The craft of the sociologist is to relate ‘personal troubles’ to ‘public issues’[i]. Sociology is a field of study interrogating how the everyday life of individuals is bound up with wider social contexts, identities and networks. In this way sociology lends itself to the examination of an array of different topics relevant to the contemporary world. These include, for example, social inequalities of class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, and their intersections, the dynamics of institutions such as families, schools, workplaces and organisations, the shaping of intimate relationships by cultural contexts, mobility, migration and population change, consumption and sustainability, and issues of power, protest, crisis and resistance. Sociological research challenges conventional ways of thinking through critical investigation of the world around us. It brings a range of empirical evidence and sociological theory into dialogue to re-think commonly held assumptions about social and cultural life.

Sociologists are often motivated by a desire to improve the conditions of society, and to provide perspectives on how, practically, we might bring about changes to our world. In enabling you to explore, scrutinise and interpret contemporary social developments, a Sociology PhD within the NWSSDTP will foster and hone the vital skills needed for independent thinking, research and analysis in the era of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. The Sociology pathway is an important space in which contemporary currents in inquiry are supported, with Postgraduate Studentships and Postdoctoral Fellowships meaningfully contributing to intellectual and more broadly public debates concerning important elements of social life.

[1] C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959.

Programmes eligible for NWSSDTP funding

N.B. Master’s programmes can only be funded as part of a 1+3/2+2 Studentship

Lancaster University

University of Liverpool

University of Manchester

For information on how to apply for funding, please visit our How to Apply page.

Pathway Representatives

Contact details for Sociology Pathway Representatives at each institution can be found here

Current Sociology NWSSDTP students

Ian_Winstanley_Photo_30072019Ian Winstanley (2017 Cohort)

Constructing and transforming the ‘creative professional’: digital disruption and creative agency in the UK language industry

The relationship between digital technology and work has emerged as a key area of sociological and social policy interest. This study examines this relationship in the case of the UK language industry, a site of complex interplay between creative labour and transformative digital technologies. The research draws on Bourdieu’s theory of practice and the analysis of interviews and documents.


Ronnie Hughes (2018 Cohort)

Time, place and utopia in Port Sunlight

An ethnographic study of place and temporality in Port Sunlight, a late Victorian industrial village close to Liverpool. Exploring the idea of utopia as it has been developed at Port Sunlight and other locations, together with its theoretical and practical usefulness for community-led organisations and others engaged in developing the future of their places.

1221A040-EB9D-482C-BC42-A8EC37224DA1Abi O’Connor (2018 Cohort)

Stigma and the City: A Sociological Exploration of the Political Economy of Stigmatisation through a Case Study of Liverpool

This place-based study explores how stigmatisation shapes and is shaped by the urban political economy, examining various articulations of social control over time on a city-wide scale. The impacts of these historical and contemporary processes will be explored as being embedded within – and contributing to – a broader project of urban and social restructuring, intensifying under austerity.

Daisy PhotographDaisy May Barker (2019 Cohort)

Fat is a class issue: obesity and the weight of inequality in neoliberal Britain.

My research intends to consider how growing “obesity rates” correlate with increasing inequalities, and how high rates of obesity are spatially clustered amongst deprived populations in the UK. Particularly, my research will focus on the broader political economy of obesity vis a vis its relationship to inequalities, class power, and changing forms of welfare capitalism

NWSSDTP ProfileAlice Swift (2019 Cohort)

Social reproduction infrastructure in the European climate camp movement

Climate camps have exploded across Europe mobilising thousands to take direct action against fossil fuel infrastructure. The camps create a temporary ‘home-place’ for people providing food, shelter, education and music among other provisions. This project compares the successes and limitations in how these camps are organised in different national contexts with a particular focus on the UK and Germany.

CSCaitlin Schmid (2018 Cohort)

Gender Stratification in European Welfare States 

Existing gender equality indices are influential in shaping policy development, academic research and public debates on gender equality. This project evaluates their adequacy by drawing on the contributions of social reproductive analyses. Using this framework, it seeks to advance the measurement of gender equality to offer a more refined picture of its variation across Europe.


Morgan Rhys Powell (2020 Cohort)

Within and Against Precarisation: Forms of Mobilisation and Resistance amongst Workers in the UK’s “Gig Economy”

My research investigates the emergence and endurance of organised labour in ostensibly precarious employment. By applying participatory social movement methods to case studies of unionisation in particularly insecure workplaces, this project intervenes in recent debates over trade union decline and resurgence, the rise of non-standard employment, and conceptualisations of ‘precarity’.

%d bloggers like this: