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The University of Southampton
Sociology, Social Policy and CriminologyPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Research themes

Methodological innovation

Several members of the Division are directly involved in research which has an explicit emphasis on methodological innovation and the development of new research methodologies. In addition to investigating the nature and causes of methodological innovation, this includes work on such issues as research ethics and the definition of 'informed consent', visual and qualitative longitudinal research methods, and the application of mixed methods to the study of changes in family life. We are also directly involved in the leadership and management of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods and the organisation of the ESRC's biennial Research Methods Festival for social scientists.

Families and communities

Research in this area includes work on the earlier community studies tradition of investigating ordinary people's everyday lives, the analysis of long-run changes in family life and the problem of collective community action. We are actively engaged in researching issues concerned with children, young people, conceptions of adulthood, 'mixed' race/ethnicity families and transnational families and communities.

There are also two AHRC-funded projects under the Connected Communities programme, which focus on the operationalisation of the concept of 'community', and a scoping study that examines cooperative anti-poverty and financial aid projects organised by Southampton's faith communities.

There are strong overlaps between this work and work on the role of faith groups and third-sector organisations in building social cohesion.

Living standards and welfare

This group brings together work on the history of social policy and long-run changes in human welfare, comparative welfare policy, citizenship and wellbeing, the development of pension provision, health inequalities in post-Soviet Russia, and climate change. Members of the group are also heavily involved in leading the ESRC Third Sector Research Centre. Work associated with this activity, including research on the quantitative dimensions of third-sector activity, the impact of third-sector organisations on prisoner-welfare, the history of voluntary welfare provision and the contribution made by third-sector organisations to the promotion of low-carbon practices.

Work and organisations

Our research in this area brings together a number of different strands exploring aspects of work and social change, with a shared focus on current methodological and theoretical debates. One long-established strand explores the relations between work, organisation and identity, specifically in relation to gender, race and class. A second strand focuses on the changing nature of working and organisational experience, and includes the impact of restructuring, migration, changes in work spaces and places and studies of teamwork and graduate employment. A third strand, linked to the University's Third Sector Research Centre, explores the nature and experience of work in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector, researching unpaid as well as paid work in a variety of settings, including aid organisations, charities and social enterprises. Our fourth strand investigates the role of work and organisation in the digital economy as new technologies reshape established organisational forms and working practices, for example by enabling new divisions of labour, remote working, and in generating new occupations. This strand is closely aligned to the Web Science initiative at the University of Southampton. Our research is carried out in a wide range of international contexts, from the UK and Scandinavia to Russia, Hong Kong and South Africa.

Members of the Division are founders of the Work Futures Research Centre, a cross-University initiative now established as a University strategic group.

Religion, ethnicities and belonging

Our research in this area brings together a number of interests related to diasporic communities, citizenship and the politics of belonging related to faith communities, ethnicity, integration, secularism, multiculturalism, citizenship and government. Research in this area includes the critical examination of government policies on managed migration, integration strategies and the backlash against multiculturalism in the context of counter-terrorism policy, and research on specific ethnic and faith communities, for example religious dialogue in civil society, second-generation Jains in the UK and USA, faith spaces in suburbia, local Muslim communities, and an ESRC Centre for Population Change research project on Polish migrants living in England and Scotland. Members of this group are also actively involved in a number of research projects listed under the heading 'Families and communities'.

Crime and social cohesion

This is an emerging area of research strength in the Division. It includes work on theoretical criminology, the relationship between criminology and psychology, studies of prisoner resettlement and desistance, the growth of internet crime and the use of forensic evidence in rape trials.

is directly relevant to social policy concerns
Sociology research

Key facts

Excellent results in the 2008 RAE place sociology and social policy at Southampton third in the UK.

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