Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Professor Ruth Holliday

Professor of Gender and Culture

I have been working at the University of Leeds since 2002, first as Director of Studies, then Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies. I was made Professor in the School of Sociology and Social Policy February 2008.

Before Gender Studies, I worked in Cultural Studies, Sociology, Business Studies, and, initially, electronics so interdisciplinarity is a key feature of my academic career!

Research Interests

My research interests are primarily located in social and cultural theories of the body and identity particularly as they apply to class, gender and sexuality. Most recently I led an international ESRC funded research project (Grant Reference RES-062-23-2796) exploring the phenomenon of Cosmetic Surgery Tourism - a form of medical travel where people go abroad for procedures to improve their appearance. The study followed people from the UK, Australia and China traveling to countries in Europe, East-Asia and North-Africa, charting patients' experiences of surgery and place, as well as the accounts of surgeons, agents and other workers in this industry. Further details on this project can be found by clicking on Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone link to the right of this page.

I have been working on cosmetic surgery for more than ten years and have published on CS and classed bodies, men’s CS and CS and globalization.

My other recent project is a co-authored book with Tracey Potts on Kitsch. This book traces the shifting definition of a specific form of material culture from early modernity to the present day. We show how kitsch is used to add value to some bodies and identities whilst stripping value from others but question whether kitsch can be rehabilitated more positively without effecting distinction.

In the past I carried out research on sexuality and identity performances using visual methods (video diaries). This work, also funded by the ESRC (Grant Reference R000236657), focused on 'the body' as a site of identity, a mode of experience and conceptual category.


I am currently Programme Leader for the MA in Society, Culture and Media and teach on the following modules.

  • Sociology of Media and Culture (MA)
  • Reality TV: Truth or Fiction (MA)
  • Contested Bodies (MA)
  • Central Problems in Sociology (2nd year)
  • Sociology of Modern Societies (1st year)
  • Dissertations (3rd year and MA)

PhD Supervision

I am happy to consider PhD proposals on a range of topics related to the body, gender, sexualities, class and material culture. In particular I am interested in supervising on:

  • The Body and Culture
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • International Medical Travel
  • Classed representations and identities
  • Taste and value

Key Publications

Journal articles

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