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UCD School of Sociology Seminar Series 2020-2021

Autumn Trimester


1st October 13:00

Zoom webinar link: Please click here and enter the following digits if prompted 036169

Dr. Penelope Muteteli (Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin)

Title: Categorisation and exclusion from citizenship in Ivory Coast (West Africa)


Exploring the historical categorisation of socially constructed identities and the struggle over the recognition of membership in the context of immigration in Cote d’Ivoire. The seminar will first examine colonial and postcolonial immigration flows which took place within weakly institutionalised political entities of kingdoms in overlapping multiple societies. Secondly, the paper will explore the place the idea of culture has had for the construction of these identities and the implication of this social membership. The paper then examines the exclusionary ‘ideology’ of national identity that has guided state policies of designating identities, and how the conception of Ivorian citizenship has been revised and narrowed to fit these socially constructed identities. With empirical evidence of categorisation of populations into ‘real’ Ivorian and ‘stranger’, the paper will investigate the problematic of legitimisation of these constructed identities and how they affect the ways in which individuals are included or excluded from citizenship’. Finally, the paper emphasises the problematic of using historical categorisation of ethnic identities that emerged in the context of immigration for citizenship regularization.

Keywords: ethnic & social identities, categorisation, citizenship access, Ivory Coast

Short bio:

Penelope Muteteli is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at TrinitynCollege Dublin. Her research interest lies in the areas of identity and ethnic categorisation, and citizenship in post-conflict societies in Africa. Penelope received her Doctorate in Philosophy (Sociology) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). She is the instructor of Statelessness and Forced Migration on the MPhil, Ethnic, Race and Conflict Course. Before returning to TCD, Penelope worked in global issues of forced displacement in Africa and South Asia.


8th October 11:00 

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George Lawson (International Relations at the Australian National University and International Relations at LSE)

Title: Anatomies of Revolution


Recent years have seen renewed interest in the study of revolution. Spurred by ‘people power’ uprisings from Hong Kong to Sudan, the rise of Islamic State, and the emergence of populism, a new age of revolution has generated considerable interest. Yet, even as empirical studies of revolutions are thriving, there has been a stall in theories of revolution. Anatomies of Revolution offers a novel account of how revolutions begin, unfold and end. By combining insights from Sociology, global history, and International Relations, it outlines the benefits of a 'global historical sociology' of revolutionary change, one in which international processes take centre stage

Short bio:

George Lawson is Professor of International Relations at the Australian National University and an Associate Professor in International Relations at LSE. His work is oriented around the relationship between history and theory, with a particular interest in global historical sociology. He applies this interest to the study of revolutions in two books, Anatomies of Revolution (2019) and Negotiated Revolutions: The Czech Republic, South Africa and Chile (2005). Lawson also applies his interest in history-theory to debates around global modernity, most notably in a book (co-authored with Barry Buzan), which charts the ways in which a range of important dynamics in contemporary international relations have their roots in the 19th century ‘global transformation’. Lawson is the Lead Editor of the Cambridge University book series, LSE International Studies, and a former Co-Editor of the Review of International Studies. His work has won the Francesco Guicciardini Prize and the Joseph Fletcher Prize, both from the International Studies Association, and the Hedley Bull Prize from the European Consortium of Political Research.


22nd October 13:00

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Taha Yasseri (UCD School of Sociology)

Title: Studying Armies of Bots and Humans in the Lab; towards a sociology of humans and machines


Despite the enormous importance, conflicts and wars in human societies are less studied within the framework of scientific methods. It is hard to have realistic controlled experiments and even observational systematic studies are very sparse. However, the emergence of online technologies and their integration into different aspects of our individual and societal lives, has brought about a change. In large-scale online collaborative projects such as Wikipedia where millions of people work together to produce a collection of the "whole human knowledge", conflicts and edit wars are inevitable. In this talk we review some of the empirical analyses and theoretical modelling that we have done on Wikipedia edit wars between human and robot editors in different language editions.

Short bio:

Taha Yasseri is an Associate Professor at the School of Sociology of University College Dublin, Ireland. Formerly he was a Senior Research Fellow in Computational Social Science at the Oxford Internet Institute, a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and AI, and a Research Fellow in Humanities and Social Sciences at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Taha obtained his PhD in Physics of Complex Systems from University of Göttingen, Germany in 2010. He has interests in analysis of large-scale transactional data and digital experiments to understand human dynamics and social contagion, online political behaviour, mass collaboration and collective intelligence, information and opinion dynamics, collective behaviour, and online dating.


12th November 13:00

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Viktoria Spaiser (Sustainability Research and Computational Social Science at the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK)

Title: Using smartphones to study environmental behaviour in a field-experimental setup. A Pilot Study.


Ecological sustainability is the defining challenge of our time. Here a methodological approach is suggested that could help to investigate how environmental behaviour (transport behaviour, energy consumption, food consumption, goods consumption, wasting) dilemmas can be overcome on an individual level in real life by using smartphones to collect daily behavioural data in a field-experimental setup. Results from a pilot study are presented to discuss the feasibility and potential of this approach. The pilot shows that studying social dilemma behaviour via smartphones is feasible and can reveal insights about possible interventions for behavioural change.

Short bio:

Viktoria Spaiser is Associate Professor in Sustainability Research and Computational Social Science at the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK. She is also affiliated with the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) and the Priestley International Centre for Climate in Leeds. Before her times at Leeds, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Stockholm Institute for Futures Studies and at the Department of Mathematics, Uppsala University in Sweden. Viktoria Spaiser is interested in sustainability research and specifically in how societies can make a rapid, fair and empowering transition to zero-emissions / zero-pollution. She has moreover established an expertise in computational social science approaches such as Agent Based Modelling, Natural Language Processing of large-scale textual data e.g. from Twitter, Dynamical Systems Modelling etc.


26th November 13:00

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Jill Bradbury (Psychology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand)

Title: Changing Subjects, changing worlds.


While the binary between internal and external realities is widely recognised as false, we lack the conceptual tools for speaking differently about psychosocial phenomena and processes. The “subject” is semantically and grammatical ambiguous: 1) The subject or discipline of psychology; 2) The subject as subjected to (subjugated by) social structures; and 3) as the agentic acting subject of social life. I will draw on the resources of narrative theory, African conceptions of psychosocial life and sociohistorical theories of consciousness to sketch some possibilities for praxis in the interconnected political and pedagogical projects of changing subjects and worlds. 

Short bio:

Jill Bradbury is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She teaches postgraduate courses in narrative psychology, critical theories of childhood and youth, language and thought. Her research focuses on intergenerational narratives, socio-historical theories of personhood, the transformation of higher education, and the (im)possibilities of individual and social change. She is a principal investigator on the NEST (Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation) research project. Her new book, “Narrative psychology and Vygotsky in Dialogue: Changing Subjects” is published by Routledge, 2020.

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