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Research

The School has always been at the forefront of methodological development in the social sciences.

The Department of Methodology is a national centre of excellence in methodology and the teaching of methodology. The Department coordinates and provides a focus for methodological activities at LSE, in particular in the area of methodological research. Through the degree programmes run by the Department (the MSc Applied Social Data Science, the MSc Social Research Methods and the MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods), and through provision of courses for postgraduate students from across the School, the aim is to make LSE the pre-eminent centre for methodological training in the social sciences.

The Department of Methodology operates a Visiting Fellows scheme, to enable academics, researchers and practitioners from other institutions to spend a period of time conducting research or to be involved in other activities which will benefit the Department.

Methodology faculty pursue research in a number of different disciplines; their work can be found in journals covering a variety of different domains of enquiry. The Department is also home to a number of funded research projects.

Recent publications

Current projects

 

  • From coercion to consent: Social identity, legitimacy and a process model of police procedural justice: The concept of legitimacy lies at the heart of democratic policing— police must seek and maintain public support by acting impartially, using coercion proportionately and persuading the citizenry that they are an institution that is entitled to be obeyed. But there are multiple highly marginalised communities for whom perceptions of police illegitimacy, non-compliance, conflict, criminality and experiences of police coercion are the norm. In this three-year project (that started in the late 2018) Jon Jackson and Chris Posch focus on fairness, legitimacy, identification between police and public, and normative compliance. They run a series of laboratory experiments utilising virtual reality simulations of police-citizen encounters to, among other things, systemically examine the role of social identity in perceptions of police fairness and legitimacy, and test causal effects of manipulating the procedural fairness or unfairness of the officer.

  • Police in schools: A national police youth engagement project: Police officers have been involved indelivering personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) lessons in some of the schools and regions of England on topics such as drugs, or online safety education. But it is unknown what impact this has on the students’ knowledge and perception of the issues, the police, and the justice system in general. This project is a clustered-block randomized controlled trial to estimate the causal effect of having a police officer giving a lesson on drugs and policing, compared to either a teacher delivering the same content, or there being no lesson at all. Jon Jackson and Chris Posch also assess whether having an officer in the classroom talk about the harm of drugs and the realities of policing is an important moment of legal socialization among young people, particularly because the officer is meeting them in their space to present sessions designed to engage and encourage discussion. To estimate the causal effect at both the individual and aggregate level, Jon Jackson and Chris Posch use a clustered-block-randomized design and a three-wave panel with children from hundreds of schools across England. Their robust design permits multiple ways of analysing the data, to answer this question, including the assessment of matched school trios, multi level modelling, spillover-effects, and many others.

  • quanteda.io. quanteda is an R package for managing and analyzing textual data developed by Kenneth Benoit and other contributors. Its initial development was supported by the European Research Council grant ERC-2011-StG 283794-QUANTESS. quanteda is a user-friendly software application framework around the R quanteda package that enables efficient, powerful natural language processing and quantitative text analysis.

  • The Emergence of Inequality in Social Groups: From small organisations to entire nations and society at large, socio economic inequality is one of the most significant problems facing the world today. Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, this four-year project will approach the problem of inequality from a new perspective and with new computational social science methods. An interdisciplinary team of sociologists, computer scientists, and physicists will develop and conduct large-scale controlled experiments online. This method will allow the construction of “artificial societies”comprising dozens of individuals who interact over days or weeks. Manipulating the structure of these multiple parallel worlds will help identify the structural conditions that give rise to inequality and inform policy and managerial interventions that reduce it.

  • Migrant Women in Medellin and Their Right to the City: How do migrant women in Medellin, especially mothers and heads of household, negotiate their ‘right to the city’ – the right to access the resources of the city and the right to shape and change the city? Through an analytical lens of place-making, Dr Sonja Marzi is exploring migrant women’s right to the city with a special focus on their everyday socio-spatial mobilities, their access to public goods and resources, and how they manage the challenges of their private and economic lives. This project uses a participatory action research approach that includes visual methods such as mapping, video and photography. Funded by the Fritz-Thyssen Foundation, Germany.

  • Community-led recovery after the Grenfell Tower fire: How can a community produce positive change as part of its post-disaster recovery? And can university-community collaborations contribute to empowering locally-owned recovery stories? The Grenfell Tower fire, in June 2017, devastated a West London community. It is widely accepted that community groups and individuals took leadership of the response to help their neighbours in the first hours, days, and months of uncertainty as the state assessed matters, apologised, set up processes, progressively lost local legitimacy, preserved core functions and insulated itself from damage. The ramifications of that situation are still unfolding. Using a model of community-engaged research, Flora Cornish is currently researching community authority relations in the aftermath of the disaster through a 2-year ethnography and interview study, and an experiment in ‘public social history’, working collaboratively to produce locally-authored stories of recovery. Grounded in respect for the community’s role in producing its own recovery, the project aims to contribute to understandings of community resilience for future disaster responders, and to academic understandings of mechanisms of social change and stasis.The project has begun as a knowledge-exchange project, marshalling materials with which to build accounts of the process of recovery from different points of view, collaborating with community members on their own stories of recovery, as a foundation for developing academic versions. The project also enables knowledge exchange with emergency management professionals and policy-makers in the interest of improving the environment for community-led disaster response and recovery. It is funded by an LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact grant.

  • INTREPID: Developing a better understanding on how to achieve more efficient and effective interdisciplinary research in Europe. Funded by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020.

  • Methods for the analysis of longitudinal dyadic data with an application to     intergenerational exchanges of family support. Funded by ESRC and EPSRC.

  • Moving forward: Bringing about change in interrogation practice: This project looks at interrogation practices in both criminal justice and human intelligence gathering contexts, and how how it could be changed. Funded by the FBI.  

Recently completed projects

  • EUENGAGEBridging the gap between public opinion and European leadership: Engaging a dialogue on the future path of EuropeFunded by the Horizon 2020 Grant.

  • Communicating chronic pain: Interdisciplinary methods for non-textual data.The research adapts interdisciplinary methods from the arts, humanities and social sciences to examine how chronic pain, as a non-verbal experience, can be communicated through non-textual data, and how it circulates socially. Funded as an ESRC NCRM Methodological Innovation project. 

  • Fiducia: New European Crimes and Trust-based Policy. Funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme.  

  • Item Nonresponse and Measurement Error in Cross-National Surveys. The complexity of cross-national surveys raises methodological challenges which need to be met in order to make the best use of the data. Two of these are problems of data quality: measurement error where the answers by survey respondents are in some way erroneous; and nonresponse where some questions are not answered at all. The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate research methods for these problems Funded as an ESRC NCRM Methodological Innovation project.

  • LCAT: Latent Variable Modelling of Categorical Data: Tools of Analysis for Cross-national Surveys. Funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council.

  • Legal norms and crime control: A comparative cross-national analysis: This is a comparative, cross-national study into attitudes towards legal authorities, compliance with the law, cooperation with legal authorities, and the policing of minority and majority groups. Funded by ESRC.

  • QUANTESS: Quantitative Analysis of Textual Data for Social Sciences (ERC-2011-StG 283794-QUANTESS). This project has funded Quanteda: an R package for the quantitative analyis of textual data. Funded by the European Research Council.

  • STEPE : Sensitive Technologies and European Public Ethics. Funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme.

  • Trust in Justice: Rotating Module in Round 5 of the European Social Survey. Funded by the European Commission and other bodies.