Talks for schools and colleges

We offer a series of set talks for schools and colleges which you can view below. We can also tailor talks and offer taster sessions to suit specific requirements.

Presenting yourself in everyday life – Dr Paul Jones

How do we come to consider certain forms of behaviour as 'normal' and others not? How do we come to learn and perform roles - for example as student, friend, partner - through a range of scripts, props and performances? Sociologists have argued that comparing society to a drama allows us to ask some far-reaching questions about how we relate to each other in everyday situations. Sociology understands everyday social practices in a way that draws attention to those things that are most often 'seen but overlooked'. This talk explores some of the ways sociology can illuminate a range of everyday 'performances'.

Is crime a 'man thing'? – Dr Karen Evans

Statistics on crime reveal that young males commit around eight times more crime than females of the same age and in every country where statistics on offenders are collected the number of male offenders vastly outweighs the number of female offenders. Why should this be the case and are female crime rates likely to increase in the future? This talk looks at the gendered nature of offending and explanations as to why men appear so much more ‘criminal’ than women.

Are states and governments criminal? – Professor Dave Whyte

We often think of crime as committed on the streets by young thuggish men. But what else happens in our society that can be considered more harmful and even criminal? Can police, army and government officials be seen as criminals? This talk will explore what we mean by state crime in criminology and sociology in light of news coverage of ‘Wikileaks’ releases and recent UK Public Inquiries into Bloody Sunday, Iraq and the UK governments role in torture.

Who is the victim of crime? – Professor Sandra Walklate

Who is the Victim of Crime?’ A simple tabloid headline nor what we see on TV shows like Crimewatch UK can really answer this question. The answer and the answers are not as straightforward as one may think. In this presentation we will trace the extent to which this question has influenced or failed to influence our understandings of the victim of crime. In so doing we shall identity three different ways of looking at victimisation from the academic (with a focus on crime), to the cultural (with a focus on suffering) to the political (with a focus on justice) and will ask, who is the victim of crime in these different perspectives. The central purpose of this presentation is to consider who or what is made visible and/invisible in each of these views and to explore their meaning in the aftermath of a global economic crisis and the increasing presence of austerity measures.

Wealth and inequality in Britain – Professor Robert Moore

This talk will look at the unequal distribution of wealth and income in contemporary Britain. ‘The poor’ are often treated as a problem but the extent to which the rich might be regarded as a social problem is usually ignored. The rich are the most physically segregated section of the British population and have largely opted out of the education, health and transport services upon which the great majority of the population depend. Research shows them to be profoundly ignorant about the lives of the British population. Professor Moore asks how the segregation of the rich from the mainstream of British society serves the social cohesion agenda and the creation of what are thought to be desirable mixed communities. The lecture also covers the evidence showing that more equal societies are characterised by higher levels of trust, lower incidence of ‘social problems’ and higher life expectancy and health standards for whole populations.

Media, crime and the usual suspects – Dr Roy Coleman

What is crime and who are the criminals in our society? It’s just 'common-sense' right? The media are crucial in this and present us with a line-up of the 'usual suspects' as the most dangerous people in our society. How accurate is the media when it comes to representing ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’? This talk explores critical ways of viewing media stereotypes about crime and questions how we are encouraged by the media to support a skewed law and order crusade based on spurious assumptions about who threaten social order.

Migration today: Refugees and asylum seekers – Dr Diane Frost

What are ‘asylum seekers’ and are they the demons the popular media often paint them as? This talk will look at migration in a global and national context. It will look at definitions of different migrants and will consider the reasons why people migrate. There are many myths and misconceptions around migration and this talk will critically challenge these with particular reference to asylum seekers.

HIV prevention techniques – Dr Nicole Vitellone

This talk will look at ways of addressing the social life of objects. Focusing on HIV prevention devices - the condom and the syringe - it will explore the questions, problems and solutions posed by objects themselves. What role do objects play in the social world? What impact do they have in relation to policies and practices? How can we measure their impacts and effects?

Understanding society – Dr Peter Campbell

We often find that when claims are made about the nature of society, that this is done using numbers. News media, for instance, frequently report changes in crime rates, many are concerned about the relative proportion of the population who are unemployed, decline is noted in birth and marriage rates, and the results of opinion polls and surveys are pervasive. Sociologists are concerned about all these issues, and social science has driven many of the process that have resulted in the gathering of such statistics. Whilst many are sceptical about the use of statistics, numbers have a power to convince that other forms of knowledge do not, constituting (for some parties, at least) ‘evidence’ rather than mere ‘opinion’. Yet if we look into history, we can see that numbers have only been used in this way relatively recently. Why has this change occurred? How and why are numbers used to convince? And can they really tell us what society is like?

Crisis? What crisis? Youth 'gangs', 'social disorder' and 'crime' – Professor Barry Goldson

Few contemporary social issues appear to attract greater attention and condemnation than those surrounding youth ‘gangs’, ‘social disorder’ and ‘crime’. In 2009 the Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP proclaimed: ‘the modern gang is perhaps the best illustration of how broken Britain’s society is’. He is not alone in expressing such anxiety and, more recently, concern was compounded during the summer of 2011 when a series of urban disturbances - ‘riots’ - occurred in several major cities in the UK. Simplistic media reporting implies ‘broken Britain’ is most identifiable with groups of young people in urban spaces. This talk will critically examine such views by locating youth ‘gangs’, ‘social disorder’ and ‘crime’ in both historical and modern contexts.

Are soldiers victims? – Dr Ross McGarry

Generally speaking when we think of 'victims' we imagine those who are harmed by criminal acts, the like of which fill our TV screens and newspapers. But can being a ‘victim’ mean something else? What about people who may become ‘victims’ outside of the control and jurisdiction of the criminal justice system, like for example, soldiers in battle and conflict situations? Are they victims with legitimate needs and experiences of suffering likes other victims, or are they something different? This talk explores the experiences of British soldiers during recent conflicts to question if the harms and hardships that they encounter can be understood in terms of their being ‘victims’.

Dangerous offenders – Professor Barry Godfrey

For centuries, politicians and media spokespeople have evoked the spectres of dangerous offenders 'preying' on respectable society. This lecture examines how the idea came about that there exists a group of people habituated to crime, even born into a life of crime, unreformable by punishment or anything else. It shows that the criminal justice system has grappled with the problem of controlling or incapacitating these perceived `types’ of offenders; and asks why and how we are still struggling to deal with the problem of dangerous offenders in the 21st century.

The Invention of childhood and old age – Dr Susan Pickard

Today we take for granted that the life course comprises three distinct stages: childhood, adulthood and old age. But it was not always this way. In fact, both childhood and old age can be seen as ‘inventions’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when medicine and social policy between them were instrumental in depicting young and old bodies as equally problematic, in the sense of being vulnerable and dependent, and requiring expert surveillance and intervention. But what are the consequences of these age-based divisions? And can, and should, we do anything to challenge them?

Islamophobia and anti-muslim racism in contemporary Britain – Dr Leon Moosavi  

There is a long history of racism in British society. Today it is often argued that Muslims are the latest targets of a new form of racism known as Islamophobia. In this talk, we will discuss the historical development of Islamophobia and also think about how it operates in today's society. Drawing upon sociological research, we will reflect on how Islam and Muslims are often portrayed by the news media, in film and television and by politicians. We will learn that prejudice against Muslims is more common than many people realise and think about what the consequences of this may be. We will conclude the talk by considering what the future may hold for Muslims living in Britain and whether there are any solutions to the discrimination they encounter.

What is 'public opinion'? – Dr Liz Turner

We often hear politicians refer to something called ‘public opinion’ to justify their action (or lack of action) on key social issues. For example, some politicians would argue that the number of people in our prisons has been growing because ‘public opinion’ demands harsh punishment for offenders. But how do politicians know (or think they know) what the public want? And how reliable and democratically defensible are their methods for understanding our views? This talk will discuss the various different ways in which researchers try to ‘capture’ and represent public opinion, and consider whether some methods may be more ‘democratic’ than others.

The influence of sociological research on policy-making – Louise Hardwick

Sociologists are often driven to undertake research investigations that will influence future public policy. How realistic is this aspiration and are there other factors which, alongside research, contribute to the policy-making process?  This talk will explore the many influences on policy-making including politics, ideological dispositions, and public finances, and the diverse purposes of sociological research.

Both the seminar and subject talks were very interesting and engaging for the students and gave them a true insight into university life.

Year 10 Taster Day feedback

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