Lots happened in the last couple of months, mainly I had to finish my doctoral dissertation two months ahead of schedule. But it is done! Joy, joy, joy! Well, not actually, I didn’t really feel that relieved or happy when I submitted it, I felt a bit sad and empty. Post-thesis depression it seems. I’m going to write a post on my strategies to finish ahead of time, my tricks to deal with procrastination, and so on.
But for now I just wanted to say that I’m leaving Norway, since I’m starting in December a new job: I’ll be an Assistant Professor of Sociology at ISCSP, Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal). I’ll be teaching sociology of technology, research methods, and contemporary sociological thought. So I’m going home after a few years abroad. Yep, I’m going back to Portugal in the middle of a deep & structural financial crisis…at least you have to recognize my boldness (or idiocy?) ;p
Before ending this quick update, I want to share with you a film project called “My fellow American“. This North-American project is devoted to show that Muslims are an active & contributing part of our communities. It goes against the mediatic tide of Islamophobia, promoting tolerance and showing the other side of the coin. After my post on the terrorist attacks in Oslo I received an email from a member of this project, bringing it to my attention. Thank you Elisabeth, and sorry for my delay in sharing it!
What a horrific tragedy in Norway! 93 76 dead people, mainly teenagers. 96 injured in the twin terror attacks.
I’ve been giving some interviews for Portuguese radio, TV, and newspapers since Friday (22/07/2011). You can find a lot of that online (I’ll try to find the links, and I’ll post it below).
I refused to say on television, on TVI’s evening news with Judite de Sousa (Friday, 22/07/2011, 8pm in Lisbon), that it was an Islamic terrorist attack, without any official confirmation. I brought the 1995 Oklahoma bombing case to the discussion, and I said that the media are experts in feeding speculation, promoting Islamophobia. I didn’t know who was responsible for the attacks back then. That got me some haters (and some “funny” emails too), because how could I deny an Islamic attack! What a disgrace, a sociologist, a PhD student not confirming the “evidence”. Well, as a good researcher, I wait for data, for facts. It reminded me of Edward Said, author of “Orientalism”, who was completely harassed by the media, when the Oklahoma bombing attack occurred, trying to make him acknowledge an Islamic terrorist attack, without any sort of evidence.
It wasn’t an Islamic terrorist attack, it was a twin terrorist attack (yes, it is still terrorism! Terrorism is not a synonym of Islamic terrorism) by a Norwegian Timothy McVeigh, Anders Behring Breivik, 32-years old. A man connected to the extreme right-wing ideology, against multiculturalism, Islam, and “cultural marxism” (you can read his online “manifesto“). A Christian, not a Muslim. He not only destroyed the governmental buildings in Oslo (killing 8 people with the bomb explosion), he also attempted to annihilate the future and the democratic structure of a country. He shot dead 68 people on the island of Utøya, during the Labour party youth camp. Mostly young people; the future of the left-wing party, currently in power. Sad. Sad. Sad. It kind of brings back some reminiscences of the Argentinean “abducting children” during the Dirty war.
The way Norwegians have been dealing and responding to this huge tragedy is definitely inspiring: with more democratic and humanistic values. From the Prime Minister to survivors. No paranoia, no extra suspicion, no obsession with security, no fear, no disinformation, no hate:
“Our answer is more democracy, more openness and more humanity”
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s speech held in Oslo Cathedral July 24, 2011.
“I don’t think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect”
Oslo Mayor, when asked if we need more security.
“If one man can show so much hate, think how much love we can all show together.”
Norwegian Prime Minister, quoting an AUF member
”G.W. Bush, 9/11: “We’re gonna hunt you down.” Stoltenberg, 22/7: “We will retaliate with more democracy”. I’m proud to be Norwegian.” (before knowing who was responsible for the attacks)
@ragholmas on Twitter
“Bring the attacker’s political ideas to the table, and we will debate them to death!”
Young Labour party member
Of course, this has been the answer in the short-run, we still have to wait for the effects in the long-run. Norwegians are still digesting what happened, and these types of tragedies bring people together. But let’s see how these events affected the Norwegian level of social trust, social tolerance, and sociability. I suspect it is going to be the same or even higher. Again, this is just an hypothesis. I’ll wait for the data.
My last radio interview can be found here. When I talk about Anders Breivik’s participation in a neo-nazi web forum I meant 22,000 members and not 22! Interviews so early in the morning are always a no-no for me. I’m so sorry for the wrong info! Yes, more haters on my way…
My last radio interview can be found here (6:07 & 15:43). A very interesting piece by journalist Luís Nascimento, which also interviews the vice-president of the Norwegian parliament, a member of the Progress party, and Hanne Marthe Narud, a political scientist of the University of Oslo, among other locals and Portuguese immigrants in Oslo.
Join us for a minute of silence today at 12:00 CET.
Today, I’ll also march for peace and tolerance in Oslo at 18h. It’s organized by a Norwegian individual on facebook and counts with the partnership of Amnesty International. More than 50.000 people pledged to participate with flowers. This is a small country, so we all know someone that lost a family member, a friend, a neighbour, an acquaintance. As the Norwegian poet Nordahl Grieg said after the start of the WW2 in Norway, during the Nazi occupation, “We are so few in this country. Every fallen is a brother or a friend.”
I still need to find the TV interviews (for TVI & TVI24h) and radio comercial interview. I actually spoke first with radio comercial on Friday, right after the explosion. This is the consequence of having so many journalist friends. Social capital, again and again.
The march was so inspiring. Well, it wasn’t a march because soo many people participated that there was literally no space to walk. This shows how Norway fights back: 250.000 people in Oslo holding roses and standing together for peace and tolerance. As the Norwegian Crown Prince said “the streets are filled with love tonight”. The messages were, once again, to emphasize the democratic and humanistic values of the Norwegian society: freedom, respect, democracy, and social tolerance. Similar marches all over Norway.
Just a quick note to introduce an interesting UK spot for this year’s International Women’s Day. I think the choice of using a womanizer character was witty, specially when we are debating gender equality and objectification. Well done, Judy Dench and Daniel Craig!
“Are we equals? Until the answer is yes, you must never stop asking”
Even more interesting are some of the comments left on youtube. A true proof that misogyny, sexism, and patriarchism are alive and kicking. I particularly “like” some very thought provoking ones, such as “Go eat a dick, feminists.” It definitely brings a lot to this debate…
In the spirit of the gender equality debate, I also have to mention a fabulous 2010 interview with Gloria Steinem and Jehmu Greene. A range of issues from sexism to abortion are addressed in this Katie Couric’s interview. Steinem even criticizes the Atlantic article “The end of men”, stating that the title is already problematic, as the idea that someone has to win leaves no space for the idea of collaboration and equality. Feminists fight for gender equality, and not for the superiority of women in the world. I’m, for instance, against the fact that only males are drafted for the army. If there has to be any conscription (which I’m also against), it shouldn’t be genderized. Once again, the comments are extremely rich, from “These are not feminists. They are simply men with vaginas” to “Katie and Gloria look old and fat. They don’t need to worry about abortion, who would want to have sex with them?” It seems ageism and cacomorphobia are also a disturbing reality. Oh well, there is still a long road to go.
The Sociological Images blog published an interesting post about gender and technology. I’m very pleased to see my contribution in this article, namely the new commercial video from Nokia. In this ad, not only the female objectification is undoubtedly visible, as the ethnic & racial preconception is evident: her name is Suzy, she’s Latina – she starts with a “holla” and has a clear Hispanic accent – and then she goes on to say that she is hot…wait…she is sizzling hot. The whole narrative is based on a highly sexualized Latina woman that shows you her product. In the end, she even asks you “Wanna see more of me?”. Seriously, Nokia! More than connecting people, it seems the new core business of this tech company is to connect prejudices. I was honestly getting used to deconstruct more “subtle” sexist ads, but this one is just unbelievably straight to the point.
Our Cidadania Digital (Digital citizenship) book is finally out! In Portuguese, though. It’s a selection of articles about digital citizenship written by Portuguese authors, and edited by Isabel Salema Morgado and António Rosas. And you can download it for free!
So, if you can read Portuguese, please enjoy and leave us your comments!
A cidadania como exercício político que se pratica no médium digital é uma realidade que paulatinamente vai aprofundando a acção participativa dos governados nos regimes democráticos, ou não deixa de ser um simulacro de uma realidade que é apenas visionada por alguns, mas cuja acção e efeitos são irrelevantes para os que efectivamente controlam o poder?
Neste livro, os autores vão procurar encontrar respostas para esta questão central, apresentando análises de realidades diversas cujo enquadramento comum são os usos que os cidadãos fazem das redes digitais.
I’m back from the International Sociology Association (ISA) conference, this year held in Goteborg, Sweden. The ISA has its big scientific gathering, called the “World Congress”, every 4 years. This is my second one, and man! I’m still recovering from it – this ISA had sessions from 8h45 to 22h00…every single day! They even had 20-22h sessions during the Congress Party! Seriously! Personally, I completely disagree with this model, as a matter of fact, I think it is extremely disrespectful for participants – speakers, chairs, and audience. The obsession for inclusion, cuts down quality, meaningful engagement, and overall satisfaction. Specially when sessions are overcrowded with 10 minute presentations, with no quality time for discussion – that is, after all, one of the main goals of these events. It also cuts down time for networking – another major goal.
The annual meetings/interim conferences of each research group seem to work better, both scientifically and socially. Nevertheless, not all is bad in the “World Congress” realm: it is very useful to grasp international trends in research; the plenary sessions have renowned sociologists (this year, Manuel Castells, Saskia Sassen, among others); and it is a great opportunity to meet interesting people from all over the world. This congress had 5007 participants from 103 countries – and I don’t say sociologists, as it is a multidisciplinary event that attracts people from a plethora of fields.
I’m writing this post, because I heard a lot of new attendees saying how they were a little bit disappointed with the conference. I understand them; I felt exactly the same back in 2006 in South Africa. Why did I go again? No, I’m not masochistic. Simply putting it, I still believe these conferences have some value, and I work hard to get positive outcomes from them. But we learn from mistakes, so I developed my golden rules for the World Congress. I’m sure this can be applied to any big conference, and I hope this is useful for students and/or first time attendees.
As in any big conference there are lots of parallel sessions, full of interesting themes. But we are not omnipresent, so how to choose? The first thing I do is to get the program booklet and go through it, selecting the ones I’m really interested in and those I would like to attend, if there’s time. I use colored post-its to differentiate them, dividing by day and hour. Sessions normally last two hours, but it really depends on the conference. Some people stick with one research committee/working group for the whole conference – and that is a good option to not get lost – but I gain more from attending sessions by different groups.
I. Concerning the selection, my rules are:
1. Don’t select a session if there is only one paper/presentation you are interested in – This for three reasons: first, the speaker might not even show up; second, it might be actually disappointing; and third, even if he/she shows up, then you’re stuck in that session for the rest of the time. Yes, you might discover other interesting things, and you might even have a serendipitous moment, but trust me, normally you just sit there waiting to be over with it. Of course that if you are really interested in that paper/presentation and you think it is worth it, go for it! Otherwise, you can always send an email to the author asking for that paper/presentation.
2. Always select an alternative session – Because of last minute arrangements a session might be changed (hour or location), so it’s good to have a second option. This is also useful if the session is too boring or not really what you expected – you can sneak out and go to another session ;p
3. If possible, read the paper before the conference - I say if possible, because a lot of participants don’t send them on time, or just don’t send them at all – papers are not mandatory for the ISA World Congress. This will give you a handful of advantages: firstly, you know beforehand if a presentation interests you or not; secondly, you have time to go deep into the paper and define better your questions/feedback; lastly, it gives you time to look up something – a reference, a technique, etc. – you were not familiar with.
4. If in doubt, search for the authors online – No, it’s not voyeurism. It is actually very useful, if you can find them. You can check their previous and current work and see if it really interests you. You might end up finding a lot of great information and get a more complete overview of the author’s work.
II. During the sessions,
5. Ask/Participate – Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions or give feedback. The authors are there for it, and that’s part of the scientific spirit. Everybody gains a lot with discussion, and remember there are no bad questions.
III. Outside the sessions,
6. Network, network, network – Take advantage of the time at the conference to network: interact with as many people as possible. Don’t skip the coffee-breaks, lunches, or dinners. Also make sure to reserve some time for specific interaction, if there is anyone at the conference you really want to meet and/or talk to. In this case, it is better (and I think more appropriate) to send she/he an email previously asking for an informal talk. This way, you know that that person is ‘really’ attending the conference (a lot of people register but then can’t attend) and that you “booked’ a specific time slot to that talk. The majority of participants make a lot of informal arrangements before these conferences – lunches, dinners, and so on – so sometimes it’s hard to find the people you are looking for, or they aren’t available at all. Oh, and don’t forget your business cards (I always do and it is always embarrassing when people ask for it).
7. Keep your eyes open – There is more out there – ISA also has other interesting events, as the “Meet Authors”, “Author Meets Critics” and “National Associations” sessions. They also have a book exhibition, with book launches and other social events.
8. Have fun – Most of all, have fun – that is also part of science. Relax and enjoy! Work and fun are not incompatible. As David Lodge humorously puts it:
“(…) folk long to go on pilgrimages. Only, these days, professional people call them conferences. The modern conference resembles the pilgrimage of medieval Christendom in that allows the participants to indulge themselves in all pleasures and diversions of travel while appearing to be austerely bent on self-improvement. To be sure, there are certain penitential exercises to be performed – the presentation of a paper, perhaps, and certainly listening to the papers of others. But with this excuse you journey to new and interesting places, meet new and interesting people, and form new and interesting relationships with them; exchange gossip and confidences; eat, drink, and make merry in their company every evening; and yet, at the end of it all, return home with an enhanced reputation for seriousness of mind.”
(Lodge, David; “Small World”, Penguin Books, 1984, Prologue).
I’m sick and tired of people saying that women are not cut for some fields, namely engineering, physics, computer science, etc. Women hate math and everything that is too technical – they say. Women go to arts, humanities, and social sciences. And even though a large number of women are entering natural sciences, engineering, and other male-dominated fields, they are still a minority. Several factors explain it: socialization; gender roles; social structure; social networks; peer groups; education; and culture, to name a few. Here’s one of the reasons by fabulous Zack Weiner:
by Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC), Zack Weiner
“This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labor on which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.” Gloria Steinem
(Speech Address to the Women of America, July 10, 1971, National Women’s Political Caucus)
My online survey about hi5 and facebook usage in Portugal is closed. Thank you all! Muito obrigado! I’ve got 220 complete questionnaires. I’ll start the data analysis soon and then, I’ll conduct semi-structured interviews with Portuguese users. I’m extremely busy at the moment, with my PhD field work, so I’m not sure when the preliminary results will be available. I hope I can post all the results and the data set asap. All those interested in further analysis can use my database.
Here is a “blurb” of the project:
This study examines how social networking sites are affecting the lives of Portuguese users. Are social networking sites enhancing sociability and civic engagement? Or are they causing social isolation, addiction, and risk? To answer these questions, I’m conducting an exploratory study in Portugal. I had a survey online, which was answered by 220 users of hi5 and facebook – the most used social networking sites in Portugal. I’m also planning to conduct 30 semi-structured interviews soon. This project is funded by the Centre for Public Administration & Policies, ISCSP-UTL.. Self-funded.
O meu e-inquérito sobre a utilização Portuguesa do hi5 e facebook está finalmente pronto (após dois longos pré-testes)! Agora preciso de respostas =) Assim, peço o favor de responderem ao questionário e de o enviarem para todos os vossos contactos Portugueses.
It’s been a while since I write here, but it’s been a crazy working season. Nevertheless, my survey about hi5 and facebook usage in Portugal is finally ready (after two long pretests)! Now, I need Portuguese users to answer it =) SO, please answer it and/or send the link to all your Portuguese contacts.
I was invited to be part of a TV show about Portuguese people living abroad. It was a kind of a personal account, and all my "sociological" talk was pretty much cut off the show -- yeah, I understand, it's entertainment, stupid ;p Anyway, you can see me, Marcos, and our lovely dog. In part I, I come up at 2:18-4:08 and at 15:00-19:07 (with Marcos & Joey). In part II, 13:00-16:25.
I've just heard that Paula Escarameia passed away, and what a profound sadness I felt! What a loss ;( Paula was not only a brilliant thinker, but a woman of causes and great generosity. She was a member of UN's International Law Commission (the first woman to hold this position) and a member of The Hague (Permanent Court of Arbitration). Her fight for Timor and other international causes was always inspiring and determinant. In 2002, her work was recognized by the Portuguese state, and she was awarded the Portuguese Order of Prince Henry the Navigator (Grand Officer). She was a humble and beloved Professor at my Uni -- and she just didn't go (institutionally) further sooner, because we're still struck in a disgusting patriarchal system! Thanks for everything, Paula! The world will miss you, but we'll never forget your legacy! RIP ;(
This volcano refugee is back from Paris. I saw a lot of great stuff in the city of lights (not counting the patisseries, brasseries and 2nd hand bookstores), but I was mesmerized by the "elles" exibition at the Centre Pompidou (one of my fav. places in the world). It's a thematic expo of women artists. Finally, they have a place at museums - as artists, and not only as naked objects or muses :)