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Research in Sociology

Our research is organised within the Open University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences which has a thriving multidisciplinary research culture and is engaged in agenda setting research in fields such as culture, citizenship, identities, governance, criminology, psychosocial studies, human geography and international development and innovation.

Research centres

Sociology research is concentrated in two research centres – the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-cultural Change (CRESC) and the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG). In both Centres, interdisciplinary collaborations have enabled the department's long established focus on the place of culture in the making of social worlds to be extended across a number of new concerns. First, through CCIG research clusters explore Identities, Families and Subjectivities and the psycho-social factors which shape these. Second, Citizenship and Governance is concerned not only with formal civic duties and entitlements, but also with the ways in which citizenship is socially defined and enacted. A third cluster of research explores Inequalities.

Staff members also contribute to CRESC's themed research programme. In Reframing the nation, convened by Marie Gillespie and Mark Banks, the department's enduring concern with the relations between culture, media and the social is put to work in the context of exploring the changing meanings of the nation in contemporary societies characterised by shifting patterns of migration, social diversification and transnational flows of ideas, objects and symbols. Second, John Law leads The Social Life of Methods investigation into the role of methods, not simply as technical toolkits, but also as vital players in creating and changing the social world. Third, we feed into CRESC's Remaking Capitalism theme's investigation of the patterns of inequality and instability associated with contemporary financialization in research exploring the cultural economies of finance and marketing. This work is closely associated with both the Journal of Cultural Economy and the Charisma: consumer market studies network of researchers exploring the mix of devices and desires that drive markets. Finally, the Urban Experiments integrative theme, led by Sophie Watson, combines these foci in an exploration of the city centred processes of cultural, material and mobile change that affect us all. Cities offer experimental spaces for research into how social differences and inequalities are perceived, made public and re-ordered; and the role of expert knowledges in mediating social change by attending to cultures, materialities, and mobilities/migration.


This vibrant research culture is reflected in the contributions made by sociology staff to leading journals. Sophie Watson, Kath Woodward and Karim Murji are co-editors of Sociology, Liz McFall is founding co-editor of the Journal of Cultural Economy and Peter Redman is co-editor of Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society.

Staff research interests

Sociology of markets and economic life, personal finance, consumption, commercial promotion, Charisma: Consumer Market Studies. Co-editor Journal of Cultural Economy.
Science and Technology Studies especially as applied to issues of health and medicine, Cost of Living.
Work, work organisations, and work related technologies; sociology of technology.
Migration, ethnicity, gender and class, culture and representation, mothering and citizenship practices amongst migrant women.
Diaspora and nation; cosmopolitanism; collaborative ethnography; 'big data' analysis; the politics of security; audiences, publics and citizenship; international and multilingual broadcasting, social media and public diplomacy.
Gender, education. Teaching social sciences. New technologies and distance learning.
Science, technology and society, material semiotics, the social life and performativity of methods.
Race, racism, migration and diaspora; Sociology and its engagements with publics and public policy; policing, diversity and race.
Psychoanalytically-informed sociology and cultural studies; heterosexual masculinities and masculinities and schooling. Co-editor Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society.
Psychoanalytically-informed sociology and cultural studies; heterosexual masculinities and masculinities and schooling. Co-editor Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society.
Social Connections and Divisions particularly gender and class; materials (objects/technologies) and social relations, particularly in the contemporary context of the home and family life, art objects and museums.
Cities and water; Street Markets as sites of sociality, cultural practices and innovation; Religious Buildings, Spaces, Texts and Images, c.1800-2010.
Feminist theories, diversity and assemblages of embodied selves, feminist materialist critiques in the field of sport. PI on AHRC network grant on 'Being in the Zone'.

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