Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Research Student: Chris Waugh

Masculinity, temporality and activist culture: a Militant Ethnography (provision title)

Photo of Chris Waugh

My research explores masculinity, temporality and the culture of UK based activist groups. I am concerned with how socialist organisations include or exclude gender as a category of analysis, and how this affects participants' experience of their own gender and sexuality.

The research is a response to several high profile sexual abuse cases in UK socialist groups, such as the Socialist Workers Party. Additionally, it is an attempt to explore how some of these issues may be resolved in new socialist movements such as Momentum. 


I studied for a BA in English at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, from 2009-2012. Subsequently, I worked for the Students Union as Welfare & Rights Officer and managed the Student Advice Service. Returning to academia in 2013, I defected from literature to social sciences and studied for an MPhil in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies at Queens College, Cambridge, researching sexism in socialist movements. I then worked in educational outreach for St Catharine's College, Cambridge from 2014-2016, before starting my PhD in October 2016.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I have been a socialist activist since the age of 18, but became increasingly uncomfortable with the “orthodox” left for its failure to integrate feminist and queer politics into its analysis, and its further failure to respond appropriately to misogyny in activist culture. I remain actively engaged in left activism, but with the hope that my research may go some way towards starting a conversation about how the left can resolve its gender trouble. 

What makes me passionate about my subject?

My fundamental belief as an activist is that movements should reflect the politics they wish to see in the world. The failure of the left to deal with issues of casual and structural misogyny undermines any argument we can make as socialists for radical change.

I also like going on protests for research purposes. 

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

After I magically transform into Dr Waugh, I plan to get, in no particular order:

  • A job in academia to continue my research
  • A chance to expand the fields of social movement studies and masculinities theory.
  • A Labour government elected.
  • A cat. Preferably several cats. 

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