This term’s series explores social science’s big concepts. It examines the contested meaning and diverse application of some of the theoretical ideas that unify and challenge social scientists. It brings together the bright minds of Oxford, and high profile external speakers, to consider the range of ways in which we can think about ‘power’, ‘space’, ‘identity’, and ‘belonging’.
Identity is one of the most used and yet least satisfactory concept in the social sciences. It encompasses race, gender, class, nationality, and generation. What does the concept means from different disciplinary perspectives? How do identities change? How does their ascribed political and societal salience change? What role do digital transformation, law, and historiography, for example, play in shaping identities and how we collectively think about them?
Gina Neff is Professor of Technology & Society at the Oxford Internet Institute and the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford. She studies the future of work in data-rich environments. Professor Neff leads a new multinational comparative research project on the effects of the adoption of AI across multiple industries. She is the author of Venture Labor (MIT Press, 2012), which won the 2013 American Sociological Association Communication and Information Technologies Best Book Award; and with Dawn Nafus Self-Tracking (MIT Press, 2016). Her writing for the general public has appeared in Wired, Slate and The Atlantic, among other outlets. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University, where she remains a faculty affiliate at the Center on Organizational Innovation, and she serves as a strategic advisor on the social impact of AI for the Women’s Forum.
Barbara Havelkova is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law and a Tutorial Fellow at St Hilda’s College. Her research and teaching interests include gender legal studies and feminist jurisprudence, equality and anti-discrimination law, constitutional law, EU law and law in post-socialist transitions. She is a senior member of the Law Faculty’s Feminist Jurisprudence Discussion Group. Her published work includes, Gender Equality in Law: Uncovering the Legacies of Czech State Socialism (Hart/Bloomsbury 2017) and (with Mathias Möschel) Anti-Discrimination Law in Civil Law Jurisdictions (Oxford University Press 2019). She previously worked for Clifford Chance Prague, trained at the Legal Service of the European Commission and in the Chambers of AG Poiares Maduro at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Miles Larmer is a Professor of African History and a Fellow of St Antony’s College. He has published extensively on the political and social history of southern-central Africa in general and Zambia in particular, focusing on African nationalism, labour and social movements, and the relationship between mining and political change. His published work includes The Katangese Gendarmes and War in Central Africa: Fighting Their Way Home (Indiana University Press, 2016) and the forthcoming Living for the City: Social Change and Knowledge Production in the Central African Copperbelt (Cambridge University Press, 2021). He previously worked for a number of non-governmental organisations, including Save the Children.