Re: blogging: ‘From lens to lens-grinding’, and (the hope of) more to come…


I am eventually getting my mind around the possibility of attempting to begin to consider blogging a bit more and revitalising this old site with some new posts and reflections. At last. And it may not actually happen. Since I last wrote here my partner Fiona and I have had this alien creature crash-land into our lives, with devastating effects on sleep and productivity. It is now over a year old and still alive. We call it Hazel Rose (Hazel Rose Heaney=HRH, does nominative determinism work for initials?).

I am currently working on a load of stuff: theorizing affect and emotion from a process perspective, emotions and party politics, a related, ongoing project on the ’emotional state’ that I hope to get some additional funding toward, and a book, based on a revised version of my PhD, under contract with Routledge, and more. I may write about aspects of these projects here in the future.

Since coming to QUB I have been teaching a lot too, mostly social theory at UG and PG levels, and a bit of political sociology, sociology of emotions, narrative methods, and a few other odds and ends. I have been thinking about this — teaching theory, and ‘theory anxiety’ — a bit too, especially in relation to (my now completed) PGCHET assignments (which should work towards my FHEA qualification). I may add some thoughts here about all that also. This is still primarily a declaration of intent and an attempt to embarrass myself into blogging more, but I did write a blog on teaching and doing theory for Mark Murphy’s excellent site socialtheoryapplied last summer, which I intended to link to here, but didn’t. Here is that link now.

I’ll be in touch. I hope.




Living in and coping with world risk society – Ulrich Beck

In this talk (from a few years ago, 2011 I think), sociologist Ulrich Beck outlines and updates his theory of reflexive modernization and the ‘risk society’. He suggests that, to the extent that risk is experienced as omnipresent in the current age, there are only three possible reactions: denial, apathy or transformation. The first, he says, ‘is largely inscribed in modern culture, the second resembles post-modern nihilism, the third is the “cosmopolitan moment” of world risk society’.

In the talk that follows he structures his argument around three key points. In  the first he outlines the distinctive, new features of this world risk society. There is a distinction between risk and catastrophe – they are not the same things. Risk is about the anticipation of catastrophe. This is why, despite the fact that Europe and ‘The West’ are relatively safe, globally speaking, or perhaps even ‘objectively’ so, it is the global anticipation of catastrophe (propagated via symbolic forms in the mass media etc) that is fundamental to the shaping of contemporary societies. These global perceptions of risk have three features: de-localization ( in spatial, temporal and social terms), incalculableness, and non-compensatibility.

His second key point stresses the fundamentally global character of these process, over and against the nation-state as a political level of analysis, and transformative action. Against this methodological nationalism he offers a defence of his cosmopolitan vision for the social sciences, outlined in more detail in his Power and the Global Age (2005). His final point offers some consequences of his position, in general, and a (sympathetic) critique of alternative theoretical conceptions of risk, most notably those of Mary Douglas and Michel Foucault. What is needed is a paradigm shift in the social sciences – the emergence of a cosmopolitan social science – a ‘cosmopolitan turn’.

This defence of cosmopolitanism – his cosmopolitical realpolitik –  is, of course, open to many criticisms and questions, as are his wider arguments about risk, decision-making etc.  There are some questions/discussion after 26 mins or so.

Irish Journal of Sociology UK Regional Editor 2015-16 Call for Applications

Irish Journal of Sociology UK Regional Editor 2015-16 Call for Applications

Deadline for Applications:
30 November 2014, 17:00 (GMT)

The Irish Journal of Sociology (IJS)is seeking to recruit a second UK Regional Editor to serve a 2-year term from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016 (serving alongside the current UK Regional Editor, Dr. Lucy Michael, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland).

About the Journal

The Irish Journal of Sociology is an international peer-reviewed core journal, founded in 1991. Published twice a year (May and November), it is the official journal of the national sociological association, the Sociological Association of Ireland (SAI), and is published by Manchester University Press. The purpose of the journal is to stimulate and communicate sociological research about Irish society as well as to publish high-quality papers, reflecting the theoretical, substantive, and methodological range of the discipline, that are not related to Ireland. It also publishes solicited book reviews, research notes, and articles in four new in-brief sections (archives, databases, debates, and trends). The current editor is Dr. Brian Conway (Maynooth University, Ireland). For more detail, see

About the UK Regional Editor

The Irish Journal of Sociology UK Regional Editor is an active role, and involves helping to attract submissions, helping to bolster institutional subscriptions, and marketing and increasing the visibility of the journal within the UK. The UK Regional Editor will work alongside the current UK Regional Editor. The UK Regional Editor must be based in a higher education or research institution in England, Scotland or Wales.

Criteria for Application

The UK Regional Editor must fulfill the following criteria:
•       be a SAI member (or join the SAI at the time of their application)
•       hold a PhD degree in sociology
•       be based at a higher education or research institution in the UK mainland
•       have experience of publication in peer-reviewed sociology journals
•       have experience of refereeing for a minimum of 3 peer-reviewed sociology journals

Applications are accepted from any area of speciality within sociology.

How to apply: Please email (with ‘UK Regional Editor application’ as the subject line of your email) your CV and cover letter (outlining how you fulfill the criteria set forth above and why you are applying for the position)to irishjsoc@gmail.comby 30 November 2014, 17:00 (GMT). For further information about the IJS, please contact Dr. Brian Conway, Editor, at

The successful applicant will be notified by email by the 10 December 2014.

PSAI 2014 Conference Programme

PSAI 2014

PSAI Annual Conference 2014: Programme 

Last updated 8 October 2014

(Download here)

Day 1: Friday 17 October

13:00: Registration Desk opens

14-15.30 Session 1

1.A Irish Politics 1 (Inishmore)

Chair: Bernadette Connaughton (UL)

Continuity and Change: Civil and Political Rights in (nearly) 100 years of Irish Democracy (Jennifer Kavanagh, WIT)

Evolving Electoral Strategies in Radically Altered Contexts: Longitudinal Evidence from the Dáil (Sean McGraw, University of Notre Dame)

Assessing the Impact of Societal Change on Governmental Representation (Stephen Erskine, TCD)

1.B Northern Ireland: international dimensions (Inishturk)

Chair: Niall O Dochartaigh (NUIG)

The Roman Observer: The Voice of the Holy See on Northern Ireland, 1969 -1998 (Giada Lagana, NUIG)

‘Not what was being said, but that it was said at all’: The significance of the 1977 Carter Statement for the Northern Ireland Peace Process (Alison Meagher, QUB)

Two sides of the same coin? Sinn Fein election campaigns in the North…

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Kari Norgaard — Living in Denial

In this excellent talk, recorded in 2013, Kari Norgaard offers a wonderful and concise overview of her well known book on the sociology of climate change Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life (2011). What is most interesting, from my perspective, is the way that she deploys conceptions of both emotion (specifically: guilt, fear of the future, and helplessness) with questions of power and power relations (especially Lukes’ notion of 3D power) in her analysis to explain how knowledge of climate change is negotiated, and denied, in everyday life. Drawing on ethnographic data from fieldwork in Norway, Norgaard shows how this power-emotion nexus is fundamentally social, and constitutive of the social organization of climate denial. Both the book and this short (36m) lecture are well work checking out.

Via Youtube:

In her lecture, professor Kari Norgaard uses interviews and ethnographic data from a community in western Norway during the unusually warm winter of 2000-2001 to describe how knowledge of climate change is experienced in everyday life. Stories in local and national newspapers linked the warm winter explicitly to global warming. Yet residents did not write letters to the editor, pressure politicians, or cut down on the use of fossil fuels. Norgaard describes the disturbing emotions of guilt, helplessness and fear of the future that arose when people were confronted with the idea of climate change — and then builds a model of socially organized denial to describe how people normalized these disturbing emotions through the deployment of conversation norms and discourses that served as “tools of social order.” Using literature from sociology of emotions, environmental sociology and sociology of culture, she describes “the social organization of climate denial” through multiple levels, from emotions to cultural norms to political economy.

The lectures shared here were given on October 5th 2013 in the following order:

Guðni Elísson: “Earth101”

Stefan Rahmstorf: “The Climate Crisis”

Michael Mann: “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”

Kari Norgaard: “Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life”

Peter Sinclair: “Communicating Climate Science in the Disinformation Era”

Recorded by Phil Coates and edited by Ryan Chapman.

A Brief History of Liberty – and its Lessons: A Public ‘Ethics Initiative’ Lecture by Professor Philip Pettit of Princeton University in NUI Galway.


Distinguished Irish philosopher Prof. Philip Pettit of Princeton University will give a public lecture on ‘A Brief History of Liberty — and its Lessons’ in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway at 4pm on Tuesday, 17th June 2014. This talk is being presented as part of the President of Ireland’s ‘Ethics Initiative’, and organised by the Power, Conflict & Ideologies Research Cluster of the School of Political Science & Sociology. The President of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D. Higgins, will be in attendance at the lecture.  All are welcome and the event is free, but we would appreciate if you could register your attendance here.

Philip Pettit, originally from Ballygar Co. Galway, is L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, where he teaches philosophy and political theory. He is particularly renowned for his revival and development of republicanism within political philosophy, and for his work on group agency.  Among his books are The Common Mind (1996); Republicanism (1997); The Economy of Esteem (2004), with G. Brennan; A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero’s Spain, with J.L. Marti (2010); and Group Agency (2011), with C. List.  Professor Pettit is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of academies in his two countries of citizenship: Ireland and Australia.  His recent book On the People’s Terms (2012) is published with Cambridge University Press. It is based on the 2009 Albertus Magnus Lectures in Cologne, and the 2010 Seeley lectures in Cambridge.  Also forthcoming is a book with W.W.Norton for a general audience, entitled Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World. He is giving the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Berkeley in 2014-15.

While in Ireland, Prof. Pettit will also be involved in a number of workshops, based on his work, in UCD, and will give the opening keynote address, on the infrastructure of democracy, to the third annual Garrett Fitzgerald Summer School in Dublin later in June.

Abstract for the lecture is below the fold.

Continue reading “A Brief History of Liberty – and its Lessons: A Public ‘Ethics Initiative’ Lecture by Professor Philip Pettit of Princeton University in NUI Galway.”

Call for Papers – ESA Emotions Network Midterm Conference 2014**DEADLINE EXTENDED TO APRIL 6TH 2014**

Antony Gormley: FEELING MATERIAL XIV, 2004 4 mm square section mild steel bar 225 x 218 x 170 cm Photograph by Stephen White, London
Antony Gormley: FEELING MATERIAL XIV, 2004
4 mm square section mild steel bar
225 x 218 x 170 cm
Photograph by Stephen White, London


The ESA Emotions Network (RN11) will hold their 6th midterm conference between 25-27 September, 2014. The conference will take place on the island of Rhodes, Greece, in the University of the Aegean. This year, in addition to the usual streams, the conference will feature two special workshops on emotions – one for PhD students (featuring Prof. Helena Flam and Prof. Helmut Kuzmics), and one on the use of literary analysis for sociology of emotions research (again, featuring Prof. Helmut Kuzmics and Dr. Stephanie Bird). The proposed sessions, towards which you might pitch your abstracts, include: Theorizing Emotions; Emotions and: Morality; Globalization; Religion; Civic Action; Power; Literature; Law; Finance; Visuals; Migration-Sensations-Spaces; Post-Atrocity Emotions; and Researching Emotions Empirically. The full call for papers is here: CfP RN 11 Midterm Rhodes final(pdf).

Abstracts not exceeding 300 words should be sent by the 31st of March 2014 to Jochen Kleres ( Please use “RN 11 midterm submission”in the subject line of your email. Also, please send your abstract indicating whether it is for a specific session listed above. Notifications about the abstracts selected for presentation at the midterm conference will be made by mid-May 2014. Conference fees, more precise conference times, and links to accommodation will be announced then.

I hope to make it this year myself and I urge those working on affect or emotions to submit an abstract. I have been to other conferences with this group and always found them both intellectually stimulating and, perhaps more importantly, filled with interesting, warm and (not least) fun social scientists from all over the world. But hurry up! The deadline is Monday!


41st SAI Annual Conference May 10th 2014: Call for Papers



The 41st Annual Conference of the SAI will be held at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Aungier Street on May 10th 2014. This will be an open conference with no prescribed theme. This one day conference will focus on high quality papers and presentations with time for discussion and debate.

This year’s conference will also feature a Plenary Roundtable on ‘Teaching Sociology’. Speakers include Dr. Daniel Fass (TCD, Provost Teaching Award 2012), Dr. Amanda Haynes (UL, Excellence in Teaching Award 2005 & 2011) and Dr. Rebecca King O’Riain (NUIM,

You may submit an abstract from two different forms of presentation:

1. Ordinary Paper (300 words)

2. Poster Presentation (200 words)

Those wishing to present a paper at the conference should submit an abstract as a Word attachment by email to: no later than Friday 14th March 2014

Submissions will be reviewed and authors notified by Friday 28th March 2014.

Further details on abstract submission and more below the fold.

Continue reading “41st SAI Annual Conference May 10th 2014: Call for Papers”

Prof. Philip Pettit at NUI Galway: public lecture and reading group

pettit 2

Prof.Philip Pettit of Princeton University will give a public lecture on the theme of justice and democracy in NUI Galway at 4pm on 17 June. The venue is the SAC Room in the Cairnes Building. The talk is organised by the Power, Conflict & Ideologies Research Cluster of the School of Political Science & Sociology. A reading group run by the cluster will meet to discuss Prof Pettit’s work in the approach to his visit. Interested colleagues from other Schools (and other institutions) are welcome to join the group, but ask that they contact either myself (, Dr. Jenny Dagg ( or Dr.Niall Ó Dochartaigh ( so we can keep track of numbers/room size etc.

We have initially scheduled two meetings:

1. Thursday 13 March, 2pm

Venue: Room 306, , Aras Moyola, NUI Galway

 2. Monday 7 April, 1pm

Venue: Room 306, Aras Moyola, NUI Galway

The reading for the first meeting is Freedom as Anti-Power’ (1996 pdf), which offers a general overview and introduction to his influential approach to normative, neo-republican political theory, and his conception of freedom as non-domination in particular.  In the second meeting we will discuss his new book On the People’s Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2012), in which this framework is reasserted and refined, and turned to questions of political legitimacy, social justice and democracy.  If you are interested in getting a flavour of the arguments and style of this later work there are videos of lectures that he did in Frankfurt in 2012 available here.  There is also an excellent audio interview about the new book (and his life in general) available on the New Books in Philosophy website.

If you would like to join the meetings of the reading group or would like further information please email either myself or Niall.

Speaker bio:

Philipp Pettit, originally from Ballygar Co. Galway, is L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, where he teaches philosophy and political theory.  Among his books are The Common Mind (1996), Republicanism (1997), The Economy of Esteem (2004), with G. Brennan; Made with Words (2008); A Political Philosophy in Public Life, with JL Marti (2010); and Group Agency (2011) with C. List. Common Minds: Themes from the Philosophy of Philip Pettit, ed G.Brennan et al, appeared from OUP in 2007.  Professor Pettit is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as of academies in his two countries of citizenship: Ireland and Australia.  His most recent book On the People’s Terms (2012) is published with Cambridge University Press. It is based on the 2009 Albertus Magnus Lectures in Cologne, and the 2010 Seeley lectures in Cambridge.

Call for Papers: PSAI Annual Conference 2014

PSAI 2014


PSAI Annual Conference

Continuity and Change: Celebrating thirty years of the PSAI

Galway, 17- 19 October 2014

Hosted by School of Political Science & Sociology

National University of Ireland Galway

On the thirtieth anniversary of its founding, the PSAI returns to Galway, the site of its first annual conference in 1984. In this anniversary year we particularly welcome papers that address the conference theme of ‘Continuity and Change’ and deal with temporal aspects of the political; including processes, institutions or mechanisms of political change as well as forces for continuity.

In addition, paper and panel proposals are welcome in all areas of politics and international relations, and not just those with an Irish dimension. This can include (but is not confined to):

▪       Political theory and philosophy

▪       Political parties and elections

▪       Government, Governance, regulation and policy making

▪       Peace and conflict studies

▪       International Relations

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