Culture, Interaction and Knowledge

Sociology at York – Past, Present and Future

This was an unusual event – a festschrift for a whole department, rather than an individual academic. The conference provided a great occasion where delegates could celebrate 45 years of sociology teaching and research at York, and those who have been part of this journey (see Sociology Underground map).

The following provides a report and personal reflection on the two days; it is perhaps a little more lengthy that is the norm but this is simply to provide a sense of the debate for those who couldn’t make it.


We chose four themes to organise the conference - cultural analysis, the sociology of science, language, discourse and interaction, and gender and women’s studies – and invited both academic alumni (some who were based here in the 1970s) and current members of staff to reflect on the department’s work and on their own research today.

In fact, as the two days progressed, we saw that a number of cross-cutting themes emerged – shared theoretical groundings, a key interest in the relationship between materiality and culture, the (positively) disruptive role of text and image, and the importance of exploring interactional, institutional and discursive sites as vehicles for developing new theory and critique.


Andrew Webster (Head of Department)