Mark Carrigan is doing a part time PhD in Sociology at the University of Warwick while also working as a private tutor and freelance researcher. His doctoral research is a longitudinal study of identity and culture in the lives of 16 undergraduate students. This project tracks their personal development over their time at university in order to understand how structural, cultural and personal factors interact in making them the adults that they become. He also conducts research on asexuality and is currently involved in a number of media collaborations which attempt to promote these findings, as well as the questions they pose about our hypersexualised society, beyond a narrowly academic audience.
The common theme which unites his research interests is the desire to understand the difficulties which late modern society poses for the innate human need to forge a meaningful life out of conditions which escape our control. Details about his work and other projects he is involved in can be found on his ePortfolio.
Robin Cook’s ghost haunts the film, as the statesmanly Richard Rycart, valiantly fighting to bring the nefarious Lang to justice because, as every disappointed Labour loyalist knows, everything would have been fine if Robin Cook had stayed around government. It’s a wonder that Claire Short and Mo Mowlam don’t turn up in the film and thus complete the hagiographical halls of broken Labour dreams.
The past three decades have witnessed a historically unprecedented depoliticisation of economic life, as a narrowly economic discourse of modernisation is used to present profoundly political agendas (for instance ‘slashing’ public services to produce ‘balanced’ budgets) as objective necessities.
The sheer vitality of Žižek’s thought usually serves to ensure that his work is an enjoyable read. In First as Tragedy, Then As Farce this effect is amplified by the urgency of his topic and the passion with which he approaches it. It’s perhaps inevitable though that this urgency does not translate easily into prescriptive politics and this is the one aspect of the book’s thesis which disappoints.
The virtues the Rocky films portray have a long moral history in Western culture and yet for most of us the narrative which portrays them is one we struggle to take seriously. But contemporary cynicism helps, in a sense, bring about the reality it purports to reflect.
The cultural outgrowths of the new left in general play a key role in many of the processes of social change which Walter hints at. Its stress on ‘independence and self-expression’, the focus on authenticity and self-discovery, ultimately are capable of being uncoupled from their political content and rearticulated in a resolutely depoliticised way. Far from undermining capitalism through a reclamation of authentic subjectivity, this cultural radicalism in fact helped fuel the emergence of contemporary consumer capitalism.
This exhibition left me with the depressing feeling that the vacuity of postmodern intellectual poses in academia has been uncritically reproduced by some in the cultural world and, as a consequence of being divorced from their philosophically underpinnings, actually rendered more vacuous.
The obvious points of reference are films like Taken and television programs like 24. Yet unlike Bryan Mills or Jack Bauer, who never stumble or display weakness, Tommy Craven struggles from the point of his daughter’s death; we see that behind the icy exterior of a man who knows what do and how to do it there is weakness and doubt.
As compelling a speaker and thinker as Taylor is, there seemed to be something rather muted and unsatisfying about his account. One was left with the impression that his experience holding public hearings on cultural integration in Quebec had left him slightly fazed by what the anthropologist Robin Fox called ‘ethnographic dazzle’ and, with it, a movement towards an understanding of social integration which over-estimates the need for social unity and under-estimates the real tensions which stand as obstacles to it.
The exhibition aims to explore the process through which scapegoats are produced and the inevitability of such figures in any society. Although the message is at times trite, it is also sensitising to the pervasiveness of the scapegoat and the processes through which such figures are produced.
The eight rooms are laudable attempts to concretely illuminate different aspects of a characteristically nebulous issue. However the overall effect is one of an unwelcome eclecticism and fragmentation, as a sustained sense of the profound questions being asked by the exhibition gets lost in the particularity of the different rooms.