Monthly Archives: September 2014

The academic positions I’ll apply for…some day


The Ruhr-Universität Bochum – faculty of Social Sciences invites applications for the position of a Professor (W2) of Sociology /  (successor Prof. Strohmeier) starting the earliest possible date.

 The Chair represents urban and regional studies from a broad spectrum. Applicants are required to have their main emphasis in the following topics:
  • spatial distribution patterns of life situations and life styles within the context of urban and regional social change,
  • labour and housing markets in an urban, a regional and global context,
  • social urban integration problems (immigration, small scale segregation and local participation) in cities,
  • social and demographic changes in comparison.

The professorship is coupled with responsibilities as head of the Centre of Interdisciplinary Regional Research (Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Regional­forschung, ZEFIR). The future holder of the post has to fulfil teaching perfor­mance for the Bachelor programme in basic and advanced modules and in the Master programme, specifically in the “Urban and Regional Development” study programme. The applicant is expected to contribute in the faculty’s research clusters “Labour and Social Structure” and “Public Sector and State Action” as well as interdisciplinary cooperation with other teaching and research units of the faculty and the university.

Positive evaluation as a junior professor or equivalent academic achievement (e.g. habilitation) and evidence of special aptitude are just as much required as the willingness to participate in the self-governing bodies of the RUB and to generally get involved in university processes according to RUB’s mission statement. We expect further more:
  • high commitment in teaching,
  • readiness to participate in interdisciplinary academic work,
  • willingness and ability to attract external funding,
  • fostering of international connections of the subject in research and teaching.

The Ruhr-Universität Bochum is an equal opportunities employer.

Complete applications with the usual documents should be sent to the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany (e-mail: no later than 07.11.2014.

Why urban and transport planning must be democratic?

Packed rail platform in London. The Guardian

During my trip to London past week I’ve stumbled this interesting articles on labour market, transport and riots in London in the letters section of the newpaper The Guardian. I’d like to bring here the whole articles and raise a few questions at the end.

The real problem is not a lack of transport infrastructure in London, but an absurd concentration of jobs in our capital city (Looming London transport crisis ‘risks sparking riots’, 22 September). This has led to shockingly high house prices and to priced-out workers then having to travel long distances to work. If we provide more and cheaper transport links, we allow yet more jobs to be based there and we subsidise employers who wish to be based in an expensive city but still pay low wages. Surely the best solution is for public sector jobs to move out of London and into areas of high unemployment, where there is much less pressure on transport and other services. In particular, parliament could move to somewhere cheaper and more central. Many private sector jobs would follow.

Richard Mountford

Tonbridge, Kent

Just days into the English devolution debate sparked by the Scottish referendum result, Peter Hendy’s crass warning of riots by the capital’s low-paid workers unless more major infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2 are built is a timely reminder of just how hard it is going to be to shift the interests that continue to concentrate almost all national major infrastructure investment in the capital, without any democratic debate involving the rest of the country. Meanwhile, in the regions served by Northern Rail, the Department for Transport imposes record fare increases on rail commuters packed into obsolete trains, which may, if we are lucky, be replaced by refurbished District line rolling stock, (Report, 7 September).

Michael White


Transport for London proposes to spend billions to ensure that lower-paid workers must live further away from their place of work, thus adding to their already long working day and increasing their travelling costs. Surely the answer is more housing for low-paid workers, not making London inhabitable by only the rich. This is not just a London problem. The imbalance between London and the rest of the country is unsustainable. That must be a part of the debate the entire country should be having following the Scottish referendum.

David Pugh

Newtown, Powys

Here are now my questions and reflections:

  • What interests are behind the tendency to concentrate the jobs in the major cities? I think that this is also happening in other European capitals as Madrid or Paris and it must be seen as a phenomenon that is shaping our society and economy in a context of global capitalism.
  • The output of this tendency seems pretty clear. As the city is getting larger and larger, low-paid workers has two options: overspend their income in expensive housing near the working place or having to travel long distances to work. Neither of them seems to be a solution to social discontent and potential riots.
    I’m not sure about the solution provided by Richard Mountford. To what extend “public sector jobs to move out of London and into areas of high unemployment” is a solution?. It may increase the spatial mobility?. It may have a multiplier effect on commuting. Citizens moving from one area to another just to do different things. I think the idea is interesting, but it seems to me that the logical thing would be to decentralize the public sector, i.e. to set up branches in major outlying areas. That would also increase employment in those areas.
  • On the other hand, this discussion reminds us that urbanism and economy go hand in hand. Or rather, urban development and a fair distribution of resources go hand in hand. Therefore, you cannot understand urban planning without democracy. Improving our cities and regions depends on it. So I couldn’t agree more with Michael White article.
  • What is more, the democratic debate must involve the rest of the country. It also applies to other countries. For instance, the Spanish transport system over the last decades (or more) has been based on a concentration of wealth in the capital Madrid. This is informed by the obsession for communicating Madrid and the periphery. It seems that Spain is the country with the most kilometers of high-speed rail (pretty much the same in terms of roads). This obsession may lead to build new kilometers at any price or, what is worse, at the expense of passengers security. Remember Santiago de Compostela accident. Neither this accident nor the crisis doesn’t seem to have changed the view of Spanish politicians. At least in UK they have more democratic debate as the recent Scottish referendum has proved. This leads me to reflect once again on the strong relationship between democracy, urbanism, transport, economics and welfare.

Very interesting looking tool to do infographics

Framework approach to qualitative data analysis

Practical presentation on Framework approach to qualitative data analysis (Ritchie et al. 2013; Ritchie and Spencer, 2002). I want to highlight the way it is expressed the primary objective of data management: “Re-order ‘fractured discourse”

Nowy obraz


Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage.

Ritchie, J., & Spencer, L. (2002). Qualitative data analysis for applied policy research. The qualitative researcher’s companion, 305-329.

Greenwashing – a short documentary

Behaviour Change

“Advertisers hope that if you can sufficiently change people’s feeling, that is, their attitudes toward a product, then the greater chance that people will go out and buy it, i.e. change their behaviour. Surprinsingly, the science doesn’t support this, in fact, there are countless studies that show that changing people’s attitude is not very effective way of changing people’s behaviour. It turns out that behaviour is motivated by a whole number of influences and attitudinal change is only one”

Assessing my own communication skills…six years ago!

Browsing my storehouse of memory I came across this priceless audiovisual piece . This is me in a communication skills workshop in 2008. It was organized by the company I was working in at that time (Proxectos Consultoría e Formación SL). Participants had to prepare a brief presentation of whatever topic. Subsequently, we were evaluated by an expert in this field and given a feedback. I am not sure where this feedback is now, but I remember many of the things I was told. Furthermore, after six years I can see other mistakes. I think I have corrected many of them nowadays, but it’s really enriching observing oneself after so many year.

Communication strengths:

  1. Attractive opening. I start saying what’s the aim of my presentation. I also formulate a question to attract my audience attention: “do you participate politically?”
  2. Consistent structure. I first explain the structure of my presentation so that everybody can expect what the exposition is about.
  3. Documentation. I was well documented and answered consistently the question raised at the end by the audience.
  4. Thought provoking ending. I raised a final question to encourage participation: “are you gladiator, spectator or apatetic?”

Communication weaknesses:

  1. Nervousness. My gestures are sometimes very abrupt. The worst, when I turned around to a paper that was on the table.
  2. Restlessness. I am taking steps in all directions. I should remain in a particular place. Sometimes it seems that I want to walk away.
  3. Lack of rhythm. I see many strong variations in my intonation and impetus. It’s as if I were very self-confident in certain moments and in others I tend to pull back.
  4. Turn my back to the audience. Not always, but I turned my back to the audience in moments where I was saying key things. It may affect the general understanding of my exposition.

External threats to communication:

Lack of space and maximalism. I can see a lack of space for the person who needs to talk. Especially if one has to write on the board. It’s like being trapped between the wall, the table and the paperboard. Don’t know why I didn’t end up stumbling.

Contingencies. Unexpected failure, as when the highlighter didn’t work.

Social impact of mass tourism: “The Venice Syndrome” or dying from success

Social impact of mass tourism in Barcelona

“Welcome tourists, the rent of holiday apartments in this neighbourhood destroys the local socio-cultural fabric and promotes speculation. Many local residents are forced to move out. Enjoy your stay”


Diversity and cultural edginess-based social and physical disorder #ferrol #galiza #spain


Curiously, not far from the Ferrol Vello physical disorder I described in the previous post “Social and Physical Disorder in the Urban Metropolis #ferrol #galiza #spain“, lies another example. But this time, the neighbourhoods disorder shows up in a rather different way. It’s Barrio de Canido, also located in the Galician city of Ferrol (Spain). As well as Ferrol Vello, Barrio de Canido have suffered a clear process of urban and social deterioration over the last decades in a context of shipbuilding restructuring and economic shrinking. Abandoned or half  demolished houses were not long ago the main characteristic feature. However, in this case, the neighbourghood disorder in Barrio de Canido has somehow given place to another disorder, but this time as an expression of diversity and cultural edginess. The neighbourghood has welcomed since 2008 an artistic reclaiming movement: Meninas de Canido. The aim of this movement is precisely attract attenion on the abandonment of this place by mean interpreting the work of the famous Spanish painter Velazquez over the hardest hit walls. Artists from all over the world have since then contributed to change the shrinking face of the neighbourhood. Meninas de Canido has become a community identity symbol. And here is the result (Further info in their webside)