Showing posts from July, 2016

An anecdote in praise of grammar schools

This is an anecdote. I was born in 1982 and raised in a housing association house on the east of Birmingham. My mum worked as a teaching assistant in my primary school, and my dad on the shop floor of a vehicle parts factory. He biked it to work because we didn't have a car. My mum's parents weren't called grandparents. They were Nan and Granddad, and they too lived in council housing. My Nan used to bath all three of us kids at the same time, and wash our faces with our own underpants. True story. We were working class. Birmingham has always had a strong grammar school presence, and I was one of the select few to whom those schools afforded an opportunity that I had no right to claim. No one coached me for the 11-plus entry exam, I just turned up and did it. They offered me a place. That was a critical moment.  I loved the environment at my school, and felt immediately at home. It was an environment in which I was able to indulge my love of learning and my teachers pushed

Religion: The Dependent Variable

I was reading an article recently by Philip Mellor and Chris Shilling entitled 'Body pedagogics and the religious habitus' in which the following statement is made: "The global resurgence of religion in the contemporary era, however, has presented a challenge to what can be seen as the methodological ‘default’ position of many sociologists, namely, that religion is always the ‘dependent variable’, relative to secular phenomena deemed to be more important." (p. 27) I want to assist with this challenge. It seems to me that every social scientist must stand downstream from Marx for some period of time, if not to take the plunge then at least to test the water. Why is this? It is plain that the great majority of renowned sociological thinkers draw from that stream. When Mellor and Shilling speak of the 'methodological default', it seems to me what underlies this is a prior commitment of those 'many sociologists' to a leftist theoretical perspective.