Sociology

Our growing Sociology list has a global outlook featuring high-quality research across emerging and established areas in the field, such as digital sociology, migration, gender, race and ethnicity, public sociology, and children and families.

Our series include Gender and Sociology, Global Migration and Social ChangeSociology of Children and FamiliesSociology of Diversity and Public Sociology.

We publish leading journals in the field, including Emotions and Society in association with the European Sociological Association's (ESA) Research Network on Sociology of Emotions (RN11) as well as Families, Relationships and Societies and the Journal of Gender-Based Violence.

Sociology

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The persistence of racism is explored intersectionally, through a personal narrative or herstory, which includes extracts of childhood, professional experiences within forensic mental health services, and in relation to group analytic roles. Reflections are underpinned by two theories; Freud’s seminal theory of trauma as an unlaid ghost and Foulkes’s group analytic premise that human beings are permeated to the core with social context, including that which is transgenerationally transmitted. Thus, it is proposed that racial trauma may be thought about as an unlaid ghost of Empire, the dynamics of which are continuously re-enacted during interactions between people and, it is suggested, can be understood as internal working models laid down at an unconscious level and arguably integrated within our attachment systems. Hence, the emergence of racist attitudes and behaviour during intense attachment experiences, whether personal, group or societal in origin.

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In this piece, I use consumption as a lens to argue how urban, middle-class Indians in their middle and later ages are emerging as a distinctive consumer society while rewriting the scripts of growing old in India. This cultural shift is happening at a time when novel modes of ageing are imagined against the backdrop of transnational family arrangements, market-based care and a quest for vitality and autonomy among older Indians, altering the cultural continuities of intergenerational relationships. I show how consumption as a cultural force both expands the expressive capabilities of older persons but, at the same time, imposes disciplinary discourses around the family and social relationships. Overall, I critically reflect on what the ‘downward blurring’ of the ageing self does to the contemporary frameworks of intergenerational relationships in India. I conclude by discussing both the possibility and the (cultural) limit of theories developed in the industrialised West to capture the shifting realities of transitional societies.

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The final chapter shows that, since its creation, Twin Oaks, like most other intentional communities, has sometimes had to cope with high turnover rates. While this is not necessarily a sign of dysfunction, it does raise questions about the long-term dynamics of the collective in general and individual destinies in particular. The chapter thus highlights the existence of a wide range of trajectories within communities, from very long-term residency (until death in the community) to much more temporary stays. It also provides data on the fortunes of communards who chose to return to the outside world, identifies the motivations that led them to make this choice, and concludes that the community experience was not, in the vast majority of cases, a mere frivolous interlude in the course of an individual’s life.

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This chapter contextualizes the community revival that began in the US in the late 1960s, focusing on the diversity of intentional communities that emerged. It proposes to reduce the complexity of the community landscape by distinguishing three elementary ideal types of community: societal, anarchist and identity-based. Finally, it studies the case of a community (The Farm) initially characterized by a form of charismatic domination, but which, over time, evolved towards a societal model.

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The conclusion begins by describing the transformation of the social space of intentional communities since the 1970s (evolution in the number of communities, invention of new forms such as ecovillages…). It mentions the increasingly important role of the Foundation for Intentional Community. Finally, it suggests distinguishing four mechanisms of social change that intentional communities can spearhead (bubble, contamination, alliance, multiplication).

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Living and Working in Concrete Utopian Communities

Since the late 1960s, individuals rebelling against societal norms have embraced intentional communities as a means to challenge capitalism and manifest their ideals. Combining archival work with an ethnographic approach, this book examines how these communities have implemented the utopias they claim to have in their daily lives.

Focusing primarily on intentional communities in the United States who have adopted egalitarian principles of life and work, notably Twin Oaks in Virginia, the author examines the lives and actions of members to further understand these concrete utopias. In doing so, the book demonstrates that intentional communities aren't relics of a bygone era but rather catalysts capable of shaping our future.

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This chapter looks at the flip sides of community work. It illustrates, on the advantages side, the intrinsic rewards of community work and the possibilities for freedom in effectuating it are not always enough to mobilize the required labour. Extrinsic non-monetary rewards – the positive flip side of work – complete the range of expected benefits. But there is also a dark side of productive activities, which are not always as pleasant as utopian rhetoric might suggest. On this constraint side, peer pressure and threats are effective ways of limiting insufficient commitment to work, even when the job is not to a person’s liking. At Twin Oaks, communards who fail to meet their quotas fall into the ‘labour hole’.

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This chapter traces a genealogical thread. The proposed path begins with the emblematic figure of Henry David Thoreau and his seminal book, Walden. The following stage is charted by the work of psychologist and utopian B.F. Skinner, the author of Walden Two, which sheds light on the conditions that led to the birth of Twin Oaks in 1967. Twin Oaks, the community primarily studied in this book, began as an attempt to apply Skinner’s plan to a ‘natural’ space of the kind Thoreau loved.

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This chapter looks at everyday life at Twin Oaks and Acorn through a Goffmanian lens. The focus at this stage is investigating the ways in which a community identity is built, and deciphering the multiple codes and logics that structure ordinary social interactions. This chapter also shows that there are divisions that structure representations and practices. Gender, parental status, and age are major factors.

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The introduction defines the main object of the book – intentional communities – and offers a brief historical perspective on their development in the United States. It then situates the study within the field of the sociology of concrete utopias and prefigurative politics. After detailing the methodology (essentially ethnographic) and the fieldwork (in Virginia), it presents the plan of the book.

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