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Doctor Laura Harris

Dr Laura Harris

Senior Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Film
  • Art (visual; contemporary; labour)
  • Atmospheres

More research


I am a cultural sociologist currently working as an Anniversary Fellow on a project called: 'Experimental Filmmaking and the Cultural Sociology of Place.' I have a background in art theory and sociology, and many of my current interests have their roots in these two disciplines. I am often to be found working between sociology departments and contemporary art galleries, and previous collaborators have included Bluecoat (Liverpool), the Talbot Rice Gallery (Edinburgh) and Open Eye (Liverpool). I am also book review editor at Cultural Sociology and convene the BSA Sociology of the Arts study group, and welcome enquiries relating to these roles. 

Experimental Filmmaking and the Cultural Sociology of Place

My current postdoctoral project is an experiment with genuine and sustained academic and artist co-production in the making of a nonfiction film. It will bring sociological theories of ‘visual methods’ into conversation with an artists’ filmmaking practice. My intention is not only to experiment in the development of novel visual methods, but also to reflect on the prccess of co-production: what do we, as sociologists, gain by giving up some of the authorial control over our work to practicing artsits?

Visual Methods

My PhD used filmmaking as a research method. The film, 'Critical Focus: Study of an Arts Centre', is a mediation on the ‘backstage’ work of a visual art gallery, and the objects, skills, and atmospheres that surround art as it is presented for consumption. The film takes as its focus the two-week installation period of an exhibition at Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts. The resulting film was exhibited in galleries and can be viewed here

I am comitted to making spaces for the distribution and discussion of visual research in the social sciences. Although the use of visual methods is widespread, the field lacks distribution channels for the visual outputs of research. To answer this need, I initiated and curated The Sociological Review's Image-Maker in residence scheme, which highlights visual work speaking to sociological themes. 

Art Worlds

My core interest is in the cultural sociology of contemporary art. I have published on the architecture of art galleries, and the notions of 'publicness' that discipline the UK professional arts. My research has also looked at 'invisible' labour in the art world of work, such as gallery technicians. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked on a project looking at the cultural, social and economic impact of the pandemic on independent art workers


I am always open to meeting those who share my research interests, even if just for a chat or with a view to collaborations, so do get in touch if you think we should talk!

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