So finally at the grand old age of 47 I have entered the blogging world. My intention is to post about things that grab my attention in the academic world, the media, politics and whatever I happen to be watching or reading - both professionally and for pleasure. That doesn't leave much off topic, but since I'm paid to teach sociology at a 'leading' British university I guess there will be a lot of sociology and social science related stuff. By the way, I feel a rant coming on: is there any British university that does not nowadays portray itself to the world as 'leading'?
In Orwell's Politics of the English Language one of sins he points to is the use of meaningless words. His examples, from artistic criticism, are things like: romantic, plastic, values, dead, sentimental, and he goes on to say "...they are strictly meaningless in the sense that they do not point to any discoverable object...". Moreover, he says, the reader doesn't actually expect them to have any objective reference and differences of opinion about whether a poem or painting is or isn't sentimental are thought to be just that - differences of opinion which can't be resolved by reference to external facts.
So all universities are 'leading' which can only be translated as: "Well I think it is a pretty swell place." And which media organization would want a soundbite from somewhere that was not 'leading'?