Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy


Sociology and Social Policy in a global context

Internationalisation in the School of Sociology and Social Policy integrates an active student exchange programme – our underaduate students currently spend study abroad years in Europe, USA and Australia among other destinations – with wide-ranging research applying sociological techniques and theories to all four corners of the globe. Our networks build on several key pillars of the School represented by its longstanding research strengths. A selection of the ongoing research activities and some of the staff involved is mentioned below. These activities inform the lively and well grounded international dimension of all the School’s teaching both at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

In November 2015, in celebration of the distinguished career of Ray Pawson, an international conference was held in Leeds to explore the state-of-the-art in realist methodologies and policy evaluation. The conference organised by the critical realism network attracted researchers influenced by his work from as far afield as Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. Members of this substantial group of researchers in the School apply their work worldwide – for example, Ana Manzano-Santaella is actively involved in cultivating networks across South and Central America, including Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil.

The School has one of the largest groups in the UK concerned with critical race and ethnicity studies. Ian Law and Shona Hunter’s work on racialisation and the politics whiteness respectively has found an appreciative audience in South Africa, in particular, research which links together critical academics, policy makers and activists there. Caribbean Racisms is the latest in a book series associated with the group, shaped in particular by the influential research of Shirley Tate on the region. Rodanthi Tzanelli’s most recent work has looked at the politics of mega-events such as the Olympics in Brazil, and movie representations of slums and social change in India.

Research on inequalities at Leeds is distinguished by its innovative use of qualitative and critical methodologies, notably ground-breaking archival resources developed in longitudinal research. Among various strands of comparative and international work, Kim Allen and Tracy Shildrick are actively developing research in youth studies with colleagues in Australia.

Disability studies and gender studies are two other crucial pillars of the School. Their popular MA programmes recruit widely, with a special attraction for students from North America drawn to the applied critical theory agendas distinctively known as a Leeds hallmark. Among these researchers, Angharad Beckett lectured in 2016 in Hong Kong, and Mark Priestley directs the EU expert network on disability policy with teams in 35 EU member and associate states. Meanwhile, critical social and political theory is well represented given the legacy of world famous theorist Zygmunt Bauman, who passed away in January 2016. The School’s Bauman Institute is led by its founding director, Mark Davis, a specialist in economic sociology and heterodox economics.

With the politics of Islam high on agendas everywhere, the School boasts excellent links across much of the Islamic world, including Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia. Research in this field is supervised amongst others by Slmn Sayyid, Yasmin Hussain, and Paul Bagguley. It actively recruits students from these countries and some of the School’s most distinguished alumni are leading academics in these parts of the world.

The School plays an active part in the development of the Leeds Migration Research Network founded in March 2015. Adrian Favell, who taught for several years in California, co-founded and co-coordinates a graduate research training network linking UCLA, Sciences Po and Humboldt University. The latest round of this bi-annual event took place in Berlin in Autumn 2016.

As with much of the university, the School has been highly active in fostering new research and study links with China and East Asia. Ruth Holliday’s work on cosmetic surgery tourism has explored innovations and particularities in South Korea and South East Asia, while in medical sociology, a major project on cancer in the post-genomics era, co-led by Anne Kerr, was recently joined by a Korean native (and specialist), Choon Key Chekar.

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