Department Seminar Series

Monday 29 February 2016, 2 - 4 pm
Speakers: Geert de Vries (Department of Sociology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & Amsterdam University College)
Topic: Multiculturalism and its Discontents in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is known internationally as a well-ordered, peaceful and tolerant society. The Dutch like to see themselves in this way too. After WWII, the Netherlands have seen three streams of immigration: post-colonial influxes after the independence of Indonesia (1945/1949) and Surinam (1975) respectively; labor immigration plus family reunion mainly from Turkey and Morocco from the early 1960s onwards; and various waves of refugees up until and including today. In response to increased ethnic diversity, the country adopted a version of multiculturalism in the late 1970s. However, the 2000s brought in political turbulence and an ostentatious retreat from multiculturalism. Two high profile political murders: of the newcomer right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and of film director Theo van Gogh in 2004, changed Dutch society and its attitude toward multiculturalism. Today, the country subscribes to assertively liberal ideas of the state with integrationist demands of immigrants that border to assimilationism. Although partly reflecting a general European trend of anti-immigration sentiment and upsurge of right-wing parties, the Netherlands had its own dynamics and key events.

About the Speakers: Geert
Geert de Vries is Associate Professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam University College. He specializes in historical sociology, sociology of social problems, and qualitative research. His most recent book is Doing qualitative research: The craft of naturalistic inquiry (2015, with Joost Beuving). An earlier relevant one: Nederland verandert: sociale problemen in het begin van de eenentwintigste eeuw [The Netherlands are changing: Social problems at the beginning of the twenty-first century], 6th ed. 2004. E-mail:
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 7 March 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Beatriz Carrillo Garcia (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: China’s Local Economic Elites and Charitable Giving

Following Marxist ideology with the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China all charities were closed down and philanthropy abolished. China’s opening and reform (from the 1980s onwards), however, has seen the reemergence of charities and philanthropic foundations, many of which are organised and funded by China’s new economic elites. Through an analysis of 190 interviews carried out with enterprise managers and owners in two Chinese cities (Lanzhou in the northwest and Zhongshan in the south) this paper outlines the charitable giving practices of those entrepreneurs, including teasing out: the relationship between enterprise ownership type and charitable giving; reasons for donating; and types of charities supported. Through that analysis the paper will also examine the role of local governments in shaping the charity field and what this might mean for both the development of a non-state charity/philanthropic sector, but also for the type of philanthropic sector that this will foster. This analysis serves to test whether the close interdependence between China’s economic elites and China’s Party-state has implications on enterprises’ giving practices, and more broadly for the kinds of organizations and social causes that will receive priority.

About the Speakers: Beatriz
Beatriz Carrillo Garcia is a Lecturer in China Studies and is a joint appointment of the China Studies Centre and the Department of Sociology and Social Policy. Her broad research interest is in social development and social change in contemporary China, and on development and social justice issues more broadly.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 21 March 2016, 1 - 2pm
Speakers: Laura Davy (PhD student, Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Disability policy’s poor relations: the National Disability Insurance Scheme, individualisation, and the place of people with intellectual disability and their families

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – the most significant transformation of the Australian disability services sector in decades – promises to offer choice and control to people with disability over the services and support they receive and the lives they lead. But different models of personal autonomy exist alongside each other in NDIS policy, informed by human rights frameworks such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), neoliberal welfare reform trends such as the privatisation of government services, and different interests within the disability advocacy sector.

A major challenge for NDIS implementation is ensuring that the policy mechanisms put in place to promote autonomy are effective in the lives of people with intellectual disability and their families. This paper argues that given that the level of choice, control and wellbeing that people experience is highly dependent on the quality of the relationships they share with others, NDIS policy needs to more thoroughly consider the relationships with family, carers and friends that people with disability are engaged in on a day to day basis. It will discuss the need to complement the individualised focus of the NDIS with provisions for actively supporting interpersonal relationships, and for articulating and negotiating the mutual and competing needs that arise within these relationships.

About the Speakers: laura_davy
Laura Davy completed a Masters in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2012, and she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with First Class Honours in Social, Political and Historical Studies from the University of Technology, Sydney. She has conducted disability research for some years: within the disability advocacy sector; the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW; and within her Masters and Honours dissertations, which focused on the marginalisation of people with disability in mainstream political philosophy. She teaches undergraduate communications, social theory, and disability studies.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 4 April 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Greg Martin (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Secrecy’s corrupting influence on democratic principles and the rule of law

Sometimes secrecy in law is required to protect vulnerable witnesses or suppress sensitive evidence. However, particularly since the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, governments in liberal democratic societies have increased secrecy and the use of clandestine procedures under the pretext of safeguarding national security. In many instances, these developments have eroded civil liberties, infringed upon constitutional guarantees, and had negative effects on due process rights. In Australia, where individual rights and freedoms have only limited constitutional expression, it is hoped the doctrine of representative and responsible government will act as sufficient protection for human rights. Conversely, drawing on examples from the regulation of immigration to the control of serious organised crime, this chapter proposes that escalating secrecy in the current era has a corrupting effect on democratic principles and the rule of law.

About the Speakers: Martin_Greg
Greg Martin - key research interests: Criminal and constitutional law, cultural criminology, political sociology, protest and public order policing, social movements, youth studies. Greg welcomes enquiries from potential honours and postgraduate students and postdoctoral candidates to discuss research and supervision in these and related areas. Greg has appeared on BBC Radio 4 in the UK, local and national radio in Australia, and is happy to respond to media and other requests for consultation.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 18 April 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Jeremy Simpson (PhD student, Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Beyond the risk society: risk in Afghanistan and the sociology of risk-management

Despite the salience of terroristic and conflict-related risk in the 21st century, the contribution of the sociology of risk to research into such contemporary conditions of risk has been limited. A key issue is the dominance of the ‘risk society’ position of Ulrich Beck: in particular, ‘risk society’ has limited application to practices of risk-management, considered as action in response to conditions of risk. Drawing on empirical research in Afghanistan, the seminar indicates some possibilities for framing a practice-oriented sociology of risk and risk-management, and moving beyond the ‘risk society’ position.

About the Speakers: jeremy_simpson
Jeremy Simpson: Born in New Zealand; dual New Zealand/Australian citizen. Resident in Australia. Holder of a Bachelor of Social Science with High Distinction in Sociology and Philosophy and First Class Honours in Sociology. Member of The Australian Sociological Association. Instructor in sociology as lecturer and unit coordinator. Educational researcher in addition to research for PhD. Ex-advisor to the Ministry of Education, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 2 May 2016, 1 - 2 pm

Dinesh Wadiwel (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney)

Topic: The Transfer of Value: Live Animal Transport, Welfare and Labour

The treatment of animals in the context of Australian live animal exports has gained much attention recently, particularly as a result of a focus since 2011 by the media and animal advocates on the welfare of animals at destination countries. However, and despite the deep ethical concerns relating to live animal trade, today animal advocates arguably face a tactical quandary in relation to how to move forward, partly as a result of a strong "backlash" from businesses and governments seeking to secure live animal transport as a continuing export industry (Jones and Davies, 2016).

This paper seeks to explore live animal transport from the perspective of value chains within the context of globalising meat production. I will argue that live animal transport is a symptom of a meat industry that is structuring itself across borders, and that in this environment, both "integrated" and "dis-integrated" business models within the industry will create demand for live animal transport. While an increasingly globalised meat industry poses a formidable challenge to animal advocates, I will argue that this context offers a range of different levers for animal advocates, including in recognising the role of both human and non human labour within value chains.

This talk is based on research conducted as part of a Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB) Staff exchange fellowship, supported by the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN).

About the Speakers: Wadiwel_Dinesh
Dinesh Wadiwel - research interests include sovereignty and the nature of rights, violence, race and critical animal studies.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 9 May 2016, 2 - 4 pm
Speakers: Amanda Wise (Department of Sociology, Macquarie University)
Topic: Becoming Cosmopolitan: Encountering difference in a city of mobile labour

Many who move countries today do so for work, and labour mobility—both temporary and permanent—is the mechanism by which countless people (both movers and stayers) come into contact with cultural difference. The domain of mobile labour is thus an important context through which to consider the transformative possibilities of encounters with racial and cultural difference. Situated within debates on everyday multiculture and vernacular cosmopolitanisms my paper considers the question of intercultural encounter at work in relation to the layered histories of race and variegated citizenships of mobile labour in Singapore. Exploring the micro-nature of cosmopolitan practices, the paper considers under what labour conditions might an outward looking cosmopolitan sensibility and a convivial openness to otherness emerge amongst migrant workers, as against a set of survival based intercultural capacities?

I reflect specifically upon two cases of ‘incongruous encounter’ in workplaces reliant on precariously employed migrant labour: a mainland Chinese man and Filipina woman who, because of Singapore’s racialised system of work visas, find themselves working in South Asian restaurants in Singapore’s Little India. They both engage ‘cosmopolitan practices’ yet their sensibilities differ sharply. Their stories highlight how, in a place like Singapore, the ‘encounter’ needs to be understood within a regime of mobile labour, situated racial hierarchies and a highly stratified system of work visas. I further suggest that situational factors such as the nature of work including its spatial and temporal qualities, the mixture of co-workers and recognition relations with superiors all mattered in framing the affective atmospheres of encounter. In a context of forced encounter, I argue that learnt capacities to function and interact across difference should not necessarily be romanticised as a cosmopolitan sensibility.

About the Speakers: Beatriz
Amanda Wise : research interests include materialities, civilities, and 'sensibilities' of urban life; global cities and diversity; multiculturalism (especially 'everyday multiculturalism') in Australia and Singapore; racism and interethnic relations; national and cultural identities; cultural attachments to and formations of place, especially in relation to multicultural cities; diasporic, transnational and migrant communities; theorisations of 'work' and transnational labour; and experiences of low wage migrant labourers in Australia and Asia. Publications include Exile and Return Among the East Timorese (2006 University of Pennsylvania Press); Everyday Multiculturalism (Palgrave 2009 ed. with Velayutham) and numerous publications on 'living multiculture'.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 16 May 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Salvatore Babones (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney)
Topic: Growth in China: Fiscal Solutions for Structural Constraints

As China approaches middle income status, its rate of economic growth is slowing. In per capita terms, China will soon catch up with peer countries like Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, but will it surpass them? After three decades of rapid growth, China now faces the same kinds of structural constraints that these countries have faced for decades: a stagnant workforce, unequal urbanization, environmental depletion, tax avoidance, capital flight, brain drain, and a reluctance to invest in human infrastructure. These constraints combine to produce a fiscal crisis of the developmental state – a crisis that hit all of these peer countries at similar stages in their development and is likely to hit China before the end of this decade. Contrary to conventional wisdom, neither further economic liberalization nor improved rule of law will alleviate this crisis. The real lesson of endogenous growth theory is that China can only break through the middle income trap through pro-poor structural reforms that require a substantial expansion of the fiscal capacity of the Chinese state.

This presentation is a synthesis of several short articles, most of which can be viewed on the website of Foreign Affairs magazine:

About the Speakers: Babones_Salvatore
Salvatore Babones is the author or editor of ten books and more than two dozen academic research articles. His two main areas of academic research are the political economy of the greater China region and the methodology of quantitative modeling in the social sciences. He also publishes extensively on American social and foreign policy.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 30 May 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Nadine Ehlers (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney)
Topic: Racial Futurity: Afro-Pessimism and the Question of Black Life
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]