UoA 23 Sociology

Research in Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology (SPA) is avowedly and profoundly interdisciplinary in nature, integrating Sociology together with Philosophy, Science and Technology Studies and Anthropology. Each of these intellectual domains has flexible and porous boundaries, with ideas and activities originating primarily from one of them flowing into the others.

All staff routinely operate in interdisciplinary ways, from how their teaching is structured and presented, through to which topics, methods and conceptualisations are deployed in their research.

The three main research clusters are:

The department is linked to two journals. The first of these is Music and Arts in Action (MAiA), founded in 2008 by a group of SocArts PhD students. The second is the BSA publication, Cultural Sociology, edited by Professor David Inglis.

Research engages systematically with a diverse range of user-groups, from health and science policy-makers, to the British Army.

Key results

  • 77 per cent of our research was assessed as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*), increasing from 55 per cent in the 2008 RAE.
  • We were ranked 9 nationally for 4*and 3*, out of 29 submissions.

Impact case studies

NameSummary

Understanding the implications of recent advances in biology

Professor John Dupré has been engaged in an intensive investigation of contemporary genomic science and its implications for policy, practice and public understanding. His research has been at the forefront of criticism of popular deterministic understandings of genetics, challenging public assumptions, and informing debates over the relevance of genomics/genetics to understandings of a wide range of issues of public concern, including health and illness, ideas of ‘human nature’, ‘normality’, and gender and ‘race’, as well as philosophical issues like the possibility of free will. His research questioning both Darwin’s idea of the ‘Tree of Life’, and interpretations of human evolution in evolutionary psychology, has contributed to public discussion and understanding of evolution. Professor Dupré’s work has had an impact on media and public understandings of, and debates about, science, as well as on UK science policy.

Reducing humanitarian harms of conflict

Reducing the humanitarian suffering associated with conflict is a vital but demanding task, not least because continuing developments in science and technology enable ever more destructive capabilities. Professor Brian Rappert’s research has benefited international efforts to limit the consequences of the use of force. It has done this by challenging conventional wisdom, identifying poorly recognised issues; evaluating emerging policy initiatives by governments, international agencies, science academies and non-government agencies; establishing new practitioner networks; facilitating international debate; shaping international diplomatic agendas; influencing professional standards and training through the development of resources; and successfully advocating a strategy for negotiating a major disarmament treaty.
Understanding and influencing military transformation and operations Since the end of the Cold War, and especially in the last decade, the armed forces have undergone profound organizational and cultural transformations. Professor Anthony King’s research has been able to make a notable contribution to this process. Through critical sociological analysis, he has: enhanced the British army’s socio-political grasp of key contemporary theatres of operation; informed the education and training of high-ranking officers; and stimulated debates about defence policy. He has also developed close relationships with the armed forces and the defence policy communities, as well as communicating his expertise to a wider audience through various media appearances. Professor King’s work on and with the armed forces has had an impact in three key areas: influencing the execution of military operations; shaping military training and education; informing public policy debate.

Research clusters

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STUDIES
 About the cluster

Science and Technology Studies (STS)

Within this area, research domains include cybernetics, warfare and (in) securities, and the STS-inspired analysis of disabilities. Staff members also contribute both to such areas as general theoretical debates in STS and to science policy-making.

History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology

Within this theme, SPA is home to the Egenis Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences and Society, a leading research unit which investigates the philosophical and social ramifications of contemporary biological and genetic sciences. We host one of the largest and most dynamic History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology research groups in Europe dedicated to understanding emergent forms of biological knowledge, practice and innovation.

Health and Health Technologies

Within this field, researchers analyse medical issues from a range of sociological, anthropological and STS perspectives. Substantive topics of expertise include genetics and health, and the analysis of tropical disease prevention policies and practices. The Health Technology and Society (HTS) research group serves as a focus for interdisciplinary research involving social aspects of emerging medical technologies, particularly those relating to diagnosis and intervention.
CULTURAL SOCIOLOGY
  Specific research domains include:
  • Cultural Sociology (the department is home to the BSA/Sage journal Cultural Sociology)
  • Sociology of the arts (including the SocArts scholarly network, and the Journal Music and Arts in Action (MAiA))
  • Sociology and anthropology of music
  • Music therapy
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to socio-aesthetics
  • Philosophy of culture
  • STS approaches to culture
  • The sociology and anthropology of sound
  • Human-Animal relations
  • Class and ethnicity-based identities
  • Cultures of Warfare
SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY
  Research in this field encompasses a range of substantive and theoretical concerns, including:
  • The critique of contemporary socio-economic relations
  • Applied ethics – with emphasis on morally problematic areas such as the Holocaust, slavery and animal rights
  • Wittgensteinian social philosophy
  • Human nature and post-humanism
  • Embodiment, consciousness and the extended mind

Research projects

Please see the Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology website for more information on our research projects.

UoA 23 Sociology

Research in Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology (SPA) is avowedly and profoundly interdisciplinary in nature, integrating Sociology together with Philosophy, Science and Technology Studies and Anthropology. Each of these intellectual domains has flexible and porous boundaries, with ideas and activities originating primarily from one of them flowing into the others.

All staff routinely operate in interdisciplinary ways, from how their teaching is structured and presented, through to which topics, methods and conceptualisations are deployed in their research.

The three main research clusters are:

The department is linked to two journals. The first of these is Music and Arts in Action (MAiA), founded in 2008 by a group of SocArts PhD students. The second is the BSA publication, Cultural Sociology, edited by Professor David Inglis.

Research engages systematically with a diverse range of user-groups, from health and science policy-makers, to the British Army.

Key results

  • 77 per cent of our research was assessed as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*), increasing from 55 per cent in the 2008 RAE.
  • We were ranked 9 nationally for 4*and 3*, out of 29 submissions.

Impact case studies

NameSummary

Understanding the implications of recent advances in biology

Professor John Dupré has been engaged in an intensive investigation of contemporary genomic science and its implications for policy, practice and public understanding. His research has been at the forefront of criticism of popular deterministic understandings of genetics, challenging public assumptions, and informing debates over the relevance of genomics/genetics to understandings of a wide range of issues of public concern, including health and illness, ideas of ‘human nature’, ‘normality’, and gender and ‘race’, as well as philosophical issues like the possibility of free will. His research questioning both Darwin’s idea of the ‘Tree of Life’, and interpretations of human evolution in evolutionary psychology, has contributed to public discussion and understanding of evolution. Professor Dupré’s work has had an impact on media and public understandings of, and debates about, science, as well as on UK science policy.

Reducing humanitarian harms of conflict

Reducing the humanitarian suffering associated with conflict is a vital but demanding task, not least because continuing developments in science and technology enable ever more destructive capabilities. Professor Brian Rappert’s research has benefited international efforts to limit the consequences of the use of force. It has done this by challenging conventional wisdom, identifying poorly recognised issues; evaluating emerging policy initiatives by governments, international agencies, science academies and non-government agencies; establishing new practitioner networks; facilitating international debate; shaping international diplomatic agendas; influencing professional standards and training through the development of resources; and successfully advocating a strategy for negotiating a major disarmament treaty.
Understanding and influencing military transformation and operations Since the end of the Cold War, and especially in the last decade, the armed forces have undergone profound organizational and cultural transformations. Professor Anthony King’s research has been able to make a notable contribution to this process. Through critical sociological analysis, he has: enhanced the British army’s socio-political grasp of key contemporary theatres of operation; informed the education and training of high-ranking officers; and stimulated debates about defence policy. He has also developed close relationships with the armed forces and the defence policy communities, as well as communicating his expertise to a wider audience through various media appearances. Professor King’s work on and with the armed forces has had an impact in three key areas: influencing the execution of military operations; shaping military training and education; informing public policy debate.

Research clusters

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STUDIES
 About the cluster

Science and Technology Studies (STS)

Within this area, research domains include cybernetics, warfare and (in) securities, and the STS-inspired analysis of disabilities. Staff members also contribute both to such areas as general theoretical debates in STS and to science policy-making.

History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology

Within this theme, SPA is home to the Egenis Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences and Society, a leading research unit which investigates the philosophical and social ramifications of contemporary biological and genetic sciences. We host one of the largest and most dynamic History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology research groups in Europe dedicated to understanding emergent forms of biological knowledge, practice and innovation.

Health and Health Technologies

Within this field, researchers analyse medical issues from a range of sociological, anthropological and STS perspectives. Substantive topics of expertise include genetics and health, and the analysis of tropical disease prevention policies and practices. The Health Technology and Society (HTS) research group serves as a focus for interdisciplinary research involving social aspects of emerging medical technologies, particularly those relating to diagnosis and intervention.
CULTURAL SOCIOLOGY
  Specific research domains include:
  • Cultural Sociology (the department is home to the BSA/Sage journal Cultural Sociology)
  • Sociology of the arts (including the SocArts scholarly network, and the Journal Music and Arts in Action (MAiA))
  • Sociology and anthropology of music
  • Music therapy
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to socio-aesthetics
  • Philosophy of culture
  • STS approaches to culture
  • The sociology and anthropology of sound
  • Human-Animal relations
  • Class and ethnicity-based identities
  • Cultures of Warfare
SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY
  Research in this field encompasses a range of substantive and theoretical concerns, including:
  • The critique of contemporary socio-economic relations
  • Applied ethics – with emphasis on morally problematic areas such as the Holocaust, slavery and animal rights
  • Wittgensteinian social philosophy
  • Human nature and post-humanism
  • Embodiment, consciousness and the extended mind

Research projects

Please see the Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology website for more information on our research projects.