Our vision is for LSE Sociology to embrace a fundamentally international sociology critically interrogating theoretical claims about the relationships between economic, political, social, spatial and cultural change. We focus our energies through concerns with escalating inequalities and injustices across the globe, informed by sustained fieldwork and empirical inquiry in numerous nations. Yet we also keep sight out of our own situated position within London, the UK, and Europe. We have wide ranging expertise straddling the economic, political, social and cultural challenges of our times. We have particular expertise in key areas of current debate covering science and technology studies; finance and economic change; urbanisation; the cultural dimensions of social stratification; and new cosmopolitan political agendas around human rights and social conflict. Our colleagues share direct research experience drawn from studies on every continent of the world, and we have conducted fieldwork on Argentina, Australia, Colombia, India, South Africa, and other parts of Africa, the US and the Caribbean as well as the UK.
We prize our methodological expertise. We have built upon our international reputation for pioneering sociological approaches to ethnography, historical sociology, comparative and survey approaches to social mobility and employment. More recent and emergent methodological strands include visual methods, spatial and morphological analysis, the analysis of digital data sources, and action research. We are currently building up our strengths in quantitative analysis as part of a new research initiative, to be led by Mike Savage, on inequalities. Research in many areas of substantive scholarship is associated with an MSc programme and with an overlapping cohort of doctoral students.
LSE Sociology has long had a strong tradition in social theory, and this remains true today. In the past two decades many of the most important theorists in the world, including Ulrich Beck, Craig Calhoun, David Frisby, Anthony Giddens, Paul Gilroy, Bruno Latour, Nikolas Rose, Richard Sennett and Judy Wajcman have taught here. We are interested in the prospects of contemporary forms of ‘situated theory’, which criticise grand epochal thinking in favour of ‘middle range’ theory attuned to the complexity and specificity of contemporary challenges. We have applied these theoretical concerns to explore the limits to cosmopolitan politics; understand political violence; examine social and representational patterns of gender and global inequality; develop new frameworks for understanding social class stratification and political cleavages; dissect inequalities in working time; comprehend the global role of finance, markets and risk, regulation and disaster, and analyse the reworking of relationships between science, biology and the social.
We collaborate with numerous other Centres. LSE Cities and the Centre for the Study of Human Rights are formally affiliated to the Department of Sociology – though operate with considerable autonomy. We have strong alliances with the Gender Institute, the largest centre for interdisciplinary research in transnational gender studies in Europe, and which itself combines an emphasis on empirical work in global political economy with cultural and theoretical innovation. Several sociologists also work at the Department of Methodology which hothouses LSE’s strengths in both quantitative and qualitative methods analysis.
The department is committed to its research having maximum impact outside academic circles. In the past five years our work has informed the policies and deliberations of over fifty leading international bodies, including central and local government in numerous nations, businesses, NGOs, journalists, broadcasters and educators. We are home to the British Journal of Sociology, Britain’s highest ranking journal in the discipline, as well as Economy and Society, one of the most significant interdisciplinary journals run from the UK. We take advantage of the LSE’s extensive social media platforms and run a regular programme of high profile events attracting speakers from all over the world.