The life and times of a journal article

My article ‘What Not to Wear? Girls, Clothing and Showing the Body’ has finally been published. I say finally, not in criticism of the workings of the journal that it is published in, but as a description of the life and times that this article has been through.

First written in 2005, an earlier version of this article was submitted to a highly ranked UK journal of sociology but, after a reviewing period of several months, was rejected outright. Next, the article was submitted to a highly ranked European journal of sociology. Despite acknowledging its receipt, the editors never let me have a decision and did not respond to emails or snailmail (postal) queries about its status. Essentially, I was ignored! Taking their resounding silence over a period of half a year as a hint that my work was not wanted, I submitted it elsewhere.

The article was eventually submitted to Children and Society in December 2008. It was finally accepted for publication in April 2009, and published ‘virtually’ (early view) online in June 2009. The paper copy of the journal in which my article appears has a publication date of November 2010

Published journal articles then take on even more of a life of their own, of course. My article ‘Mannheim’s Sociololgy of Generations’ was first published sixteen years ago in the British Journal of Sociology in September 1994. According to Google Scholar at least, it has been cited over 70 times in other publications. The article now lives on in cyberspace, made readily available to audiences by others (not by the publisher directly, and not by myself) as a complete PDF download (for example,

I wonder what will happen to ‘What Not to Wear?’ in sixteen years time?

The uses of sociology: happiness on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed

For some time now, BBC Radio Four’s Thinking Allowed programme has been an important pathway for sociologists who wish to engage in ‘public sociology’. The program is presented by the sociologist Laurie Taylor, and is described as ‘new research on how society works’. According to Michael Burawoy (2005), public sociology is sociology presented to a wide, non-academic audience in an accessible and relevant way in order to share the ideas, arguments and research of sociologists. Through public sociology, the social, political and personal uses and potential of sociology is highlighted: it helps people understand society as it is now and can show them how things might be bettered.

Check out the recent edition of the programme which focuses on happiness and features one of my colleagues at the University of Leicester,
Dr David Bartram. David talks about his research on economic migrants and whether their higher income leads to their happiness. The ‘happiness work’ that comes with working as a hairdresser is also discussed via the sociological work of Rachel Cohen, who is a Senior Research Fellow at University of Warwick

You can find out more about Thinking Allowed at

Burawoy, M. (2005) ‘For public sociology’,American Sociological Review, Vol. 70, Issue 1, 4-28.

Ageing population and pensions

The issue of pensions and pension policies are in the news again today. In one respect, this is because of the context of the economic crisis and the anti-public or state sector rhetoric engaged in by the Tory-Lib coalition government as it drives forward massive budget cuts. Yet, pensions as a sociological issue is really tied up with the ageing of the population, uneven cohort sizes and concerns about the demographic ‘time bomb’. As I argue in Age and Generation in Modern Britain (1995), cohort size matters, but sociologists caution against demographic determinism. In the future, whether or not the demographic time bomb ‘explodes’ has as much to do with economic conditions, patterns of labour force participation and the operation of social policy as it has to do with demographics.