Culture and Society (Barry Richards)

Authors: Barry Richards (Media School)

Alternative name suggestion: This theme definitely needs a new title – the present one, and the suggestion of ‘Society and social change’, are so broad as to be meaningless. Once we know the theme summary we can come up with an appropriate title. See below.

Brief theme summary: Sorry, I can’t offer anything here as I think it depends on the research agendas of the 35 people who have signed up for this theme. My suggestion would be for a meeting of these people to try and identify a shared agenda. This will probably leave a handful of people without a home, but that will be the cost of having a theme which is not a catch-all. Answers to all questions should follow from the agreed agenda. Happy to play a part in facilitating this.

7 Responses to “Culture and Society (Barry Richards)”

  1. Rosie Read

    I agree that both the current suggested titles are broad. But I disagree that they are meaningless in the context of this university. What they both point to is a clear social science /humanities / social theory orientation. There are many social science researchers in this university, with varied interests and experience, but historically there has been little or no structure through which these individuals can articulate and develop their shared interests, or work together. My hope it that this theme becomes a platform for the development of social science research at Bournemouth, and I think this requires a broad title.

    • Carrie Hodges

      I have made a similar post elsewhere on this blog but I agree with Rosie’s suggestion that a broader focus would encourage collaboration between social science researchers across the university. It would also encourage research with a particular regional focus. For example, the Latin America Research Group (LARG) which is an informal research group based in the Media School. Our work explores recent trends in Latin American communication research, as well as the influence of socio-cultural and political processes on Media and Communications practice. Our current projects include: The transformative potential of Peruvian Marketing discourse (Janice Denegri – Knott and colleagues); Transforming promotional cultures in Latin American urban society (Janice Denegri-Knott and Carrie Hodges); Corporate media as Political Opposition (Cheryl Martens and colleagues); Beyond Borders: The impact of Latin American thinkers on participatory communication theory and practice(Carrie Hodges and colleagues); The influence of history and culture upon Advertising creativity in Argentina (Cliff Van Wyk).

      Furthermore, from a Media School perspective, any conversations should also consider the work of the Emerging Consumer Cultures Group (ECCG) This is a an informal group of researchers whose interests broadly cover aspects of consumer cultures and behaviours that may not be considered ‘mainstream’. Projects include the consumer imagination; the political life of consumers, the consumption of digital media and transforming urban promotional cultures.

      Unfortunately, I am not able to make the meeting on Monday afternoon but I am very keep to be involved in any further conversations as this theme develops.

  2. Kate Welham

    We have spent a while considering this theme and offer the following up for discussion. I am really keen that we progress this theme and would be happy to champion it moving forward.

    Culture and Society / Society and Social Change
    Authors: KW,HS (Applied Sciences)

    Alternative name suggestion: Changing Societies or
    Societies in Transition

    Brief theme summary:
    In a fast changing world, with increasing uncertainty, it is important to understand how change comes about and how both individuals and societies adapt to change. The UN forecasts that by 2050 there will be 9 billion people on the planet. We therefore face critical questions about how we will sustain this population, not just in terms of our resources, but how we continue to make our lives rich and meaningful. Against this backdrop there are serious challenges around identity and how this develops in relation to shared interests in a competitive world. How is adaptation expressed in cultural terms? How can we describe and understand societal change, both in the past and the present? Coupled with this, the continued emergence of new technologies will give humans an amazing array of opportunities to both do and experience things in new ways, living increasingly interconnected lives. With all of the challenges facing society today, how can we use our understanding of both the past and present to support us going forward into the future?

    Scope of theme: what is included?
    This theme is about identifying the determinants of societal change and their effect at the level of individuals and communities. It is likely to include: adaptation to change, cultural identity and acculturation; self-expression, the role of the individual in society, and what it is to be human; human interaction and response to the environment both past and present; Human interaction and response to technology both past and present; migration; transitions (e.g. Mesolithic-Neolithic, Romanisation, colonisation, industrial revolution, the postmodern world); the connected society.

    Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?
    How do societies interact and flourish in a changing environment?
    Cultural adaptation and identity.
    Living with environmental change
    Building sustainability in growth.
    The cost of change, e.g. socio-economic and/or political change – social inequality, nutrition, health, longevity, acculturation, loss and formation of identity.
    The impact of migration on societal organisation and coherence.

    How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies?
    This theme links to the priorities of several of the main funding bodies including: AHRC (Science and Culture), ERSC (Vibrant and Fair Society, Influencing behaviour and Informing interventions), NERC (Living With Environmental Change).
    Other Research Councils and Funding Bodies share a generic interest in this theme: EPSRC, Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, Royal Society, Wellcome Trust.

    How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration?
    Health and Wellbeing: Indirect outcomes of change: Attitudes towards treatment and care of the infirm over time; Environmental change and disease; Epidemiological transitions; Patterns of disease and economic development

    Environmental change and biodiversity: Host/pathogen interrelationships, land use patterns, subsistence modes, the cultivation of nature, the exploitation of nature

    Green economy and sustainability: the irrelevance of sustainability in the past, the self-regulation of ecosystem services

    Ageing: old age in the past, age identity, age roles

    Learning and public engagement: to be developed

    Entrepreneurship and economic growth: to be developed

    • Emma Jenkins

      I really like your suggestions. Not only do the research themes address some big questions but they mesh well with some of the other research themes potentially leading to some interesting and exciting collaboration. I think that from an Archaeological perspective there is much potential for collaboration with the Environmental Change and Biodiversity group because Social change and Environmental change are often interlinked. However, I think the problem with the name remains. This is because I believe that societies are always in a state of flux and are never static so by definition a society is always in transition. Saying that I can’t think of a suitable alternative right now! Maybe this is something we can hash out in the meeting.

  3. Rosie Read

    Great to see the debate on this theme beginning to develop. Here is an alternative template which has some interesting commonalities with that suggested by Kate Welham above:

    Current theme title: Culture and Society / Society and Social Change

    Alternative title suggestions or variants: Socio-Cultural Change, Conflict and Cohesion

    Brief theme summary: A rapidly globalising world generates profound economic and social instabilities, opportunities and inequalities. The truly global nature of corporate capital and investment, alongside the large scale migration of populations across the world in search of better opportunities, raises key problems and/or debates in the contemporary world. These developments have been linked to the rise of class and ethnicity-based conflicts and political and religious extremism, as well as the seemingly contradictory role of governments in seeking to encourage growth (via deregulation and privatisation) whilst also needing to guarantee some level of social and economic equality and protection for vulnerable sections of the population (however these may be defined). These problems raise important questions for how to create social cohesion, and specifically the responsibilities of governments, corporations, non-profit organisations and individuals in achieving this.

    Scope of theme: Socio-cultural change, globalisation, conflict, equality and diversity, governance, cohesion, security

    What research does the theme not include; i.e. what is out of scope? This theme embraces all strands of social science as well as humanities and the arts. Opportunities for collaboration with natural sciences, engineering and technology-based sciences will be taken up where advantageous or possible. This may be potentially fruitful when considering digital technologies, green technologies and the theoretical crucible enabled by complex systems theories.

    What are the ‘Big Societal’ research questions within this theme?
    -How can equality, opportunity and social cohesion within and between different societies be understood and defined, ensured and promoted in the context of globalisation? What role, if any, should governments, multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations, faith organisations and individuals play in achieving this?
    -How are identities and notions of citizenship formed in societies characterised by cultural diversity, inequality and insecurity? What are the consequences for social cohesion, political organisation, solidarity, collective forms of responsibility and protection against insecurity?
    -How can contemporary conflicts in the world be better understood, and thereby addressed or prevented? How can the vast critical scholarship and expertise from the social sciences, arts and humanities be used to analyse and address contemporary conflicts in the world?

    -ESRC: Strategic Plan 2009-2014. This theme overlaps with four (of seven) of key priority areas for this research council’s funding during this period. These are: Global Economic Performance, Policy and Management, Health and Wellbeing, Security, Conflict and Justice and Social Diversity and Populations Dynamics
    -RCUK: (1) The AHRC is leading a cross-council research programme entitled ‘Connected Communities’, aimed at creating better understanding of the key societal and economic challenges facing communities, as well as effective forms of intervention. (2) ‘Global Uncertainties’ programme, supported by a range of research councils, including AHRC and ESRC.
    -EU: (1) Key theme of Framework 7 is ‘Social and Economic Concerns’, incorporating a number of foci relevant to this theme, such as regional development, employment issues, safety, security and social and economic issues. (2) Youth in Action Programme, European Commission, aimed at promoting sense of European citizenship and solidarity amongst young people in EU.

    Links with other BU themes under consideration:
    This theme has obvious links with several others under consideration, notably Health and Wellbeing, Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth, Learning and Public Engagement and Green Economy and Sustainability.

  4. Holger Schutkowski

    Hi Kate and Rosie,
    there is a lot of scope to unify the two proposals and I am very happy to join forces. Obviously, Kate and I had longer discussions already, so it would be good now to arrange for a meeting of all interested parties to see how we can take it forward.

  5. Mark Maltby

    There are some very interesting ideas being developed above and I agree that there is potentially a lot more communality than perhaps some of us intially thought within this research theme. I too have looked at the AHRC “Connected Communities” programme and I think there is a lot within that which is extremely relevant to our discussions. May I remind you what they say in their Vision.

    The current proposed vision for the Programme is “to mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected communities to enhance participation, prosperity, sustainability, health & well-being by better connecting research, stakeholders and communities.”

    At the core of the Programme will be research to understand the changing nature of communities, in their historical and cultural contexts, and the value of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life. This enhanced understanding will also inform the development of more effective community based interventions to address key economic and societal challenges. Engagement with communities at all stages of the research will be a key feature. The programme will seek to connect research expertise and data relevant to communities from across the research base in order to develop a more holistic understanding of community life rather than tackling issues in isolation.

    This vision is echoed in much of our previous discussion.