Author Archives: Alan

Utopian Worlds: Participatory Online Exhibition Starts

In these days the online project “Utopian Worlds” starts! On the website and on Instagram under @utopian_worlds Silke Steets and Silke Guelker, two social scientists from Germany, collect and present ideas of a better world in photos and stories of people from all over the world. There are still only a few examples, but the site should grow quickly! The project is part of the 40th Congress of the German Sociological Association, which will take place in September in digital form.

The concept of utopia had no place in postmodern thinking for a long time. It is certainly no coincidence that it is being reconsidered in many different ways right now – in view of crises felt worldwide. The aim of the project is to reconstruct the ideas of “good” self-, world- and social relations contained in utopian world concepts – and thus to sound out the current potential of utopian thinking for social criticism.

The curators are counting on your support for this: the more diverse the contributions, the more meaningful the project can become. The site is currently available in French, German, English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, with further languages planned. I would be delighted if you would both participate in the collection yourself and invite your colleagues, family and friends – all information can be found at

A live digital presentation of the project will be given during the congress of the German Sociological Association on Tuesday, 15 September 2020 from 13.30 to 14.30. The complete programme of the congress can be found here:

Call for entries: IUHPST Essay Prize in History and Philosophy of Science

Submission deadline: 15 January 2021

The International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST) invites submissions for the 2021 IUHPST Essay Prize in History and Philosophy of Science. This biennial prize competition seeks to encourage fresh methodological thinking on the history and philosophy of science and related areas.

Entries in the form of an essay of 5,000–10,000 words in English are invited, addressing this year’s prize question: “What can history and philosophy of science, technology and medicine contribute to our current global challenges?” What constitutes a current global challenge is left to the judgment of the authors, but examples include the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, socioeconomic inequality, racism, the refugee crisis, and science denialism.

All entries should consist of original work that has not previously been published. Entries written originally in another language should be submitted in English translation, along with the name and contact details of the translator. Entries will be judged on the following criteria, in addition to general academic quality: direct engagement with the prize question, effective integration of historical and philosophical perspectives, and potential to provide methodological guidance for other researchers in the field.

The author of the winning entry will be invited to present the work at the 26th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (ICHST) to be held in Prague, Czechia, 25–31 July 2021. Presenting at the Congress will be a condition of the award.

The award will carry a cash prize of 1,000 US dollars and a waiver of the Congress registration fee.

Other strong entries will also be considered for presentation at the Congress. In order to ensure this consideration, entrants should submit the entry also as a standalone paper abstract for the Congress by the deadline for that, following the standard instructions indicated on the Congress website:

Entries are invited from anyone, without restriction of age, nationality or academic status. Co-authored work will be considered; if the winning entry is a co-authored work the cash prize will be shared out among the authors.

This prize is administered by the Joint Commission of the IUHPST, whose remit is to make links between the work of the two Divisions of the IUHPST: the DHST (Division of History of Science and Technology) and the DLMPST (Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology).  For further information about IUHPST, see:

Entries for the prize competition should be submitted in pdf format by e-mail to the Chair of the Joint Commission, Prof. Hasok Chang, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge ( Any queries should also be directed to him. The deadline for submission is 15 January 2021.

The call can be downloaded at:

It is also posted on the DHST website:

Lesley Cormack

Professor Emerita of History

Journal of Sociology: Renewed call for an editorial team for 2021 – 2024

The expression of interest deadline has been extended to August 10. For the full details, read on…

The Australian Sociological Association Executive have extended the call for expressions of interest (EoI) to edit the Journal of Sociology (JoS). EoIs are requested from a group of members who will comprise the editorial team (including Editors-in-Chief and an Editorial Board of approximately 8-10 members). The successful team will be appointed for a four-year term 2021–2024. JoS is the flagship journal of TASA and the major Australian outlet for sociology. Editing the journal is an opportunity to shape the development of sociology in Australia and publish the leading work produced by your colleagues.

As previously noted, our term ends this year, although copy for the first issue of 2021 will be organised. The journal team receives financial ($20,000) and administrative assistance from TASA and from the publisher, Sage. Manuscript submission is on-line through the ScholarOne system.  

If you are interested in finding out more, we invite you to contact us directly for a confidential chat.

You can also contact Dan Woodman, TASA President and Sally Daly, TASA Admin.  

Warm regards, Kate and Steve, JoS Editors-in-Chief

Journal Special Issue – ‘Religions’: Religion in the contemporary transformation society.

Deadline: 15 January 2021


Society is constantly transforming, but there are historical periods when the transformation is so intense that it becomes explosive. Such a concentration of changes taking place at the same time allows us to say that society is passing through a bifurcation point, acquiring a new quality of evolution of a dynamic system, society is moving into a new format for its development. Today’s transformation of society is the imposition (or bifurcation point) of the rapid development of smart technologies, leading to the transition to a smart society; globalization processes and increased resistance to national identity; secularization and post-secularization processes. The focus of our issue is religion, its state in this transformational pressure.

The purpose of the special issue is to unite the efforts of scientists of various disciplines to comprehend the place and role of religion in the intensive process of transformation of society.

The purpose of the special issue is to unite the efforts of scientists of various disciplines to comprehend the place and role of religion in the intensive process of transformation of society. Modern studies of the last ten years are more focused on specific problems that arise “here and now”: religion and migration processes, religion and gender, secularization and new religions, etc. We propose to summarize these topics and try to build a unified view of the significance of religion in this whirlpool of transformations and threats to religion and societylurking in the consequences of unpredictable results. Special attention will be paid to contributions that offer evidence of potential or real social impact that guarantees the improving of people’s lives.       

Dr. Svetlana Sharonova

Guest Editor

Keywords: religion, transformational society, perspectives and threats of intense transformation for religion

the following link:

Inform (Information Network on Religious Movements) update, August 2020

On 22 July Inform held its first Inform Seminar to take place online. This was on the subject of Sexual Abuse framed by Faith or Belief, and featured speakers from many different backgrounds and academic disciplines. Thank you to the many of you who took part; we had an attendance of 110! A recording can be seen here:

Inform have also recently reached the successful conclusion of a 5-year ERC-funded project (Ayuryog) on the relationships between Yoga, Ayurveda and Indian longevity practices. This project has resulted in a series of online resources relating to health, healing and immortality in minority religions. These are available here: .

The staff and governors of Inform have regular contributors to the Religion Media Centre’s briefings, and researchers associated with Inform have created a number of factsheets on subjects including the Order of the Nine Angles, Genesis II Church and its teachings on bleach-drinking, and how the Jehovah’s Witnesses have adapted to Covid-19 restrictions (

Inform is the only organisation in the UK that aims to provide wholly impartial, up-to-date and contextualised information on a huge variety of minority religious and non-religious movements, using the methods of the social sciences. If you agree that we provide an invaluable service, you may wish to become a Friend of Inform. When face-to-face events resume, this will entitle you to a discount of 10% on seminar attendance, and you would be helping to secure our future as a charity. Alternatively, you may wish to make a donation. Please go to for more information. 

Another alternative is to sign up to Amazon Smile, through which Inform receives 0.5% of every payment you make on Amazon, at no additional cost to you. There is no membership fee. To sign up, go to and key in “Smile”, or go directly to, then select “Information Network Focus on Religious Movements”. It’s really easy to do!

Finally, do email us at if you have questions about what we offer, or would like to report any interesting developments in new religious movements or the wider religious landscape. We are always pleased to hear from you.

 With best wishes,

The Inform team:

Dr Suzanne Newcombe

Dr Sarah Harvey

Silke Steidinger

Warwick Hawkins

Peter B Clarke Memorial Essay Prize – WINNER ANNOUNCED!

On behalf of the executive committee for the Sociology of Religion Study Group and the anonymous panel of judges, the winner of this year’s Peter B Clarke Memorial Essay Prize has been announced.

The award is given annually to an essay submitted by a postgraduate researcher who is a member of the group, with the sponsorship and support of Routledge and Taylor & Francis. 

The deadline was extended for the competition, as it fell in the middle of the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the midst of that confusion and preoccupation, postgraduate scholars in the sociology of religion were nonetheless able to put strong entries together and submit them for consideration.

Judges were impressed with the entries, but they were especially  impressed with one paper. This year’s prize goes to Antonio Montañés Jiménez, a researcher at St Andrews University, with an essay entitled “Street preaching and the rise of Latin-American Christian heroes in Barcelona: A sociological approach”. 

Congratulations, Antonio! More will be heard about the paper in a forthcoming blog post for the study group. 

Call for Papers: Special Issue of Journal ‘Religions’ – “Religion and Ethics in Digital Culture”

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2020.

The study of media, religion, and culture has emerged as an important subfield in communication, media studies, and religious studies. The study of digital religion is an especially active area of research. While many studies show how traditional religious institutions adapt to online environments, or how new religious movements emerge organically through social media, fewer studies focus on the religious and ethical dimensions of putatively secular institutions, brands, and products that define digital culture: Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. Yet the headquarters and retail spaces of such institutions arguably serve as churches for congregations of employees and customers; developers and users relate to devices like the iPhone as sacred or magical objects; video game players look to tournament champions as moral or spiritual exemplars.

This Special Issue will explore the religious, spiritual, and ethical dimensions of digital culture in its more popular and ostensibly secular forms. Articles will examine manifestations of religion in institutions, devices, and content generally regarded as non-religious in design, intent, or purpose. These manifestations can be discursive, appearing in news interviews with CEOs or YouTube parodies of tech enthusiasts. They can be material, appearing in the design of branded devices and the architecture of commercial spaces. They can be intentional and explicit, as in marketing strategies that aim to mimic “successful” religions or employee workplace programs that integrate Buddhist mindfulness practices; or they may be unintentional or implicit, as in the devotional and ritualistic behavior of customers searching for their favorite product’s latest release.

Articles for this Special Issue may focus on one or more of the following aspects of digital culture: First, they may identify specific case studies (businesses, product design or content, marketing campaigns), demonstrating the presence of beliefs and practices that broadly qualify as religious in nature. Second, they may examine the cultural, historical, or economic implications of the religious and ethical dimensions of digital culture (impact on consumer behavior, citizenship, and other forms of social engagement). Third, articles may offer critical moral, ethical, or theological evaluations of digital culture, outlining strategies for transformation (more sustainable business practices and product designs, attention to the integrity of spiritual practices adapted in the workplace, etc.).

Through these explorations, this Special Issue will draw attention to, and deepen our understanding of, the often surprising ways religion, spirituality, and ethics appear in contemporary digital culture.

Dr. Kevin Healey
Associate Professor
Department of Communication
University of New Hampshire

Call for Papers: Inaugral issue of ‘The Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association’ (JMSSA)

The Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association (JMSSA) is accepting submissions for our inaugural issue in 2021. Papers accepted for publication will receive a $500 honorarium. JMSSA is a peer-reviewed academic journal sponsored by the Mormon Social Science Association. Founded in 1979, the MSSA is an interdisciplinary scholarly society promoting the study of social life within the Latter Day Saint movement.

Aims and Scope

The Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association publishes original research, synthetic reviews, and theoretical or methodological essays on topics relevant to the Latter Day Saint movement from a social science perspective. We welcome papers from all social science disciplines, as well as work in other disciplines with a social science approach. We encourage submissions from students, junior scholars, and underrepresented voices in Mormon Studies. The journal is atheological and nonpolemical. The journal does not consider previously published work except by invitation. The journal does not consider papers simultaneously submitted elsewhere for review.


Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association accepts papers of any length, including research notes. All submissions are screened by the editor or editorial board to determine their suitability for the journal. Papers deemed suitable are forwarded for peer-review. Subsequent to peer-review, papers may be rejected, returned for revision, or accepted for publication.

The journal conforms to the “author-date” citation system outlined in The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (Chapter 15). All submissions must be accompanied by an abstract not to exceed 250 words. Abstracts should state the research question(s), identify basic methods, and summarize main findings. Footnotes should be used for essential clarification only, and not for excurses.

Send submissions in MS Word format to:
For more information, contact Rick Phillips,