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Research Projects

We are distinguished by a commitment to advancing key debates in the discipline of Sociology while also pursuing interdisciplinary research, to the highest standards of excellence. 

A selection of funded research projects is listed below.

housing renure

Owners and Occupiers: The Politics of Housing Tenure

This project, supported by the Leverhulme Research Fellowship, advances Dr David Madden’s research on a foundational yet often overlooked concept in housing research: tenure. In contrast to previous understandings of tenure as a set of census categories or dwelling types, such as owner-occupation, private renting, or public renting, in this project, Dr Madden develops a new sociological approach that sees tenure as the complex, contested relationships between the owners and occupiers of housing. By reconceptualising tenure, the book will seek to provide us with a better understanding of the contemporary housing crisis, and will argue that politicising and transforming tenure is the key to overhauling today’s unequal housing systems.

Upper mainland courtyard of Tintagel Castle 2007 Kerry Garrat

Commemorative Climates 

With the support of the Philip Leverhulme Prize, Dr Rebecca Elliott will be launching a new project tentatively called "Commemorative Climates," which will be the subject of her second book. The project investigates how heritage conservation institutions are responding to climate change as they confront questions about what to preserve versus what to let go, and how to memorialise what cannot or will not be saved from coastal erosion, rising sea levels, or recurrent flooding. The project will examine how a destabilising climate complicates already fragile and contentious efforts to stabilise a historical narrative or a landscape and to render its artifacts durable. Image credit: Kerry Garratt.


Leverhulme Visiting Professorship Award 

Professors Sam Friedman and Mike Savage have succeeded in winning a prestigious Leverhulme Visiting Professorship award to host Annette Lareau, from the University of Pennsylvania, in LSE Sociology from January to June 2024. Annette is one of the world’s leading qualitative researchers, renowned for her study of the impact of class and parenting practices. More recently she has been conducting research on the family lives and strategies of wealthy American families, an interest which will fit closely with the social inequalities cluster in the department. During her stay, Annette will be assisting with teaching qualitative methods, in working with Mike (and Maria-Luisa Mendez, Santiago, Chile) in editing an Oxford Handbook on the Sociology of Global Elites, and will be giving various talks.  


Social Lighting and Urban Design in Southeast Asia: Changing Professional Practices 

This project, led by Dr Don Slater in collaboration with Dr Elettra Bordonaro (Senior Visiting Fellow, LSE), Dr Joanne Entwistle (KCL), and local project partner KMUTT, seeks to foster “social lighting” and socially-driven urban design in Southeast Asia. It will host a capacity-building workshop in the Mahakan Fort Park neighbourhood of Bangkok, inviting lighting professionals to experience active social research, engage with stakeholders, and develop lighting designs informed by social research findings. This project is part of the wider work conducted by the Configuring Light research group. Find out more


Independent Panel of Inquiry into the Violence in Leicester, August-September 2022 

In August-September 2022, violence erupted between groups of Hindus and Muslims from South Asia rocked Leicester, a city that previously had a long, proud history of inter-communal conviviality and joint struggles against racism and for justice. This study aims to understand why violence erupted, by examining the broader trend of growing antagonism within South Asian communities in Leicester and the UK. It will involve collaboration with community leaders, youth workers, law enforcement, and data analysis from local authorities. Funded by the Open Society Foundations, the project is led by Dr Subir Sinha (SOAS), in collaboration with Professor Chetan Bhatt (LSE) and the Monitoring Group, London. 


 Taxing Ghosts: Closing Residency Loopholes to Fund Post-Pandemic Recovery Efforts 

Taxing Ghosts contributes to the international tax reform agenda by illuminating the systemic problem of how people and corporations game, or “ghost”, residence to avoid tax. Dr Kristin Sunak is the Principal Investigator on the project, and together with teams at McGill University, University of Cape Town, and University of the Western Cape (linked through the TAP RRR), is examining the national and international factors that facilitate tax ghosting by wealthy individuals and corporations to reveal the disparate economic threats created by such ghosting, analyze why states have failed to recognize the threats to date, and propose novel yet feasible policy solutions based on our findings. The project was awarded €540,000 by the Trans-Atlantic Partnership. Dr Surak’s portion of the grant, €315,000, comes from the ESRC to fund her work on digital nomads and tax avoidance. 

lighting 2

 Configuring Light: Staging the Social 

All social life happens in some degree of light and darkness. Light structures the kinds of social practices and interactions we enter into at home or on the street, how safe we feel and how well we can navigate through social spaces. Today, fuelled by new technologies and urgent social and environmental concerns, light is increasingly taking centre stage in many urban discussions, especially around economic and environmental costs, safety and well-being, aesthetics and city branding. And yet, despite this centrality, there is very little knowledge and research on what lighting means to people and how they incorporate it into their daily lives and practices. And even less on how lighting designers can build social knowledges to inform their professional practices. 

Configuring Light is a team of sociologists and lighting professionals who explore the role light plays in social life, and how leading edge social research can produce better lighting.  One of the group’s notable projects is ENLIGHTENme, a four-year Horizon 2020 programme (2021-2025). The project is led by Dr Don Slater as the Principal Investigator, in collaboration with Dr Elettra Bordonaro (Senior Visiting Fellow, LSE) and Dr Joanne Entwistle (KCL), in partnership with a verity of local collaborators. Find out more. 


Living at Regenerated Neighbourhoods in London 

This project examines the housing and neighbourhood experiences of recent and long-term residents at neighbourhoods which have gone through a process of regeneration. One of the main policy goals for regeneration via the demolition and rebuilding of social housing estates, has been the creation of mixed-tenure neighbourhoods comprising newly built upmarket flats for sale alongside rebuilt social rental properties. However, there is a dearth of research on the longer-term aftermaths of estate regeneration. In this British Academy funded project, Professor Paul Watt (Visiting Professor, Sociology, LSE) addresses this important research and policy gap by examining two regenerated social housing estates in London. What kind of mixed-tenure neighbourhoods are being created by estate regeneration and how do they fit into London's wider socio-economic development? 



Dr Don Slater is part of an interdisciplinary consortium of 22 partners performing in-depth studies in three European cities to develop innovative, evidence-based policies to improve citizens’ quality of life addressing indoor and outdoor lighting. 

While EU cities have worked on improving urban lighting services, this has mostly focussed on efficiency, reducing costs and lowering emissions. Yet, it has failed to consider the effect urban lighting may have on citizens’ health and wellbeing.  

ENLIGHTENme brings together experts from different scientific fields and sectors such as urban development and health research, ENLIGHTENme will collect evidence about the impact outdoor and indoor lighting has on human health. ENLIGHTENme sets out to develop and test innovative solutions and policies that will offset health inequalities in European cities.  

Find out more about ENLIGHTENme.


Eastern European Studies at a Time of War  

Like other societal challenges, such as climate change or COVID-19, the war in Ukraine is influenced by expert knowledge and dynamics within expert communities. It is a task of reflexive social science to comprehend the nature of this influence. Led by Professor Monika Krause, this project examines expertise regarding Eastern Europe in Germany and the UK during a contentious period in the history of their field. The months following the Russian attack have sparked debates among scholars, which raise vital questions about the relationship between expertise and political processes and disputes. 

The project's goals include exploring how experts navigate political dilemmas and conflicts within their fields, developing theory by conceptualizing various institutional connections between academia and politics through field theory, and investigating how regional knowledge is shaped by imperial and other international agendas, domestic political interests, dynamics within expert communities, and idiosyncratic ties between countries. 


Changing Elites: How Social and Institutional Change Has Altered the Processes of Elite Formation over Time? 

Elites today differ significantly from those in the past, but what exactly has changed and why? Answering these questions has proven challenging due to the limited availability of longitudinal data on elites. Funded by the European Research Council, the Changing Elites project seeks to address these questions by creating an unprecedented catalogue of the elite, unrivalled in both empirical and temporal scope. The project aims to explore the composition of elites, including the emergence of female elites, the extent of cultural cohesion among elite groups, and the intersection between economic and social elites over time. Furthermore, it will examine how policy changes, such as alterations in entrance exams for elite universities or adjustments to top tax rates, may either restrict or facilitate the processes of elite reproduction within these institutions. 

Principal Investigator: Professor Aaron Reeves (University of Oxford); Co-Investigator: Professor Sam Friedman

You can read about Sam Friedman's recent research project on the 'class pay gap' within the UK's elite and professional occupations here: The Class Ceiling


Gendered harassment in public and the potential for a ‘zero-tolerance’ culture. 

Dr Ioanna Gouseti’s project, funded through the Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship scheme, is focused on the topic of gendered harassment in public spaces in the UK. The project looks at lay experiences of and attitudes to gendered harassment in public spaces in the UK, focusing on socio-cultural and contextual factors. Existing research suggests that sexual harassment in public is a universal phenomenon, disproportionately experienced by women as victims and men as perpetrators (Stanko, 1990), leading to its characterisation as a gendered form of violence (Vera-Gray, 2016). 

Although violence against women has been studied extensively, the focus has been overwhelmingly on the domestic and work environments. Only recently has sexual harassment in public attracted more academic, political and media attention, with emerging research suggesting that it is a pervasive form of violence against women (ibid.). Therefore, this project aims to develop a systematic approach to the theorisation and measurement of the phenomenon, examining its sociocultural and contextual explanatory parameters, with emphasis on gender identities and public spaces.  

Methodologically, the project utilises triangulation of quantitative methodologies, combining survey and experimental data. The project seeks to develop a systematic approach to the empirical exploration of gendered harassment, looking at its multiple manifestations from a gendered perspective. 

It also seeks to investigate the degree of its normalisation in the understudied context of urban public spaces. Conceptualising harassment as part of a continuum of gendered violence and inequality, the ultimate goal is to produce data that will contribute to a ‘zero-tolerance’ culture to gendered harassment in public spaces. 


Mapping ‘the Streets’: Young Women Rappers and Violence in East London 

East London is renowned as the birthplace of Grime, a genre in which rap plays a significant role (Bramwell 2015; James 2021). While women have played a vital role in this scene, it has predominantly been male-dominated (Ramsden 2022). Dr Baljit Kaur, as part of her ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship project titled 'Mapping ‘the Streets’: Young Women Rappers and Violence in East London,' is returning to a youth club in an East London borough. Here, she aims to delve into the lives of young women rappers whose narratives about structural and interpersonal violence are often marginalised within the rap scene. This project will provide a platform for young women involved in the rap scene to express their real-life experiences of violence, which are interwoven into the social fabric of East London. 


Past Grants and Projects



Feminist Pedagogy in Times of Struggle 

What does it mean to think and teach from the picket line in London or from the revolting streets of Beirut? What are the insecurities and uncertainties we grapple with as we think, write, and teach about injustice and struggles against it? As teachers in these cities, we have been thinking about internationalism and solidarity as constitutive of feminist pedagogy in times of struggle (hooks 1994). As researchers of social justice and feminist practice, we are interested in creating a space that defies notions of completeness and mastery (Singh 2017), and that takes seriously the idea that conversation is a feminist method (Gregg 2004). We thus understand feminist scholarship and education as necessarily a process that is enacted collectively. In this project, we want to go through this process together as an experiment in creating feminist community beyond formal academic modes of engagement. The project will culminate in a meeting in London. We will adopt three methods for thinking together: 1) correspondence; 2) annotation; 3) illustrated conversation. Dr Sara Salem and Dr Mai Taha are the lead researchers. The project is funded by the Open Society University Network. 

human rights

Human Rights. Human Remains 

Dr Claire Moon currently holds a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award for her project 'Human Rights, Human Remains: forensic humanitarianism and the politics of the grave' (2018 - 2021). This project explores the ‘forensic turn’ in humanitarianism and the effort to establish the identities and causes of death of the mass victims of atrocities such as enforced disappearance, torture, genocide and war crimes. 

Exhumations and forensic identification carry enormous social force. They represent a powerful way of establishing the truth. Yet forensic identification is a social act and interacts with legal, political and humanitarian imperatives which include accountability, combatting political and cultural denial, and returning the dead to families to assist psychological closure.  

This project examines the emergence, social complications and implications of forensic investigations of atrocity. It provides the first global history of the forensic turn in humanitarianism, investigates challenges and innovations in the field by analysing a case in Mexico, and explores the hypothesis that as a result of the forensic turn we can now argue that the dead have human rights. 

Find out more about Human Rights Human Remains

Watch this LSE Research for the World video which explores the project in more depth. 

research data

Care as Science: Animal Husbandry 

Dr Carrie Friese has received a Wellcome Trust New Investigator Award as Principal Investigator on the research project "Care as Science: The Role of Animal Husbandry in Translational Medicine." This is a five-year project (2015-2019) utilises quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore why scientists perceive high-quality animal care as a scientific priority and how it influences their work. Find out more about Care as Science


Crime Information and its Impact on Public Attitudes 

This research, led by Dr Ioanna Gouseti, is funded by LSE's Suntory and Toyota International Centre for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD) and looks at the impact of crime information on fear of crime. More specifically, the key research question is: What is the impact of different types of crime information and its processing on affective, behavioural and cognitive attitudes to the crime-risk? Crime is an important discursive subject within political, cultural and societal contexts, encompassing stereotypes, normative assessments, images of criminals and victims. Publicly available crime information can thus determine how people view, experience and react to the risk of crime. 

The timeliness of this project relates to the fact that in the era of ‘fake news’ and with the immense increase of media channels in recent years, the public are exposed to mixed-quality information about social phenomena, such as crime, which can be highly politicised, sensationalised and often lacking in direct knowledge. Criminological research has shown that as crime narratives in the media are more market-driven than data-driven, the information that they disseminate can be distorted, negatively affecting people’s perceptions of the crime-risk, and thus individual and collective wellbeing. 

This research takes into account the pluralism of crime information that exists today, exploring crime statistics, crime news and crime fiction, and their impact on public attitudes to crime. The experimental methodology of the study enables the exploration of causal associations between crime information and public attitudes to crime as opposed to the primarily observational studies that are conducted in the context of fear-of-crime research. 

women in india

Disconnected Infrastructures 

Continuous and widespread violence against women in urban India highlights the challenge of delivering the UN's Sustainable Development Goals of Gender Equality and Sustainable Cities and Communities. Combined with this is an acute information and skills gap in technology use amongst urban poor women that impedes their knowledgeable and empowered engagement with urban infrastructures. 

'Disconnected infrastructures and Violence Against Women (VAW): Innovating digital technologies in low-income neighbourhoods to produce safer Indian cities' is led by Dr Ayona Datta (Kings College London) as Principal Investigator with co-investigators including Dr Don Slater. The project take a rights-based approach to the challenge: how to address VAW by improving women’s knowledge of, and safe access to, urban infrastructure in the Indian city. Find out more about Disconnected Infrastructures


Idiosyncratic Ties  

Professor Monika Krause was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to conduct research on 'Idiosyncratic Ties: mission agencies and the future of transnational relations' (2018-19). 

Most research on international mission agencies focuses on their historical role. Most research on NGOs discusses religious NGOs in relation to secular aims such as humanitarianism, development or world peace. Yet mission agencies today command a significant amount of resources and are an important actor in many of the contexts that humanitarian and development NGOs also inhabit, and they cannot be understood without reference to their specifically religious goal of "spreading the word". 

Based on in-depth interviews with managers in mission agencies, participant observation, site visits and analysis of reports and published materials, using case studies from India, Kenya, the US and the Ukraine, Dr Krause's forthcoming book will describe the work of contemporary mission agencies on their own terms and argue that our thinking about transnationalism needs to take into account the kind of ties they establish. 

employment rights

Immigrant Employment Rights and Varieties of Capitalism  

The conventional view of immigration control is that it is a process that regulates entry to a country. However, immigration control also extend beyond points of entry to include the extent to which migrants can participate in activities that are often taken for granted by local citizens, such as engage in employment. Working with Eiko Thielemann (Government Department, LSE) we focus on two issues, namely access to employment and the freedom to change employers, in assessing competing hypotheses about cross-national differences in migrant rights. Drawing from the varieties of capitalism literature, we examine whether liberal market economies grant immigrants more employment rights than those in coordinated market economies. In addition, we ask if the more internationalised/Europeanised states (those bound by more liberal constraints entailed in international/European law) can be expected to grant immigrants more employment rights. 

The project will update selected questions from the IMPALA database on immigration policy to compare British and German policies in the context of the European Union. The IMPALA consortium has already completed coding on a year by year basis for the UK and Germany for the period 1999-2008. This research will focus on any changes to labour market participation rights in the period since 2008. 

This project is funded by LSE's Suntory and Toyota International Centre for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD). 

Find out more about Dr Pat McGovern.


Income Inequality in the Mass Media  

Pat is working with Martin Bauer and Sandra Obradovic of LSE’s Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science on a project that examines the way income inequality is framed in mass media discourse.  We examine the rise of income inequality as a social problem. Specifically, we want to know if it has been recognised as a scandalous social problem that requires new policy responses or whether it has become subsumed within existing discussions of economic policy. 
Drawing on an extended analysis of UK and US newspapers we find that the coverage of income inequality came in three phases; an initial surge in the 1990s, followed by a decline in the early 2000s, and a second surge that takes off after the economic crisis of 2008. Despite this surge in media attention, the problem of inequality seems to have remained an academic concern as it does not appear to have resonated more widely. Across the three periods, we observe a shift in framing, some diversity in frame sponsors and a shift in political slant, yet public attitudes towards inequality remain stable across this same time-period. Our argument is that social inequality has not become a mobilizing social problem, at least as reflected in the print media. 

This project is funded by the International Inequalities Institute's Research Innovation Fund. 

Find out more about Dr Patrick McGovern, the project’s Co-Investigator.  


Migrant Margins  

The Migrant Margins project is a collaboration between researchers at the African Centre for Cities, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Cape Town. Over the course of 2020 and 2021 we’ve explored issues of precarious citizenship and urban refuge in the context of Cape Town and its racial legacies of colonisation and apartheid. In this project we’ve focused on formations of gender and livelihoods amongst asylum-seeking women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tracing the violence of everyday bordering within discriminatory migration and urban systems. Our recent journal articles that emerge from this research include new thinking on: 

· how gendered access to the city is acutely delineated and fragmented; 
· how faith and spirituality work as a repository of hope in ambient crises, where precarity is exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic; and  
· how money is saved and transferred across borders through lively and intricate circuits of migrant know-how, transactions and technologies. 

Funding acknowledgements: 
We are grateful to the support from a Philip Leverhulme Prize (Grant number: PLP-2017_189). 

Find out more about Professor Suzanne Hall, the project’s Co-Investigator. 


Resilient Communities, Resilient Cities?  

This project, led by Professor Myria Georgiou from the Department of Media and Communications as Principal Investigator, and Professor Suzi Hall as Co-Investigator, examines the role of digital communication in the making of cities of refuge. More particularly, it focusses on urban communities’ digital responses to sudden and unplanned change resulting from irregular migration into the city. The project zooms into urban neighbourhoods that receive large number of refugees and migrants. It examines how urban communities – established and new – mobilise digitally to respond and manage change in the city. From the development of local networks in support of refugees, to local training into digital skills, cities’ resilience is tested in the capacity to sustain inclusive, integrated and prospering communities. 


Risk Regulation, Resilience, Inequality and Flooding Strategies in the UK 

Professor Bridget Hutter's current research developed with the UK Environment Agency’s Social Science and Flood and Coastal Risk Management teams is exploring issues of risk regulation, resilience and inequality in the context of UK flooding strategies. It aims particularly to promote a more holistic conceptualization of resilience among policy-makers and flood management practitioners, and to enhance their understanding of the relationship between risk management strategies and resilience approaches. The more broadly-conceived approaches that it promotes embrace ideas of social resilience and policy choice; encourage the inclusion and participation in flooding policy discussion of wider societal groups; and foreground issues of responsibility for flood mitigation, adaptation and reduction. 

Bridget Hutter and her research assistants are currently conducting a survey of residents in at-risk areas about how local communities are involved in dealing with risks in their neighbourhood.

Find out more about Professor Bridget Hutter. 


man with magnifying glass research

Theory and Method in the Workplace Case Study Tradition  

This project focuses on problems of theory and method within the qualitative case study tradition in industrial relations and the sociology of work. Drawing on an analysis of studies published in eleven major journals over a fifteen year period this work is intended to open up a discussion about the current state of the art in this tradition. One paper with Diego Alburez, which has already been published, examines whether differences in the reporting of workplace case‐study research methods are associated with gender, experience, academic rank and PhD training. We find a distinct gender difference in that that women take more care reporting their research methods in the context of a general increase in methods reporting. 

A second paper, which is under review, assesses the nature of theorizing in workplace case study research by examining how theory is used to inform research questions, select cases and interpret findings. Detailed content analysis reveals that workplace case study research is largely descriptive and that there is remarkably little interest in theoretical matters. A surprising amount of research is, however, preoccupied with the analysis of concepts. Exemplars of theoretical and conceptual analysis are identified and discussed. A further paper is planned on causality in workplace case studies, especially in cross-national comparative studies. 

Find out more about Dr Patrick McGovern

money with plants

Wealth, Elites and Tax Justice  

This is a major research theme led by Professor Mike Savage within the International Inequalities Institute, active from 2019-21 with five research clusters and drawing on the expertise of numerous LSE academics from different departments, and from international partners including those in the global south. 

Concerns with inequality have tended to focus on the nature and extent of income inequality, which is now well known to be growing in many nations since the 1980s. However, income inequality is only the tip of the iceberg. Following the influential arguments of Thomas Piketty, which rework Marx’s emphasis on capital accumulation, it is increasingly realised that wealth is a more fundamental driver of inequality dynamics. 

Other colleagues from LSE Sociology working on this project include Dr Fabien Accominotti, Dr Sam Friedman and our research students Kristina Kolbe and Emma Taylor. 


Women in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence  

Professor Judy Wajcman has been appointed Turing Fellow and Principal Investigator on the 'Women in Data Science and AI' research project at the Alan Turing Institute. 

Data scientists and AI professionals are in great demand. Machine learning and data science are now the fastest growing professions in the US, and as our ability to collect and analyse data improves, demand for data scientists will continue to increase. However, the explosive growth in data science and machine learning roles hides a problematic dynamic: women occupy only a minority of these new positions. 

The aim of this project is to redress the gender imbalance in data science and AI. Digital technologies are changing the way in which we live our lives and it is imperative for women to be equal partners in developing the algorithms, setting the research agendas, and building the applications underpinned by data science and AI. 

This research project aims to examine systematically: why so few women enter data science and AI professions; why, once they enter these professions, many women leave; which interventions work to increase the number of women in data science and AI; and the ways in which the gender deficit shapes both the research agenda and the applications of digital technologies.