Originally an Oxford PPEist, I returned to higher education in 2012 to study for an MA in Critical & Creative Analysis within the Sociology department at Goldsmiths College. I researched and wrote about how we collectively produce cultural value, using Bruno Latour's "actor-network theory" aka "sociology of translation". Since then I've continued private study of Latour's theory and its implications for object-oriented democracy and the composing of a more social and human economy.
MA Dissertation: exploring the Campaign for Really Good Beer
My dissertation contributed to a long-running sociological debate on the meaning and workings of cultural taste. I argued that the existence of voluntary cultural organisations such as CAMRGB challenges Pierre Bourdieu's notion that our "taste practices" are based mostly on underlying social competition, and that the content and nature of the cultural objects themselves is therefore arbitrary.
Instead, I proposed using Bruno Latour and Antoine Hennion's "sociology of translation/association" to explain how changes in specific objects, e.g. the innovation and popularisation of new beer styles and dispense methods, can change how communities of amateurs form, grow and resolve controversies over collective evaluations and judgements of taste.
An excerpt focusing on CAMRGB can be found here, and the full dissertation can be found here.
The Community Right to Bid: towards a cultural policy for pubs?
The British pub has been an object of regulation for centuries, but it is only with the Community Right to Bid (CRTB) provision of the 2011 Localism Act that the state has begun to recognise the unique social and cultural benefits that pubs can bring to communities.
While the CRTB focuses on the pub's potential social and economic impact and falls short of explicitly recognising the pub's cultural value, this paper draws on cultural policy theory to argue that an implicit cultural policy for British pubs may be emerging, aided in part by the more explicit cultural policies of non-state actors such as the Campaign for Real Ale's Pub of the Year programme. An explicit government cultural policy for pubs would recognise that the pub's social and economic benefits cannot be separated from its unique and particular cultural character, and would thus have policy implications for how pubs might be preserved in the future.
Full paper here.