Excommunicating Women priests

Just about to write something about the recent restatement of the Catholic Church's opposition to the ordination of women - I realised, effectively, I already had. Add only this: it's not actually very easy to be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. Few people have ever met anyone who has been (militant atheists have been … Continue reading Excommunicating Women priests

Mutualism: Flavour of the month

As predicted this time last year, mutualism is the new favourite political idea.  It has been so ignored by policy makers over many decades that it has temporarily lost its left/right label and the Tories are also talking about it. But it shouldn't be thought that mutualism is a way of making money grow on … Continue reading Mutualism: Flavour of the month

Why can’t environmentalists just all get along?

Dr Clare Saunders, from Southampton University, was awarded the first British Journal of Sociology prize for her 2008 ethnographic work on environmental organisations in London. You can hear a podcast of her describing her research, and read the original article (as long as someone you love your institution subscribes to Wiley Interscience). She argues that: … Continue reading Why can’t environmentalists just all get along?

Fortify your group with religious belief! Homing in on the God Gene

“Groups fortified by religious belief would have prevailed over those that lacked it, and genes that prompted the mind toward ritual would eventually have become universal.” An article in the New York Times, In Search of the God Gene, flies a kite for religion as an evolutionary benefit. But it takes a very particular view … Continue reading Fortify your group with religious belief! Homing in on the God Gene

The decline and fall of declining and falling

Edward Gibbon made a famous claim in chapter 3 of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that “If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name … Continue reading The decline and fall of declining and falling

Can Education reform cope with competing visions of fairness?

There has been some discussion recently about social mobility and parental school choice. This arose, in part, from a UK report on how to improve ‘fair access to the professions’. The problem with almost all such reports and many such debates is that they assume we all agree on what counts as ‘fair’, that we … Continue reading Can Education reform cope with competing visions of fairness?

Why aren’t we all Egalitarians?

It appears there are not as many Egalitarians in the UK as New Labour might like to think. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, commissioned by the Fabian Society, seems to show that people in England aren’t particularly keen on equality. They think high income earners deserve their level of wealth, and conversely, low income … Continue reading Why aren’t we all Egalitarians?

Four Ways to Make Social Change Work Better: The Transition Movement and the Four Cultures

'Transition actually looked like a good tool for the job. They were picking it up by whatever handle they grasped. They were swinging it as earnestly as they could.' - Jon Mooallem, NY Times The Transition Movement, a grassroots coalition pioneered in the UK by Rob Hopkins, is a great case study for understanding and … Continue reading Four Ways to Make Social Change Work Better: The Transition Movement and the Four Cultures