SSI Session One: Thursday 1st October 2013, 7-9pm

We will start with introductions and explain what the course and the Social Science Centre are all about. Everyone will have a chance to share who they are, why they are interested in the course and what they hope to get out of it. We’ll also talk about our approaches to teaching and learning environments.

After a break, we’ll look at all the issues and ideas that emerged in our discussion and talk about how we will explore them through the rest of the course. We’ll do this from many perspectives, but will introduce the first piece we’ll read (a chapter by C. Wright Mills’ book The Sociological Imagination’) and discuss plans for our next meeting.

Links to reading

Link to the first chapter of The Sociological Imagination, which we will read together first:

C. Wright Mills, ‘The promise’, Chapter 1 of The Sociological Imagination (NY: Free Press, 1959),

Links to a few pieces of writing that explain what Mills means by ‘the promise’:

Kimberly Kiesewetter, ‘Choosing the sociological imagination’, Sociology in Focus, 14 November, (the questions at the end of this piece are not terribly relevant, but you could try to make up your own…).

Joachim Vogt Isaksen, ‘The sociological imagination: thinking outside the box’, Popular Social Science, 29 April 2013,

Questions for thinking

It will be helpful if we all read about the sociological imagination with some similar questions in mind. We can start with the following questions:

  • What do you think Mills means by ‘the sociological’ imagination’? How might you explain this idea to someone you know?

  • Why did Mills think that people felt ‘trapped’ in their lives when he was writing? What did he argue they were trapped by?

  • Did he think people could become free from these traps? If so, how?

  • What is the difference between ‘personal troubles’ and public issues’, according to Mills? Why did he think it is important for people to be able to tell the difference?

  • This first chapter of Mills’ book is called ‘the promise’. He wrote that the sociological imagination promises something for us. What is this promise?

Once you understand something of what Mills is saying, try using it to think differently about something in your own life or something that you’ve noticed happening around you (for example, in your observations on the streets or in the media).

The Social Science Imagination course, Autumn 2013

Seeing the world differently with social science

 Thursdays, 7–9pm, from 3rd October until 12th December 2013

Revival Centre, Sincil Street, Lincoln

 This free course is for anyone who wants to learn more about how the social world works and how we can change it, with the help of social science. Today, the economy is in crisis; people are struggling to find work and homes, pay debts and make ends meet; prejudice and discrimination are rife; social policies are changing fast; and new social movements and experiments are springing up everywhere to respond to this situation. This course, which is one of a number of free courses offered by the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, can help.

Read more…

Upcoming course and public seminars

We’ve updated the SSC calendar to include a new series of public seminars that we will be running each month from September. We’ve also added the dates for this year’s Social Science Imagination course, running from October.

More detail will be posted soon about the Social Science Imagination course, but if you are interested in studying with the SSC, it’s the course you should consider enrolling on. Please do contact us if you’d like to discuss enrolment.

You’ll see from the calendar that we have public seminars lined up from September to January and we hope to add more soon. Here are the titles of the talks, we hope to see you there!

17th September: Reading the Pussy Riot Act

22nd October: Moving the Goalposts: some realities of democratic football governance

12th November: The contradictions of copyright: some essential issues for the peoples of the global South

7th December: What Are You Reading For? Modes of Critique, Modes of Production, and the Pedagogies of Networked Labour

15th January: Hacks and spooks: Close encounters of a strange kind

Social Science Imagination – Core Themes

About midway through the first term (or season) the group established a set of core concepts or principles that had emerged out of our writing and discussions. These were: identity, power, knowledge, trap, religion, money, revolution, gender and sexuality.

From these themes we established a reading list as a framework for the classes to begin after Christmas. The discussion and debates around these readings will enrich and substantiate our ongoing writing projects, as an individual and collective form of academic practice.

Each week one member of the class will take the lead introducing a theme through a particular reading or cultural artefact or object. See here for our Spring syllabus.

Creative Projects

A wonderful tree design by Grace Gurbutt illustrating some of the ideas underlying the Creative Projects

A wonderful tree design by Grace Gurbutt illustrating some of the ideas underlying the Creative Projects. Click for the full-size image.

The focus for the Creative Project (in the form of, say, a print-based work, textual piece or art work, or video, or photography or combination of these) would emerge from the learning and research done by the student scholar. This would be facilitated by a teaching scholar ideally on a one-to-one basis. The process, as much as the ‘product’, would be an essential part of the learning and creative process for both.

Sara, Grace and Richard imagined the project as a sort of tree with various crucial elements involving a practice of care for each other and ourselves forming the roots – out of which the trunk and branches of the whole Creative Project tree could grow and which would ensure its sustainability and realisability.

At the roots were the spirit of collaborative working, the ethic of caring and commitment to the community, care of self and others of the SCC, the willingness to be open to new ideas, the stress on the reflective approach, on the work being both rewarding and challenging. The tree was also fed by the elements of time, space – and the particular resources and support needed to nurture and sustain this element of the curriculum and the individual creative projects/processes for both student-scholar and teacher-scholar.

The actual project would then work through various elements:

Why: This would involve exploring the motivations/experiences/desires of the student scholar. This would link to questions and experiences explored in other parts of the curriculum but would do so in a deeper more sustained way in relation to the particularities of desire, need and experience of the student scholar. This part would also begin to create the nurturing relationship of care, collaboration and trust between the student-scholar and teacher-scholar. The time allotted to each element would be negotiated.

Mapping knowledge: To create the soil in which to plant the seeds of the idea of the creative project we imagined mapping the knowledge of both the student-scholar and teacher-scholar (in whatever way that worked for the pair). This could form the basis of pulling out central themes and of then exploring and reflecting on how to narrow these down to particular question to explore in the project.

How: This element would explore the experiences, knowledges and methods used in similar projects. This would also involve another type of mapping of both’s knowledges and experiences with research/exploring questions/creating projects and also others’ experiences and knowledges. This would enable selection of the methods and methodology underlying the project.

What. The exploration and learning would help the student scholar to identify the form through which she/he would like to realise/express the learning and ‘answers’ to her/his research question. This would also involve developing a timetable of creating the final ‘product’.

Creating the ‘product’ (the unique ‘tree’)

A number of weeks of creating.

Reflecting on the process