Soundness & society: towards a sociology of ‘being sound’

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


At the end of June of, 2020, as Ireland began to tentatively emerge from the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic (and the longest lockdown in Europe) pubs serving food and other hospitality services reopened for the first time since March. To coincide with this reopening, the drinks industry lobby group Drinks Ireland relaunched a media and social media campaign to encourage customers returning to hospitality to #besound. While there was a certain degree of fanfare and excitement surrounding the launch, and more so, the societal reopening that it heralded (for some, for a while), what the injunction to ‘be sound’ might mean was apparently clear, self-evident, and unambiguous. Everyone, in Ireland at least, should know what this ubiquitous cultural category of ‘being sound’ signified. But what is ‘soundness’? Recent work in sociology has argued for a renewed look at some old concepts long thought to be passé, as well as reinvigorating the analysis of everyday life and the categories of everyday experience. This includes work on the notion of character by Andrew Sayer and others (Sayer, 2020; Shilling & Mellor, 2020), along with an emerging sociology of kindness (Brownlee & Anderson, 2017). Drawing on this and linking it with relational sociology, gender, and the sociology of emotions, in this paper I aim to develop a sociological conception of ‘soundness’, shifting it from a folk category of everyday practice to a category of analysis, conceived as a form of social, embodied, relational, and culturally (and emotionally) competent practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2022
EventSociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference 2022 - Technological University of the Shannon, Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 13 May 202214 May 2022


ConferenceSociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference 2022
Internet address


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