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  • Don’t be a victim: The Tory response to UKIP

    For a party that got so badly mugged at the weekend, the Tories looked surprisingly chipper this week.

    Partly this was due to Ed Miliband’s stumbles last week leaving space for David Cameron to make a strong speech yesterday that opened the campaign for the general election. Partly it was due to a decision to not let the party appear too rattled by UKIP.

    The somewhat paradoxical result of the recent defections to UKIP has been to strengthen the resolve of the Tories, and reduce what sympathy there was for them. The seeming transformation of UKIP from a loony fringe to a serious contender has made it less of a vent for Tories feeling constrained on the EU or immigration, and more like a threat to the broader family of values that the Tories espouse. That UKIP has also been talking up its attraction to Labour voters of late has also helped in this shift, making the jump seem all the more consequential.

  • Congratulations to Jessica Rowden for passing Phd viva

    Jess image finalCongratulations to Jessica Rowden who passed her PhD viva today subject to minor corrections.  The title of her thesis is “Application of two mathematical modelling approaches for real world systems“.  Jessica was supervised by David Lloyd and Nigel Gilbert (Sociology).  The external examiner was Mike Bithell (Cambridge) and the internal examiner was Mark Roberts.  Jessica’s thesis was part of the ERIE Project.

  • Revisiting Social Structure

    By Graham Scambler

    One point of frustration for sociologists reading or listening to journalists opining on our changing world is their fixation on events. Sociologists, I have long argued, should delve beneath the surface in search of the mechanisms – ‘social structures’ – that help cause or shape events. If we can’t quite match the physicists’ precise formulation of the laws of gravity and such like, we can nonetheless expose social structures that must exist and persist for events to unfold as they have done, are doing and are likely to continue to do.

  • Congratulations, Dr Goddard

    Phil, enjoying finishing his PhD

    Yesterday I did something I’ve only done a handful of times before – I watched my PhD student undergo his viva voce examination.  For him it’s the culmination of nearly three years of work, and is part of the slightly curious system by which PhDs are awarded.  He spent his three years working with me and his other supervisor, exploring a new approach to calculating nuclear fission, he wrote it all up in a thesis of 180 pages, and then he submitted it.  The final stage, which took place yesterday, is that two examiners, who have read the thesis, grill the student about it.  It’s a strange kind of exam – in which the person being examined knows more about the details of what is being examined than the examiners, though the examiners will likely know more contextual stuff.

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