Monday, 29 March 2021

Annual Sociology Lecture Series - Lecture 3: Tales of the Field: Doing Ethnography Today

 The Annual Sociology Lecture Series held by the Department of Sociology and Social Work Association conducted its third lecture on the 30th of March, Tuesday from 4:30 to 6 pm. Dr Nilika Mehrotra conducted the lecture series on the topic, “Tales of the field: Doing ethnography today”. It was a highly enlightening session that was attended by many students from the Sociology and Social works department.

Dr Nilika Mehrotra started the session by briefly explaining what ethnography means. It is a process of fieldwork and monograph writing. She highlighted that ethnography is a research design. Dr Mehrotra further answered a common question of whether ethnography and qualitative methods are the same by pointing that the former is not the same as a survey but can be considered as a component. She went on to detail the two types of ethnography, little and big ethnography. In classical anthropology, ethnography is an understanding of both the people and communities, for instance, religions, urban space, hospital and so on. Therefore for ethnography careful selection of fields in a natural setting in a social space is key.

Dr Mehrotra then moved on to tracing the history of Ethnography in Sociology and Anthropology.

Dr Mehrotra also drew attention to the many kinds of literature available on even the local communities, which the ethnographers can use as a reference to prepare research questions. However, Ethnography is a research methodology that is very flexible and therefore the questions can be modified according to the social setting. In such a case, Dr Mehrotra emphasizes how ethnographers need to have different strategies for different social settings and different types of data. From her personal experience, she pointed out that researchers who are older, experienced and are socially skilled make better ethnographers. Nowadays Visual anthropology and visual photography are useful tools to collect data. To ensure the validity of data cross-checking, triangulation and interpretation, self-introspection and self-criticism are very important. She went on to talk about the ways technology is being used today in this field, for jotting down notes.

Dr Mehrotra pointed out various challenges that lie in the way of carrying out ethnographic studies. These include over-participation, difficulty in taking sides, the lack of access to specialised knowledge, and more.

With this, Dr Mehrotra wrapped up the session, saying that ethnography is imbibing more and more usage of digital sources and only time will tell how the future of this field is going to look. Following this, Neha Ashar thanked Ma’am for the insightful lecture and opened the floor for questions from the audience. The audience actively engaged and an informative discussion ensued. Questions regarding perspectives (etic and emic), disabilities,over-participation and more were asked. Dr Mehrotra answered the questions in detail and supplemented them with examples from personal experiences and anecdotes. Post the question-answer session, a vote of thanks was delivered by Neha and the session came to a close.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Annual Sociology Lecture Series - Lecture 2: Vernacular Feminism

On the 23rd of March, 2021, the Sociology and Social Work Association organized the fourth lecture of the Annual Sociology Lecture Series, on ‘Vernacular Feminism’. The lecture was delivered by Dr J. Devika. Ananya Sunil Nair introduced and greeted the participants into the meeting. She then introduced Dr J. Devika, a Feminist researcher and Professor at the Centre of Developmental Studies in Kerala. She is also a translator of literature and social science writing in both Malayalam and English and has started a website displaying a few of the earliest writings on feminism in Kerala.

Dr Devika began the session by explaining in detail what ‘Vernacular’ really means. Vernacular is a word used in a pejorative sense, according to her it was in some way the colonial thinking which divided language into English and vernacular. The main topic of discussion during the session was the meaning of ‘Vernacular feminism’. Dr Devika successfully explained this concept, providing solid instances and highlighting the subtleties of the concept. Vernacular feminism often emphasizes the importance of everyday forms of language idiom and this has been particularly strong in media studies and cultural studies. To explain this point, Dr Devika elaborated on some of the advertisements presented in the Indian media, especially in Kerala, which tries to include feminism but fails with the consumer interpretation. Dr Devika argued that it is important to follow vernacular feminism even if you do not agree with a lot of what happens in those debates or arguments. People often think language has one primary layer whereas it is not, in every language, there are certain layers and it has the ability to translate feminism into other layers of language.

Dr Devika argued that there are two modes of translating particular political ideas including feminism, and one of them is a faithful mode where you aim for a one-to-one correspondent and the second mode is called grounded translation. Grounded translation involves picking an idea derived from a modern critical possibility is chosen and then they are explained in a local area in which it helps serve the local. She further talked about how the feminist theory was being absorbed into everyday articulations in very intriguing ways. Towards the end of the session, Dr Devika encouraged the participants to ask questions and answered them very briefly with valid points. While answering the questions she highlighted the importance of feminists to consciously make an effort to change the local words to bring in a new lens of understanding in the society. As the session came to an end, the students expressed their immense gratitude for having Dr Devika conduct the session and for introducing a topic that is very essential in today’s society.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Roundtable 4: Sustainable Living: Towards a Better World Everyday

 The Department of Sociology and Social Work conducted its fourth student roundtable of the academic year 2020-21 on Monday, 22nd March 2021. The panellists were Niyanta Desai (6EPS), Manisha D (2MSW-HR), Rahil Parekh (2PSEco), Ahana Mukherjee (2MSoc) and Nishaanthini M. (2MSW-CCP). The moderator was Suryaveer Singh Deora from 6PSEco

The session started with an introduction to the topic by Teethi Nag, who gave the audience a background on the topic and introduced the key speakers for the day. The first speaker was Ahana, who spoke about what exactly is sustainable living and why it is important for our future. She also outlined the importance that the youth play in perpetuating this issue.


Sustainable Lifestyle at Home

Manisha spoke about how consumers can collectively influence companies, by choosing to say no to polluting products. Next, Nishaanthini gave deep insights into the topic of sustainable practices at home. She spanned over electricity consumption at home, plastic usage, water purifier systems, and much more. She also highlighted how meat consumption is detrimental to society. She gave tips to the audience, like switching to bamboo toothbrushes over plastic ones, installing rainwater harvesting systems and solar panels, and concluded her inputs by urging everyone to adopt such practices.

Sustainability Goals and their Importance

Rahil took up this topic, emphasizing building a future that is efficient and in harmony with the environment. Sustainable goals go hand in hand with social goals like gender equality. Moreover, minimalism also is connected to sustainable living, as it has to do with doing the most with the least resources.

Food Industry and Sustainable Practices

Ahana talked about the food industry. She started off by explaining organic food, and although it is completely environment-friendly, it is not affordable. The water resources are also heavily stressed, and expected to last only for the next 30 years or so. Plus, the world is facing water scarcity for around 4.7 million all over the world. Virtual water is the water required for the process of producing food, and a lot of this water is wasted. Hence, the food industry also stresses already depleting natural resources. She further iterated how groundwater and freshwater resources are being overexploited by governments. Moving on, she spoke about the various methods that can be used to replenish these water resources. Sustainable packaging is also an emerging concern for many companies today. Rahil continued this topic by speaking about organizations that are propagating sustainable practices. Many start-ups are working toward sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.

Fashion Industry’s Impact

Manisha addressed how society induces us to consume more fashion products than we actually need. Also, the fashion industry is one of the leading waste producers in the world, with the third-largest carbon emissions and being the second largest water consumer worldwide. A single pair of jeans and a cotton t-shirt can take up to 30,000 litres. Moreover, many garments are made of plastic-based materials and particles from this enter the water bodies when we watch them. Several corporations make claims that they are green, but this is not always true. Manisha further suggested tips each person can follow to reduce fashion consumption and brought up an idea for a club where students can swap clothes to be ‘green’ in fashion.

Sustainability in Developed and Underdeveloped Countries

Niyanta gave the audience an overview of the scenario and spoke at length about the state of developing countries. They are more vulnerable and have a lack of financial resources to cope with natural calamities. Climate change and its various calamities are one of the major causes of many deaths, globally and annually. The gender issue is also rampant in climate change issues, as women and girls are more vulnerable to the ill effects of climate change. She posed the question ‘should countries with historical responsibility for emission be obliged to compensate?’

She further iterated that the need of the hour is that developed nations must spearhead the attempts toward fighting climate change and pave the way for developing countries to do the same.

Post this, Suryaveer opened the floor for questions from the audience. Finally, Manisha spoke about consumer behaviour and how we need to change. She also said that collectively, consumers can coerce organizations to take actions that are environment-friendly. Ahana added to this and talked about biodiversity issues and other various issues that are present today.

The session was wrapped up by Suryaveer with a concluding note and a vote of thanks. It was a fruitful session and provided great insight on the topic of discussion.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Annual Sociology Lecture Series - Lecture 1: The Necessity of Theory by Prof Dilip Menon

 The Department of Sociology and Social Work Association and Socius, Applied Sociology Students Collective organised the first lecture of the Annual Sociology Lecture Series on 18th March 2021. The lecture was on the topic ‘The Necessity of Theory’ and was delivered by Prof Dilip M Menon.

Archana Jayaprakash from 4 MSOC welcomed the gathering and introduced the speaker. This was followed by Prof Victor Paul delivering the introductory note.

Prof Dilip Menon began by talking about the uniqueness of the theoretical imagination of sociology and the diverse ways in which it has been used to explain the social world. He focused on the unique conditions of theorising in India, a diverse, colonial space. He elaborated on how the colonial influence has shaped the way Indian sociological thought has been shaped; it has been a mixture of elements like the colonisation of thought, and questioning of the knowledge received from colonial forces, like the colonial archives. He highlighted the role of oral histories in constructing theories on Indian societies.

Prof Dilip also discussed the Europhone Theory and the influence European and other Western histories have had on the narration of India’s history. There has been a change in how we understand communities, societies, and individuals. Our focus now is more on the atomisation of human beings.

He discussed all these aspects with several examples and then went on to remind everyone of the continued relevance of sociology in a rapidly changing India, where there are many societies changing in a multitude of ways.

Prof Dilip’s talk thus touched on many areas of theorisation and the unique conditions and challenges faced in theorising India. His thought-provoking talk was followed by a fruitful Q&A session. Nithya from 4 MSOC proposed the vote of thanks.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

CHRIST Women of the Year

 The Sociology and Social Work Association of Christ Central Campus celebrated International Women’s Day on March 6th by hosting the event, Christ Woman of the Year 2021. This was the third consecutive year that this event had been held. The host welcomed the gathering and introduced the agenda for the event. The event began with a prayer song by Rishi and Tina from the department. This was followed by a welcome address, given by Ahana Mukherjee. She talked about the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day and detailed this year’s theme, “Women in leadership achieving an equal future in Covid”.

Prof. Hemalatha, who played a key role in planning the event, then took to the stage to deliver a few words regarding the necessity of celebrating this event every year. She acknowledged the celebration of “Christ Woman of the Year” as a worthy tradition and traced world history to pinpoint when women started protesting against the long working hours and pay disparities. The professor also directed attention towards the increasing number of powerful women, across ages, in all spheres, be it online, industry or political. She encouraged women to amplify their voice and remember the theme of the women’s campaign, “Choose to challenge’, through which we need to continue to celebrate women's achievements.

This enlightening address was followed by the HOD, DR Victor Paul sir, who introduced esteemed awardees. The awardees are from three categories: faculty, support staff, and housekeeping, to recognise women’s efforts in different university sectors.

The HOD expressed his gratitude to the association members and staff and invited the respected Vice-Chancellor to honour the awardees.

He introduced the first awardee, Dr Suniti Phadke, the current Chief Advisor in the Office of International Affairs. She holds a PhD in the area of Management and obtained her MBA from New York University. She has played an important role in conceiving and implementing plans that helped develop connections with international universities.

The second awardee, Ms Cimimol Jacob, is the programme manager in the IT section of the university. She has served in the university for ten years and has experience ranging from 20 years in the IT profession. Prof Victor Paul identified Ms Cinimol as a critical driver behind technological innovations and who has been responsible for the smooth functioning of Christ’s Knowledge Portal.

The third awardee, Ms Pattamal, the head of the university’s housekeeping staff, was praised for her punctuality, sincerity, and for being solely responsible for unifying the management and housekeeping sections of the university.

The Vice-Chancellor honoured the esteemed recipients with awards and tokens of appreciation and then delivered his address. He began his speech by acknowledging the struggles of women and extended his sincere gratitude to all awardees. He praised each of the awardees for their respective efforts extensively.

Dr Anil Joseph Pinto, the Registrar, who supported the planning and implementation of the event, remarked that the award’s value lies in the valuable contributions offered by the recipients of the award. He congratulated each of the awardees and appreciated them for their dedication, professionalism, innovation and constant effort.

Prof. Suniti expressed her sincere gratitude and talked about the importance of women's day. She raised the question, whether the day is still relevant and answered this question with alarming facts about women’s position in today's society and the things yet to be done. She further listed some role models and encouraged men to change their mindset, to start the change from the grassroots level. Ms Cinimol expressed her gratitude to her superior officers, department, team members, university and family members; She further dedicated the honour to her team members. Ms Patturmal expressed her gratitude to supervisors and the university for the opportunity and remarked on her happiness in doing her work. The event was concluded with a vote of thanks delivered by Niranjana.