Simmel

European Sociological Association conference 2019 by Katy Barbier-Greenland

I presented my talk today at the European Sociological Association’s 14th conference (known as ESA 2019) today at the University of Manchester, UK. All went well, and I was the only one who presented on the secrecy work of Simmel, with the three other presenters in the ‘Simmel and Beyond’ session sharing their work on conflict, mass movements and publics. Full conference wrap up to come!

In the meantime, check out all the highlights on Twitter with the hashtag #ESA2019 - pretty sure we were trending at one point, with 3,024 sociologists taking over the city!

Well, on a more personal note, I’ve been working towards this presentation for months, and now that it’s done, it’s time to celebrate! And organise a mini summer getaway while the weather is still (sort of) nice here in Europe.

RS12 - Simmel and beyond by Katy Barbier-Greenland

There will be over 800 presentations at ESA 2019 in Manchester, with a whole range of them coordinated through the various research networks (there are 37 of those - I’m part of the research network 13 which focuses on the sociology of families and relationships).

Each research stream has been put together specifically for this conference and there are only four papers to be given at each one - I’ve listed them below in case you’re interested - sociology today covers so many areas of life, it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it. I’m presenting alongside my supervisor A/Prof Deb Dempsey in RS12 - Simmel and beyond.

RS01 - Gaming at the Boundaries: Imagining Inclusive Futures

RS02 - Gestational Surrogacy. A Global Phenomenon in Europe

RS03 - Maritime Sociology 

RS04 - Men and Masculinities in a Changing Europe

RS05 - Multi-locality and Family Life 

RS06 - Patterns of Non-Resident Fatherhood 

RS07 - Platform Work: Needs, Activation and Representativeness in the Era of Digital Labour

RS08 - Politics of Engagement

RS09 - Practicing Borders

RS10 - Practicing the Future: Social, Material and Affective Futures

RS11 - Questioning Precariousness: Labour, Collective Organising and Everyday Life 

RS12 - Simmel and Beyond

RS13 - Sociology of Celebration

RS14 - Sociology of Knowledge 

RS15 - Sociology of Law 

RS16 - Sociology of Spatial Mobilities

RS17 - Transformative Rural-Urban Connections

RS18 - Urban Futures: Visions for Social Inclusion

RS19 - Visual and Filmic Sociology

RS20 - Education and Political Participation in Eastern Europe

Presenting at the upcoming ESA conference on Family Secrecy in the Information Age by Katy Barbier-Greenland

I’m so excited to be presenting at the upcoming European Sociological Association conference! The conference is going to be the gathering for sociologists of all types and disciplines and is called ‘Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging’. It will be held in Manchester, UK from 20 – 23 August 2019.

My paper is part of the 'Simmel and beyond' session for researchers whose work grapples with Simmel’s theories on the 100th anniversary of his death. The paper will be delivered in conjunction with one of my supervisors, A/Prof Deb Dempsey. Here’s the abstract:

Family Secrecy in the Information Age: A Re-Examination of Simmel’s ‘The Sociology of Secrecy and Secret Societies’

Discovering an unexpected major family secret typically has significant, ongoing personal and psychological consequences for those involved. Reproductive family secrets, such as those associated with conception and birth, are arguably more difficult to keep in an information age. People are now able to access their family history and biogenetic information in unprecedented ways due to factors including more open policy and legislative trends regarding donors and donation in reproduction, and enhanced opportunities to identify and connect with family members online. Further, sales of DNA home testing kits are expected to reach 100 million by 2021, and family history searches are the second most popular use of the Internet

This talk is based on stories from an empirical research project entitled 'Family Secrets, Secret Families'. Secrets discovered by participants included adoption, donor conception, hidden or secret children, and mis-assigned parentage. In the talk, we reflect on Simmel’s essay 'The sociology of secrecy and of secret societies' and assess its contemporary relevance for how knowledge, power, truth, silence, disclosure, and trust play out in families with reproductive secrets. We argue that Simmels’ insights continue to offer a valuable framework for understanding the power and function of knowledge and information management in family life in the era of the Internet and home DNA testing.

Simmel, sex and secrecy by Katy Barbier-Greenland

I’ll be submitting an abstract to present at the European Sociological Association’s 2019 conference to be held in Manchester, UK, in late August. The theme of the conference is ‘EUROPE AND BEYOND: BOUNDARIES, BARRIERS AND BELONGING’.

There are a large number of different research areas people will be speaking on, and the Research Network 13 called Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives is doing a really interesting joint session with the Network that focuses on the Sociology of Children and Childhood called ““In the child’s best interests?”: Global perspectives on parenting culture, family policy and child well-being’. I thought I could present on perspectives from around the world about the ways in which some parents and others keep secrets from children, often considering this to be in the child’s best interests.

BUT…..I think though that I would really like to present on Simmel, who is one of my key scholars. There’s a session called ‘Simmel and Beyond’ as it’s the 100 year anniversary of his death for which papers can be submitted by those “challenged by Simmel’s thinking and who use his concepts and methodology to present here the results of their investigations”. He’s the ‘original gangster’ as far as the sociology of secrets is concerned, and has a lot of really interesting things to say around secrecy and privacy in families and society, in terms of how these things function and what the impacts can be. He talks about knowledge and boundaries (in terms of who knows and who doesn’t know), power, truth and lies…pretty fascinating stuff and all absolutely relevant to draw from to help me understand the experience and impacts of contemporary family secrets.