Our Research Projects
DEMAND: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand
DEMAND, which started in 2013, has £5 million funding for 5 years from the ESRC/EPSRC, from EDF R & D and TfL, and involves researchers from 9 universities., Transport for London and the International Energy Agency. The idea behind Demand is to rethink Energy and Energy Use. Rather than beginning with an ever-increasing DEMAND for Energy as the problem to be solved, this research centre focuses on the questions:
The centre is co-directed by Professor Elizabeth Shove in Lancaster Sociology, with a number of UK partners and a dynamic research team.
Is the Rate of Domestic Violence Decreasing or Increasing? A Re-Analysis of the British Crime Survey
Professor Sylvia Walby and Professor Brain Francis are leading an ESRC funded project, which is undertaking quantative analysis to consider rates of violence on the home. Enormous energy and resource has been expended in developing policy responses to reduce domestic and gender-based violence. This policy goal has been consistent across governments. Further, there has been extraordinary success in driving down the rate of domestic violence. Researcher, Dr Jude Towers who is gathering the data for this project notes that "While The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW: one of the world’s leading surveys in the measurement of domestic violence over time) has recorded a declining rate in domestic violence for more than a decade (1995-2009), data recorded from 2009 suggests the year-on-year rate of domestic violence may have stabilised or even be increasing". The task of this project is to make sense of this increase in violence, and its implications for government policy in this important area.
Violence and society: introduction to an emerging field of sociology - Sylvia Walby
Care in and for Policy
Vicky Singleton and Claire Waterton, are leading a research programme which is developing a network of researchers to explore contemporary, urgent concerns about policy. As they note "while ‘policy’ can been seen as a historically, culturally and politically specific form of care, currently there is widespread concern that many ‘policies’ are not care-full enough. Often, it seems that policy looks after some things and neglects other things and the things that are neglected are those things most in need of ‘care’, such as inarticulateable practices, precarious relations and marginalised actors. Policies designed to protect, to nurture and to care for objects and subjects can inadvertently harbour and promote relations of harm derived from overly protective measures of control. And policies that ‘work’ within particular defined contexts can be seen to be dysfunctional within more complex contexts". Claire and Vicky are running a seminar series (2013--2015), drawing the research centres of Science Studies and Gender & Women's Studies together, to explore these questions and hope to develop both writing and future grant proposals in this area.
3DaROC: 3rd Party Dematerialisation and Rematerialisation of Capital
Digital technology has opened up financial services to new entrants that fall outside of the traditional banking sector, and the regulated environment and technical infrastructure that the banks operate within. Peer-to-peer financial intermediaries (or ‘digital intermediaries’) are organisations that allow citizens to exchange ‘e-money’ in transactions that bypass the banks, and which offer different business opportunities to their proprietors that open up different ways that their users can benefit from them.
"3DaROC: 3rd Party Dematerialisation and Rematerialisation of Capital" is an ESPRC funded project between Lancaster, Brunel and Bristol, which examines the impact of these changes, focusing on the complex ways in which financial transactions are carried out by these new digital intermediaries and the impact of this on citizen/users. Staff leading this project in Sociology and the Centre for Mobilities at Lancaster include Bron Szerszynski & Adam Fish.
Project website: http://digitalintermediaries.wordpress.com/about/
Liveable Cities is an ambitious, five-year programme of research funded by the EPSRC to develop a method of designing and engineering low carbon, resource secure, wellbeing maximised UK cities. This will be achieved via the development of a unique City Design Framework that will measure how cities operate and perform in terms of their people, environment and governance, taking account of wellbeing and resource security. The Framework will be used to establish future visions of low carbon, resource secure, liveable UK cities from which the team will backcast to determine what needs to be done now to achieve these visions. Using the Framework, the Liveable Cities team will develop realistic and radical engineering solutions for achieving the UK’s ambitious carbon reduction targets and will test them in three UK cities: Birmingham, Lancaster and Southampton.
Project website: http://liveablecities.org.uk/
Austerity Futures? Imagining and Materialising the Future in an ‘Age of Austerity
This project, led by Bron Szerszynski, Richard Tutton and John Urry at Lancaster is a two year programme of events that examines whether the current ‘age of austerity’ in the UK, Europe and some other parts of the developed Western world, changes the ways in which the future is imagined, planned for, worked towards and brought into being. Funded by the ESRC and organised by a group of academics based at Lancaster, York, Durham and Goldsmiths, the series of seminars, workshops and conference brings together leading researchers from the UK, America, Canada, Australia and Europe with those working on methodologies for mapping the future in the public, private and third sectors. The series will examine the extent to which austerity fundamentally alters conceptions of futures and explore the social and cultural effects of this shift. Questions we will consider include:
Transforming Images: Screens, Affect, Futures- Rebecca Coleman
The Social Life of Digital Data Objects
The motivation is the proliferation of digital data and methods that are innovating new ways of knowing and governing people and things. Yet how these digital practices specifically work and their governing consequences, we suggest, are not well understood in the social and computing sciences. To address this, we aim to develop and use innovative concepts and methods for investigating how digital practices are at work in governing. We first take the view that digital practices enact worlds; that is, they simultaneously create and represent people and things and then come to govern them. Understanding how digital practices do this and with what normative and political effects is the aim of this collaboration. In Lancaster Sociology, Adrian Mackenzie is a co-investigator on this project.
Living multiples: how large-scale scientific data-mining pursues identity and difference
Understanding the 'intensive' in 'data intensive research': Data flows in Next Generation Sequencing and Environmental Networked Sensors -Ruth McNally, Adrian Mackenzie, Allison Hui, Jennifer Tomomitsu
Everyday Practice and Resistance in Immigration Detention
Immigration detention is a pressing political issue. Detained populations, detention facilities, and industries have expanded globally. The UK, particularly, has implemented a range of changes to its detention regime in recent years, including the fast-tracking of many immigration detainees, the privatisation of detention facilities, and the expansion of the detention estate, albeit through the construction of privately run, secure facilities for immigrants that the British government does not recognise as detention. This said, a number of features of detention in the UK have also remained remarkably resilient to change, including the continued use of indefinite detention, the prohibition on paid work whilst in detention and the detention of children. Despite this expansion, detention practices have not been given the academic attention they deserve: the everyday experience of detention is poorly understood, as is the complex relationship between detention and borders, the flows of material and policies between detention and mainstream incarceration, the ways in which detention might be resisted and the meaning and methods of 'supporting' detainees.
Spatial tactics among asylum and migrant support groups in the UK and US -Nick Gill, Deidre Conlon, Imogen Tyler, Ceri Oeppen. Expected in 2014 In: Annals of the Association of American Geographers.
Bridging resources and agencies in large-scale emergency management
The Bridge project, funded under the EU FP7 Security Theme, is one amongst several international efforts to support professionals and volunteers in mobilising information and resources for disaster response. Coordinated by SINTEF Norway, it brings together 14 academic and industrial organisations, including software developers (Saab, Thales), practitioners (Rakos Norway), and social scientists. Taking an ethnographically informed, iterative and experimental user-centred design approach, the team will develop socio-technical systems for multi-agency, cross-border disaster response that push the state of the art in information technology (IT) and professional and public practice. Fieldwork and experimental design scenarios focus on multi-modal transport hubs such as the Madrid subway and the Øresund bridge between Copenhagen (airport) and the Swedish city of Malmö.
Read more: Imagination Lancaster's website
Ethnographies of diagnostic work : dimensions of transformative practice. -Monika Buscher, Dawn Goodwin, Jessica Mesman. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2
Mobile methods. Monika Buscher, John Urry, Katian Witchger
Design research : synergies from interdisciplinary perspectives -Jesper Simonsen, Jørgen Ole Baerenholdt, Monika Buscher, John Damm Scheuer,
Prescriptive Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals and Healthy Subjectivities
Celia Roberts and PhD student Ali Hanbury are part of an EU project titled "Prescriptive Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals and Healthy Subjectivities". This research asks how pharmaceuticals prescribe the healthy subject. It examines the cultural meanings and expectations attached to four prescription drugs, and compares the policies and practices around their use in two countries, Sweden and the UK. At Lancaster research is focusing on the HPV vaccine.
Early puberty, 'sexualisation' and feminism. - Celia Roberts
Friendship, Social Ties and Urban Experience
Anne Cronin is currently carrying out a British Academy funded a project that explores the connections between urbanism and friendship with a focus on work and workplace. I'm aiming to explore friendships as forms of social ties that are not captured by (academic or popular) narratives of family or narratives of romance. Most often analysed as relationships that facilitate social capital, I'm instead thinking of friendships as forms that create spaces in particular ways (informed by urbanism) and function as ways of orienting the urban experience. This is not a social network analysis but a qualitatively-oriented project that aims to 'listen spatially' to people's experiences of friendship and to examine the forms of those socialities.
Staff involved: Anne Cronin
Between friends: making emotions intersubjectively -Anne Cronin.
Living Data: Making sense of health biosensors
This research, led by Adrian Mackenzie, Maggie Mort and Celia Roberts, investigates two significant processes in contemporary middle-class life: conception and pregnancy, and perceptions of health-related risk derived from direct to consumer personal genomics tests. The project is divided into two ethnographic case studies (each a PhD research project).
"Living Data: Making sense of health biosensors"culminates in a Citizens’ Panel which will elaborate and discuss the common themes arising from the two studies. The project will thus produce two kinds of data: rich, empirically dense ethnographic description of contemporary engagements with biosensing, and exploratory, responsive data from current non-users (citizens).
Staff involved: Elizabeth Shove
Affecting citizenships: the denaturalisation process in Britain
Following on from Multicultural Horizons, my current research focuses on the British naturalisation process as a site of 'citizenship-in-the-making'. The distinctive character of this study is its focus on the experiences of applicants and 'non-applicants' (ESOL teachers/providers; Council registrars; ceremony officials; etc). The study draws on original ethnographic material to explore the making of citizenship: it traces the work, processes, documentation, artefacts, storing, educational and other practices involved in 'making citizens', while it also attends to the 'lived experience' of naturalisation from the perspective of a range of subject positions. In short, the study approaches 'citizenship naturalisation' as a hybrid of affective, performative, and technological/material practices. The research is funded by the British Academy (Small Grants).
Staff involved: Anne-Marie Fortier
A Cultural Political Economy of Crisis and Crisis Management
Economic crisis management has concerned governments and other responsible authorities from 2008. Yet crises are complex and subject to many attempts to interpret and explain them, to identify causes, attribute responsibility, assess their scale, scope, and significance, the need for minor changes or major reforms, and translate proposed solutions into feasible policies. Amelie Kuttler and Bob Jessop's project "A Cultural Political Economy of Crisis and Crisis Management" focuses on the complex and multi-faceted economic crisis that became evident in 2007 and will explore these issues through to 2011.
Its key research questions are:
Different literatures and methodologies are used to answer these questions, respectively: corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis; actor-centred institutional analysis of varieties of capitalism and their place in the world market; studies of governance and governmentality; and studies on the EU's open method of coordination as sources of insight into global crisis-management.
Competitiveness, the Knowledge-Based Economy, and Higher Education' -Ngai-Ling Sum, and Bob Jessop
Totgesagte leben länger. Die Fortschreibung ökonomischer Ordnung in Krisenlektionen der deutschen Finanzpresse [State Redux? Economic Imaginaries in the German Financial Press], CPERC Working Paper 2012-03 This paper is outcome of the Great Transformations project -Amelie Kutter
Early Onset Puberty
Early onset puberty is increasingly prevalent among girls globally according to many scientists and clinicians. In the medical and scientific literature early sexual development is described as a problem for girls and as a frightening prospect for parents. News media and popular environmentalist accounts amplify these figurations, raising powerful concerns about the sexual predation of early developing girls by men and boys and the loss of childhood innocence. In this research project Celia Roberts explores the social meanings and implications of this imagined crises of sexual development.
Staff involved: Celia Roberts
Early puberty, 'sexualisation' and feminism - Celia Roberts
Lost in Translation: Cross - disciplinary analysis of knowledge exchange and effectiveness in animal disease management
The aim of this project is to develop more integrated strategies of containment for animal disease through a cross-disciplinary research team bringing together expertise in public health, sociology, microbiology, epidemiology and veterinary science, environmental science and medical statistics. Current strategies to contain animal disease are very controversial and often in the limelight in terms of human health risk. The rural economy usually bears the brunt of poor or inappropriate strategies to contain the spread of animal disease risk. Worryingly, for those communities affected, it is not always clear that we have learnt from past mistakes such as the conflict in scientific opinion on vaccination vs. culling during the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic of 2001. Strategies of containment of animal disease vary in scale and scope, from containing infected animals (e.g. FMD), to containing animal to human transmission (e.g. bird flu). They usually require quick decisions to be made as the risk of disease spreads, and as new information becomes available.
This project focuses on three major disease areas:
We will work closely with our stakeholder partners who include the public health department in United Utilities plc and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency - the government agency charged with undertaking animal disease surveillance. The research team brings together researchers from Lancaster University, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Liverpool University.
Uncertainties in the governance of animal disease: an interdisciplinary framework for analysis - Maggie Mort, Brian Wynne et al
UK-China Networks of Low Carbon Innovation
This project is examining low carbon partnerships between the UK and China to identify the factors that promote and impede their success and the capacity for "disruptive" innovation on a global scale. The anthropogenic rise of global temperatures is now an imminent and grave danger. Yet as the problem of global scope, it is equally clear that action must be genuinely global. Such global coordination, however, demands a climate of international cooperation and collaboration, i.e. a broadly "cosmopolitan" context in which efforts are optimally balanced between the demands of the global totality and local/national needs.
In the age of "globalisation" major trends support the emergence of this cosmopolitan order. But there are also significant social forces driving in the very opposite direction. In particular, the global political economy is entering a period of turbulence and transition. And the potential for an isolationist backlash, sinking any possibility of tackling climate change, is large. Avoiding this scenario demands understanding current social trends and the conditions needed for movement in the other direction. One issue in particular is the point of convergence for many of these trends, so that analysis of it is likely to yield important insights. This issue is international collaborations with China in "low carbon" innovation. First, as the "engine" of current economic growth, innovation must play a crucial role in remodelling the economy, though this "disruptive" innovation will also involve social and policy innovation. Secondly, the rise of China is undoubtedly the biggest transition in the global economy. But China's industrial and vehicle emissions have risen commensurately. Yet this growth has raised some 200 million people out of poverty and China's political stability is inextricably tied to its continuation. China is thus increasingly a crucial part of the global problem... and thus a central element of any global solution. China's innovation capabilities are rapidly improving but there remain some major weaknesses. If China is to "leapfrog" to a sustainable economy, then, international collaboration will be essential. These collaborations, however, face significant constraints, from both the global trends discussed above and conditions within China and the UK/EU, along with the differences and tensions between the "civic epistemologies" of these partners.
Materialities of Animals and Farming
Farming is a practical activity, messy and material. It involves interactions between people, technologies, animals, and natural forces. This project, led by Vicky Singleton, is concerned with the heterogeneities of those interactions; how animals, devices and people interact with one another.
The methods used in thinking about this come expecially from STS (Science, Technology and Society) and are material-semiotic in character: this is a sensibility informed by actor-network theory and feminist technscience studies. I would say that those similarities and differences in the place between nature and culture are part ontic (they have to do with what there is in the world), part epistemic (having to do with knowledges), and in part they have to do with the good (which might be a matter of politics, or ethics). But the practice simply works through empirical case studies of British farming, and British farming networks.
Staff involved: Vicky Singleton
Devices as rituals : notes on enacting resistance -Vicky Singleton, John Law
Citizens Transforming Society: Tools For Change
The social media boom has transformed our lives, shaping everything from the way we shop and socialise to how we do business. Change-hungry citizens have turned to mobile digital communications during key world events from the London riots and the subsequent ‘clean up the streets’ campaign to the so called ‘Twitter revolutions’ in Tunisia and Egypt.
Catalyst is a £1.9M project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC), which brings together academics and communities to jointly imagine and build the next generation of tools for social change, and to explore innovative, bottom-up technology-mediated solutions to major problems in society. The three year project will look at how different communities use technology to make ‘the world’ a better place. And, in a series of sub-projects, communities and academics will together envision and build next generation tools more suited to the job.
Tourism in crises: Postdisciplinary Research -Monika Buscher
Knowledge exchange for a sustainable local foodscape in Manchester
Based around the hub of the New Smithfield wholesale market, "Knowledge exchange for a sustainable local foodscape in Manchester" is a FASS and Lancaster University funded project conducted by Katerina Psarikidou and Bronislaw Szesrzynski. With a vision to facilitate the flow of local food across Manchester, the project aims to transform the wholesale market into a learning zone of knowledge exchange and creative dialogue among various local agro-food practitioners, and thus enhance co-operative links among them, as well as between academic, non-academic stakeholders and the local community.
"Growing the social: alternative agro-food networks and social sustainability in the urban ethical foodscape" -Katerina Psarikidou, Bronislaw Szerszynski
Making local food sustainable in Manchester L.Levidow, Katerina Psarikidou
The moral economy of civic food networks in Manchester -Katerina Psarikidou, Bronislaw Szerszynski
Google: Meta-communities of practice in the code-sharing commons
"Google: Meta-communities of practice in the code-sharing commons" is an ESRC funded project led by Adrian Mackenzie. The extraordinary proliferation of software projects in the last two decade defies easy analysis. Our research aims to analyse the inter-linked communities of software development, which we call the meta-community of programming practices. The project involves an inter-disciplinary team of investigators working on two major kinds of publicly accessible data generated as people develop software. The first of these are the vast code repositories. The major repositories such as Github, SourceForge, bitbucket and Google Code reportedly contain millions of software development projects produced by millions of developers. The second main kind of site we draw on complements the first: programmer question and answer sites such as StackOverflow. StackOverflow collaboratively filters a huge range of very specific questions concerning software code.
Staff involved: Adrian Mackenzie
Data topography of NGS genomes
This project, funded by Digital Social Research Programme of the National Centre for e-Social Science, the ESRC Genomics Network and ESRC Cross-Investment bid, explores how data is shaped, valued, and understood in a leading case of 'big data science,' genomics. It treats large public archives and databases such as GenBank and PubMed exemplary sites of data flow in the contemporary knowledge economies. In collaboration with genomic researchers, the project aims to repurpose existing scientific software and data packages in order to develop methods of empirically describing how data flows through instruments, databases, models and scientific publications.
Centres of excellence
CPERC - Cultural Political Economy
DEMAND - Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand
CeDR - Disability Research
Cesagen - Economic & Social Aspects of Genomics
CSEC - Environmental Change
CeMoRe - Mobilities Research
Child Welfare Research Unit
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