ENQUIRE: Volume Seven

Issue 1 - Normality in an Uncertain World

Editors: Juan Anzola, Allan Booth, Elena Genova, Ulzhan Kazybekova, Ruoxi Wang

In a world of uncertainty, never has 'the normal' been so important. All societies operate normative patterns of behaviour that are enforced by sanctions. Such patterns are now interwoven at global, national, communal and personal levels so that 'the normal' has become a powerful entity. Ideas of biopower and self-governance are structured around the control of bodies and the creation of ‘normal’ ways of being. It can now be argued that tyrannies of perfection structure contemporary social life.

While social research has often focused on explaining deviance and the abnormal, such explanations are dependent upon a perception of 'the normal' for their existence. 'The normal', therefore, becomes important across disciplines, resonating with researchers as a central concept in addressing the pressing sociological issues of our time.

The idea of a 'normal' raises pertinent questions for future research. Who defines normality? What are the implications for deviance? Why do researchers construct and deconstruct the abnormal? Does normality serve as a mechanism of control? What function does normality play in different cultures/societies? Is normality inevitable?

Such questions underpinned the 6th ENQUIRE Conference, which was held at The University of Nottingham on 10 and 11 September 2013. The conference explored the following theme: Normality in an Uncertain World, featuring presentations from postgraduate students and early career researchers that explored the meaning of normality in five different parallel streams:

  1. Structural violence; sexual identities
  2. Health and the body; methods
  3. Asylum and transnational justice; healthcare practice
  4. Disability and identity; gender and sexual identity
  5. Personal and collective economy; institutions, individuals and cultural norms

The 25 presenters came from 14 different academic institutions across the UK and abroad, which gave the conference a very international, multi-disciplinary outlook, which immensely enriched the quality of the debate.

The editors are delighted to present some of the papers that emerged from conference, which reflect the breadth and depth of research carried out in the realm of 'normality'. We would like to thank the authors for their contribution and patience throughout the vigorous peer review process. The first article featured in this volume is by Frederick H. Pitts from the University of Bath who explores the normalisation of work and the possibilities of its denormalisation that political economy offers.

This issue would not have been possible without the continuous support and guidance, kindly provided to us by the School of Sociology and Social Policy. In particular, we would like to thank Associate Professor Amal Treacher Kabesh and Alison Haigh as well as the ENQUIRE Steering Group: Eleanor Hadley Kershaw, James Tangen, Anisa Mustafa and Steven Lucas. This would not have been possible without the time and effort all our peer reviewers invested in upholding the quality of this Journal - we appreciate your dedication and expertise.

Finally, we would like to recognise the effort of a number of people who were part of the Editorial team throughout the year. A very special thank you to Victoria Cluley, Feylyn Lewis and Assylkhan Nurgaliyev - we could not have done it without your passionate dedication to this project!

We sincerely hope that you will not only enjoy this edition of the ENQUIRE Journal but that it will inspire you to contribute to enriching its quality by submitting an article for consideration in the forthcoming ENQUIRE journal editions.

Normalisation, exclusion, commensuration: work, economics and the possibilities of political economy (pp 1-15)

Frederick H. Pitts (University of Bath)

Full article


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