Papers

November 22 2018. “Sociological Fiction and the Neoliberal Imaginary”,  The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2018 National Conference, ‘Precarity, Rights and Resistance‘, Melbourne Australia.

This paper explores how the neoliberal imaginary is not just normalised but naturalised and legitimised in contemporary society, being tied up with both economic and evolutionary discourses and inferring culturally meaningful implications for people. I unpack how art – and sociological fiction in particular – can help us understand, illuminate and challenge this imaginary by helping us consider the relationship between aesthetics and imaginaries…

November 16 2018. “Sociological Fiction”, Affect, Knowledge and Embodiment: a critical feminist arts/research masterclass, hosted by Monash University, Melbourne Australia.

This paper focuses on the convergence of writing and research practices in sociological fiction. I chart a background of social scientists who have written fiction, discuss So Fi Zine, and outline some stylistic criteria for writing and evaluating sociological fiction. Using these criteria I made some practical and conceptual suggestions…

February 15 2018. “Fiction as Method”, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) and Western Sydney University Institute for Culture and Society, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, and Graduate Research School workshop for postgraduates and ECRs Modern Methodologies: Developments in Doing Sociological Research, Parramatta Australia.

This paper overviews the methodological approach I’ve used in my PhD, an arts-based research project where I’ve written a novel to investigate limitations and possibilities around sociological imagination, public sociology, and fiction writing in the context of neoliberalism. I’ll focus on how I’ve used fiction writing as a sociological research method, and from this I hope to raise some questions I’ve been considering…

November 30 2017. “Braiding a ‘Society Ethic’ with Spinoza and Sociological Fiction”, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2017 National Conference Belonging in a Mobile World, Perth Australia.

C Wright Mills claimed that with the sociological imagination the ‘cultural meaning of the social sciences’ would be popularly realised (1959: 8). Yet, despite the ongoing project of public sociology, there are still considerable impediments to this realisation. This paper outlines the particularly relevant and under-engaged impediment of competitively-constituted ontological individualism, dominant in contemporary popular and governmental thought, which…

June 9 2017. “Social Science and Fiction: fiction writing as a method and analytical tool”, Birmingham City University Experimental approaches to writing research, Birmingham UK.

It’s relevant to what we understand as valuable ‘academic’ processes today that literature and social science share a long yet largely oppositional history. English novel writing and early Western sociology both emerged during the Industrial Evolution yet sociologists quickly aligned themselves with scientists, turning to positivist analyses to differentiate themselves from ‘mere’ writers with whom they shared a topic of focus – the social world…

May 25 2017. “Bringing the Artefact-Exegesis PhD Model to Sociology”, University of York Traversing Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Social Research symposium, York UK.

The artefact-exegesis model is a model used in practice-based PhDs typically in creative arts disciplines where a research project takes the form of a piece, exhibition, or collection of art in a broad variety of forms – called the artefact – and a thesis-style work that explains and justifies the artefact as research and as a significant contribution to disciplinary knowledge – called the exegesis. Different disciplines…

February 13 2017. “Fiction as Public Sociology”, Queen Margaret University Public Sociology Lunchtime Seminar Series, Edinburgh UK.

Fiction is a useful tool for thinking sociologically, theorising sociology, and teaching sociology. Writing fiction also has great value for sociologists. Writing fiction can help us flex our critical thinking and theorising skills, challenging our ability to unpack concepts and communicate clearly – in a different, constructive and productive way. Fiction is a way to do public sociology that is engaging, panoramic, and affective…

November 29 2016. ‘“You Kind of Have to Work for It”: Introductory Sociology and the Interactive Workshop,’ The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2016 National Conference, ‘Cities and Successful Societies,’ Melbourne Australia.

This paper presents findings from the ‘Understanding the Social World Learning and Teaching Course Enrichment Project’ undertaken in conjunction with the delivery of a revised introductory sociology course at Griffith University. The lecture-tutorial format was replaced by a blended learning approach of multiple online activities and a weekly on-campus workshop. This ‘flipped’ the classroom using the U-Approach, organising the course…

November 25 2016. ‘E-thnography: Recording ‘the Field’ with my Smartphone (just like everybody else),’ Fresh Lines HDR Symposium, Griffith Center for Social and Cultural Research with the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, Gold Coast Australia.

The saturation of personal technologies in contemporary society offers exciting potential for ethnographers undertaking fieldwork. This paper presents reflections from research where I employ my smartphone as a tool for collecting data. Like the distinctive collection Interpreting the Field: Accounts of Ethnography (Hobbs & May 2002), this paper also concerns the ‘messy business’ of ethnography and asks how we can ‘establish “closeness” and…

March 19 2016. I Am: writing autoethnography, writing sociology/writing fiction, writing Australia. ‘Public Engagement and Performance Conference,’ York UK.

How much of myself do I put into this? How much do I give and take? This paper explores processes of doing autoethnographic and arts-based research. It draws from my current PhD project of writing a sociological novel, with these methods, about an everyday life in Australia that aims to examine ‘The Australian Way of Life’ as a cultural narrative. I apply a…

March 14 2016. Writing a Sociological Novel: a four dimensional approach to exploring the social world with fiction. ‘Fiction and the Social Imaginary.’ The University of York, York UK.

Creative writing and sociology are complementary approaches for critically exploring the social world. Narratives are often employed in contemporary sociological work, helping to illuminate theory and highlight the significance of research. This paper extends this narrative current. Drawing from an ongoing autoethnographic and arts-based PhD project, it unpacks my work of writing a sociological novel. I am bringing the form of the fiction novel together with the…

November 26 2015. Sociological Storytelling: Navigating Glocal Perspectives and (Creative) Writing as Public Sociology. The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2015 National Conference, ‘Neoliberalism and Contemporary Challenges for the Asia Pacific.’ James Cook University and the Cairns Institute, Cairns Australia.

Sociologists are in the business of storytelling. Narrative threads run throughout much contemporary sociological practice, analysis, and writing. This paper explores public sociology as storytelling; a practice of writing sociology that connects local and global frames of reference and extends the reach of research beyond the academy. The approach employed in the paper…

November 11 2015. Field Notes to Fiction: methodological considerations for autoethnography and arts-based research. Griffith Centre for Cultural Research (GCCR) Postgraduate Symposium, Griffith University, South Bank Australia.

Since the late 1700s, when sociology developed amid growing divisions between science and literature, methodology has been a central concern within the discipline. Contemporary debates commonly circle quantitative versus qualitative and objective versus subjective approaches, and progressive work is being done on multimodal and technologically focused mixed-method work (see Vannini & Milne 2014). This paper focuses on autoethnography and arts-based research methods, specifically of fiction writing. Here I ask: what might we consider when…

September 25 2015. Thinking-Writing Affect: Spinoza, sociological imagination, and Trajectory of Self. Contemporary Emotions Research Network (CERN) workshop, ‘Researching and Measuring Emotions and Affect in Contemporary Society.’ University of Wollongong, Sydney Australia.

What can Spinoza’s Ethics (1677 [2001]) teach us about affect and (self)cultivating a sociological imagination today? Moreover, how may we develop our understanding of affect through writing as a sociological method? This paper explores theoretical intersections between the work of seventeenth century European philosopher Benedict Spinoza, mid-twentieth century American sociologist C Wright Mills, and contemporary…

November 17 2014. How Mills Can Change Your Life: Self-Help and the Sociological Imagination. Griffith Centre for Cultural Research (GCCR) Postgraduate Symposium, Griffith University, Nathan Australia.

What is sociology good for? This paper presents a platform for public sociology by drawing together contemporary debates on the ‘use’ of sociological knowledge and the rapid growth of the literary self–help genre. I Propose that public Sociology could be successful in this genre and demonstrate my own approach for writing in this form. I use C Wright Mills’ foundational text The Sociological Imagination (1959) as a compositional outline for a narrative-based guide to living more empathetically. My…

November 1 2013. How to Be Beyoncé: the Cosmopolitan Feminist. Griffith Centre for Cultural Research (GCCR) Postgraduate Symposium, Griffith University, Gold Coast Australia.