Department of Sociology

The blog of the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey

Making sense of the EU Referendum hate crime spike: preparing for the future

By Matt Hall

In the wake of the Brexit vote, the UK saw a discouraging rise in hate crime. As headlines furled out- Police call emergency meeting to deal with post-Brexit vote explosion of racist hate crime (Daily Mirror) and Brexit: Wave of hate crime and racial abuse reported following EU referendum (The Independent) – it may have felt like we were in the midst of an epidemic. As a researcher interested in the interplay of far-right extremism and hate crime, getting an accurate picture of the figures is a priority.

The summer of 2016 alone engendered a catalogue of politicised tragedies, both nationally and abroad. Orlando, Jo Cox, Brexit, and terrorist attacks in Nice and Munich – each potentially a trigger event to be exploited by extremist groups. Now we await further anticipated spikes following the invoking of Article 50 in March, and at key junctures throughout the protracted, years-long process of leaving the EU. For hate crime scholars, accurate information on the EU-Referendum spike is key to understanding what might lay ahead.

PhD Symposium – Part 1

By Jo Smith

On 18th January 2017 PhD students from the Sociology Department organised a departmental symposium titled ‘PhD Fieldwork: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Loving my Research.’ Attended by Masters students, PhD students and academic staff, this day provided an opportunity to explore some of the different methodological and ethical issues facing us as researchers. We were delighted to host a wide range of speakers.

Opening the symposium were PhD students from the Sociology Department. Amy Kirby talked about her experiences of coming to terms with the ‘them and us’ divide during her ethnographic research into the criminal courts, whilst Emily Setty highlighted some of the challenges and rewards of conducting research with young people. Annie Bunce provided an insight into her attempts to try and balance the demands of different groups in her prison-based research. Melissa Pepper reflected on her decision to adopt a mixed-methods approach to her research into policing, and Jo Smith explained what she saw as the advantages of using online research methods in her study of online misogyny. Finally, Nadia Harizadeh-Yazdi spoke about her experiences of researching a sensitive subject in her work of childhood cancer.

My Life at the University of Surrey By Hannah, Final Year undergraduate student

I am currently in my third and final year at university, studying Criminology. It has definitely been challenging, but it has made me the person that I am today. Attending the University of Surrey has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have many highlights of my overall experience, however, a favourite one that stands out the most was the day I moved into my university accommodation in my first year – that feeling of excitement, as well as feeling nervous! Unpacking all my belongings and then running upstairs to meet all my new house mates and helping them to unpack too! My first night out at university was definitely one to remember! Spending the evening with my new friends, cooking dinner together and then getting ready for our very first night out to see ‘Scouting for Girls’! It was amazing and a night I will always remember. We strolled back to our accommodation at 3am and ordered a massive pizza to share! University has definitely changed me as a person as before I came here, I was a really quiet, shy girl who had no confidence at all. However, 3 years on, I am much more confident and have learned to stay positive in life. Being at university has also taught me various life skills as this was the first time I lived alone, independently.

Reflections on my Professional Training Placement Year by Boran Shenhuy

When I first started studying Sociology, I promised myself that I will use my knowledge to help my community and improve the lives of Turkish speaking Cypriots. This year, as part of my professional training placement, I have had the chance to work with the longest running environmental NGO in the Turkish speaking Cypriot community, Cyprus Green Action Group (CGAG), which was established in 1988. Its aim is to increase environmental awareness and harmony. CGAG has participated in many projects, such as recycling and wildlife projects, as well as undertaking short film contests, cultural festivals, and producing reports on energy, environment and infrastructure.

Faith and Policing

By Karen Bullock

Together with my colleague, Paul Johnson from the University of York, I have recently been conducting research on the role that faith based organisations (FBOs) play in policing. We have been looking at how the British police seek to co-produce forms of crime control with FBOs. One facet of this research has looked at how faith groups may deliver policing relevant interventions on behalf of police services. At the present time there has been interest in this form of coproduction. This interest stems from wider debates about the role of civil society in the delivery of public services and from the long held belief that working with communities will promote police responsiveness, increase police legitimacy, and more effectively control crime. However, the extent to which officers identify, engage with, and motivate FBOs to deliver interventions aimed at controlling crime is far from clear.

More than the sum of its parts: social science and technological development

By Nigel Gilbert [1]

New technologies can only be successful if they are fit for market and society. The dramatic scale and pace of technological developments offers tremendous potential, but with these opportunities come new dangers and new responsibilities. This implies that technological innovations need to pay close attention to the social contexts in which they are to be placed. Moreover, many social innovations require technological development to be successful. Thus, social and technical research need to go hand in hand.

Robotics, mobiles and Internet based technologies have already caused revolutions in social organisation well beyond the communication area. Similar effects are being caused by the explosively developing bio- and pharma- technologies. Science and technology enabled shifts will contribute to the redrawing not only our economy, culture and society, but also our biology and our ethics. It is thus of utmost importance to incorporate a social sciences and humanities research component in the development of these new technologies from the earliest stage.

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