Punk sociology is all about a state of mind. A state of mind that is needed all across education, both by students and teachers. It is particularly important in sociology where we need to ‘think outside of the box’ and possess a liberated critical mindset! The contradictions at the heart of punk are at the heart of sociological thinking. The readiness to deconstruct and reconstruct is valuable…along with a readiness to challenge dogma and tradition. Thinking and writing in a style that is individual and challenging is vital to high calibre sociology.

Following the initial draft of Punk Sociology, I was made aware of David Beer’s text of the same name – his call to arms for a sociology that should be critical and dynamic is only something I can completely concur with. One review describes it as a ‘call to reanimate the sociological imagination’ which is precisely what is needed – at all levels of this discipline, starting with GSCE and A-Level. But it’s more than this, its more about the learner and teaching – and getting that spirit in our classrooms (and beyond) that are more akin to what W.B.Yeates termed ‘lighting a fire’, rather than us trying to ‘fill a pail’. Not having read this work yet, I can’t connect further with the thinking therein..but when the price falls, I will give it a scan and join up the dots where possible. This angle of Punk Sociology is more to do with learners and how we can draw upon the spirit of that subculture to enable our students to seize control of their destinies and success.

‘Lock up your brain because I’m here again’ – Zerox (Adam ant the Ants) 1979.

One thing that has troubled me for sometime now, is the shift towards an approach in Sociology teaching (and learning) that has resulted in a disempowered, conformist and passive mindset. Now don’t get me wrong – this does not mean dictation and didactic teaching..far from it…anyone who knows me will know this is not how we do things. My issue is the shift over time towards students who play it safe, deliver the predictable and who in turn have become too dependent on the teacher to determine their success. Don’t get me wrong – this works very well for many of my students. I can share with them the mystical dark arts like some Severus Snape of the sociological world, and help them deconstruct debates and construct meaningful responses that yield high marks.

Tait Coles’ brilliant ‘Never Mind the Inspectors – Here’s Punk Learning’ is a must read for all of us…and is a key feature of Punk Sociology, especially the principle of handing control over to students and developing their resilience and sense of efficacy.

Punk Sociology borrows from both Beer and Coles…a fusion of what makes effective learning and what makes meaningful and purposeful sociology. To that end, let’s liberate our students and our discipline…let’s worry less about systems and focus more on agency and empowerment..true sociology deserves such opportunities and brings success. Remember ‘A is a state of mind…not just a grade’.

Lesson 1 : Think for Yourself
Lesson 2 : Challenge Authority
Lesson 3 : Take Control
Lesson 4 : Be Passionate
Lesson 5 : Employ Pastiche (do it ‘Your Way’)
Lesson 6 : Be Tribalistic
Lesson 7 : Strive to Shock!