Julia Cook

Julia Cook

I am a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Newcastle. My research focuses on youth and young adults, pathways into home ownership, and the sociology of time.

Location Newcastle, NSW

Activity

  • Julia Cook made a comment

    Thank you everyone for joining us in this course. It's been a lot of fun to share thoughts, opinions and debate with such a diverse and interesting group!

    For my UON students - you're not off the hook yet. I'll see you in the remainder of the course :-)

  • @SrividyaPrakash I definitely see what you're saying. Perhaps Frodo and Sam is not a good example, as you're right that it is based on source material. I agree that not all same sex friendships need to be viewed through a queer lens. However, I think that we can do a thought experiment by asking ourselves the following when we're considering a queer reading of...

  • We could definitely apply a functionalist view to early modern, pre-modern and even earlier societies. The question is only about the 20th century because this is when the functionalist perspective emerged (most famously in the work of Talcott Parsons). The perspective was used to understand the society of the time - that of the 1950s-1970s.

  • I agree. I think we can see this in film ratings systems and censorship - what we censor, or rate as 18+ is based on what we view as normal and acceptable, and what we therefore view as abnormal and unacceptable.

  • I think having women behind, as well as in front of, the camera - and in every aspect of film production - is a really important step.

  • I agree with this - representation is not meaningful if it is at the expense of the development of a complex and interesting character with a personality that goes beyond 'not like other girls'.

  • Sorry for the lecture - I find this topic really interesting!

  • Hollywood is fiction, but this doesn't mean that Hollywood movies are not developed in dialogue with prevailing social norms, and that they do not, in turn, shape social norms. The role of film in reflecting and steering culture has been identified by many social theorists and film theorists. Media gives us reflections of what is socially permissible, and what...

  • This is a great gendered trope - thanks for sharing!

  • I would say it's generally because some people view the roots of human behaviour as something biological or natural - we can see this is some aspects of evolutionary biology, for instance. It can be challenging to determine whether the roots of behaviour (such as gendered behaviour, gender norms, etc.) are biological or social. Sociologists obviously tend...

  • @ÅkeP I may be misunderstanding your comment - apologies if this is the case. I think it's important to keep in mind that elevating the status of women does not necessarily equate to diminishing or threatening men. Men are also negatively impacted by many of the gender norms that place limitations on socially accepted behaviour for women. Greater gender...

  • This is so true. However, I think it's also interesting to consider that queer representation has not held pace with improvements in gender egalitarian representation in big budget films. There are so many blockbuster films that would arguably make more sense with queer pairings and protagonists (i.e. Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings), but this still doesn't...

  • I agree, but I also think it's fascinating to consider how insidious social ideas about gender can be, and how they can persist in ways that we are not immediately cognisant of. I remember hearing a story about an orchestra that trialed blind auditions, in which the the musicians auditioned behind a curtain. Initially they found that the same patterns were...

  • This is really interesting - thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  • This is a great question. The categorisation of Australia within the Global North or Global South is contentious, and is approached differently by different academics. Personally, I view it as part of the Global North because it is a settler colonial country - it is not post-colonial like many countries within the Global South because colonisation is ongoing....

  • Thanks for sharing!

  • This is a fantastic example. For young adults in many western countries the 'youth' part of their life course has been extending - finishing education, starting full time work, getting married, having kids, etc. has been pushed back relative to the experiences of previous generations. Perhaps rather than viewing aspects of our lives as being delayed it would...

  • Brilliant - thanks for sharing.

  • These are really thoughtful examples. I find the idea that body hair on women is, in many cases, viewed as 'disgusting' really interesting, as it is rather baffling if we stop to think about it. The fact that social norms of female bodily presentation are so strong that non-adherence to them can produce feelings of disgust is a great indication of how firmly...

  • This is a great example - I've noticed this as well.

  • The heavily curated zoom backgrounds are so interesting! Steve (from the videos) is looking at 'bookcase credibility' as part of a project about online cultures of taste (using the work of Bourdieu) at present.

  • Good question! Pretty much anything can be a theory - we would call these things 'grounded theory' or 'everyday theory'. However, an everyday theory is often the starting point of a more developed sociological theory. Theories are generally concerned with identifying patterns in the social world, defining the nature of the patterns that you identify and then...

  • This is a really good point. Sociological theories can essentially give us pre-established hypotheses that we can then test against whatever it is that we are studying. Rather than starting from scratch, theory gives us general principles and interpretations to work with.

  • This is a great example.

  • But Marx does focus on conflict within society - between social classes. It is this conflict that is generally at issue when Marx is categorised as a 'conflict' theorist.

  • That's a great interview - many thanks for sharing the link!

  • That's really interesting. If you don't find micro and macro to be useful ways of categorising sociological theory, what types of distinctions or categorisations do you find useful?

  • Marx distinguished between personal and private ownership. Specifically, he understood private property as the means of production (factories, equipment, land in many cases, etc.) and personal property as other types of goods and services (our own possessions). For Marx, as long as they were gained in a non-exploitative way, personal possessions were fine, and...

  • This is a really interesting example - in many ways history is socially constructed, because it is always written or recorded from a specific perspective, and decisions are always made about what is included, what is left out. The identity of the author also influences what is known, assumed, etc. and who is consulted.

    Some of my colleagues in HASS at...

  • This is a great example - it's fascinating to see how hierarchies and markers of social respect can be build into language.

  • This is a great point - I think it's interesting to consider the fact that we view full employment as a positive end in itself rather than, for instance, viewing fulfillment of all socially necessary tasks and a significant amount of surplus time for leisure, as a preferable option.

  • This is a great analysis. I think it's also interesting to consider ideas about childrearing. In the past it was more common to let children essentially 'run free' and entertain themselves. At present the rise of 'conscious cultivation' dictates that children should be learning and gaining new skills, and that this will not happen simply through their everyday...

  • I think it's important to be mindful that Marx and Durkheim are each essentially developing theories of societies - macro level theories. Goffman, by contrast, is looking at the micro level of individual action and interaction. His work may feel more intuitively correct due to his focus on the realm of individual experience, rather than on theorising the...

  • In many ways Durkheim's views are deterministic. However, I think it's important to consider in what way his work is deterministic. At this time theories that viewed biological factors as the root of many outcomes prevailed (remember, this was the era of eugenics), and Durkheim proposed that individuals' lives were shaped not by biological forces, but by...

  • I believe he meant nuclear/biological family due to the time in which his work was written. However, sociological theory is open to interpretation, and to new advancements. You can certainly interpret family as family of choice and then consider whether the insights that Durkheim provides still hold true.

  • This is a great point! At present one of my colleagues is working on a large project considering what 'success' means to different students engaged in higher education. We assume that success - objectively measured - means high marks and timely completion of one's degree. However, this is not true for everyone, and does not align with everyone's aims. When we...

  • Hi Suat, I totally see what you're saying - I prefer teaching face-to-face all things considered (especially because it gives me a stronger sense of how students are going - immediate feedback on what is and is not making sense). However, even without covid I think it's important to consider the social value of online education - I look at it particularly from...

  • This is a good example, but by the same token, perhaps without conflict it is difficult to have social change. Also, are there some times in our lives at which we are 'allowed' to transgress norms a bit more than others? We could think about teenagers - in Australia we have 'schoolies week' where high school graduates celebrate with their friends and get up to...

  • This is a great example - gestures are a fantastic point of focus for understanding cultural norms of politeness. For instance, in some cultures shaking one's head means 'yes' and nodding means 'no' apparently.

  • This is a fantastic example! It is fascinating to look at how cultural norms impact on the efficacy of public health measures, and how public health measures can contravene and offend cultural norms. An example of this is Muslim traditions around washing and blessing the body of the deceased, and prohibitions against cremation. These traditions are obviously...

  • We can consider myths of nationhood (i.e. the American dream, or more controversially, the latent myth of Australia as a white nation, long past the end of White Australia policies) and then analyse nationalist groups/movements as efforts to defend/protect against threats to these ideas of nationhood, and to the boundaries of the nation (who is part of the...

  • According to many sociologists and anthropologists the very idea of a nation is a social construct - an 'imagined community' in the words of Benedict Anderson. This is because we are unable to know every person within our nation, yet we feel a sense of community and kinship with them. This is held together by abstract ideas of nationhood - the social construct...

  • This is all very true. Do you think the pandemic and related lockdowns, and the need to work and in some cases educate from home that many people face has collapsed some of these barriers? I've been doing a lot of online teaching since the start of the pandemic, and in some ways I feel that it allows me to ensure that I am presenting myself exactly as I wish -...

  • Zizek! Thanks for sharing. We have another video from Zizek later in the course to look out for as well :-)

  • Patrice - this is a great current example. I have a friend in Vietnam who lives with and cares for her parents and paternal grandparents, and views the idea of putting them into any kind of paid care as unthinkably disrespectful. It is very interesting to compare norms of elder care cross-culturally, but also to see how these norms differ according to...

  • Age is a great example of a social construct - one that often places us in strange, contradictory positions. My mother was married at the age of 19, and at the time had to get written permission from her parents to do so as she was not yet 21.

  • In what ways do you think the family unit is a social construct? I agree that it is in many ways - I'm just interested in unpacking this a bit more, as it is also conventionally (although not always) based on biological relationships. Perhaps we can see the social construction of family at its boundaries - in some cultures the nuclear family is the norm,...

  • @TanyaSherwood Hi Tanya, you're asked to respond to the following questions in your journal, but are also more than welcome to share your responses here:

    How do you react to an idea you have never heard of before? Do you whole heartedly embrace it, resist it, or evaluate each side of an argument?

    How do you form views on particular issues? Does your view...

  • 4. A lot of things make a good sociologist. I think this depends in part on the type of work that they do. For instance, someone who works a lot with large-scale quantitative datasets needs to have a lot of patience, attention to detail, and a systematic way of thinking. Someone who engages in participant research, and conducts in-depth qualitative research...

  • sociology works best when stakeholders have a seat at the table, or are at least aware of the research from the beginning, and when the outcomes are communicated to them in a way that encourages dialogue, and is translated into terms that make sense for their organisation. Sociologists have been quite successful co-designing and evaluating programs, and...

  • Hi Bryan,

    These are great questions.

    1. There are a lot of books on sociology as a discipline. However, rather than starting by trying to get a sense of the discipline as a whole, I instead recommend starting with something that you're interested in. For instance, you might be interested in class analysis, or sociological analysis of emotions, or any...

  • Not at all - this is a great analysis. Thank you for sharing :-)

  • Hi Adimoha,

    Welcome, and fantastic definition!

    Julia.

  • Hi Sebastian,

    Welcome! It's fantastic to have sociologists from around the world here. I'd love to hear about how this course might differ from or be similar to a first year sociology course in Colombia.

    Julia.

  • Hi Giorgia,

    Welcome! It's great to hear that you're going to be teaching humanities subjects to secondary students. I think teaching about society and culture is fantastic because it can lead students to have 'aha!' moments about their own lives, and can help them to see the world around them in a new way. This is a large part of the reason why teaching is...

  • Hi Tina,

    Welcome! Sociology is an ideal discipline for learning about human behaviour and the social factors that shape it. It sounds like you will be bringing a great professional background to your degree.

    Julia.

  • Hi Josue,

    Welcome! It's fantastic to hear that you're interested in sociology. I hope you enjoy the course.

    Julia.

  • Hi Ella,

    Welcome! You're right that sociology is about human behaviour - sociologists are particularly interested in how people interact, and how the behaviour of one person shapes that of another and vice versa.

    Julia.

  • Hi Felicia,

    Welcome! I hope you enjoy the course :-)

    Julia.

  • Hi Janice,

    Welcome! It sounds like you're brining a rich professional background to the course. The study of social cohesion and differences/exclusion is central to sociology. We're going to be looking at some sociological theories that consider how society fits together on a macro scale next week, which I hope you will find interesting :-)

    Julia.