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Identities and inequalities research

Explore our Sociology area of expertise

In our identities and inequalities research, we're asking questions in relation to structure and agency: who we are, who is like us, who we want to be, and how these understandings and concerns structure and animate social and political life. We're exploring the reality for those experiencing social inequality, and the expression, reproduction and negotiation of these relationships of power across society.

Our research explores the ways in which we can better understand inequalities so that we can contribute to the collective aim of reducing inequalities and the suffering that often results from the many forms of structural violence. Through our work, we're shining a light on the present and cultivating the empathy and imagination to see and think beyond current limitations and dominant social formations.

We look at class, race, gender, sexuality, disability, and age through which societies are understood and lived. We analyse the wider forces of capitalism, neoliberalism, colonialism, patriarchy, war-making, nationalism, and migration that shape our society. And we're looking at how identities and inequalities are experienced, narrated, performed, privileged, and resisted.

Our publications shape discourses and debates on identities and inequalities. We also contribute to public engagement activities, activist and action research initiatives, expert guidance on policy matters, and collaboration and knowledge transfer with organisations around the globe. These include the St Mungo's, Homeless Link, The Vegan Society, Friends Without Borders, Connect Futures, Journeys Festival International, and The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Our research

Our research covers the following topics:

  • Identities and us/them boundary work in conversation and discourse
  • The embodied, emotional and sensory basis of social life
  • Identities and inequalities in work and the economy
  • Class reproduction through culture and music
  • Health inequalities across the lifecourse
  • Consumption, drinking, eating, and identities
  • Social exclusion and inclusion in urban communities
  • Gender, sexuality, and belonging
  • Racism, postcolonialism, and nation-state identification
  • Education, inequalities, and social justice
  • Homelessness


Our research methods range from philosophical inquiry and close textual readings to discourse analysis and ethnographic methods.  

Our inquiries into the texture, meanings and lived experiences of everyday inequalities involve:

  • qualitative interviewing
  • life history interviews
  • focus groups
  • narrative analysis
  • participant observation
  • autoethnography
  • visual methods
  • sensory ethnography
  • participatory and creative methods

Partnerships and funders

We're partnered with the International Sociological Association (ISA), the European Sociological Association (ESA), the British Sociological Association (BSA), and the European International Studies Association (EISA). 

Many of our research projects are funded by leading funding organisations, such the British Academy, The Higher Education Funding Council, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, UKRI, and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Recent projects

  • Migrant homelessness

    Stewart is the Principal Investigator on an 18-month ESRC/UKRI funded project, 'Homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic: homeless migrants in a global crisis'.

  • Nationalism and migration

    Leddy-Owen has written numerous journal articles and a book—Nationalism, Inequalities and England’s Political Predicament (2019)—exploring racism and nationalism in contemporary England.

  • Supporting women students in Nigerian Higher Education

    Morris's project involved a collaboration with UK colleagues and colleagues at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo in Ebonyi State, Nigeria, investigating ways to enhance women's experiences of higher education in Nigeria.

  • Workplace inclusion

    Marvell is working on a project funded by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) to create new guidance for employers and line managers looking to make workplaces more inclusive for trans and nonbinary workers.

Discover our areas of expertise

Identities and inequalities is one of four areas of expertise in our Sociology research area. Explore the others.

Sociology of culture

We're probing the link between culture and power, confronting societal issues, and looking at the ideological function of culture in naturalising them.

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Social theory

We're drawing on classical and contemporary social thought, philosophy, political economy, social anthropology, and history to explain and analyse social processes, issues, and concerns.

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Social research methods

We're investigating the different methods, tools and techniques for studying social phenomena and generating information and data about all aspects of social life.

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Research groups

Women's and Gender Studies Research Group

We're researching violence against women and girls, access to justice, peace-building and conflict resolution.

Sociology And Social Theory Research Group

We're researching a wide range of issues surrounding sociology with interests including culture, emotions, gender and violence.

Education Social Justice and Transformation

Interested in a PhD in Sociology?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees, including PhDs and MPhils, at our Sociology and Gender Studies postgraduate research degrees page.