Dr. Christina J. Colclough

MA in Sociology 1999

Looking back at my MA, one concept sticks out as the greatest and most valuable: the Devil’s Advocate. On top of working with some of the most significant political economic theories and perspectives, we spent just as much time learning to critically argue against them. By digging just as deep into the foundation of opposing theories and models, we learnt how to sharpen our arguments and to be critical towards our preferred perspectives. “By taking the sting out of your worst opponent’s bite, your work will be lifted to a higher level”, I remember Professors Jessop and Sayer saying on many an occasion.

And how right this is! Since graduating I have researched for 7 years at FAOS, a labour market research centre in Copenhagen, been General Secretary for NFU – the Nordic Financial Unions – in Stockholm for almost 6 years, and am now stationed in Brussels as Head of EU Affairs for UNI Europa, the European trade union federation for over 7 million private service sector employees.

In every job, before every speech, seminar, or prior to meetings with Commissioners and employers, I use the Devil’s Advocate. What do I want? How would they argue against it? And then, how can I sharpen my words and arguments accordingly to gain the upper hand? My MA at Lancaster University not only taught me critical thinking, but also critical reflection. Without it, I sincerely doubt my career would have taken me to where I am now.