The courses of the Department attempt to provide students with a basic knowledge of sociological andanthropological concepts theories, and methods, applying these to the empirical study of topics which have some relevance to contemporary Hong Kong. Thus in addition to basic courses in theory and methods, regionally there are courses on Hong Kong itself, China and other Asian societies and topically there are courses on a wide range of sub-fields within sociology.


Discussion with Postgraduate Students &
Political Crisis and the Lure of Absolute Authority: A Historical and Sociological Perspective

Professor Andreas Glaeser, University of Chicago
Andreas Glaeser is a sociologist of culture with a particular interest in the construction of identities and knowledges. His work interlaces substantive interests with efforts to build social theory. In this vein, his first book develops a theory of identity formation processes in the context of an ethnographic study of Germany's post-unification woes. He is currently finishing a book aiming at the development of a political epistemology which asks how people come to understand the world of politics from within their particular biographical trajectories and social milieus. The substantive focus of this book is the late socialist German state's effort to understand its citizens and to control the opposition as well as the opposition members' efforts to form their independent understanding of state socialism. He has begun work on a new project which studies the emergence of dominant understandings about Muslim immigrants in the interaction between contingent historical events, the cycles of electoral politics, everyday experiences and mass-mediated discourses in Germany, France and Britain.

Discussion with Postgraduate Students
December 22, 2014 (Monday)
Rm929, 9/F, The Jockey Club Tower, HKU

Political Crisis and the Lure of Absolute Authority: A Historical and Sociological Perspective
December 23, 2014 (Tuesday)
Rm813, 8/F, The Jockey Club Tower, HKU

References to some absolute invoked as authority have historically and still do currently play a large role in politics. The four main forms such absolutes have taken range from transcendent deities and philosophical essences to sovereignty and positivistically understood social science. These have emerged, respectively, in ancient Israel, classical Athens, wars of religion France and England and in 19th century France and Germany.

Looking at the historical contexts in which these concepts have been invented and successfully disseminated through the lens of the sociology of knowledge reveals interesting patterns. For in all cases was the perception of profound political crisis in terms of mobilizational capabilities and legitimacy a central motivator for the development of these concepts and in all of these cases did their articulation by major thinkers open new possibilities for political imaginaries. I will close with a more theoretical analysis that will furnish the basis for a more speculative outlook on the future use of absolutes in politics.



HK Irvin Waller - Smarter Crime Control

Irvin Waller will talk to his recent book on Smarter Crime Control: A Guide to a Safer Future for Citizens, Communities and Politicians

Smarter Crime Control uses the research accumulated in the last 50 years to show how to cut rates of murder, violence against women, traffic fatalities, and drug overdoses by 50%. It is a guide for citizens to understand the potential for safer communities at less cost to taxpayers. It explains the latest science to politicians so that they can choose to reduce violence and save taxes. In the United States, they would avoid $300 billion in harm to victims, while saving taxpayers $100 billion a year.

Specific chapters focus on how to retool policing and improve corrections so that they will stop crime and reduce re-offending. It calls for courts that prevent crime by solving problems. It uses an accumulation of scientific knowledge to show where to reinvest in families and youth in problem places to avoid chronic offending and violence on the streets. It points to actions to stop intimate and sexual violence against women. It shows how to cut the high number of victims of traffic crashes. It demonstrates fiscally responsible ways to achieve these milestones in community safety.

It concludes that crime policy for affluent democracies must shift from the wasteful and failing 20th century obsession with punishment to a 21st century focus on using science to prevent violent victimization affordably.

Professor Irvin Waller writes books and speaks across the world so that politicians, police chiefs and citizens can use the best social science to prevent violence and assist victims. 
His career spans more than four decades. He has held academic appointments in France, the USA and Canada. He has worked in government and advised ministers of justice from over 40 countries. He was the founding executive director of the International Centre for Prevention of Crime, affiliated with the UN and has served on national commissions in Canada, South Africa (during the Mandela years) and the USA. He was a pioneer of the UN General Assembly Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power in 1985, known as a magna carta for victims.
He is a professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa in Canada and President of the US based International Organization for Victim Assistance in special consultative status with ECOSOC. He has myriad academic and policy publications translated into the world´s major languages and has a growing audience on Twitter.

January 7, 2015
Rm813, 8/F, The Jockey Club Tower, HKU

All are welcome






The 11th Annual Conference of the Hong Kong Sociological Association

The Department of Sociology has hosted the 11th Annual Conference of the Hong Kong Sociological Association (HKSA). [Photo]