department of Anthropology seminar series, University of Otago. He will be giving a presentation titled: "Interspecies Intersections: Ethnoprimatology and Ethnoelephantology".  Piers Locke has also published a short article on "Religion, Scholarship, and Censorship in India" for Academic Freedom Aotearoa.

Greg Newbold recently attended the Leading Justice Symposium organised by the Minister of Justice at Parliament House. Opened by the Prime Minister, the objective of the symposium was to assist the government in mapping the way for justice policy over the next decade. The meeting consisted of 60 invited specialists, including chief executives of police, corrections, justice, the NZ parole board, several high court judges including the Chief Justice, and a handful of renowned academics from Australia and the UK. Greg Newbold was one of the 17 participants, and the only NZ academic, invited to present at the forum.  

March

International Conference - Aditya Malik has been invited to participate in an international conference on "The relevance of traditional cultures for the present and the future" organised by the India International Centre-Asia Project in New Delhi from 24-26 March. The purpose of the conference is to "bring together intellectuals from different countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America who have reflected and will reflect on the fundamental questions whether the long civilisational histories of these countries, with their rich and varied knowledge systems and cultural traditions, have a meaningful and significant role to play in the contemporary world and certainly the world of the future." Conferences participants include academics, thinkers, writers and social activists from Brazil, Mexico, Benin, Ghana, Egypt, Greece, U.K., Russia, Austria, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China and other countries. Aditya's presentation is entitled: "Articulations of Being: Reflections on the crisis of modern civilisation."