Boy in Delhi, India, collecting rubbish

Identities and inequalities research

Explore our work in identities and inequalities, one of our areas of expertise in Sociology

In our identities and inequalities research, we're asking questions around 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 – from work and the economy to health and leisure.

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 Imperial War Museum, Forceswatch, iChange21, Vegan Society, Friends Without Borders, Connect Futures, and Journeys Festival International.

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
  • Countering sexual abuse in higher education
  • Military cultures and identities


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 Royal Navy and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Project highlights

Celebrity, Citizenship and Status
A project examining the relationship between celebrity and citizenship, as well as the cultural apparatus by which celebrity status is realised, negotiated, revoked and sustained.

Citizenship, Race and Belonging
A project that explores who is considered to belong within a nation-state and why, and how those who have been deemed ‘outsiders' are perceived and treated.

The 1752 Group
A project that's working to end sexual misconduct in Higher Education (HE), and leading the charge to prevent cultures of abuse in the UK's HE institutions.

University of Portsmouth Ageing Network

A project assessing relations between politics, war, games, and play.

Discover our areas of expertise

Identities and inequalities is 1 of 4 areas of expertise in our Sociology research area. Explore the others below.

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.
Man wearing Gucci trainers in London
Read more

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.
Young child holding sign at a climate change protest
Read more

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.
People meeting in a room at University of Portsmouth
Read more

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.

Citizenship, Race and Belonging
We're researching issues around citizenship and why people are considered to belong within certain nation-states.

Interested in a PhD in Sociology?

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