Dr Don Slater

Dr Don Slater

Associate Professor (Reader) in Sociology

Department of Sociology

020 7849 4653
Room No
STC S310
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About me

Don Slater’s work focuses on material culture and technologies in everyday life, an interest he has pursued through many empirical lenses: consumption and consumer culture, photography and visual culture, and new media technologies and digital culture (particularly in the global south and development contexts) – and now light and lighting as a social material in urban life. He also convenes the MSc Culture and Society, which he co-founded with Nick Couldry.

His current research programme, Configuring Light/Staging the Social (co-directed with Dr Joanne Entwistle, King’s College London) explores the ways in which light, as a material, is configured into urban and public realm infrastructures, spaces and practices, and has a core concern with the ways in which sociologists and designers can collaborate in configuring material culture. Details of this programme can be found at www.configuringlight.org. Configuring Light has developed many projects since being formed in 2013, including a three year ESRC seminar series; a programme of seven iGuzzini Social Lightscapes workshops with lighting professionals to explore site-based dialogues between social research and design; and research projects in Colombia, Paris, London and Derby. Our current projects include: a three year tracking study of Elephant Park in South London; a study of lighting and safety with the London Borough of Dagenham and Barking; and a partnership with LUCI to survey ‘Pathways to ‘Smart’ Lighting’ across an international selection of municipalities.

The 15 years before this were dominated by new media research, culminating in New Media, Development and Globalization: Making Connections in the Global South (Polity: 2013). Previous work has included The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach, with Prof Daniel Miller (Berg: 2000); a study of on-line pornography traders; an ethnography of community radio and internet in rural Sri Lanka (with Peter Lewis, LSE, and Jo Tacchi, QUT, under the auspices of UNESCO and DfID); a UNESCO programme of ethnographic action research with nine ICT projects in South Asia; and a two-year DfID-funded programme of comparative ethnographies of new media in India, Ghana, South Africa and Jamaica (with Daniel Miller, Jo Tacchi and Andrew Skuse).

Research on the sociology of economic life includes Consumer Culture and Modernity (Polity: 1997); Market Society: Markets and Modern Social Thought, with Dr Fran Tonkiss (Polity: 2001); and The Technological Economy, with Dr Andrew Barry (Routledge 2005).

Selected Publications


Social Lightscapes Workshops: social research in design for lighting professionals, with Elettra Bordonaro and Joanne Entwistle.  iGuzzini Workshop serie. Ancona, Italy (2018).

New Media, Development and Globalization: Making Connections in the Global South. Cambridge: Polity Press (2013).

Research: ICT Innovations for Poverty Reduction, with Jo Tacchi.  New Delhi: UNESCO (2004)

The Technological Economy. (2005), with Dr Andrew Barry, Department of Geography, Oxford. Routledge. Edited collection, expanded version of special issue of Economy and Society 31 (2) (2002)

Market Society: Markets and Modern Social Thought. (2001), with Fran Tonkiss. Polity Press.

The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. (2000) with Prof Daniel Miller, Department of Anthropology, University College London. Oxford: Berg.

Consumer Culture and Modernity.  (1997) Cambridge: Polity Press.

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Slater, D. R. & Entwistle, J. (2018) Light as material/lighting as practice: Urban lighting and energy. Science Museum Group Journal (9).

Entwistle, J. and Bordonaro, E. and Slater, D. R. (forthcoming, 2018) The social study of urban lighting. In: Davoudian, N. (ed.) Urban Lighting for people: evidence-based lighting design for the built environment. RIBA Publishing, London.

Entwistle, J., Slater, D. R. & Sloane, M. (2015) Derby. In: Isenstadt, S., Dietrich Neumann & Petty, M. M. (eds.) Cities of Light: Two Centuries of Urban Illumination. Routledge, New York, pp. 159–164.

Slater, D. R. (2014) Ambiguous goods and nebulous things. Journal of Consumer Behaviour 13 (2), 99–107.

Entwistle, J. and D. R. Slater (2013) ‘Reassembling the cultural: fashion models, brands and the meaning of 'culture' after ANT’, Journal of Cultural Economy.

Entwistle, J. and D. R. Slater (2012) ‘Models as brands: critical thinking about bodies and images’, in J. Entwistle and E. Wissinger (eds.), Fashioning Models: Image, Text and Industry. Oxford: Berg: 15-33.

Slater, D. R. (2011) ‘Between culture and economy: the impossible place of marketing’, in D. Zwick and J. Cayla (eds.), Inside Marketing. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 23-41.

Schor, J. B., D. Slater, S. Zukin and V. A. Zelizer (2010) ‘Critical and Moral Stances in Consumer Studies’, Journal of Consumer Culture July 2010 (10): 274-91.

Slater, D. R. (2009) ‘The ethics of routine: consciousness, tedium and value ’, in E. Shove, F. Trentmann and R. Wilk (eds.), Time, Consumption and Everyday Life: Practice, Materiality and Culture. Oxford: Berg. 

'Assembling Asturias: Scaling devices and cultural leverage', with T. Ariztia-Larrain  in  I. Farias and T. Bender (eds.), Urban Assemblages: How Actor-Network Theory Changes Urban Studies London: Routledge. (2009) 

'Glimpsing God in the Internet', in  D. Held and H. Moore (eds.), Cultural Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. (2008)

Slater, D. R. and D. Miller (2007) ‘Moments and Movements in the Study of Consumer Culture: A discussion between Daniel Miller and Don Slater’, Journal of Consumer Culture (7): 5-23.

'Consumption and Lifestyle', in C.Calhoun, B.Turner and C.Rojek (eds), Handbook of Sociology. London: Sage (2005)

'Comparative ethnography of new media', with Daniel Miller, in J. Curran and M. Gurevitch (eds), Mass Media and Society.  London: Hodder Arnold. (2005)

'Anthropology', with Daniel Miller and Lucy Suchman, in M. Price and L. Nussenbaum (eds), The Academy and Internet. New York: Peter Lang. (2004)

'Markets, materiality and the "new economy " ' , in S. Metcalfe and A.Warde (eds),  Market Relations and the Competitive Process. Manchester: Manchester University Press (2003)

'Modernity Under Construction: building the Internet in Trinidad', in P.Brey, T.Misa and A.Rip (eds), Modernity and Technology: The Empirical Turn. Boston: MIT Press. (2003)

'Social relationships and identity on/off-line', in L. Lievrouw and S. Livingstone (eds.), Handbook of New Media: Social Shaping and Consequences of ICTs. (2002) London: Sage

'Capturing markets from the economists', in P. d. Gay and M. Pryke (eds.), Cultural Economies (2002) London: Sage

'Making things real: ethics and order on the Internet', Special issue of Theory, Culture and Society. In press: (July 2002)

'From calculation to alienation: disentangling economic abstractions', Economy and Society 31 (2). (April 2002)

'Existentialism with a Historical Imagination: A Roundtable Discussion with Agnes Heller and Marshall Berman', with Sam Binkley. Journal of Consumer Culture 2(1). (2002)

'Political discourse and the politics of need: discourses on the good life in cyberspace', in L. Bennett and R. Entman (eds.), Mediated Politics (2000), London: Cambridge University Press

'Consumption without scarcity: exchange and normativity in an internet setting', P Jackson, M Lowe, D. Miller and F Mort (eds.), Commercial Cultures: Economies, Practices, Spaces (2000), London: Berg

Rival, L., Slater, D., and Miller, D. 'Sex and sociality: comparative ethnography of sexual objectification', Theory, Culture and Society special issue on Love and Eroticism (1998)

'Trading sexpics on IRC: embodiment and authenticity on the internet' Body and Society 4 (4) (December 1998)

Expertise Details

Material Culture; Technology; Urban Lighting; Consumer Culture; Digital Culture