Politics and identities

Issues of politics and identity form a major focus of research undertaken by members of the Sociology group. Research spans a number of topics relating to personal and organizational identities. It includes a clustering of interests in aspects of gender and sexuality, community belonging, and sustainability. There is a strong emphasis on personal narrative and on social theory. This includes work involving large multidisciplinary teams as well as smaller more locally-based community projects, and uses a range of quantitative and qualitative methods (e.g. oral history, focus groups and autobiography). Funders include the Independent Social Research Foundation, the European Regional Development Fund, and Plymouth History Centre.

Areas of research expertise

  • Social movements and activism
  • Media and environmental communication
  • Discourse and politics of representation
  • Social stigma and cultural ‘othering’
  • Medical, moral, and political discourses of ‘normalcy’ and ‘disease’
  • Community, affect and resilience
  • Personal and organisational identities
  • Local, national, and global formations of ‘gender and sexuality’
  • Philosophy of social sciences
  • Sociability, family constellations and ‘companion species’
  • Biopolitics and ‘identity work’
  • Food, class, and gender


  • Professor Alison Anderson - media, environmental communication, public understanding of science
  • Jonathan Clark – discourses and philosophies of social sciences, social movements
  • Dr Lyvinia Elleschild - social stigmatisation, community resilience, gender equality, cultural memory
  • Dr Roberto Kulpa – sexualities and nationalisms, temporalities and geographies of ‘the West and the Rest’, ‘post-communist transformations’
  • Dr Julie Parsons - food and food-ways, wellbeing, social inclusion, gender
  • Dr Mike Sheaff - social justice, wellbeing, social care, whistleblowing
  • Carole Sutton – quantitative research methods, diverse family constellations

Current and recent research projects


A project exploring precarity in hobby-to-work transitions in the craft industry.

Maker memories

Maker Memories is a volunteer led community project designed to capture the rich and diverse heritage of Maker Camp on the Rame Peninsula through the lenses of ‘place’, ‘nostalgia’ and ‘belonging’.


This project involves researching (through interviews and autobiographical accounts) experiences and ‘identity work’ of ‘whistleblowers’, individuals who have raised issues of concern within an organisation, regardless of personal, negative consequences.

Participatory research with vulnerable groups

‘Mapping the transformative potential of participatory styles of research with vulnerable, marginalised and/or hard to reach groups’ is a research project funded by Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF).

Photographic electronic Narrative (PeN) project with prisoners and ex-offenders

The focus is on the interrelationship between forms of human, social and cultural capital in furthering pro-social aspirations and expectations. PeN is an innovative ‘photo-dialogue’ approach that draws on participatory action research (PAR) and a modified ‘photovoice’ technique.

Geo-temporalities and geo-politics of ‘gender equality’ and ‘sexual diversity’

Ongoing research that focuses on the emerging and changing discourses of ‘sexual modernity’ and ‘sexual nationalisms’ embedded in the ideas of the ‘West’ and the ‘post-communist Central-Eastern Europe’.

The political writings of Hannah Arendt

A research project that explores the ontological and methodological significance of social novelty as articulated by Hannah Arendt for the social sciences.

Communication and public perceptions of deep geothermal energy

A multi-disciplinary three-year project funded by the European Regional Development Fund examining communication and public perceptions of deep geothermal energy. Further information can be found on our website.