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Society, Politics & Law

Introducing Society Matters

Updated Friday 28th February 2014

As we welcome Society Matters to OpenLearn, get to know the team

Dick Skellington Creative commons image Icon Catherine Pain under Creative-Commons license For over three years Society Matters has provided an invaluable commentary on everyday life. The blog seeks to inform, stimulate and challenge our understanding of this changing world and of our humbling role within it. We think the blog brings a lively mix of analysis and opinion to a wider audience.

The blog began in October 2010. By March 2014 over 400 posts had been installed, each with its own distinctive cartoon on the old Platform website.

Our move to Open Learn sees the blog move to a new home.

We will continue to engage students with the realities of what is often a harsh and cruel world, racked by social and economic divisions, human self-doubt and vulnerability. While the majority of our posts will be UK centred, many will look outward and explore global issues. The blog allows Open University academics and researchers, and others, to shed informed opinion and analysis as our world evolves.

The work of our two illustrators Catherine Pain and Gary Edwards is vital to the blog. Both are former OU students. We try to mingle serious analyses with posts on a less weighty issues which show both human folly and innovation.

The blog is open to all to write. Students have written for us in the past. We have two academics, the economist Alan Shipman, and the social psychologist Meg Barker, who regularly contribute, among many others. Alan's expertise is the UK economy while Meg's concerns interpersonal relationships and the sexuality of everyday life. The blog also is supported by kind offers to write from distinguished commentators from the media and academe, and from the world of politics and religion.

Society Matters continues to be edited by its original creator, Dick Skellington, who edited a newspaper version for social science students and staff between 1997 and 2010. Dick was previously a researcher and programme manager in the social sciences faculty. He is a local councillor in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire. He finds light relief through writing poetry and the occasional stage appearance in local productions. In 1976 he co-founded the Open Theatre Group at the University.

Catherine Pain has drawn and painted all her life, and paints animal portraits, works in stained glass and produces alphabet teaching posters for children. Her work is in several galleries in and around her current home in Cambridgeshire and her publications include an illustrated cookbook sold on behalf of the National Trust, a colouring book for small children, Alphabet for Colouring, and The Lost Children, a story for older children. Her website is at

Gary has written three best-selling books about his travels all over the world watching Leeds United FC, Paint it White, eeds United - The Second Coat, and No Glossing Over. He has not missed a Leeds game anywhere in the world since February 1968 and married his wife Lesley at Elland Road. Specialising in wall murals, Gary also holds diplomas from the London Art College, The Morris College of Journalism, has a Diploma in Freelance Cartooning and Illustration and is a contributing cartoonist for Speakeasy, an English-speaking magazine in Paris. During the 1970's and 1980's he collected hearses and is a long time member of the Official Flat Earth Society as well as the Clay Pigeon Preservation Society.

Please note: The opinions expressed in Society Matters posts are those of the individual authors, and do not represent the views of The Open University.


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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