Eileen Clark:

Welcome to the first issue of Nexus for 2018. In this issue we have three articles that each, in its own way, provokes thought about ethical matters that we may face as researchers or more broadly as citizens. In the first, Anna Denejkina writes about conducting research in Russia and raises a fundamental question: should we always conceal the names of participants when doing qualitative work? Many of us would have completed applications to ethics committees and stated, almost without thinking, that pseudonyms would be used, but Anna points out that this practice may render participants and their stories invisible.

Late in 2017, the parliaments of Victoria and NSW discussed legalising assisted dying (euthanasia), an issue on which there are multiple viewpoints that can be framed in ethical terms. Alan Scott shines a different light on the usual arguments, showing instead that euthanasia may become a matter of economics. In an equally provocative piece, Rock Chugg uses the same-sex marriage plebiscite of late 2017 to ask whether plebiscites and referenda are simply another form of oppression of minorities.

In keeping with this theme of ethics and accountability, in his President’s Letter Dan Woodman critically examines the government’s push for engagement and impact assessment in Australian universities. Sociologists have long been at the forefront of debates on major issues such as family formation, dying and support for minorities but now it seems that this involvement must be quantified and itemised. In light of this, the inaugural Social Sciences Week in September offers new opportunities for public involvement.

The 2017 Annual Conference in Perth was a great success, academically and socially. I particularly enjoyed the Women’s Breakfast which featured an inspirational talk from Dr Carmen Lawrence, the first woman to become a State Premier in Australia. The conference Dinner was an informal barbecue-style event that allowed people to mingle and enjoy the ‘world music’ entertainment. I also attended Postgraduate Day and met the young women who were awarded postgraduate scholarships to attend the Conference. Their stories are included in this issue, together with a short piece by Catherine Robinson who was awarded the Sociology in Action conference scholarship. The intellectual energy present at Postgraduate Day convinces me that our discipline is in very good hands for the years to come, and we can only hope that the employment situation improves so these people can continue their work after graduation.

Thematic groups are another way for members to network with those working in similar fields. In this issue, we have reports from four thematic groups that held symposia late last year. It is interesting to see the different ways in which groups organise events to showcase members’ work.

Don’t forget that we welcome articles on any aspect of the sociological endeavour, including (but not limited to) research reports, methodological debates, professional and employment issues, opinion pieces and reports of events, from Australia or overseas. To help authors, we have put together a brief set of guidelines for preparing articles and they can be accessed from the Nexus home page or obtained from the editors at nexus@tasa.com.au

With great regret, Alexia Maddox has had to resign as a Nexus editor. We shall miss her imaginative ideas for articles and her expertise in all things digital. We wish her well in her endeavours this year, especially her role on the Local Organising Committee for the 2018 Conference.

Finally, in 2018 there will be elections for the TASA Executive and new editorial teams appointed for the journals and Nexus. The Executive has decided to expand the role of the Nexus editors to include oversight of TASA’s web presence more generally. A formal call for expressions of interest will go out mid-year, and I would urge you to consider taking on this vital role. Further information can be obtained from us at nexus@tasa.com.au


Eileen Clark

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