Our research

Our research

our research

Sociologists in the department conduct theoretically informed research on global and local social issues. Collaboration and engagement are at the core of our research endeavour.

Research  strengths

Participation, social movements and citizenship

Ben Spies-Butcher
Justine Lloyd
Pauline Johnson
Niko Antalffy
Peter Rogers

Current projects

Populism as political phenomenon

With Donald Trump in the Whitehouse, Pauline Hanson staging an unexpected comeback, and Brexit taking us all by surprise, the sociologist is left anxiously rummaging their conceptual toolbox to find ways of making sense of it all. Pauline Johnson’s research explores different ways of thinking about populism as a political phenomenon. In particular, it investigates populism’s relationships with neoliberalism (competitor or an unholy alliance?) and investigates its attack upon liberal democratic and social democratic institutions.

The role of finance in social policy and impact on inequality

Ben Spies-Butcher is currently researching the growing role of finance in social policy, and its impact on inequality. Working with Adam Stebbing from Macquarie and Gareth Bryant from Sydney University, Ben’s research has explored how policy changes in student loans, housing, health insurance and pensions have integrated public provision and private finance. Throughout this research, Ben has worked with peak bodies Shelter and COTA, unions and think tanks to better connect theory and practice. The research highlights how financial accounting often drives policy change in surprising and contradictory directions, changing patterns of inequality across generations.

The future of work and welfare

Much debate about the future of work and welfare has turned to the universal basic income as a solution to joblessness and a failed welfare paternalism that harasses clients into finding any kind of work. While the basic income debate addresses problems of central importance, it overlooks quieter, and possibly more fruitful, achievements taking place to improve the quality of working lives for many low-paid workers in developed countries. Shaun Wilson's research focuses on activist movements for living wages in the liberal welfare states, movements that have pressured politics into improving minimum wages and that have challenged policy assumptions that higher wages always come at the cost of jobs. His recent article in Social Policy & Administration surveys these living-wage movements as well as improvements in minimum wages in five liberal welfare states, making the argument for living wages as a critical goal for progressive reform and one that needs to be taken as seriously as proposals for a basic income.

Traditional ideas about friendships and relationships

For better or for worse, traditional ideas about intimate relationships appear to be losing their orientating power. Friendship is not exempt from these changes. The very meaning of the word seems up for grabs. Is Facebook friend number 456 really my friend? What about colleagues? And to what extent do assumptions around gender still inhibit close friendships between men and women? Yet, close or ‘true’ friendships persist. What we know about them is not only that they are significant to our sense of wellbeing, but also that they are becoming increasingly rare, especially amongst men. Harry Blatterer’s research centres on the changing societal meanings of friendship as an intimate relationship that is ‘generative’ – potentially life changing, invaluable for integration into new environments, supportive of a sense of self as well as personal change. Having outlined his sociological perspective on friendship in Everyday Friendships (2015), Harry is now embarking on expanding that research to write on intellectual, political and artistic friendships to understand and explain the generative potentials of this vital human relationship.

Everyday multiculturalism at work

Amanda Wise and Selvaraj Velaytham have been studying the nature of ‘everyday multiculturalism’ at work. Scholars of intersectionality and lately superdiversity remind us that race relations and everyday multicultural encounters are shaped by a range of factors including class, visa status, racialized histories and contexts of difference, as well as situational aspects such as locality and the dynamics of particular social fields. This study explores how these factors interplay with the rules, conditions, codes and rhythms of neoliberal working cultures and how they come to bear on the ways in which intercultural encounters are experienced and shaped in blue collar workplaces.


Members of the department are engaged in a range of local, national and international research collaborations.

Many are participating in research streams under the university’s Research Strategic Framework, and several are co-leading them:

  • Dr Harry Blatterer is co-leading with Dr Shirleene Robinson (Department of MHPIR) the ‘Intimate Life and Lived Experience’ research stream;
  • Associate Professor Amanda Wise is co-leading with Associate Professor Chris Lyttleton (Department of Anthropology) the ‘Migration, Mobility and Diversities’ research stream;
  • Associate Professor Shaun Wilson is co-leading with Associate Professor Jean-Philippe Deranty (Department of Philosophy) the ‘Economic and Organisational Change’ research stream;
  • Dr Justine Lloyd is a member of the management committee of the Centre for Media History.

Other colleagues are co-leading international collaborations

  • Dr Toby Fattore is co-leading a 24-country qualitative study with Professor Susann Fegter (Technical University of Berlin, TUB) and Professor Christine Hunner-Kreisel (University of Vechta) on ‘Children´s understandings of well-being: global and local contexts’, with around 50 collaborators. For more information, visit the Children's Understandings of Well-being website.
  • Professor Gabrielle Meagher is co-convening with Professor Marta Szebehely (Stockholm University, Sweden) and Professor Anneli Anttonen (Tampere University, Finland) the Nordic Research Network on Marketisation of Eldercare, or Normacare. The network’s 2013 research report on the legislation, oversight, extent and consequences of marketization is now an authoritative source.
  • Dr Norbert Ebertis collaborating with Professor Sighard Neckel (Hamburg University) on the social consequences of global financialisation in a project called ‘Global Financial Markets - Global Financial Class’ and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project is based on empirical research in Sydney and Frankfurt as places of high finance.

Recent PhD theses

The Department’s researchers also include the doctoral students who complete theses under staff supervision. In recent years, theses have explored questions across Sociology.

Author Year Title Supervisors

Eloise Hummel


Running with fire: Catalan ethnic identity in 21st century Spain

Associate Professor Pauline Johnson

Ruth Gresham


Knowledge, experiences, perceptions and attitudes of the receiving society to international students

Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Kristine Aquino

Thi Quy Tran Nguyen

2017 Situating encounter: negotiating cultural diversity in the Australian employment services providers

Dr Selvaraj Velayutham
Associate Professor Amanda Wise

Sharni Elizabeth

Mai-Ling Chan

2017 High skilled precarious work: beyond existing concepts? Dr Norbert Ebert

Deidre Anderson

2017 Games that adults play: Sport, alcohol usage and university students

Professor Michael Fine
Dr Harry Blatterer

Randa Abdel-Fattah


Islamophobia, racial Australianisation and
everyday multiculturalism

Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Selvaraj Velayutham

Lynette Hicks

2016 Dim and dimmer: An exploration of the production and diffusion of scientific knowledge in Australia between the 1770s and the 2010s

Dr Tobia Fattore

Mitra Pariyar

2016 Overseas caste among military migrants: the migration and settlement of Nepalese Gurkhas in Britain Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Selvaraj Velayutham

Lien Thi Pham


Understanding the transformative potential of international education for Vietnamese overseas graduates and their communities

Dr Adam Stebbing
Dr Ben Spies-Butcher
Dr David Saltmarsh

Lynette Ryan


Active ageing and misrecognition: How older people in Australia perceive respect and how this is reflected in popular film

Dr Justine Lloyd
Dr Harry Blatterer

Bittiandra Chand Somaiah


Neo-folk, Indigenous-itinerant Hinduism : the Kodavathees of Singapore

Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Maria Amigo
Dr Selvaraj Velayutham

Charlotte Overgaard

2015 Volunteer care work: A comparative study of volunteers, cultures of care and gender in Australia and Denmark Associate Professor Shaun Wilson
Professor Thomas P. Boje

Robert Bernard Pereira

2013 The politics of participation: A critical occupational science analysis of social inclusion policy and entrenched disadvantage Professor Gail Whiteford
Associate Professor Ellie Vasta

Kristine Aquino

2013 Everyday racism and resistance: the lives of Filipino migrants in Australia Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Selvaraj Velayutham

Sudheesh Bhasi

2013 Migration, faith and social capital: an ethnography of Sydney's Hindu diaspora Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Selvaraj Velayutham

Laavanya Kathiravelu

2011 Destination Dubai: Migration and city-building in a rapidly developing city-state Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Selvaraj Velayutham
Banu Senay 2010 The Turkish state and its cultural attachés: Long-distance Kemalism in Australia Associate Professor Amanda Wise
Dr Selvaraj Velayutham
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