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Sociology, Social Policy and CriminologyPart of Economic, Social and Political Science
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Professor Silke Roth PhD

Professor of Sociology, Chair of Faculty Ethics Committee, Co-Director of the Centre for Democratic Futures

Professor Silke Roth's photo

Silke Roth is Professor of Sociology within Economic, Social and Political Sciences at the University of Southampton.

My research interests include understanding the intersection of individual and social change through studying biographical and organisational processes.

Silke Roth joined the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology in 2005. After studying at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Connecticut (Ph.D in Sociology, 1997), she did research on Weimar, Cultural Capital of Europe 1999 at the Bauhaus University Weimar (1997-1999). From 2000 until 2005, she was German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

She is interested in meaningful work and engagement for social justice. Her areas of research include the participation in and the impact of voluntary organisations, social movements and non-governmental organizations and the military.

Her publications include The Paradoxes of Aid Work. Passionate Professionals (Routledge 2015), Gender Politics in the Expanding European Union (Berghahn 2008) and Building Movement Bridges. The Coalition of Labor Union Women (Greenwood 2003), journal articles in Gender & Society, Information, Communication and Society, Interface, Journal for Risk Research, Social Politics, Sociological Research Online, Sociology, Third World Quarterly, as well as numerous book chapters and edited volumes.

Research interests

My research interests include social movement studies, humanitarian studies, sociology of gender, sociology of work, and military sociology.  My work as a political sociologist has always focused on questions of solidarity, inclusion and exclusion. I have a longstanding interest in political socialisation processes and the opportunities and obstacles of political participation and involvement in third sector organisations. I have investigated this in the context of women’s participation in the American labour movement. My intersectional perspective on the Coalition of Labour Union women addressed the efforts to organize across women across class, ethnic and other markers of difference. I have developed the concepts ‘bridging organisations’ and – with Myra Marx Ferree (University of Wisconsin-Madison) ‘exclusionary solidarity’ to address processes of coalition building between women’s movements and labour movements.

At the transnational level I have studied the impact of the Enlargement of the European Union on women’s movements and women’s NGOs in a comparative perspective. I written about the similarities and differences of women’s movements in Europe and how their emergence and development are shaped by the role of the Catholic Church, authoritarianism, democratization processes and transnational opportunity structures such as the European Union and the United Nations.

My interest in political processes includes macro-, meso- and micro-levels. My biographical perspective on paid and unpaid activism in social movements, trade unions, non-governmental organisations, and the military makes an important contribution to the understanding of the sustainability of activism and meaningful work over the life-course. This includes my work on Occupy as well as my study of people in humanitarianism and development cooperation and more recently veterans’ transitions to civilian work and life.

My book ‘The Paradoxes of Aid Work. Passionate Professionals’ (2015, Routledge) contributes to the emerging sociology of international relations and humanitarianism. It demonstrates that aid work perpetuates existing global inequalities and the necessity of an intersectional perspective to understand how racial and national hierarchies are reproduced within the aid sector. In collaboration with Markus Luczak-Roesch (Victoria University Wellington, NZ), I have extended my analysis of aid relationships by addressing what impact the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) have on aid relationships through a critically assessment of digital humanitarianism.

Furthermore, I am interested in the relationship, similarities and differences between aid organisations and the military. Aid organisations rely on logistical and security support from the military and have been employed to ‘win hearts and minds’ while the armed forces are engaged in local reconstruction teams and the training of police and military forces. I have begun to investigate skills acquisition in the armed forces and the transfer of such skills to the civilian private, public and third sectors. Combining my interest in meaningful work and bridging organisations, I am currently studying the disaster relief organisation Team Rubicon which actively recruits and draws on the skills of military veterans.

I belong to the steering group of the Work Futures Research Centre at the University of Southampton and have been involved in organising the events “Work, gender and generation in the Southampton city-region: exploring local employment change” (May 2015) and “Intersectional Perspectives on Working in Higher Education – Diversity, Collegiality, Productivity and Technology” (November 2016).


PhD supervision

I am particularly interested in supervising PhD research that address work, activism, biographical and organisational processes in a broad range of local, national, transnational and web-based contexts.


  • Gefion Thuermer, ‘The Effect of the Introduction of Online Participation Processes in the Green Party Germany’ (with Kieron O’Hara and Steffen Staab)
  • Clarissa Brough, ‘Streaming Identity: Constructions of User Identity on Spotify’ (with Jeanice Brooks, Christophe Mues and Laurie Stras)
  • Yahya Aydin, ‘Neoliberal Urbanism at the Waterfront’ (with Lambros Fatsis)
  • Mochammad Junaidi, ‘Sustainable Microcredit Programmes in Development in Rural Indonesia: Gender, Cultural and Religious Perspectives’ (with Carol Davis),


  • 2014, Naomi Harflett, ‘”For Ever, For Everyone?” Patterns of Volunteering in the National Trust’ (ESRC Case-Studentship supported by the National Trust) (with John Mohan)
  • 2014, Roy Greenhalgh, ‘Volunteers’ Personal support and learning systems operating between volunteers, paid staff and management in two voluntary human service delivery organisations in the South of England’ (ESRC Case-studentship supported by the Institute for Volunteering Research) (with Clare Saunders and Bernard Harris)
  • 2010, Jana S. Javornik, ’Exploring Maternal Employment in Post-Socialist Countries. Understanding the Implications of Childcare Policies’ (with Traute Meyer)
  • 2010, Heather Buckingham, ‘Accommodating Change? An Investigation of the Impacts of Government Contracting Processes on Third Sector Providers of Homelessness Services in South East England’ (with John Mohan)

Research group

Work, Organisations and Civil Society

Affiliate research group

Work Futures Research Centre

Research project(s)

The Impact of Transition on Gender Differences in Subjective Wellbeing in Post-Communist Countries

Faculty Research Ethics Chair

Board Member of Sociology

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Book Chapters



Director of Undergraduate Programmes, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology

Course convenor of

  • SOCI2003 Gender and Society
  • SOCI3001 Comparative Sociology
  • SOCI3074 Collective Action & Social Change
  • SOCI3075 Project: Collective Action & Social Chang
  • SOCI6045 Migration and Development
Professor Silke Roth
Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/4041

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