Reflections on John Eldridge Festschrift Conference (by Dr Andrew Smith)

On the 16th and 17th September, Sociology at Glasgow was very proud to host a special festschrift event in honour of the lifelong contribution of Prof. John Eldridge to British sociology and to sociology at Glasgow particularly, where he was for many years both Professor and Head of Department. The conference featured papers by many leading sociologists from around the UK, reflecting on the continuing significance of John Eldridge’s own work, as well papers discussing new and developing research in the areas with which he has been most concerned: industrial sociology, a critical sociology of the media, and the development of cultural and sociological theory.  Many speakers paid testament not only to the academic and scholarly significance of John’s work, but also to his work as a wonderfully supportive colleague, teacher and mentor, and as a  staunch defender of the discipline (including in his capacity of President of the British Sociological Association during the difficult period of the early 1980s). Aside giving evidence of the continued importance of the sociological imagination, what emerged from the event for many of us who attended was a renewed sense of what it means to think of sociology not merely as a ‘career’, but as a vocation, something to which we are committed as persons, not just as employees. In an era when that possibility is increasingly eroded, including, ironically enough, by the actions of Universities themselves, it was a heartening reminder. You can read more about John Eldridge and his work at the conference webpage: https://eldridgeconference2014.wordpress.com/

The event opened with reflections from Alison Eldridge, and after that, an interview with John conducted by his long-standing colleague Prof. Bridget Fowler, which you can find here: http://vimeo.com/106509087.

John’s own paper on the first day can be found here: http://vimeo.com/106719200

A particular debt of thanks to Bridget Fowler, David Miller and, especially, Matt Dawson for their work in arranging the event, and to Maureen McBride and Minna Liinpaa for their excellent support in the organization and publicity for the conference. Finally also, a huge thanks to Stuart Platt, who filmed the event, edited the footage and made it available to us, all in his own time.

Andy Smith.