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  • seandodson 2:35 pm on January 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    My goodness, over six months since my last post. Parenthood and undergraduate teaching have just absorbed all of my time. But I do plan to rise Phoenix like some time soon.

  • seandodson 11:55 am on May 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: joseph rowntree foundation, , socialology, welfare   

    Why Labour supporters are turning against the poor 

    Like many on the left, my heart sank when I read yesterday that even Labour supporters are turning against the poor. According to a new study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Labour supporters believe that welfare recipients are undeserving and the majority now believe that the welfare state creates dependency. By heck, how times have changed.

    The reaction from the left has been muted, but I thought the excellent A Very Public Sociologist blog explained the case with some eloquence this morning:

    In a way, Labour people’s growing hostility to the less fortunate proves how successful divisive, dog-eat-dog policies and rhetoric can be. It also demonstrates the continued salience of class, albeit in a negative way. As appallingly crass it is, rubbish around the “squeezed middle”, “hard-working families/taxpayers”, and “strivers” does speak to large swathes of people. The public at large are being explicitly addressed as people who work while on Britain’s council estates, bajillions of others are idly living off their taxes. You have to work every hour you can send, while those on JSA or ESA get an income handed to them on a silver dish. It’s one class politics of envy card the Tories are never afraid to play because they know it resonates.

    • Ralph 10:33 pm on June 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This is very fascinating, You’re an overly professional blogger. I have joined your feed and stay up for in the hunt for extra of your wonderful post. Additionally, I have shared your website in my social networks

  • seandodson 8:54 pm on January 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Orwell day: Politics and the English Language published in a pamphlet form for #orwellday 

    It’s #orwellday today. The first ever. Thanks to my good friend Katriona Lewis at the Orwell Prize, I received these four splendid editions of George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, published recently by Penguin. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the essay. It’s certainly the single most useful piece of writing I’ve ever read. It offers general advice on good writing, laying down helpful rules, and then explains, with some choice metaphors, why good writing leads to more responsible politics (and bad writing to some very dangerous thinking). Four copies in my possession, if you would like one, please leave a good reason why and one is heading your way.

    • Samppa 2:10 pm on January 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Why? Don´t remember who many years have passed? Was it 2004? When it was Euro football or such? You teached me the essence of this writing, in some very lonely conversation in now passed way bar in Porvoo Finland. And that has still strugged me till today.

  • seandodson 11:19 am on January 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , js lowry, , tate britain   

    The Dickens of the Brush: JS Lowry at the Tate 

    Lot_19___Lowry_The_Railway_Platform_Full Very pleased JS Lowry is to get his first-ever retrospective in London. Isn’t it amazing that a painter that good, and that famous, has never been shown in the capital before? I suppose it’s because he’s so popular that he’s so often been overlooked. But no one has captured the essence of the industrial north quite as well as he. Lowry is as profound as he is accessible. A Dickens of the brush. Nice one Tate Britain.

    • Colin Bullocks 4:02 am on September 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I guess I should fill something out while I am here visiting. Many thanks for putting up wonderful stuff. It’s asking for your world wide web web-site here although I am posting this, so here’s one that I used to be just checking out. Consider care.

  • seandodson 3:52 pm on January 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply

    “I am offended to think that anyone, anywhere believes American institutions as insulated, self-preserving and self-justifying as police departments, school systems, legislatures and chief executives can be held to gathered facts by amateurs pursuing the task without compensation, training or for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care to whom it is they are lying to. The idea of this is absurd, yet to read the claims that some new media voices are already making, you would think they need only bulldoze the carcasses of moribund newspapers aside and begin typing. They don’t know what they don’t know – which is a dangerous state for any class of folk – and to those of us who do understand how subtle and complex good reporting can be, their ignorance is as embarrassing as it is seemingly sincere.”

    David Simon speaking to the US Senate, via Loretta’s Basement
  • seandodson 9:08 pm on January 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Bowie and Berlin 

    Paris Bar, Berlin
    What a nice surprise that David Bowie has a new single out. Where are we now? reflects on his time in Berlin in the mid-to-late seventies. Now, I like Bowie. And I like Berlin. I liked it so much that I once went there just to see a little of what he did. The trip included dinner in the completely ace Paris Bar in Charlottenburg (previous post) featured in the wonderful painting by Martin Kippenberger, above.

  • seandodson 5:43 pm on December 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , leveson report, lord leveson, , media analysis, network society, newspaper websites   

    Claire Enders on the continuing power of the press 

    There was an interesting debate last week, in the wake of the Leveson Report, about the irelevance of the printed press in the age of the network society. It’s a topic I hear a lot among a few or our undergraduates who argue that “everyone is getting their news from Twitter”. Of all the words spoken about this last week, I thought Claire Enders articulated the opposite on Newsnight brilliantly :

    The internet has a place and a role but actually the information it provides has a much greater reach if its on the newstands across the country; if its in every supermarket, in every every newsagent … Still there are 23 million people who are reading a physical newspaper everyday and that newspaper websites do comprise seven of the top 10 websites in this country … So I dispute — absolutely — the fact that the internet has the same reach and power of the printed press. Lord Leveson is not saying that the internet has now power , as we all know is false. In fact it has enormous reach, but it has a different impact on reputation here in the UK.

    • Ash 6:36 pm on December 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I agree with Claire Enders. If your undergraduates are getting their news from Twitter, then I fear for the next generation of journalists. You don’t get the deepest analysis in 140 characters. The papers as just as relevant now, even though we do have other sources. For example, if you want to read about American politics, you have to read the Washington post. Yahoo’s news service isn’t going to give you that level of detail.

    • Cheri 10:56 pm on January 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This is exactly the third blog, of your site I actually checked out.
      But I actually love this particular 1, “Northern Light” the best.
      Regards -Simon

  • seandodson 12:46 pm on November 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: the killing   

    I have been enjoying the most recent series of The Killing on BBC4. No so much the detective story, which has become a bit mechanistic while remaining gripping, but more because of the interplay between the political characters in the story. The relationship between Robert Zeuthen, the chief executive of the large corporation Zeeland and the prime minister Kristian Kamper. What’s so interesting about the relationship (and Danish TV drama as a whole) is that the power relationship is shown to you implicitly, which is something British television used to do so well before it started s.p.e.l.l.i.n.g e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g o.u.t. There’s one scene where the prime minister visits the corporate boss in his home, the viewer is left in no doubt that the power resides. Without a word of hint in the actual dialog it is obvious to me that the power is in the corporation. That’s contemporary Western politics in a micorcosm and excellent television.

    • Richard 8:33 pm on November 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Now i am Danish. I and my point of view is that danish drama television is getting better and better because of our more dark stories and our more intense acting.
      My blog /

  • seandodson 4:24 pm on November 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: George Entwistle, , ,   

    The current state of investigative journalism in the UK 

    Say what you like about George Entwistle’s pay off (and I think the poor bugger should keep the money), the child abuse scandal at Newsnight — which brought down the director general of the BBC comes at a rotten time for investigative journalism. The local press continues to decline, losing readers and the inclination to conduct proper investigative journalism beyond Freedom of Information requests. Lord Leveson is due to report back next week, and we can all expect some limits placed on the printed press. And now the BBC tearing itself arpart in a way that somehow reminds of Dali’s Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), right. If, as commentators, such as Steve Hewlett have suggested, investigations get permanantly frozen out from Newsnight, and The World at One and the Today programme, at the BBC, one of the few institutions to be able to conduct proper investigative journalism in this country will be weakened quite dangerously. It is very worrying

  • seandodson 4:43 pm on September 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Interactive newsprint, , iot, Paul Egglestone   

    New blog post: Can electronic paper save the newspaper? 

    Paper has being going out of fashion for almost as long as I can remember the internet. A lover of digital as I am, I would still regret the loss of paper from my day-to-day life. Not least because I have yet to discover a graphical user interface that encourages you to delve and browse typographic content as well as paper does. In other words, we read differently on paper.

    And yet we all know that print is in trouble because it can’t “compete” with the wealth of access made available by the web and other network technologies. But recently I’ve seen a couple of initiatives that promise – it is no more than that – to breath life into the old medium by somehow bridging the gap between paper and digital.

    The University of Central Lancashire (Uclan) in Preston has been experimenting with the Lancashire Evening News to produce a newspaper (a proper printed one that could be delivered by boys on bikes) that is somehow connected to the internet, through what I believe to be small integrated circuits in the ink itself. I looks like it might work a bit like this gig poster that played music at the South By Southwest Show in Austin, Texas earlier this year.

    Interactive newsprint is just a prototype at the moment, the manufacture of which is being done by Novalia of Cambridge, but it does allow for the paper to play audio and for things like Facebook ‘likes’ to be inputted by touching the the page itself.

    I’m not sure that in the project’s current form “it will send a lifeline … to the news industry” as Paul Egglestone Uclan’s director of journalism says, but it exciting to see paper’s potential (it’s light, portable, doesn’t need a battery) explored in this way. It is especially pleasing to learn that the Uclan scheme has an editorial strategy to accompany it, a network of community reporters being trained to gather news stories of their own and record them in their distinctive Lancashire burrr.

  • seandodson 11:24 am on August 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , larry elliott, ,   

    Nice point about the difference between the UK and Swedish economies made by Larry Elliott in the Guardian on Monday (my emphasis)

    The Swedes are enjoying the sort of export-led recovery the prime minister and the chancellor have sought in vain for the UK. Of the 1.4% rise in Swedish GDP in the three months to June, net exports contributed 0.8 percentage points. So much for the idea that developed countries, with their high wages and generous welfare systems, can no longer cut the mustard in cut-throat global markets. So much, also, for the idea that countries that opt for high levels of taxation to fund social security programmes are inevitably inefficient and uncompetitive.

    The Guardian, Monday, 30 July

  • seandodson 6:50 pm on July 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Claire Hartigan, Jen Franklin, juan miro, tom frost, wakefield, west bretton, yorkshire sculpture park, YSP   

    New blog post. Yorkshire Sculpture Park 

    Femme 1970 by Joan Miro Yorkshire Sculpture Park West Bretton Wakefield Yorkshire

    We got up early this Saturday and made our way to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a lovely open-air gallery out by West Bretton, near Wakefield. We had a smashing day, even though it is one of the most bloody difficult places to get to on public transport. We managed to get the bus from Huddersfield, after a mooch around the second-hand market, and made it just fine to the Black Bull in Midgely. But it was quite a walk after that. At least half an hour to West Bretton, with a two-year-old on your shoulders, and then another thirsty walk through the village. Anna was proper parched by then and there were no shops open and we had to walk into the local cricket ground to ask directions.

    We made it, though, in good humour and the weather was delightful, a proper summer’s day. The park itself was nice, lots of handsome trees and some quite impressive sculpture. I know it’s stupid that I have lived here a good deal of my life and hadn’t realised, that there was actually a very large gallery there and a most impressive one too, cut into the side of a hill, all concrete and angular, maybe like a small airport terminal in northern Spain or suchlike. Indeed, there are actually several galleries dotted about, but before all that we found a nice cafe serving some excellent coffee and sat outside in the sun and gazed across the grass at the sheep and at the lake all glimmering in the middle distance. Anna discovered a delicious licorice ice cream and all was good. There was a really nice shop too, not too much fine art, which is becoming less suprising, but a lot of good design and illustration (Tom Frost, Claire Hartigan and Jen Franklin stood out), and a lot of impresssive children’s books.

    Star of the show in the exhibition space was Juan Miro, and the YSP was staging the first major exhibition of his sculpture in Britain. I know it’s a sculpture park it there were quite a lot of his painting hung on the walls. I’ve often enjoyed looking at prints of Miro, I don’t really know why, but they are much more detailed in the fresh, with quite interesting brush strokes giving them a greater depth I suppose. The colours, as you might expect, are amazing, lots of very primary acrylics, lashed on to some really high quality paper. The sculptures were also good, although they can be seperated into two discernable types. The first I liked a lot: large, bronze, figurative sculputres, rendered smoothly and painted black. We liked these. The second lot: rougher, surreal, using readymade objects, I cared for far less. Button, our delightful little girl, quite liked both, again she likes the freedom of a gallery space and finds the objects very intresting. She also had lots of fun exploring the grounds, running around the greens and trees. We walked down towards the lake and then through a field of sheep which she enjoyed very much indeed, as this picture taken just after will attest.

    • Samppa 6:57 pm on July 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Public transport? Do you remember what dear old Maggi Thatcher said about public transport?

    • max 9:26 pm on July 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      jaume plensa last summer was truly stunning

    • Nina from YSP 7:32 am on July 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Great blog post and sounds like you had a good day. For next time the 96 bus runs daily between Wakefield and Barnsley and drops off/picks up outside the YSP visitor centre.

    • Jeff Benjamin 2:42 am on August 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

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      Chris Gilman Medford Oregon

    • mandasalin 5:43 am on August 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

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    • joshua21 12:31 pm on August 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

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  • seandodson 5:05 pm on July 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 38 degrees, draft communications data bill, greg mullholland,   

    New blog post: My reservations about the draft Communications Data Bill 

    For a while I’ve been using a website called 38Degrees. It’s a very useful “campaigning” website that helps people organise around political issues. I’ve used it to send petitions or heighten awareness of certain issues on Twitter and the like, but the other day I responded to a call from a man called Keith to go and meet the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds West, Greg Mulholland, to discuss the draft Communications Data bill which is currently being argued over in Westminster. Basically, the draft bill allows the security services and other public bodies to have access to all our digital communications for a much longer period than they do already. I am not against this per se — if some fanatic is planning to blow up Leeds Station then I very well want the police to have the means to stop them — but the idea being put forward with this new bill is that the security services will have access to our electronic communications *without* having to go to a judge first.

    This seems to me to be regressive step. Our democracy isn’t perfect but it works because different public institutions are independent to one and another and accountable to each other. Allowing the security services to tap into everything and anything without having to present evidence to a judge sets a dangerous precedent. Not least because it could allow spying to be more easily politicised that it is already. Don’t believe me? Then just think about the recent stories about undercover coppers spying on protesters at the Glastonbury Festival. If they can do it in the physical world, what’s to stop them doing in it in the virtual?

    Anyway, so I set off around lunchtime walking though the university, past happy families celebrating graduation and then across Woodhouse Moor and then down the hill toward Burley Park, where Mr Mulholland holds a monthly surgery. Incidentally, what a contrast that walk is. At the top of the hill Leeds seems so leafy and well-to-do, all those grand Georgian and Victorian houses, but as you cross the park and drop down the hill it immediately turns into a much poorer quarter of back-to-back red brick terraces, each one of them seemed to have paint peeling from the walls like dry scabs.

    Keith was waiting at the bottom of the hill with a small group of others. We said hello and then strolled to the surgery. When we go there Mulholland was right enough, although the meeting was awkward. None of us were experts. But we handed him a petition signed (electronically) by over 4000 people in Leeds. He sympathised with our position and pointed out that he had signed a letter in The Guardian stating that the state be not allowed to snoop on its citizens at will, but he didn’t go as far to say that he would vote against the bill once it was presented to parliament. The meeting was interesting, not least because the dozen of us who taken part had never met before and had just come together spontaneously to help form public opinion. In college I often discuss with my students the theory that an unholy trinity of corporate media ownership, advertising and public relations firms has emasculated the public sphere. But there we were, apart from all three. A group of strangers having a serious discussion about the rights and wrongs of government policy who had organised by making good use of new technology. Not bad use of it, as the draft bill seems to suppose.

  • seandodson 4:04 pm on July 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    New blog post: Whitworth Gallery, Manchester 

    To the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester yesterday with my two wonderful girls. We had a lovely walk through the university district with plenty of young people graduating as we passed by. The Whitworth was nice,my first visit, we ate in the cafe (I had salt beef sandwich, Anna a lovely looking plate of penne and peas) and again Bella was very well behaved. The exhibition, a celebration of West African art, was fine, nothing terribly arresting, although some quite interesting photography, but there was one space on the first floor (above), where the extension met the back of the old red-brick building, that really impressed me. The old building, the windows, the frames, the weather-beaten exterior, forming one wall of a otherwise “white cube” space. It was blissfully left alone, only a couple of works on the wall, and made an exhibition of the building itself. Very handsome and well worth the trek across town.

  • seandodson 2:24 pm on July 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    “there are at least two distinct selves, the public and regal self, the private and human.”

    Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion
  • seandodson 8:01 pm on May 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , leveson, , ,   

    So we finally learnt today that Jeremy Hunt thought that “our media sector will suffer for years” if Rupert Murdoch’s bid to takeover the whole of BSkyB was blocked by the government. Oh really? This being the same BSkyB that is already the UK’s leading supplier of both residential and business pay-TV services. The same company that led some analysts (Enders, 2011) to calculate that the company accounted for approximately two-thirds of UK residential subscribers to subscription pay-TV and about, wait for this, four-fifths of the sector’s market revenues last year. Let’s not forget, this is the very same BSkyB that dwarfs any other supplier in the market place, including the BBC. BSkyB enjoys revenues of £5.9bn. By comparison the BBC receives £2.4bn from the licence fee.

    This is precisely what I don’t get about the free market ideology espoused by Mr Hunt. It creates nothing like a market that is free. On the contrary, as the Enders calculations indicate, it creates a monopoly that stifles competition. Markets don’t need to be free, rather they need to be regulated in order to allow competition to foster. As the economist Ha-Joon Chan has written: “when free market economists say that a certain regulation should not be introduced because it would restrict ‘freedom’ of a certain market [as in the BSkyB case], they are merely expressing an opinion … their ideological cloak is to pretend that their politics is not really political, but rather is an objective economic truth.” If Mr Hunt’s view that the BSkyB bid wouldn’t damage the media sector isn’t a political decision, I don’t know what is.

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