Department of Sociology and Criminology

Research groups

Our research is driven by a desire to tackle real-world questions, whilst also contributing to a deeper theoretical understanding of all branches of society. Our research is broadly clustered around six themes.

Sociology research groups at Sussex

Criminology, Violence and Transgression

Our research interests in this area incorporate different aspects of crime and criminalisation. These range from experiences of violence and victimisation, to regulation and punishment in national and international contexts, to ‘boundary-breaking’ behaviour and social reactions to it. Scholars in this group focus on topics such as sexual violence, hate crime, capital punishment, women who will and existential criminology. We often collaborate with colleagues from Law through the Sussex Terrorism and Extremism Research Network, and also have collaborative relationships across the university including with Informatics and the Sussex Humanities Lab. Our theoretical ambitions are matched by our commitment to applied criminology, with our members acting as advisors to voluntary organisations, local government and statutory bodies. David Davies, James Hardie-Bick, Suraj Lakhani, Hannah Mason-Bish, Paul McGuinness, Alexa Neale, Lizzie Seal and Dean Wilson are members of this group.


Gender Politics and Society

We are a vibrant collective of scholars who work on gender issues in social and political contexts. With a particular focus on issues of gendered violence, our work spans topics such as hate crime and women who kill, to sexual violence on university campuses, to #MeToo and the contemporary feminist movement. We also work on topics such as reproductive justice and LGBTQI+ migrants. We collaborate across the university through the Centre for Gender Studies, as well as other units such as the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence and the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research. Gender scholarship at Sussex is political and intersectional, and many of us are also committed activists in areas such as sexual violence, sex workers’ rights and trans-inclusion in feminist and women’s spaces. Ben Fincham, Nina Held, Gillian Love, Hannah Mason-Bish, Liz McDonnell, Ulla McKnight, Alison Phipps and Lizzie Seal are members of this group. 


Health, Medicine and Care

Our work in this area exists at the intersections of the biological, the psychological and the sociological. We strive to push forward public debate and policy developments that understand the effects social structures and institutions have upon the human body and our relationships to it. We have researched the sociological aspects of subjects such as bioethics, clinical trials, new genetics, ‘personality disorder’ and regulatory science. We have also conducted projects on particular medications such as statins, anti-microbial resistance, and reproductive and sexual health. We collaborate with colleagues across the university through centres such as the Centre for Cultures of Reproduction, Technologies and Health and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. In the area of care, we have interests in the sociology of both childhood and age/ageing, and have strong links with the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth. Our work is international in scope, involving fieldwork and working relationships spanning several continents. Ben Fincham, Gillian Love, Karen Lowton, Ulla McKnight, Jo Moran-Ellis and Catherine Will are members of this group. 


Migration and Human Rights

Colleagues in this group work on a variety of issues relating to migrants and migration, including the ‘hostile environment’, the experiences of LGBTQI+ migrants and asylum-seekers, and migrants’ social relationships and socialisation practices. We are also interested in the relationship between discourses of citizenship and inequality, ‘integration’ policy frameworks and the implications of COVID-19 for European societies. We collaborate extensively with colleagues across the university through the Sussex Centre for Migration Research and the Ethnicity, Race and Diverse Societies Research Network which was set up by the department. We have been involved in a number of major international funded projects with colleagues both within and outside Sussex. Aneira Edmunds, Nina Held, Aleksandra Lewicki and Laura Morosanu are members of this group. 

Political Sociology

Our political sociology group covers issues including the Anthropocene, climate change, globalisation, cosmopolitanism, and politics around gender, race and other inequalities and issues. We also have an interest in the political and historical sociology of Europe, European Islamophobia and other forms of racism, and neoliberalism in higher education. We have studied particular movements such as New Labour and the ‘third way’, and white feminism and #MeToo. We collaborate widely across the university, through the Centre for Social and Political Thought, the Centre for Gender Studies and other units. Gerard Delanty, Aneira Edmunds, Aleksandra Lewicki, Luke Martell, Alison Phipps, Kathryn Telling and Dan Whillis are members of this group.


Social Theory, Identity and Culture

Sussex’s reputation for being at the vanguard of social theory continues through our current work on diverse themes ranging from cosmopolitanism and modernity to identity, to everyday life. We have theorised novel topics such as the ‘sociology of nothing’, the phenomenology of Christian experience, temporalities of the Anthropocene and the existential attraction of violent extremism. We are also interested in how categories of difference (such as race or nationality) are made, as well as what they do. In terms of identity and culture, our work has focused on diverse topics including asexual identities, families and intimacy, classed experiences of education, and cultural festivals in Europe. Another feature of our work is the empirical applications of theory. This includes micro-level theories as applied to self-identity and macro-level theorising about major social and political transformations relating to capitalism, globalisation and migration. We have a strong and long-standing relationship with the Sussex Centre for Social and Political Thought. Jamie Barnes, Gerard Delanty, Aneria Edmunds, James Hardie-Bick, Nina Held, Aleksandra Lewicki, Luke Martell, Liz McDonnell, Paul McGuinness, Laura Morosanu, Carli Rowell, Susie Scott, Kathryn Telling and Dan Whillis are members of this group.