Research clusters

LSE Sociology prizes our collective Departmental culture, and we collaborate across our specialist areas. We have a lively Department seminar and a regular public events lecture series at which the world’s most famous social scientists speak: recently including Bruno Latour, James Nazroo, Woody Powell, Thomas Piketty, and Beverley Skeggs, as well as many of our own staff. Our research clusters showcase those areas where we have key concentrations of research and graduate teaching and where we have a distinctive LSE presence and identity. They all embrace an international vision of sociology and are concerned to address the major challenges the world faces. Each encourages inter-disciplinary debate and engagement at the same time as nurturing the resources of sociology as a discipline, and all embrace methodological and theoretical excellence.

Economy, Technology and Expertise

This cluster unites scholarship associated with economic sociology, science and technology studies (STS) and the sociology of risk regulation, and our work has particular strengths in addressing research questions that require a combination of concepts and methods from these sub-disciplines. We draw upon a range of classical and contemporary social theory to explore topics such as the social life and politics of money, the history of financialisation, the impact of digital technologies on time poverty and speed, consumption, marketing and creative industries, and formation of art markets. Our economic sociology is concerned with how technologies and cultures of expertise shape institutions, cultures, money and markets. We explore risk regulation in the light of broader concerns for organizational processes and techniques of governance. In addition, we draw on economic sociology and STS in order to investigate phenomena such as digital money, everyday technologies and labour. Lastly, we study scientific fields and practices, particularly in the areas of bioscience and medicine, where dialogue with economic sociologists stimulates new insights on the meaning of labour in science.

Members: Fabien Accominotti, Claire Moon, Nigel Dodd, Carrie Friese, Ursula Henz, Bridget Hutter, Pat McGovern, Don Slater, Charis Thompson, Fran Tonkiss, Judy Wajcman, Leon Wansleben.

Politics and Human Rights

This cluster builds on a strong intellectual tradition in LSE Sociology. Research focuses on several themes: the social bases of political parties and movements; the theory and practice of human rights; democracy and participation in states, firms and civil society organisations; political ideologies, including liberalism and neo-liberalism, socialism, conservatism secularism and cosmopolitanism; political violence, including war and its opponents, transitional justice, trauma and the investigation of atrocities; and the politics of cities and housing. Members work on the US, UK and Australia as well as Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, and collaborate with leading scholars around the world. They use comparative, historical, case-based, ethnographic, critical, post-colonial, and institutionalist methods and approaches, among many others. The cluster is associated with a major interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Human Rights, regular Political Sociology Research Seminars, dedicated postgraduate degrees in both Political Sociology and Human Rights, and a lively program of public events.

Members: Suki Ali, Robin Archer, Chetan Bhatt, Ayça Çubukçu, Daniel Laurison, David Madden, Michael McQuarrie, Claire Moon.

Social Inequalities

This cluster brings together colleagues working on multiple dimensions and crystallisations of social inequality, including class, race and ethnicity, gender, and age, to critically analyse contemporary challenges across the globe. Driven by an awareness of the dramatic increase in economic inequality in recent decades associated with contemporary neo-liberal capitalism we seek to develop new paradigms and methodologies for the sociological analysis of inequality. We are especially attracted to developing relational perspectives on inequality which draw on intellectual currents including field analysis, social network analysis, science studies, material culture studies, feminism, and critical race theory. Our research uses both quantitative and qualitative methods, including ethnography, social network analysis, and multiple correspondence analysis. We directly collaborate with colleagues in the Economic sociology cluster on the theme of ‘Inequalities, Culture and Expertise’ as well as with the LSE’s International Inequalities Institute. Our members have obtained research funding from the ESRC, Wellcome, EPSRC and Leverhulme.

Members: Fabien Accominotti, Janet Foster, Sam Friedman, Carrie Friese, Suzi Hall, Ursula Henz, Daniel Laurison, Lisa McKenzie, Mike Savage, Don Slater, Charis Thompson, Leon Wansleben.

Urban Sociology

The Department of Sociology has a distinctive cluster of urban sociologists and ethnographers, who work alongside urban designers and planners to address the dynamism of urban transformations. Processes of urbanisation are examined in relation to global systems of power and regulation, cultural hierarchies and subversions, and forms of association and exclusion. Current research interests include pronounced conditions of urban inequality, the role of housing in an era of dispossession, the practice of new media and technology in global contexts, cross-disciplinary explorations of architecture and cultural space, and the configurations of migrant urbanisms. The LSE Cities research centre, located within the Department, brings together interdisciplinary and applied research and teaching activities. LSE Cities’ core focus is on space and society, the environment and climate change, and urban governance, and it employs innovative social, spatial and visual approaches to analyse contemporary urban conditions and to conceptualise urban futures, contributing to academic debate and policy formation.

Members: Ricky Burdett, Janet Foster, Suzi Hall, David Madden, Michael McQuarrie, Richard Sennett, Don Slater, Fran Tonkiss.

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