Research strengths

The Department of Sociology has some key areas of particular expertise. In addition to these departmental clusters, our researchers lead and participate in several of the Faculty's major research themes and streams.

Our researchers on gender, generations and the intimate sphere investigate how gender informs identity and social structures from the intimate realm of sexuality and personal relationships to the public realm of work, care, policy, and urban space.

We examine gender intersectionally, seeing it as inextricably connected to other identity categories including race, class, ethnicity, religion, age, and nationality, and understand that intersectional identities are central to issues from childhood and wellbeing to to capitalism and modernity, to labour, migration, immigration, colonization, imperialism, and development.

Our research ranges from the local to the global and covers geographic contexts including Australia, the Asia-Pacific, the Arab world, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Our methodological and theoretical approaches incorporate:

  • ethnography
  • media studies
  • literary theory
  • history.

Our researchers working in this area include Randa Abdel-Fattah, Maria Amigo, Harry Blatterer, Toby Fattore, Justine Lloyd, Kumiko Kawashima, Jyhene Kebsi, Gabrielle Meagher, Rebecca Sheehan and Matt Withers.

Our researchers with expertise on migration, mobility and diversity analyse the social and economic fields created by migration in diverse global settings and the impact of migration on host societies.

Specifically, our research examines

  • transnational communities
  • identities
  • multiculturalism
  • intercultural relations
  • racism
  • dynamics of integration and exclusion.

We also address forces prompting increased mobility including labour supply-chains, economic and social aspirations, policies that create migration pathways as well as mechanisms that control, curtail and channel people movement at national, regional and global levels.

People working in this area include Randa Abdel-Fattah, Nicholas Harrigan, Kumiko Kawashima, Jyhene Kebsi, Hang Young Lee , Selvaraj Velayutham, Amanda Wise and Matt Withers.

Our researchers in this area explore the intersections and interactions between citizens, governments and publics. Previous and current projects address:

  • how government and citizens communicate with each other
  • how social policies respond to collective re-imaginings and individual needs
  • how communities and movements shape and play a role in government policy, mediating market pressures and facing the challenges of other external influences, be they natural disasters, political cycles or financial crises.

We have particular expertise in public attitudes to participation, collaborative action research, spatial and social change, transnational feminisms, women’s liberation, labour movement organising and environmental and climate movements.

People working in this area include Jyhene Kebsi, Justine Lloyd, Peter Rogers, Rebecca Sheehan, Ben Spies-Butcher and Shaun Wilson.

Our researchers on markets, policy and inequality join colleagues from around the Faculty in leading an interdisciplinary research stream of the same name. Members of the stream focus on the following major themes:

  • the extension of competition and markets into more aspects of social life
  • the changing experience of unequal labour markets, financial systems and the welfare state
  • the impact of social policy change on diverse communities
  • the measurement and conceptualisation of inequality and well-being.

Our researchers working in this area include Norbert Ebert, Toby Fattore, Hang Young Lee, Gabrielle Meagher, Emma Mitchell, Charlotte Overgaard, Jocelyn Pixley, Ben Spies-Butcher , Adam Stebbing, Shaun Wilson and Matt Withers.

Researchers in this area engage with classical and contemporary theories of social change in order to provide conceptual anchorage and historical context to empirical research.

One major strand identifies and interrogates social, economic and political transformations from a critical social theory perspective. Researchers in this strand explore questions of normativity emerging from an increasingly fragmented, pluralised and diverse social world with a critical approach to the public and intimate sphere, capitalism and democracy, culture and everyday life. We are particularly interested in struggles over freedom, equality and integration as defining features of modern societies.

A second major strand studies the causes and consequences of social networks. Our work in this area focuses on negative ties (such as conflict), social capital (network resources people can draw on), and how these affect individuals and society.

Research questions we are currently working on include:

  • how does social capital help people to find jobs
  • what are the major classes of negative ties in human relationships
  • how does conflict and disagreement undermine (and sometimes contribute to) generalised trust.

People working in this area include Harry Blatterer, Norbert Ebert, Nicholas Harrigan, Pauline Johnson, Hang Young Lee, Peter Rogers and Shaun Wilson.

Our researchers with expertise in this area investigate the role of culture in ethnicised, transnational, gendered and socio-economic patterns of living and working. We explore the way everyday practices are implicated in social divisions and exclusions, but also how they subvert existing inequalities and contribute to positive social change.

From a range of theoretical and empirical perspectives that include listening to marginalised and subaltern voices, we trace cultural traffic as the source of acting, thinking and relating in a range of fields such as art, food, sport, music, media and personal relatonships.

People working in this area include Randa Abdel-Fattah, Harry Blatterer, Jyhene Kebsi, Alison Leitch, Justine Lloyd, Rebecca Sheehan, Selvaraj Velayutham and Amanda Wise.

Our researchers with expertise in this area investigate the dynamics of space, place and identity. Our projects address a wide range of topics affecting global urban life. We understand the need to pay close attention to the intimate links between temporal and spatial changes in contemporary social life, particularly as they are transformed by the emergent properties of consumption, security, ethnicity, home, work, belonging and more. Some of the current work by researchers in this stream explores:

  • the role of the middle classes in a global economy
  • the tensions between placemaking and globalising cities
  • identity and belonging in the age of terrorism
  • the future of smart, secure and sustainable urban life
  • the experience, materialities and sensibilities of 'lived diversity' in the 21st century.

People working in this area include Randa Abdel-Fattah, Kumiko Kawashima, Justine Lloyd, Peter Rogers, Selvaraj Velayutham and Amanda Wise.

Our researchers are investigating the social shaping and reshaping of work and employment across national and global boundaries.

We are researching a wide range of topics that include:

  • the standards of decent work and pathologies associated with precarious work
  • the forms and boundaries of social care work
  • the role of social capital in the labour market
  • the idea of 'employability' and education
  • children, youth and ageing workers
  • minimum wages and living wage movements
  • unions as political and social actors
  • the exploitation and integration of migrant workers.

People working in this area include Norbert Ebert, Toby Fattore, Kumiko Kawashima, Hang Young Lee, Jacqueline Mackaway, Gabrielle Meagher, Shaun Wilson and Matt Withers.

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Last updated: 17 Dec 2019