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Economic, Social and Political Sciences
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Professor Susan Halford MA, PhD, ACSS

Professor of Sociology, Director Web Science Institute

Professor Susan Halford's photo

Professor Susan Halford is Director, Web Science Institute within Economic, Social and Political Sciences at the University of Southampton.

My research interests range from the sociology of work and organization - with projects on the third sector, the ageing workforce and employee driven innovation - to the sociology of technology and specifically the World Wide Web. I have particular interest in the politics of data and digital artefacts, information infrastructures and digital research methods.

I have a background in Geography (which I studied at the University of Sussex 1981-4) and Urban Studies (also at Sussex 1985-1990) and moved into Sociology when I joined the University of Southampton in 1992. Since this time I have developed a range of research around the themes of gender, work, and identity and - connected to this - exploring digital innovation in the workplace, and beyond particularly through Web Science in collaboration with colleagues in Health Sciences and Computer Sciences (see Research).

I am currently Director of the Web Science Institute.

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Research interests

My PhD launched me onto a series of research projects on the gendered nature of working lives and organizations - published in articles and books including Gender, Careers and Organizations (1996, with Mike Savage and Ann Witz), Gender, Power and Organizations (2001, with Pauline Leonard) and Negotiating Gendered Identities at Work (2006, with Pauline Leonard).

In 2008 Pauline and I joined with colleagues Professor Catherine Pope (Health Sciences) and Professor Alison Fuller (Education) in establishing the cross-disciplinary Work Future Research Centre together the University's research on the changing nature of work and organization in the 21st century. Since this time we have organized many high-profile events and worked on projects for the ESRC, Nuffield, the Norwegian Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. I am currently working with Pauline on a Policy Commission Gender Equality at Work: how far have we come & how far do we have to go? for the University's own Public Policy@Southampton .  and continue to work with Alison (now at the Institute of Education) on a new project exploring 'bottom-up' or 'employee driven innovation in healthcare. Funded by the ESRC as part of the LLAKES research centre

this project aims to examine if and how the expertise of healthcare staff can be harnessed to meet the profound challenges facing the NHS and, in particular, the need to break down boundaries between acute and community care, and across professional divisions of labour. The project includes a comparative analysis of similar developments in Norway and France.

Organizational change has been a strong theme in all my work, and about 10 years ago I began to explore how digital technologies were changing work and working lives. This led me to a series of research collaborations with colleagues in Northern Norway, working in and around the Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine in Tromso and, via this circuitous route, to connections with Computer Scientists at Southampton. In 2008 we put together our successful application for the Doctoral Training Centre in Web Science and in 2009 launched the first UK MSc in Web Science. We have recently received a second round of funding for this from the EPSRC, which will support doctoral training in Web Science to 2022.

Pioneering the development of Web Science at Southampton has been a very exciting new phase of my academic career and led me in unexpected directions: for example, thinking about the politics of data and artefacts in linked data and the semantic web (Halford, Pope and Weal, 2012) and how social scientists and computer scientists can work together to develop theories and methods with which to tackle big data (Twitter in this case, .abstract; ). Building on this, my colleague Les Carr (Computer Science) and I have recently established a suite of research projects on social media, designed to explore the theoretical and methodological opportunities and challenges of this new source of data  and build analytical tools for the Southampton Web Observatory .

I am a Director of the University of Southampton Web Science Institute,  with particular responsibility for interdisciplinary research

External research projects

Work Organization, Lifelong Learning and Employee Driven Innovation in Healthcare, as part of ESRC LLAKES (Institute of Education).

Research group

Web Science Institute

Research project(s)

Silicon Nanowire Arrays for Viral Infection markers ESPRC £1.3m

Organising the Third Sector

Ageing healthcare workers and ICT: Making healthcare workplaces healthy for 50+

The work, workforce, technology and organisational implications of the 111 single point of access telephone number for urgent (not-emergency) care

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Book Chapters



Working Paper

I am deputy director of the EPSRC Web Science Centre for Doctoral Training and teach on the MSc Web Science. I am currently supervising the following PhD students

My current PhD students are:

  • Julie Blanchard: Pre-teen Fashionable Femininity, (jointly supervised with Pauline Leonard, Sociology)
  • Erin Brooks - Instagram for Marketing (co-supervised with Michelle Lowe, Business School)
  • Taryn Collins - How a third sector organisation perceives and response to change
  • Tim Davies: Open data and participatory governance (jointly supervised with Nigel Shadbolt, Computer Science)
  • Michael Day - Web Citizenship (co-supervised with Les Carr, Computer Science)
  • Caroline Halcrow: Web interventions for building urban community capital (jointly supervised with Les Carr and Wendy Hall, Computer Science)
  • Faranak Hardcastle - Web Governance (co-supervised with Luc Moreau, Computer Science)
  • Mary Houston: Impact of digital communication on policy-making (jointly supervised with Graham Smith, University of Westminster)
  • Mimie Liotsou - Influence in Social Networks (co-supervised with Luc Moreau, Computer Science)
  • Becki Nash: Re-making bodies online - a study of cosmetic surgery (co-supervised with Catherine Pope, Health Sciences)
  • Jess Ogden - Archiving the Web (co-supervised with Les Carr, Computer Science & Ann Curry, Humanities)
  • Olivier Philippe: Social theoretical approaches to developing big data methodologies (jointly supervised with Les Carr, Computer Science, Jeff Vass, Sociology and Wendy Hall, Computer Science)


Professor Susan Halford
Reception Building 58 University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number: 58/4085

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