Animals in society
The Sociology of human-animal relationships is a broad area of research which includes an analysis of many different aspects of human-animal relationships including human-animal violence links, animal rights activism and activists, general social and cultural attitudes towards animals and the social construction of animals by various groups such as animal shelter workers. As such the work is both theoretical (eg analysing the interlinked oppressions of disenfranchised Others and current paradigms regarding the place of animals in human society) and pragmatic (eg assessing the needs of those in violent familial relationships who have companion animals). Refer to the Animals and Society page for more information.
Cultural sociology is much more than the sociological study of cultural forms such as art, sport, food, leisure or choices in interior design; it is also an exploration of how and why all aspects of society have a cultural dimension to them. Culture can be understood as the symbols and artefacts, images and practices, humans draw upon in order to make sense of the world. Research and scholarship in this field at Flinders has included work on musical and architectural forms of cultural production; the role of cultural symbols and aesthetic practices in everyday life; as well as theoretical interrogations of the role of meaning-making in the most general or anthropological sense (eg the role of the senses, imagination and creativity in human experience). Other research asks larger questions about social imaginaries, cultural modernities and civilizational analyses.
Economy and society
Since the discipline’s foundation sociologists have been concerned with the modern market economy: its institutional forms, religious underpinnings, socio-cultural consequences and future trajectories. Reflecting the significance of the economic dimensions of social life, the economy and society strand analyses the macro-micro dynamics of economic phenomena, illuminating how relations between economic institutions – such as state and global regulators, finance capital – influence individuals’ life-chances, households, the labour market, and the natural environment. In doing so it draws attention to what is often considered ‘economic’ is influenced by cultural and moral dimensions. This work is theoretical (eg exploring debates in the current transformations of capitalism) and empirical (eg studies of experiences of identity construction under conditions of precarious labour). Sociological research on the economy also includes studies of organizational cultures, the social and cultural dimensions of branding and marketing, as well as the material culture aspects of economic goods and markets.
Environment and nature
The sociology of environment and nature addresses contemporary understandings of the environment and nature as an 'unlimited resource', the conventional culture/nature divide, as well as inter-cultural understandings of nature. It examines social practices, cultural meanings and institutional power in a range of interrelated areas concerning the environment and nature, such as capitalism, science, industrial agriculture and food practices. It also critically considers various public and other responses to the environmental issues of our times, through, for example, analyses of social movements, the role and treatment of non-human animals, and understandings of 'ecological worldhood'.