Monday, June 23, 2008

On the 19th March two speakers gave informal presentations, followed by an open discussion. The topic of the cafe was "Insiders and Outsiders? Issues of status between researcher and researched." Details of the two talks can be summarised by the following:

''Confessions of a Welsh fag hag' Contemplating insider/outsider status among Argentine and Chilean LGBT populations: insights from the field.' - Penny Miles.

This talk explored some of the complexities of negotiating insider/outsider status in Penny's research with LGBT populations in Argentina and Chile, touching upon some of the unexpected outcomes which arose from the blurring of these boundaries. How does a white, welsh, middle class woman negotiate relations in the southern cone countries of Latin America?

'Working on the margins - so how does it feel to be poor?' - Helen Blakely

This talk reflected upon Helen's status as a privileged outsider researching a Valleys community experiencing deprivation. The talk explored themes of reciprocity, rapport and reflexivity when gathering emotionally sensitive data in the field.


On April 10th we were fortunate enough to have a visit from Professor Adele Clarke, who is Professor of Sociology and adjunct Professor of History of Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Adele gave a presentation providing a general introduction to 'Situational Analysis, a new grounded theory approach' developed by Adele and that takes into account the postmodern turn.

The details of this method given below are taken from the website

'Building upon Anselm Strauss’s social worlds/arenas/discourse theory, situational analysis offers three main cartographic approaches:1. situational maps that lay out the major human, nonhuman, discursive and other elements in the research situation of inquiry and provoke analysis of relations among them;2. social worlds/arenas maps that lay out the collective actors, key nonhuman elements, and the arena(s) of commitment and discourse within which they are engaged in ongoing negotiations---mesolevel interpretations of the situation; and3. positional maps that lay out the major positions taken, and not taken, in the data vis-à-vis particular axes of difference, concern, and controversy around issues in the situation of inquiry.All three kinds of maps are intended as analytic exercises, fresh ways into social science data that are especially well suited to contemporary studies from solely interview-based to multi-sited research. They are intended as supplemental approaches to traditional grounded theory analyses that center on action-basic social processes. Instead, these maps center on the situation of inquiry. Through mapping the data, the analyst constructs the situation of inquiry empirically. The situation per se becomes the ultimate unit of analysis and understanding its elements and their relations are the primary goals.'


On May 7th, for the second month in a row, we had a visiting speaker attending to discuss her work. Dr Mary Darmanin visited from the Department of Educational Studies, University of Malta. Mary used examples from two of her ethnographic projects to discuss issues of 'standpoint, positionality, and representation'. One of these studies was conducted in 1999, in a state school for low achieving pupils and the other was a multi-site study of girls' Catholic schools, conducted in 2005. The talk focused upon how far Mary managed to represent informants' accounts, and how much her own positionality interfered with this process.


On the 19th of June Nina Jacob gave a talk on her upcoming PhD thesis 'Understanding Suicide'.

Nina began her talk by discussing how suicide in young men has been constructed as a troubling and pressing concern, signalling a powerful statement about the struggles that young men face in modern society and is also represented as a sign of a deeper, psychological problem, highlighting men’s unwillingness to ask for emotional support. This talk focuses on how both discourses offer different ways of understanding young men’s suicide. By talking to friends and families who have lost a young man to suicide, Nina attempted to find out something about the different discourses that currently surround and attempt to explain young men’s suicide. From a social constructionist perspective, rather than asking why their loved one’s killed themselves, Nina was interested in how they explain it to others and how they understand it themselves. Findings suggest that although the psychiatric discourse is dominant in families’ understandings of their young man’s death, it is not always easily accepted. Nina concluded her talk by offering two dominant discursive understandings of suicide in youung men based on her own fieldwork undertaken as part of her PhD. Such discourses are characterised by how families are much more likely to resist this dominant discourse (non-psychiatric) if their loved one was diagnosed with a mental illness. In contrast where there was no diagnosis, families would often appeal to the understanding offered to them by psychiatry.

This cafe was followed by an end of year party for all postgrads and staff in the School of Social Sciences who have consistently offered their support to this monthly event.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The 2nd PostGrad Cafe Conference

The 2nd PostGrad Cafe Conference will be held on the 20th of Febuary 2008. 'The New Generation of social research' will see ten postgraduate research papers celebrating the range and quality of postgraduate research. Students and staff with an interest in socail research are welcome to attend. The conference will be hekd in the Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University.
The plan for the day is as follows:

Registration, poster presentations and introduction - Committee Room 2
Parallel presentations in rooms -1.56 and -1.80, including the following presentations (running orders will be anounced shortly).

- 'Huntingdon’s Disease: Ethnography of a research clinic' - Jackie Needs

- 'A difficult day in the field' - Mark Whiteley

- 'Exploring the relation between migration management and EU strategies for employment. An ethnographic study of the policy process at the European Parliament' - Gabriella Alberti

- 'What’s in a name? The diagnostic labelling of 22q11 Deletion Syndrome' - Rebecca Dimond

- 'Genuine or fake? Mbeki, AZT, and the status of scientific controversies' - Martin Weinel

- 'Ceci n’est pas Cardiff Bay: Visual research, representation and meaning' - Rob Smith

- 'Picture this! An intergenerational case study involving participant-directed visual data production' - Dawn Mannay

- 'Searching for citizenship: LGBT movements in Argentina and Chile' - Penny Miles

- 'The comparative advantage of non-comparability' - Heike Doring

- 'Free home care for disabled people in Wales: elite perspectives on policy failure' - Aimee Grant

Buffet in the Senior Common Room

5:30pm onwards
Postgraduate cafe
Presentations on completing a doctorate
, from Pam Robinson (second speaker TBC), as well as wine and refreshments.

Many thanks,
The Postgraduate Cafe Team

Speed Social

The Postgrad Cafe held a Speed Social on the 6th February. This cafe gave everyone a chance to get to know each other on a social level and to discuss their respective research interests.
One of the main purposes of this event was to welcome and integrate relative newcomers into the network of research students who are currently at various stages of PhD study within the department. As such, we encouraged any students currently studying for the MSc in Social Science Research Methods to join us for the event.
In addition, for those who have been coming to the cafe's for a while, this was a chance to discuss some of the changes that have taken place since this time last year.

Speed Social

The Postgrad Cafe held a Speed Social on the 6th February. This cafe gave everyone a chance to get to know each other on a social level and to discuss their respective research interests.
One of the main purposes of this event was to welcome and integrate relative newcomers into the network of research students who are currently at various stages of PhD study within the department. As such, we encouraged any students currently studying for the MSc in Social Science Research Methods to join us for the event.
In addition, for those who have been coming to the cafe's for a while, this was a chance to discuss some of the changes that have taken place since this time last year.

Conducting research in primary schools

On Wednesday the 15th of December Graeme Mooore presented at the Postgrad Cafe on Conducting research in primary schools. He gave a reflexive account of issues he encountered in relation to conducting research in a school setting, whilst working as a researcher on the evaluation of the Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative in Wales. The talk was largely based upon sections which Graeme wrote for a paper recently published in the journal BMC Public Health, which describes the design and conduct of the evaluation.
The study was a large scale cluster-randomised controlled trial with an embedded qualitative process evaluation, involving 111 primary schools and approximately 7000 primary schoolchildren. Schools’ participation in the study lasted for a little over a year, and Graeme talked about his experiences of building and maintaining an effective working relationship with schools during this time, drawing on his experiences of what seemed to work, as well as what didn’t. Graeme also be talked about difficulties involved in conducting research with children, covering issues such as consent, data protection, child protection and engaging children in the data collection process, detailing how myself and other researchers on the project dealt with these issues.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Upcoming Events

Postgrad Cafe Christmas Social

This year's Christmas Social will be held in the Glamorgan Senior Common Room at 5pm. There will be drinks and nibbles and Christmas cheer! All welcome!

Postgrad Conference

The Postgraduate Café’s annual conference is now booked for the 20th of February 2008.
All postgraduates are invited to submit a paper for presentation. Papers may relate to any social science theme or discipline and may include empirical data, or discussion of methodological or theoretical issues. The conference offers an opportunity to practice disseminating work in a friendly and non-threatening environment, and to make links with other postgraduates within the department. The minimum requirement will be the submission of a 2-300 word abstract, from which a number of papers will be accepted for oral presentation. Presentations will last 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for questions.
In addition, this year we are inviting postgraduate students to submit a 2-3,000 word article, which will form the basis of their presentations and if selected, will form a part of a symposium of conference papers to be published through the Cardiff School of Social Sciences Working Papers. Please note that this is not a prerequisite for speaking at the conference, but offers students the potential opportunity to get work into the public domain in the form of a recognised publication.
Please submit all abstracts or articles via email

Elite Interviews

Neil Stephens and Jasmin Tregidga presented on elite interviewing at the last cafe on 21-11-07. Neil's talk was entitled 'Interviewing Elites and Ultra-elites as an early career researcher'. His paper was an opportunity for him to reflect upon his experiences of interviewing elites and ultra-elites during his PhD at SOCSCI and in his subsequent job. Based on Neil's paper recently published in Qualitative Research, he discussed why, for a young and relatively inexperienced researcher, it can be intimidating conducting interviews with important, famous, and sometimes notorious individuals. However, by stressing the importance of recognising similarities as well as differences he suggested ways of facilitating greater confidence and more productive interviewing.

Jasmin's presentation 'Interviewing the Policing Elite: A Researcher's Progress' briefly discussed some of her experiences of interviewing top ranking police officers and leading members of police authorities in 2005-2006 - a period within 'public' policing characterised by sustained political pressure for profound organisational restructuring.
The presentation touched on issues such as negotiating access to the police at such a turbulent time, and highlights the impact that such political and structural uncertainty had on the process of conducting interviews, and the nature of the data that was generated from these interviews. Finally, Jasmin's talk provided a reflexive account of a young(ish) female researcher entering and operating within a traditionally conservative, male-dominated organisation such as the Police Service.

The talks were well received, with a stimulating question and answer session.

Monday, November 12, 2007

(Re)negotiating access

Anne Foley and Jessica Paddock presented to the Postgrad Cafe on Wednesday 31st of October 2007. The theme of this is cafe was the negotiation and renegotiation of access to the field. Anne Foley's talk entitled 'Jumping on the Gypsy Wagon: Getting and Sustaining Access with ‘Hard-To-Reach-Groups’ gave a brief overview of the issues of access that Anne has encountered during her research on Gypsies and Travellers. Anne discussed how she found access to be a constant process of negotiation and renegotiation and also told us about some of the strategies she adopted in trying to gain and maintain quality access! Jess Paddock talk ('It's Not as Easy as it Seems: Accessing Reliable Data Over the Internet') gave an overview of the project Jess conducted for her masters dissertation, which involved undertaking a newspaper content and discourse analysis over the period of three months across the spectrum of broadsheet and tabloids. Jess then discussed some of the issues involved in conducting secondary research as potential time saver, as gaining access to reliable data across the board ironically took far more time and far more trees than originally anticipated.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Qualitative Inquiry: Philosophical Foundations and Disciplinary Trajectories

Greg Dimitriadis, who is currently Associate Professor in Educational Leadership and Policy at Buffalo presented at the PostGrad Cafe on 23rd May 2007. His research interests include critical ethnography, urban education, educational policy, popular culture, cultural studies and postcolonial music, art, and literature. He has published on a range of subjects including hip hop culture and the social groupings of young black American men. For this session he presented "Qualitative Inquiry: Philosophical Foundations and Disciplinary Trajectories". In this brief presentation, he gestured towards some of the key philosophical concepts and traditions central to the various theories, approaches, and strategies of qualitative inquiry. I then
highlighted how these concepts and traditions have unfolded in the disciplines of sociology and anthropology over time and place. Finally, Greg discussed how "qualitative inquiry" has emerged as a trans-disciplinary meta-discourse now driving research across many
different (often so-called "professional") disciplines and schools.

Sociology of the local: bringing the small group back in.

The Postgrad Cafe 2007 was joined by guest speaker Professor Gary Alan Fine on Thursday 10th May. Gary Fine, Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University, has published widely on an extremely broad range of topics including high school debating teams, restaurant work, fantasy games, little league baseball, and meterologists. His areas of interest include social psychology, sociology of culture, sociology of science, qualitative sociology, social theory, and collective behaviour. He has been in Cardiff visiting QUALITI and also presented at the school seminar series. For our PostGrad Cafe meeting he presented "Sociology of the Local: Bringing the Small Group Back In".
Professor Gary Fine was pleased with the turnout and the thoughtful and wide-ranging questions posed by those who attended.

PostGrad Cafe Conference - an overview

The First PostGrad Café Conference

As many members of the postgraduate community in SOCSI are aware, the PostGrad Café is an informal discussion group where postgraduates can present aspects of their work in a supportive peer environment, reflect upon shared experiences and issues, and socialise with other postgraduates. Although the PostGrad café predominantly consists of postgraduates from the School of Social Sciences, we have recently been joined by members of other schools such as JOMEC and CPLAN, resulting in presentations that capture the interest of those studying in different disciplines, and prompting discussions regarding the shared issues at stake in interdisciplinary research.

On Tuesday 27th February, SOCSI hosted the first annual PostGrad Café Conference, which was organised by members of the PostGrad Café team both past and present. The PostGrad Café is an informal discussion group where postgraduates can present aspects of their work, reflect upon shared experiences, and socialise with other postgraduates. Although the PostGrad café predominantly consists of postgraduates from the School of Social Sciences, we have recently been joined by members of other schools including JOMEC and CPLAN, resulting in presentations that capture the interest of those studying in different disciplines, and prompting discussions regarding shared issues.

Many postgraduate students are anxious about presenting their work at formal academic conferences, and this conference was envisaged as a means of providing an opportunity for postgraduates, at various stages of the research process, to practice giving presentations in a supportive and constructive peer environment. In fact, 16 postgraduate students took the opportunity to present at the event, many of whom were presenting their research for the first time. Furthermore, 68 other students and academic staff members attended the conference held in the Glamorgan Building, to show support to their presenting colleagues, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback on the array of presentations.

The structure of the day comprised of six themed sessions, of which two ran concurrently. The first session, entitled ‘Contested Knowledges’ featured papers from 3 SOCSI students, Catherine Butler, Dennis Eady and Martin Weinel, discussing the common theme of controversy regarding the nature of knowledge in social science. The second session contained presentations from another three of SOCSI’s postgraduates: Robin Smith, Anne Foley and Vicki Eaton all presented papers on the difficulties they had encountered in their research projects in locating research participants.

The third session of the conference was themed ‘Learning for Labour’ and featured papers from SOCSI’s Gerbrand Tholen and SONMS’ Jane Ryan, discussing the role of learning in the context of knowledge economies and male undergraduate nursing students respectively. The fourth set of papers focused on technology: Jackie Needs of CESAGEN presented a paper on the experience of people at risk of genetic illness, and Alison Elderfield of SOCSI discussed social networks and mobile phone use.

A buffet lunch was provided for all of the presenters and attendees of the conference, before the final pair of postgraduate presentations. The fifth session, entitled ‘Children, Gender and the Media’ featured papers from Kelly Buckley of SOCSI who discussed the representation of the female body in celebrity gossip magazine Heat, and two presenters from JOMEC, Corbett Miteff and Ann Luce who covered cartoons and press coverage of childhood bullying and suicide respectively. The final session was themed ‘work experience’ and featured two papers: the first was by Amanda Ehrenstein and discussed workers in the visual arts, and the second was by Pam Robinson, who focused on the labour conditions in the banana fields of Costa Rica.

The successful day ended with a plenary session which took the usual relaxed and informal form of the PostGrad café. Dr. Ingrid Geesink and Dr. David Mellor reflected on their experiences of the PhD process and completing a thesis. Ingrid shared with the group her experiences of the demands on the time of a PhD student, and strategies for dealing with this. Furthermore, Ingrid highlighted one of the issues that unites all work-burdened PhD students: avoidance strategies. Ingrid’s handout of popular avoidance strategies highlighted that there are many things that the PhD student has to battle, and that often we are all experiencing the same things. David discussed the emotional labour of the PhD process, in particular his recent experience of the viva. Also, the all too common feelings of isolation and unworthiness experienced by PhD students provided a basis for a further group discussion after the plenary sessions.

The day was successful on many levels: it offered postgraduates the opportunity to present a paper at a conference within a supportive peer environment, to share views and knowledge on the subject in question, to listen to two presenters who have experienced the full process, but, most importantly, to build the foundations for a postgraduate community in SOCSI and its sister schools.

If you would like more information about the PostGrad Café Conference or any other PostGrad Café events please contact the team at

Thursday, March 15, 2007

PostGrad Cafe Journal

As you may have heard we are planning to launch a journal to run alongside PostGrad Cafe events. We are welcoming papers on all social science related topics. We intend the first issue to be published in the Autumn semester so would like to receive papers before the end of July. Please aim for approximately 3000 words and email your papers to the SOCSI PostGrad Cafe email address. If you have any comments or queries regarding the journal please do not hesitate to contact any member of the team.
Thank you

Comparative cross-national research

At the last meeting on Wednesday 14th March Gerbrand Tholen spoke about comparative cross-national research drawing upon his PhD study. It was discussed how cross-national comparative research has become more prominent in recent years in response to the need to understand the rapid political, economic, and social changes being experienced by many nations. It was suggested that this research can provide social scientists with a useful base to understand how social phenomenon are mediated through national differences. Methodological and epistemological differences were touched upon and what it means to take the nation state as the unit of analysis. The question was asked 'should or can we move away from state-centred methodology'.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

PostGrad Café Conference

27th February 2007
Glamorgan Building
Cardiff University

If you plan on attending the conference could you please contact Andrew Bartlett (BartlettA[at] or Jamie Lewis (LewisJT1[at] Thankyou.

Provisional Conference Schedule

Welcome and Coffee (12:30 – 13:00) (Committee Room 1)

Session A (13:00 – 14:30)

A1 Contested Knowledges (Commitee Room 2)

Butler, Catherine
The Taming Of The Future

Eady, Dennis
The Llanharry Murder Mystery: Fishing in a shoal of red herrings

Weinel, Martin
Primary Source Knowledge And Technical Decision-Making: Thabo Mbeki and the AZT controversy

A2 Locating Research Participants (room 0.86)

Smith, Robin
An Empty Stage?: The strange absence of the social actor in the landscape of regeneration

Foley, Anne
"Caravandetta: Problems in researching the victimization of Gypsies and Travellers

Eaton, Vicki
‘Stonewalling’?: Difficulties encountered in research with disengaged pupils

Session B (14:45 – 16:15)

B1 Learning for Labour (Committee Room 2)

Tholen, Gerbrand
Skill Acquisition In Knowledge Economies

Ryan, Jane
Uncovering The Hidden Voice: The articulation of learning styles by male undergraduate nursing students

B2 Technology and Association (room -1.62)

Needs, Jackie
Insurance Experiences Of People At Risk Of Genetic Illness

Elderfield, Alison
Getting A Good Reception: Maintaining social networks and mobile phone use

Buffet (16:15-17:30) (Coffee Shop)

Session C (17:30 – 19:00)

C1 Children, Gender and the Media (room 0.86)

Buckley, Kelly
The “Curvy Girls Vs. The Lollypop Brigade”: The disciplined and undisciplined celebrity female bodies in Heat magazine

Miteff, Corbett
Digital Eyes – Digital Television: Who is watching our kids?

Luce, Ann
The Press As Perpetrators Of Childhood Bullying And Suicide

C2 Work Experience (room -1.62)

Ehrenstein, Amanda
Precarity And Everyday Politics In The UK: The experience of precarious workers in the visual arts in Cardiff

Robinson, Pam
Snakes And Ladders: Labour conditions in the banana fields of Costa Rica
Smith, Merryn
The Fertile Subject: Narratives of professional women

PostGrad Café (19:00 – 20:30)

PGC Completing a Thesis (Senior Common Room)

Geesink, Ingrid
Two Hundred Thousand Words, One Job, and the Whooshing Sound of a Deadline Flying By

Mellor, David James
Waiting For The Tap On The Shoulder: The emotional labour of the PhD

PostGrad Cafe Conference

PostGrad Café Conference
27th February 2007
Glamorgan Building
Cardiff University

Provisional Abstract List

Postgraduate Presentations
Session A: 13:00-14:30
Session B: 14:45-16:15
Session C: 17:30-19:00

Buckley, Kelly (C1)

The “Curvy Girls” Vs The “Lollypop Brigade”: The disciplined and undisciplined celebrity female bodies in Heat magazine

This paper explores the complex and contradictory representation of the female body within women’s celebrity gossip magazine, Heat. Using the method of critical discourse analysis, I begin by exploring the significance of Heat’s discursive construction of celebrity for discourses of femininity. Successful femininity is discursively produced as being embodied in the shape and adornment practices of the female body advocated by the magazine, presented as achievable for female readers through Heat’s discursive construction of celebrities as ‘ordinary’. In this context, I argue that Heat’s (mis)representations of the “normal”, curvy body, and its derision of the “abnormal”, über-thin bodies of the “lollypop brigade” (so called because their heads are too big for their ‘stick-thin’ bodies), are based upon the positioning of these body types along a continuum of disciplined and undisciplined bodies. Furthermore, I then demonstrate how Heat’s representation and surveillance of female celebrity bodies reinforce Foucauldian notions of self-discipline. This discourse of the female body closely intersects with discourses of both class and health, in keeping with the current media debate regarding the dangerous impact of size zero models on the psychological and physical health of young women. In essence, I suggest that Heat’s discursive construction of the “normal” female body and femininity is neither ‘new’ nor emancipatory as it is packaged, but a reworking of traditional versions of femininity in celebrity, post-feminist form.

Butler, Catherine (A1)

The Taming Of The Future

This paper is based on data taken from a doctoral study of the issue of flooding in England and Wales. The initial aim of the research project was to understand how the concern of flooding is being constructed through the narratives of those working in the field. Following this, the goal became to examine what the dominant framing of flooding means for approaches to the problem. From the analysis it became clear that flooding has come to be framed as a symptom of anthropogenic climate change. It also became apparent that knowledge for decision-making in relation to flooding is derived – at least in part - from risk assessments. The research subsequently involved a broad analysis of the utility of ‘risk’ for ‘modern’ societies. Barbara Adam (forthcoming), Ulrich Beck (1992) and Niklas Luhmann (1993) identify part of the utility of risk methodologies as being the provision of a secure base for decision-making, in the face of an uncertain future. They assert that the past based probabilities, derived from risk analyses, provide a means for taming an indeterminable future. Here, it is posited that as flooding comes to be conceptualised as a symptom of climate change, the previous security derived from risk analysis begins to falter. That is, as the future becomes increasingly uncertain the tools, which we as modern societies have utilised to cope with uncertainty, are weakened in their capacity to provide security.

Eady, Dennis (A1)

The Llanharry Murder Mystery: Fishing in a shoal of red herrings
The paper reflects on the case of Jonathan Jones convicted in April 1995 of the murder of his girlfriend’s parents at their isolated farmhouse in Llanharry, South Wales on 26 July 1993. Jonathan was cleared by the Court of Appeal in April 1996. The paper draws on documented evidence in the case, including the Court of Appeal Judgement and extensive interview material with Jonathan Jones.
The paper specifically reflects on: -
· The notion of case construction in miscarriages of justice
· The “close relationship” perpetrator assumption.
· The “Agatha Christie Scenario” of unlikely and fictitious plots and motives, and primarily: -
· The re-construction of irrelevant and misleading observations as evidence

Eaton, Vicki (A2)

‘Stonewalling?’: Difficulties encountered in research with disengaged pupils

In recent years governments, policy makers and researchers have expressed a growing interest in listening to the voices of young people. It is becoming increasingly accepted that children and young people can make competent decisions and valuable contributions to discussions regarding issues that affect their daily lives. In the field of education there has been a rapid growth in literature focusing on pupil voice and pupil consultation. In a climate of personalised learning where individually tailored pathways through education and training are being developed it is vital that the young people involved are listened to so that their needs may be met. In order for pupils’ voices to be heard they must be willing to speak, however numerous researchers have described difficult encounters with young people who are sometimes unwilling to cooperate in educational research. Attempts to engage certain groups of pupils (e.g. those with very low self-confidence, pupils who have become disengaged) in conversation about their experiences of education are likely to be challenging. This presentation will touch upon difficulties I encountered during my masters study of teenage girls experiences of extended vocational provision in secondary schools and setbacks I have experienced whilst attempting to get my PhD project off the ground.

Ehrenstein, Amanda (C2)

Precarity And Everyday Politics In The UK: The experience of precarious workers in the visual arts in Cardiff

An increasing proportion of the young, highly-qualified workforce in Europe is engaged in intermittent or irregular labour. Young workers find themselves in an unstable and dynamic labour market where knowledge skills, individual abilities, creativity and personal interests are demanded as standard and highly exploited for marketing purposes and the production of new commodities which have a primarily cultural, emotional, or intellectual content. In recent years these conditions have been the subject of political concern which has found its expression in the rise of protest against ‘precarity’. Social movements attracting many different social actors express their concern about neoliberal policies and new forms of exploitation and exclusion experienced by people working and living outside the ‘normal wage’ system. High levels of flexible and atypical employment are particularly prevalent in the arts industries, a growing sector of production in western societies. Whereas material and judicial aspects of precarity are relatively easy to capture and analyse, the transformation of affectiveness and political engagement seems more difficult to trace. This paper gives insights into first results of a pilot study carried out with young workers in visual arts in Cardiff. It draws attention not only to the subjective experience of exploitation but also to labour autonomy in this sector.

Elderfield, Alison (B2)

Getting A Good Reception: Maintaining social networks and mobile phone use

This paper presents a summary of findings chapter based on data collected for my Ph.D. research. These findings reveal the dynamics of social networks via mobile phone use from interviewing 12 mobile phone users, who were primarily middle-class students and graduates aged between 17 and 27, together with their peer groups. The mobile phone was found to be an important tool through which the group operate co-ordination and social arrangement as well as maintenance of contact and inclusion. The efficiency of the mobile phone is without void of limitations changing social etiquette in ways that loosen arrangements and detract pleasantries; one reason for this is due to the social interaction differences and hindrances (e.g. text messaging compared to talking). Aside from telecommunication, mobile phone is used as a multi-functioning device used in close proximity in sharing files, ring tones, videos and photographs as well as to entertain, therefore reflecting shared group interests. Essentially, the mobile phone allows emotion to be expressed more freely, through text rather than talk in many cases; allowing friends to say exactly what is meant, yet lack of tone and intonation leads to misinterpreted meaning. Power relations are also a significant finding in this study; the communication device can become a source of surveillance and control, through which contact can be filtered or ignored. Expectations and surveillance are prominent, as well as power dynamics in gender relations. I will therefore discuss the most interesting sections of my chapter, which are: inclusion; co-ordination and loose arrangements; power relations and control, talk/text and proximate uses.

Foley, Anne (A1)

Caravandetta: Problems in researching the victimization of Gypsies and Travellers

Within social sciences there is a need to understand the social world of hard to reach groups. Yet many ‘hard to reach groups’ are sceptical of research/researchers and may not want their culture betrayed by an obtrusive researcher. This paper will outline some issues I experienced when researching the victimization of Gypsies and Travellers in south Wales. Gypsies and Travellers are fiercely proud of the culture and as a closed social group are reluctant to participate in research. The problems I will focus on relate to gendered identities, accessibility both physical and personal, risk factors and ethics. I will discuss how I overcame these problems and their potential impact on my research.

Luce, Ann (C1)

The Press As Perpetrators Of Childhood Bullying And Suicide

The conception of children in society is one of a weak, naïve and innocent being. Based on these adult perceptions, oppression of children is common. Social constraints in the day-to-day lives of children are common. But it is the social constraints during the school day that cause the most problems. Oppression in school leads to bullying, which can ultimately lead to suicide. But where do these adultist ideas come from? The press. The way the press reports on children’s issues, frames stories about children, places stories on its pages about children all set a greater agenda for how adults view children. Thus, the role the press plays in the continuation of childhood bullying and suicide is one that must be viewed and studied carefully.

Miteff, Corbett (C1)

Digital Eyes – Digital Television: Who is watching our kids?

Television shows like The Powerpuff Girls, Astro Boy and Atomic Betty feature characters whose eyes are undoubtedly large when compared to those of humans living in the real world. This readily apparent phenomenon made possible by animators is quite interesting when looking at research regarding children and eye gaze cues. Research has shown that children over the age of 4 can detect shifts in eye movements, which signal changes in objects direction and inferences to certain preferences. This leads me to believe that certain animated characters have the possibility of over communicating ideas and expressions. After all, children are watching an overabundance of television, and it’s only fair to think that the large eyes are having influence. Perhaps it’s nothing to worry about, and children are indeed connecting with these characters though eyesight. If the ancient proverb-- the eyes are the windows to the soul, is true, then certainly the viewers are getting a dose full of soul. Let us just hope that the characters are teaching the difference of good from evil, and more importantly, teaching constructive humanitarian ways to deal with life’s problems.

Needs, Jackie (B2)

Insurance Experiences Of People At Risk Of Genetic Illness

Participants from a larger Genetics and Insurance study were invited to take part in a recorded telephone interview to discuss their experiences of obtaining life insurance. Twenty interviews were carried out with people at risk of Huntington’s disease (9), Polycystic Kidney disease (2), Breast/Ovarian cancer (8), and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (1).

The interview schedule consisted of 14 open questions concerning genetic risk, insurance purchasing, attitudes and beliefs about insurance, the current moratorium on use of genetic test results, and future policy.

Recordings were transcribed and examined for themes, similarities and differences. Results showed that the majority of people had problems in obtaining insurance, the Huntington’s disease group having more problems than the others. Participant’s knowledge about the moratorium was almost non-existent, and some people appear to have been treated incorrectly by insurers. This is in line with previous findings in the UK and US. Additionally, participants expressed fear of disclosure and non-disclosure of test results to insurers, fear of rejection of future claims and avoidance of insurance. Participants expressed a desire for unbiased, impartial advice to be available from a source other than insurance companies.

Robinson, Pam (C2)

Snakes And Ladders: Labour conditions in the banana fields of Costa Rica

During the last five years there has been increasing scrutiny by consumers, non-governmental organisations and union organisations in the North as regards the labour conditions of workers involved in producing bananas in the South. The paper explores the relationship between work and employment in a highly concentrated industry and the dichotomy of increased market demand for cheaper bananas with improved labour conditions. The banana is the biggest selling and most profitable food product for Supermarkets in the UK and at each stage of the banana supply chain, there is a high degree of integration between plantations (producers) and customers (supermarkets). Thus, the influence of Supermarkets is growing stronger and as the self appointed guardian of consumer interest they are demanding that producers align their business practices with the Supermarkets’ own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ethical sourcing policies. The theoretical framework used in this analysis draws on global chain studies that emphasise shifting relationships and control within the chain and the dimension of governance. The paper largely draws on the empirical data gathered during a two month fieldwork study conducted on plantations situated in the banana province of Limón in Costa Rica.

Ryan, Jane (B1)

Uncovering The Hidden Voice: The articulation of learning styles by male undergraduate nursing students.

Creation of religious orders projected men as the primary and archival providers of nursing care. Between 1921 and 1938, 97,028 female nurses were recorded on part 1 of the general register in comparison to 435 males on part 2. The imbalance in numbers emulated the concept of the skewed group, where the dominant group featured as a ratio of 85:15. Men in nursing remained the minority group, the figures being 3.1% in Canada and the United States in 1989 whilst figures reached 8.77% in the United Kingdom in 1989. To date and these figures mirror the results of undergraduate nursing programmes, registered male nurses rarely exceed 10% of the total number of qualified nurses in the UK. Their number has contributed to the notion of investigating whether a minority have a voice and they can articulate their learning styles as a group within a dominant female population. The phrase ‘learning style’ was found to be buried within work termed as ‘approaches to learning’ and has acted as common language to describe differences between people. How a male undergraduate nursing student expresses their learning style will be examined in relation to the masculinities framework by Connell.

Smith, Robin (A2)

An Empty Stage?: The strange absence of the social actor in the landscape of regeneration.

Since the 1980s, and certainly more recently, there has been a growing amount of both academic and public discourse surrounding the national and regional regeneration initiatives and policies charged with the task of re-shaping our urban landscapes left derelict and with uncertain futures after the process of de-industrialisation. Much of the research concerned with the understanding and assessment of regeneration projects has been born of a policy analysis perspective and government agencies and academics have relied upon quantitative indices to gauge the impact of the development corporations. This paper will discuss the regeneration of Tiger Bay, re-born as ‘Cardiff Bay’ and ‘Mermaid Quay’ and will propose that through established sociological theories and methods it is possible to understand such regeneration projects as having an impact far beyond the reach of quantitative measures. The radical transformation of an area such as ‘The Bay’ has implications for both urban social organisation and the construction, mediation and, ultimately, control of subjectivity and experience which the methodology discussed in this paper is capable of documenting.

Tholen, Gerbrand (B1)

Skill Acquisition In Knowledge Economies

It is widely believed that the knowledge and skills of the workforce are of crucial importance for Western economies in order to successfully compete in the global economy. Western governments are actively striving to raise the average education level of the workforce. This paper explores how national differences in the organisation of Higher Education can provide different conditions that shape individuals’ understanding of the relationship between education and the labour market.

The majority of the literature on skill formation focuses either solely on the individual or takes a notably structural and/or institutional approach in explaining who obtains which skills. There is a lack of attention towards the way individuals interact with their social environment relating their educational trajectory. A focus on the subjective interpretation of structural features is very much needed. To exemplify this point the paper shall show some organisational differences in higher education between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. These differences do not just provide different circumstances wherein a (rational) individual will choose the optimal decision in skill acquisition. Differences in educational structure and organisation very much negotiate two different interpretive frameworks in which Dutch and likewise British students see themselves and their educational choices. The paper is an initial approach to these themes and, thus, it will not offer a detailed treatment of the Netherlands and the UK. However some illustrations will be drawn from these countries.

Weinel, Martin (A1)

Primary Source Knowledge And Technical Decision-Making: Thabo Mbeki and the AZT controversy

Demands for public participation in technical decision-making are momentarily high on the agenda of Science & Technology Studies. It is assumed that the democratisation of technical decision-making processes generally leads to more socially desirable and acceptable outcomes. While this may be true in certain cases, this assumption cannot be generalised. Specifically, I will discuss the case of the so-called ‘South African AZT debate’. The controversy started when President Thabo Mbeki, after reading some scientific papers on the toxicity of AZT, decided to bar the use of the drug in the public health sector as a means to reduce the transmission of HIV from mothers to children. While the scientific mainstream accepts the effectiveness of AZT in reducing the risk of vertical HIV transmission, a few maverick scientists reject the clinical evidence and argue that the risks of using AZT by far outweigh its benefits. Based on various textual sources and using the ‘periodic table of expertise’ developed by Collins and Evans (2002, 2007), Mbeki’s expertise at the time of his intervention into the technical question whether AZT is a medicine or a poison can be classified as ‘primary source knowledge’. It is shown that this type of expertise is insufficient for technical decision-making. Mbeki’s primary source knowledge led him to take the claims of maverick scientists too seriously – with tragic consequences for tens of thousands babies.

PostGrad Café Plenary

Geesink, Ingrid (PGC)

Two Hundred Thousand Words, One Job, And The Whooshing Sound Of A Deadline Flying By
In this presentation I like to share my experience as a PhD student in SOCSI (2002-2006) through different phases of frustration and euphoria. I discuss my struggles in research design (last-minute invention of research questions and theoretical framework), juggling data collection with a job or two, overzealous attempts at producing manuscripts twice the size of a thesis, followed by providing some retrospect into restructuring and revising, rewriting and eventually relief. I talk about dealing with passing deadlines, multiple supervisors, writer’s block and rewriter’s syndrome, isolation and devastation, the magnum opus myth and other challenges on the way to postdoc life. Finally I provide some practical viva survival tips plus of course my personal top 50 procrastination strategies.

Mellor, David James (PGC) Waiting For The Tap On The Shoulder: The emotional labour of the PhD Employing sociological analysis to discuss the practice of social science PhD students, this presentation will explore some of the emotional experiences of undertaking doctoral research. By drawing loosely on Hochschild (e.g. 1983), I apply the sociological idea of emotional labour to the practices of apprentice social scientists in order to discuss how the feelings that are displayed to others through day-to-day activities and interactions are managed while ‘doing the job’ of a PhD student.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Perspectives on the PhD process: the US angle.

The last PG Cafe took place on Wednesday February 7th at 5pm in the Senior Common Room at the Glamorgan Building. Corbett Mittef, Ann Luce and Helen Blakely provided an insight into the PhD process in the UK and the US. By focussing on the experience that students have had with the American system, critical debate was stimulated with regard to how the PhD process is structured in the UK.

Friday, December 08, 2006

PostGrad Café Christmas Party

The PostGrad Café Christmas Party will be held on Wednesday, December 13th from 5pm in the Glamorgan Building (Senior Common Room).
Drink, Nibbles and Decorations!
Admission Free!
All Welcome!

PostGrad Café Committee

The PostGrad Café team would like to draw your attention to a recent change in the makeup of the Café committee. The new committee members are Kelly Buckley, Anne Foley and Helen Blakely. The PostGrad Café would like to thank Bambo Soyinka, Mark Connolly, Jamie Lewis and Andrew Bartlett for their past commitment and ongoing support.

1st Annual Postgraduate Café Conference

1st Annual Postgraduate Café Conference
February 27th, 2007

The New Generation of Social Science Knowledge

We are pleased to announce that the 1st Annual Postgraduate Café will be held in the Glamorgan Building at Cardiff University on Tuesday the 27th February, 2007. The conference, sponsored by the School of Social Sciences (SOCSI), is specifically for the presentation of postgraduate students’ work but is not limited to SOCSI PhD students.

The PostGrad Café Conference will provide all participants with the opportunity to present work-in-progress papers and discuss the research of others in a cross-disciplinary, supportive and constructive peer environment. All postgraduates wishing to attend this conference should register their interest with the organisers as soon as possible.

Papers are invited from postgraduate researchers working in, but not limited to, sociology, philosophy, journalism, nursing, psychology, planning, humanities, history, business, economics and law. The PostGrad Café Conference is free to attend, and a buffet will be provided. Information on the PostGrad Café’s regular events can be found at

In order to ensure that we have enough presentation rooms booked, the organisers ask postgraduates to e-mail or at the earliest opportunity stating their intention to attend the conference and whether they wish to present a paper.

Those wishing to present a paper should submit an abstract of 200 words (maximum) in either plain text or MS Word format by Wednesday 13th December to or Papers should be around 20 minutes in length. Submissions should include: name and title, paper title, affiliation, department, email address, telephone number and postal address.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Research Ethics

The last PostGrad Café was be held in the Glamorgan Building Senior Common Room on Wednesday 29th, November at 5pm. The theme of this PostGrad Café was Ethics. Three postgraduates, Jackie Needs, Robin Smith and Alex Mylles discussed the ethical issues involved in their diverse fieldwork projects. This Cafe was provocative and stimulating, with the ideas and thoughts of many attendees discussed, not just those presenting.

Jackie Needs – Ethics and Consent issues in Social Studies of Health and Medicine

What are some of the barriers social researchers must negotiate to obtain ethical approval and participant consent for studies of health and medicine? Is it time for a Qualitative Research Register, and what advantages and/or disadvantages may become apparent? Examples of difficult ethics and consent situations encountered in a study of Genetics and Insurance, where ethical approval was given a while before the study began.

Robin Smith – Thinking On Your Feet; Ethical issues in researching public spaces

The talk discussed issues that have arisen in conducting ethnographic research in regenerated public spaces, in this case Cardiff Bay. It covered the relationship between theoretical conceptualisations of the subject of the research and ethics. The talk was mainly concerned with the possible need for flexibility when considering research ethics which becomes especially apparent when conducting research in uncontrolled and open environments. Robin discussed some of the issues that arise from conducting covert research in such settings.

Alex Mylles – The Politics of Consent

This talk outlined some of the issues with researching a group in which Alex was a participant prior to (and during) the research. His research centres on a heated and politically charged debate within an LGB organisation on whether it should widen its remit to include transgender people or not. As an active member of the organisation Alex was a participant in this debate and advocated the inclusion of trans people. Alex detailed the problems regarding certain people withdrawing their consent for his research and argued that their reasons for doing so could have been politically motivated, as those who withdrew consent were all advocating excluding trans people.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Qualitative Research

The next PostGrad Café will be held on Wednesday 25th October in the Glamorgan Building Senior Common Room at 5pm. The theme will be qualitative research. Susanne Langer and Inna Kotchetkova of QUALITI, and Maggie Gregory, the reviews editor of Qualitative Research, will discuss the resources and opportunities available to postgraduate students. Outlines of the talks are provided below.

The talks will be followed by questions and a general discussion. Snacks and drinks will be provided. All postgraduate students with an interest in social research are welcome.

Dr Susanne Langer and Dr Inna Kotchetkova, Research Associates, QUALITI, Cardiff School of Social Sciences
This event will be dedicated to qualitative research - a term that hides a bewildering diversity of questions, methods and traditions. Drawing on the work of QUALITI - the Cardiff node of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods - and our experience as early career researchers, we will introduce some of the research done by social scientists working within a qualitative research paradigm. The event will also introduce postgraduates to ways of using their growing academic skills for more than just writing a thesis.

Dr Maggie Gregory, Research Fellow, CESAGen, Cardiff School of Social Sciences
Maggie Gregory is the Reviews Editor of Qualitative Research, a journal edited by Paul Atkinson and Sara Delamont of the School of Social Sciences. Writing book reviews is part of an academic career, both broadening knowledge and critical reading skills, and maintaining a steady stream of published writing. Maggie will discuss the book review process and invite postgraduate students to contribute book reviews to Qualitative Research. Maggie will also discuss the establishment of a qualitative research reading group to encourage the re/visitation of methodological issues throughout academic research careers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Aliens in the Field

The PG Cafe team are pleased to announce that the first meeting of the Autumn semester will take place in the Glamorgan Building Senior Common Room on Wednesday 11th October at 5pm. Entitled, "Aliens in the Field", PhD students Pam Robinson and David Mellor will discuss their doctoral research in fieldwork situations where they were conspicuous outsiders.

Outlines of the talks are provided below.

Look forward to seeing you there.

The PG Team.

Pam Robinson - Researching in the Field: Literally!
In this brief talk I will share some of the experiences of researching in thebanana fields of Costa Rica, where I was investigating the labour conditions ofworkers who help supply one of the most popular fruits to the UK. I willdescribe what it was like to be a researcher in an environment that waschallenging both physically and culturally. I will outline a few of my copingstrategies for dealing with the mozzies, spiders and snakes, living in a newlanguage and the creation of a 'self' that helped gain the respect andcollaboration of my informants.

David Mellor - Researching with children: practices and problematics
In this short talk I will address the central issues about doing research with as opposed to 'on') children. In doing this, I will unpack and critique ideas about children's participation in research, and the argument that the ethnographer should adopt the 'least adult' role when doing fieldwork with children. I will also explain why it is vital for ethnographers to forefront children's own cultures of communication when trying to understand subjectivity and solidarity in their everyday worlds.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Autumn Semester 2006

The team at the Post Grad Café would like to welcome all new and returning postgraduates at the beginning of this academic year. Following on from the successes of the past two years we have lots of stimulating events planned for the forthcoming semester.

The first of these, scheduled for Wednesday October 11th, is titled "Aliens in the Field" where two postgrads in the later stages of their studies, David Mellor and Pam Robinson, will talk about the methodological implications of doing research with people and in settings where the researcher is a conspicuous outsider: David will discuss his research with children in a school setting while Pam will recount some of her experiences of researching agricultural workers in Costa Rica (a more detailed account of these talks will be posted in the first week of October).

The second Café of the semester is scheduled for Wednesday October 25th and will focus on Cardiff’s position as a centre of qualitative research, with presentations from the QUALITI Research Centre and from Dr. Maggie Gregory, reviews editor of Qualitative Research.

As with all our events these talks will be followed by informal discussions and lots of wine and nibbles, offering both new and returning students an opportunity to engage both intellectually and socially.

Finally, some members of the team are reaching the end of their studies and intend standing down this semester. There are thus opportunities for new postgraduates to become involved in the running of the cafe. If you are interested you can either e-mail one of the current team members or let us know at one of the events scheduled for October.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The PG Team.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Goodbye Lenin

On Thursday 18th May we took the PG Café off campus for the first time for an end of term special at Bar Europa. This café was the first in our series on national identities and focussed on German identity, especially that of the former East Germany. As a prelude to our discussion we watched the film ‘Goodbye Lenin’, an hilarious yet poignant and at times moving take on the collapse of the Berlin Wall. We had two speakers from the former GDR, Martin Weinel and Heike Doring, who regaled us with both warm personal anecdotes and slightly chilling tales of political oppression, all drawn from their experiences of growing up within East Germany at such an epochal period. The discussion which followed was especially lively, not least because of the many new students that attended from a variety of postgraduate disciplines. We hope to follow this up during the summer months with two café’s focussing on the theme of ‘Welsh Identity’.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

PostGrad Café Report - Professor Harry Collins

Please note that there will be no PostGrad Café on Wednesday 29th March. The next Café will be held at the end of April. Please chack back here, or contact one of the PostGrad Café Team for more details.

On Wednesday 15th March the PostGrad Café hosted Professor Harry Collins. Professor Collins discussed the use of relativism in the Sociology of Knowledge (SSK). He introduced the audience to Karl Mannheim, the founder of the Sociology of Knowledge, whose relativism did not extend to Mathematics and the Sciences. With the development of SSK, which can be traced to the work of Thomas Kuhn and Robert Fleck, these areas of human activity which were previously considered to be the producers of universal Truths were brought within the range of human activities that could be satifactorily analysed from a relativist position.

The PostGrad Café was well attended, with a broad cross section of postgraduate students present. Some had a keen interest in, and some a distaste for, relativist methodolgies in the Social Sciences. Professor Collins described the passionate responses that his positions have evoked. He recalled the seminars where he was accused, in a manner he described as 'McCarthyite', of being a ‘relativist’ in a distinctly pejorative sense, and moreover of not understanding the way in which Science works. At pains to disassociate himself from nihilistic positions that are attached to relativism, he described his embarrassment at the rhetoric of the SSK being used to support moves to include the teaching of Intelligent Design as part of the Science curriculum of some American states.

Professor Collins argued that methodological relativism in SSK means ignoring ideas of scientific truth, and falshood, and concentrating on the social processes that are involved in a group choosing one idea over another. The presentation of this methodological position resulted in a discussion among those present. Some saw a tension, even a contradiction, involved both suspending claims to Truth on the part of Science while making Sociological claims to knowledge of the way that the World is. Professor Collins that while this might be a philosophical contradiction, it was by no means unique. And, nevertheless, he was an skilled practitioner in SSK, and, as a Sociologist of Expertise he had come to the position that it was important to perform the role in which one is skilled.

That said, how much knowledge ought one have of a scientific discipline before conducting a Sociology of the knowledge within that discipline? This question was subject to a lively debate. He rejected the idea that the naïf possesses a privileged position, and the corollary, that estrangement and 'going native' were serious problems for the sociologist. He argued, first, that it is perfectly possible for sociologists to retain professional detachment and perform sociological studies of their own societies. Second, that it impossible to perform a sociological study of a society unless you understand the language of that society. Thus, to do an effective peice of SSK research, Collins argued that you need a not insignificant level of expertise in order to understand the language in which some things become true and others are made false.

Professor Collins explained that the emphasis has changed between the publication of the first book in the 'Golem' series and the publication of the third. Whereas the first two books concentrated on science and technology respectively, the third 'Golem' addressed medicine. Countering the fashion to descredit medicine he argued that although there is still much that we do not understand about the human body, science and medicine is the best available process. He used the example of plumbing. There is good plumbing and bad plumbing, just as there is good science and bad science. More, it is the business of experts to carry out this process. If there are examples of bad plumbing it does not mean that plumbing is discarded as way of solving problems, and neither must science and medicine. This does not mean that the social processes involved in producing the knowledge of plumbing ought not be analysed.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Harry Collins on Relativism in the Sociology of Science

The next PostGrad Café will take place on Wednesday 15th March at 5pm in the Senior Common Room, Glamorgan Building. In a change from the usual Café format Professor Harry Collins will discuss ‘Relativism in the Sociology of Science’, which will be followed by questions and a general discussion. Professor Collins is the convenor of the KES (Knowledge, Expertise, Science) research group and a past president of the Society for Social Studies of Science. The author of the bestselling ‘Golem’ series, in 2004 he published ‘Gravity’s Shadow: the search for gravitational waves’. It might be useful to read his introductions to the Sociology of Science and the ‘Science Wars’, both of which can be found on his webpage.

We look forward to seeing you there. As usual there will be snacks, soft drinks, wine and a friendly atmosphere.

Please note that the next PostGrad Café will be a postgrad discussion on the subject of relativism, to be held on Wednesday 29th March. If you would like to present a short discussion paper in an informal environment, please contact one of the PostGrad Café Team.

The PostGrad Café Team
Bambo, Jamie, Mark and Andrew

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

PostGrad Café Report – 22nd February

February’s PostGrad Café heard presentations from Karen Chalk and Andrew McKechnie, both CPLAN PhD students. The Café was well attended, with representatives from the Schools of Social Sciences, City and Regional Planning and Psychology.

Karen, in the second year of her research, discussed the ACORN (A Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods) categories of consumer classification. These divide the population into fifty-seven types, seventeen groups and five categories. The five categories are labelled; Wealthy Achievers, Urban Prosperity, Comfortably Off, Moderate Means and Hard-Pressed. Karen presented the Café with an analysis of the text and images that accompany the ACORN user-guide, describing how the rich description that accompanies the first three categories sits in contrast to the functional descriptions of the last two. A similar pattern can be found in the visual representations which order the categories into a hierarchy. The three categories arranged at the top (in descending order; Wealthy Achievers, Urban Prosperity and Comfortably Off) all present male-female relationships engaged in smiling face-to-face exchange, accompanied by visual symbols of wealth. The pictures representing the bottom two categories – the Moderate Means and the Hard-Pressed – show groups of older women accompanied by images of tower blocks and terraced housing.

Karen asked if the kind of consumer categorisation and classification offered by ACORN would resulting in the ‘sorting out’ of problematic areas, not by solving the problems but by filtering the dataset to exclude these neighbourhoods from awareness of those making decisions. At the moment only a very small number of public bodies use ACORN, but increased public sector use is a business aim of the company that produces ACORN. If nothing else, the invitation that ACORN extends to ‘read up on your neighbours’ is an e-updating of class anxieties; digital curtain twitching.

Andrew, in the final year of his research, gave the Café a rich account of his research investigating the relationship that people with physical difficulties have with their dwellings. He uses the word ‘dwelling’ in preference to house, which stresses physical characteristics, and home, which stresses emotional features. By using ‘dwelling’ Andrew attempts to incorporate both ways of looking at the living space. Arguing that much work on disability and the home is ‘wheelchair reductive’, Andrew’s research participants had a wider range of major physical difficulties.

Andrew discussed the problems of gaining access, the difficulties in conducting life-history interviews with people living with major physical disabilities, and the ethical issues involved in conducting in depth interviews on emotionally important subjects. Andrew’s research is designed to build an understanding of the experience of the dwelling from the point of view of the individual. In this, it is a counterbalance to the prevailing design reductionism which seeks to solve the dwelling problems of the disabled by altering their houses to accommodate their physical problems.

The next PostGrad Café, on the topic of relativism in the social sciences, will be in a special format of two parts. The first part will be a presentation and discussion with a senior academic to be held on Wednesday the 15th March. The second part will be a series of student presentations on the subject of relativism to be held on Wednesday 29th March. If you would like to present a short, informal paper on the subject of relativism, please contact any of the PostGrad Café Team. Further details coming soon.

Monday, February 20, 2006

This Week's Café - 22nd Feb at 5pm

We will hear two presentations from Andrew McKechnie and Karen Chalk who are PhD researchers in CPLAN. As usual there will be wine, soft drinks and some food. More information about the speakers and the content of their talks below.

Karen Chalk - Geodemographics and class

"Whoever said the class war was over did not count on the profusion ofwebsites that now take "keeping up with the Joneses" to a new level" (WillPavia, The Times, Feb 4th 2006, p. 11 'Property website reveals what you'rereally worth')

I'm in the second year of an ESRC funded PhD entitled 'Streets Ahead:Neighbourhood, Consumer Culture and Social Classification'. This focuses on theACORN (A Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods) classification -developed by CACI, a marketing company, to 'understand customers, identifyprofitable prospects evaluate local markets and plan public resources' (from theACORN user guide, CACI 2004). However, there is increasing concern about howsuch software - and in particular, its public availability on websites such as * - might influence the future shaping of place. Debatesaround the changing nature of social classification - in particular, itsmeaning, structure and relevance - are highly pertinent. At Postgrad Cafe I willbasically introduce my PhD through ACORN (in particular as seen through the'user guide', and through some recentattempts to 'rethink class'.

*If you wish to prepare, find out your ACORN profile here by entering yourpostcode - when the new page comes up, click 'read up on your neighbours' (!)and then below the blue box, 'read the full profile'. Here is your 'ready-madeclass identity' (Burrows and Gane, forthcoming)...

Andrew McKechnie - Physiology, agency and society: Exploring the meaning of the dwelling with reference to physical disability

I am an ESRC funded PhD researcher in the School of City and Regional Planning. My PhD explores the relationship individuals with physical disabilities have with their dwelling, the significance attached to this relationship and why such relationships differ. Whilst much of the literature on physical disability and the meaning of the dwelling focuses on issues of design, by engaging with critical realism the thesis seeks to move beyond the functional reductionist positions presented in the past and assert the necessity of simultaneously exploring the dimensions of physiology, agency and society.

The presentation will draw on in-depth life history interviews of nineteen individuals with a wide range of physically disabilities, discussing methodological issues and presenting a stratified 'three dimensional framework', one that allows space for the consideration of physiology, agency and society in a non-reductionist fashion. In recognising that a combination of mechanisms co-determines the meaning and experience of the dwelling the impossibility of reducing experiences to just one level can be asserted. In doing so it becomes possible to acknowledge experiential diversity in the form of episodic issues, type of impairment, biographical accomplishment, emotional attachments, impact of services etc without disregarding all important issues of design or homogenising experiences.

Monday, February 06, 2006

PostGrad Café Report - Dr. Steven Stanley

On Wednesday 25th January Dr. Steven Stanley gave a presentation centred around his own doctorate thesis, which investigated experiences of PhD students within the social sciences, particularly on the power dynamics between the supervisor and the student. The PostGrad Café presentation concentrated on the PhD self-help guide, a genre which he exposed to a critical analysis located within concepts of power, identity and autonomy. Drawing on Foucault, Fairclough and his PhD supervisor Michael Billig (who featured both theoretically and empirically), Steven situated this genre within the incongruity produced by the clash between the espoused autonomy of ‘independent’ PhD research and the institutional practices, in particular the supervisor, that are set up to govern that independence.

From the perspective of critical psychology Steven analysed a number of PhD self help books, many of them written by supervisors using their own students as sources of data. He emphasised the lack of reflexivity demonstrated by these texts in using the authors own students as the subjects of these works. Steven also highlighted and criticised the tendency of PhD self-help guides to infantilise the reader by adopting the position of patronising parent. He gave the example of the book that directed the student to ‘take a bath’ if they felt stressed by the demands of writing. Steven’s talk stimulated a lively debate amongst the PhD students present. Among the issues raised, which might be followed up in later PostGrad Cafés, were;

* The commodification of higher education
* Methods of discipline and surveillance within academia
* Self-help genres as part of the 'Americanisation' of academia
* Accountability versus surveillance in government sponsored PhDs
* Community consensus as a way of directing research
* The PhD student as a diversified subject
* The bath as opposed to the shower

The next PostGrad Café will be held on Wednesday 22rd February at 5pm in the Senior Common Room, Glamorgan Building. Details will be posted here soon.

The PostGrad Café Team
Mark, Bambo, Andrew and Jamie

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Next Meeting - Wednesday 25th January

The next Post Grad café will be on Wednesday 25th January at 5pm.

Steve Stanley will be speaking about his ongoing work on experiences and constructions of PhD education in the social sciences, with particular emphasis upon power dynamics between students and supervisors and how we might go about studying these relationships from a broadly critical social psychological perspective.

Steven is a Lecturer in Social Sciences in SOCSI. Previously he was a postgraduate research student and tutor in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. His research interests are in doctoral education and critical social psychology.

The Post Grad Café Team
Mark, Bambo, Andrew and Jamie

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New PostGrad Café Team

At the final PostGrad Café of the year a new team of volunteers was constituted. Andrew Bartlett stays on the PostGrad Café Team and is joined by Bambo Soyinka, Jamie Lewis and Mark Connolly.

Bambo Soynika
I am an ESRC-funded PhD student. My PhD investigates the relationship between documentary film and the politics of sustainability. More generally, my areas of interest are community, environment, dialogue, time and interaction. I am a strong believer in interdisciplinary research and practice. My career thus far testifies to this: I have worked across the fields of academia, media and community work. After completing the PhD, I want to continue exploring the connections between these disciplines.

Jamie Lewis
After working on a number of research projects, including the EU project Foresight for Transport, Destined for Success, the Rees Report, Research Capacity Building Network and Adult Learning@Home, I finally began a PhD in October 2004. My PhD is titled ‘Computing Genomic Science: Bioinformatics and Standardisation in Proteomics’, and my research focuses on the Proteomics Standards Initiative. Together with Andrew Bartlett I am also a Welsh Regional Representative of the Postgraduate Forum on Genetics and Society (PFGS), organising the 9th Annual Colloquium this summer.

Mark Connolly
I am an ESRC funded postgraduate in the School of Social Sciences. My areas of interest are culture, learning and the economy, which I am pursuing in my empirical work into the European Capital of Culture project. I have has been attending the Café since its inception and I hope that we, as the new team, can build on the great work of the Café’s ‘founding parents’ by providing a stimulating forum for academic and social exchange within the postgraduate community.

The PostGrad Café Team would like to thank Alex and Cat for their efforts over the past year, and hope that you will all enjoy the first Café of 2006 on Wednesday 25th January.

The PostGrad Café Team: Mark, Bambo, Andrew and Jamie.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Upcoming PostGrad Café - Wednesday 7th December

The next meeting of the PostGrad Café will take place at 5pm on the 7th of December in the Senior Common Room of the Glamorgan Building. Jamie Lewis, Bambo Soynika and Louse Madden will all be presenting short papers. We look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday; as always there will be a range of drinks (inc. non-alcoholic) and snacks provided. Please see below for details of the presentations.

Jamie Lewis
Temporal Rhythms of a Chronic Disorder

I will use extracts from my MSc research to illustrate rhythmical changes in a chronic disorder. The research is based on a phenomenological study of an online group of patients who are suffering with chronic Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). By focussing on time a number of interesting observations emerged with regards to the cyclical nature of the disorder. In this talk I will highlight some of these socio-medical/ bio-social outcomes and possibly look at some temporal solutions patients have used to adjust.

Bambo Soyinka
Terrains, Time Scales, Technologies and Texts

It is common to divide documentary films into two broad categories: either observational (for instance, reality TV and wildlife programmes) or polemical (for example Michael Moore and Super-Size Me). Sustainability, however is both discourse and practice, it relates to earthly terrains, texts, time scapes and technologies. From a sociological perspective sustainability requires analysis of how key forces within society – the physical, the biological, the cultural, the emotional, the temporal and the discursive – work upon, reflect and transform each other. Given that documentary film has a sociological function, is it possible (or necessary) to represent these complex inter-relations of sustainability on screen?

Louise Madden
Using Phenomenology to Embody Representations

I will be talking about some ideas that I am struggling with at the moment. My research questions the production of women's subjectivity in relation to the internet, both on and offline. A lot of existing literature treats internet social spaces, such as chat-rooms and MUDs as something that is totally disembodied, and thus separate from a lot of the social world. I am trying to find an approach that can fully include embodiment and experience, which neither essentialises the body, nor reduces it only to representation and the symbolic. For those who are extra-interested there are copies of a reading in Jessica Ringrose's pigeonhole (Csordas) that uses phenomenology to try and reconcile the material/embodied and discursive/semiotic.

See you all on Wednesday at 5pm.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

PostGrad Café meeting report – Wednesday 2nd November

The PostGrad Café meeting held last Wednesday was well attended by postgraduate students from across Cardiff University’s social research schools. Three papers were presented:

Michael Arribas-Allyon’s presentation explored the policy assumptions of ‘mutual obligation’ as a putative solution to the problem of ‘welfare dependency’ in Australia. Mutual obligation is understood here in terms of a paternalistic contractualism between ‘individual’ and ‘society’. Using Durkheimian themes of social pathology, moral education and state paternalism, he argued that mutual obligation resurrects twin programmes of moralisation and medicalisation. The poor, the idle and dependent form the basis of contractualising the freedom of self-governing subjects. Michael suggested that we can understand this move as a neo-Durkheimian version of Rousseau’s paradox: the necessity of ‘forcing individuals to be free’. Arguably, the landscape of the social that emerges from the anti-politics of welfare is one in which the social is immanent to individuals and therefore radically individualised.

Andrew Bartlett presented a paper entitled A prologue to robots and aliens. He discussed the effect that the automation of scientific practice might have on the generation of scientific knowledge. Discussing automation as an increase in ‘functional rationality’, he described automated science as, after Kuhn, ‘extraordinarily normal science’. Whereas Kuhn described normal science as being a process of forcing nature into the relatively unflexible box of the paradigm, Andrew suggested that in an automated laboratory the paradigm becomes black-boxed. Whereas the ‘boxes’ that represent the paradigms of normal science are merely inflexible, black boxes are designed to be indestructible.

Catherine Butler presented a paper entitled Knowledge and Non-knowledge: Socio-environmental issues, scientific un/certainty and in/action. She referred to arguments in contemporary social theory which entail the assertion that contemporary socio-environmental issues are inescapably indeterminate and that calls for 'further research' with the aim of attaining certainty on such issues are futile. She went on to discuss the assertion that there continues to be a political reliance on certainty and an apparent difficulty in making decisions in areas where certainty is not available. She made particular reference to the issue of global climate change as an example of an indeterminate socio-environmental issue. She finished by raising questions concerning the tension between the need for physical scientific evidence and the necessity to make decisions without the comfort of scientific certainty.

The next PostGrad Café will be held Wednesday December 7th at 5pm in the Senior Common Room, Glamorgan Building. The theme has not yet been decided. If you would like to present a short (10 minute) paper on any aspect of your research in particular or social research in general, please e-mail any of the PostGrad Café team members.

Please use the comments facility on this site to open a public discussion of any of the issues raised in these talks. If you would like to post a piece of short writing to this website, which can be on any topic connected with social research and analysis, please e-mail any of the PostGrad Café team members.

The speakers can be contacted at the e-mail address (modified in an attempt to avoid automated e-mail harvesters) listed below.

Michael: arribas-allyonM[at]
Andrew: bartlettA[at]
Catherine: butlerCC1[at]

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New cafe team member

Hi All

Hope everyone is having a good August.

Because David has moved off to pastures new and become a Post Grad Forum Convenor for the British Sociological Association, there this a vacancy on the Post Grad Café team for a meeting organiser for the coming year. Could anyone interested in getting involved please email Alex Hillman for further details.

David would like to thank everyone involved in the café for their support during the last academic year, especially Alex, Cat and Joanna.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Post-Graduate Mid-Summer Party

The Post-Graduate Team cordially invite you to a Mid-Summer Party

All SOCSI Graduates, Post-Graduates and Staff Welcome
Wednesday 15th June 2005
6pm onwards
SOCSI Senior Common Room
Glamorgan Building
Delicious Food and Drink
Conversation and Music
RSVP - Wednesday 8th June 2005
Dress: Casual

Monday, May 23, 2005

Intellectuals – speakers and presentation details

The next meeting of the post grad café will be on Wednesday 8th June and on the theme ‘Intellectuals’. The presentations will be:

Andrew Bartlett: How public are public intellectuals? Speculations on the scientist as a public figure.

Mark Connolly: Separating the wheat from the chavs: An investigation of culture and class.

David James Mellor: Methods! Theory! Action?

As noted in the previous email, a section of Frank Furedi’s book ‘Where have all the intellectuals gone?’ will be made available before the meeting as additional material for discussion. Follow these links for more details and reviews.

This meeting will be at 5 p.m. in the Glamorgan Building coffee shop.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Next Meeting - 'Intellectuals'

The theme for the next cafe meeting will be 'Intellectuals'. Details of speakers and presentations to follow within the week.

Recently there have been a number of books published relating to intellectuals and culture. Among these have been Frank Furedi's 'Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?' and Steve Fuller's 'The Intellectual'. Both these titles, written by social scientists, are controversial and engaging in equal measure. Copies of selected chapters from Furedi's text will be made available in time for the meeting.

This meeting will be on Wednesday 8th June. (Please note that this is a change from our usual slot of the last Wednesday of the month).

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Many thanks to Alex and Paul for their presentations at the ethics: institutional and everyday meeting. The discussion was the liveliest yet seen at the cafe, showing how contentious certain issues can be and how important the cafe is in providing a space for debate.

News of the next meeting to be posted soon...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Meeting tomorrow – Post Grad Café

Just a quick reminder that the Post Grad Café will be meeting tomorrow at 5 pm in the Glamorgan Building coffee shop (please note change of venue). The theme for this meeting is ‘Ethics: Institutional and Everyday’ and Alex Hillman and Paul White will be talking about their research and experiences of ethics committees.

This should be a very interesting meeting, which offers the opportunity to discuss some salient issues, particularly in light of the newly operational Social Research Ethics Committee in SOCSI.

Wine, juice and snacks as usual...


It has been brought to my attention that the use of the term ‘balkanised’ in the Network article (posted below) about the café carries certain implications regarding essentially negative perceptions of the Balkan region.

I apologise for this.

Thanks to Andy Aitchison for highlighting this.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Graduate Research Presentations Day

Congratulations everyone who presented at the graduate research presentations day yesterday. Once again it was a great success and an excellent platform for the showcasing of the high quality doctoral research that’s undertaken in the school.

The school have announced that these presentation days will become a regular feature in the future, hopefully occurring three times per year. The café team are encouraged by this development, which will continue to raise the profile of doctoral research in the school.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Network Article

Here is the text of the article about the cafe that appeared in 'Network: newsletter of the British Sociological Association', No. 90, Spring 2005, p. 29.

Café Culture – The shared experience of the PhD
David J Mellor – Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences

A sense of community can be difficult to create and sustain amongst doctoral students. Many of us find working towards a PhD an isolated existence where the sharing of ideas and experiences about work with peers is transient and hard to sustain. In large departments, like the School of Social Sciences in Cardiff, it is possible to become so balkanised as to never meet whole groups of people who are undergoing the same academic apprenticeship. Perhaps it is no surprise that many find it daunting to take that first step and present their work to an audience, whether at a conference or at a departmental seminar. Work shared only with supervisors can be difficult to articulate to unfamiliar faces without practice.

Here in Cardiff we’ve tried to overcome these problems with the creation of a ‘Post Grad Café.’ The café is the new hub of the shared intellectual and social culture of the research students. We meet every month to discuss a range of topics related to academic research, current affairs, culture, politics and controversy. The café benefits from funding from the school, but is organised and run by doctoral students. Our central concern is the fostering of dialogue and the sharing of thoughts and experiences, both common and distinct, which makes the café a unique space for diversity and camaraderie. We share food and drink together so that each meeting becomes an act of collective identity.

Our basic format is the themed meeting, where a broad topical subject is chosen for discussion. For example, the December meeting was themed ‘Conspicuous Consumption’, whilst the first meeting of the New Year carried the theme ‘Beginnings/Endings.’ At every meeting 3 speakers ‘talk to’ the theme for approximately 10 minutes each in relation to their own current research interests. This is followed by a general open discussion that encompasses theory, methods and methodology, reflection on everyday practices of academia, and ‘tales from the field.’ All presentations are informal and the ground rules specify support and encouragement. Also, guest speakers are occasionally invited to talk, some from within the university and others from further a field (we welcome offers from interested speakers).

The ‘Conspicuous Consumption’ theme illustrated the cafés strengths. To begin, Richard Watermeyer discussed the 'Disaffiliation to the Technocratic Society' epitomised by the counter-cultural movements of the twentieth century. Following this, Alison Elderfield, asked, ‘The Mobile Phone: A Status Symbol?’ and talked about her work on the changing nature of people’s ‘enchantment’ with mobile technologies. Finally, Pamela Robinson introduced us to ‘The Discourse of Shopping,’ discussing the identities and moralities of both shoppers and retailers and the complexities of ethical consumption. The open symposium generated by these presentations focused on cultures of consumption, ethics, group identity, responsibility, citizenship, and political activism. In this meeting then, commonality and diversity became potent in the deliberation of important socio-political issues.

Undoubtedly the café will have the long term advantage of helping everyone speak in front of different audiences and to people who do not share specialist knowledge, whether theoretical, methodological or otherwise. This is surely of great benefit within the social sciences, but also important if our generation of scholars is to become engaged with various ‘publics.’ Following Michael Burawoy’s recent work on ‘public sociology’ there has been much debate concerning the public role of the social sciences and its dialogue with particular publics concerning social and cultural values. As can be seen from our ‘Conspicuous Consumption’ meeting, the café enables research students to articulate their work in various voices that address important issues of value, whilst retaining rigorous scholarly standards. I anticipate that the skills gained in the café will profit those involved in their future professional, public and policy engagements.
I hope that in sharing our experiences here at Cardiff that postgraduates in other departments will be interested in our ideas and might organise their own cafés or similar activities. Please contact me if you would like to know more details about the café, its ground rules and future activities.

Next Meeting – Ethics: institutional and everyday

The next post grad café meeting will be on Wednesday 27th April at 5pm and will be on the theme ‘ethics: institutional and everyday’. If you are interested in talking to this theme then please get in contact. As usual, the theme can be interpreted in any way you wish with relation to your research experiences, theory, methods etc. Due to interruptions and noise (mostly from the coffee machine) we are moving the café back to the original venue in the Glamorgan coffee shop – a reminder will be sent out beforehand!

In other news, the café has been widely promoted in an article in spring edition of the BSA newsletter ‘Network’. The editorial notes that ‘the postgraduate café at Cardiff… highlights a very positive and interesting initiative, which the school should be commended for’. The team would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed to and participated in the café and made it such a success. As a result of the article, we have been contacted by post grads at several other universities who plan to set up similar ventures, and we wish them the best of luck in doing so.

Looking forward to seeing many of you at the graduate research presentations day on Tuesday 12th April (details below).

Graduate Research Presentations Day

The next graduate research presentations day is Tuesday next week. Here are the details:

Graduate Research Presentations Day
Tuesday 12th April 2005
10.00am - 3.15pm

Welcome and ground rules from
Dr. Jane Salisbury – Co-ordinator of Graduate Studies

Rodrigo Ribeiro
Knowledge Transfer

Sarah Lloyd-Jones
Mapping Transition in the South Wales Valleys

Comfort and Coffee/Tea break – Committee Room 2

Sally Lau
A Mandatory CPD Scheme in Pharmacy

Andrew Aitchison
Security Between the Second and Third Pillar: EU, Police and State in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kate Moles
Positioning Liminality : Representations of Post colonialism in Phoenix Park, Dublin

Buffet Lunch – Committee Room 2

Wei Zhao
Ownership Transition and Its Impact on
Workers: Case study in Chinese White Goods Industry

Rebecca Drennan
Towards a Learning Country: The Characteristics, Qualifications and Skills of Further Education Teachers in Wales

This will undoubtedly be a great day and an opportunity to support and encourage all the presenters. See everyone there.

Juggling Identities – meeting report

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Juggling Identities meeting last week at the Funky Buddha. This is a great venue for social meetings and we hope to go there again in the not too distant future. Some of the issues discussed emerged as important concerns and we hope to address them in further detail through future café activities.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Next Meeting - Juggling Identities: Who am I supposed to be?!

Hi everyone

The next meeting of the Post Grad Café will be on Wednesday 30th March. The theme for this meeting will be ‘Juggling Identities: Who am I supposed to be?!’ In a change to our usual arrangements, there will be no specific papers presented; rather, there will be an open discussion about the experiences of being a postgraduate who has to juggle a variety of identities – student, researcher, teacher, practitioner etc – and how different people find ways to cope with moments of difficulty. We also want to focus on how best to take advantage of the many positive aspects of occupying what can sometimes be contrasting roles.

We hope that by running a session of the café on this theme that people will be able to share in the diversity and commonality of their experiences in a relaxed and friendly environment. To help establish the right kind of atmosphere, this meeting will be the first to travel outside the school and will be held at the ‘Funky Buddha’ on Woodville Road in Cathays at 7 pm. We have booked space and will order wine for the group (and hopefully some nibbles too).

Looking forward to seeing many of you there

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Graduate Skills Development Programme

By now, everyone should have received the Graduate Centre's Skills Development Programme for Research Students April-July 2005. The school would like to encourage doctoral students to attend courses on the programme and has asked the Cafe to advertise these.

Students are increasingly expected to keep a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) log across their candidature. To get a picture of who has done what, the Graduate Centre will provide SOCSI (and other schools) with an end of year printout which will be used in the Annual Review. The school will use these data to identify those candidates who are not using the courses sufficiently. Consequently, students are expected to up-skill themselves and participate and supervisors have been asked to include this in their next supervision agenda.

Extra copies of booklet can be obtained from Liz Renton, Research and Graduate Office, Room 0.16.