Research Clusters

The department's research and scholarship can be grouped into the following thematic clusters:

Migration and Globalisation

Led by Stephen Castles and Nicola Piper, this cluster explores theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects of international migration. Key projects focus on understanding the relationship between social transformation and migration and analysing the effects of globalisation. The work intersects with our research around justice and human rights, and there are projects on refugee/migrant protection, issues of statelessness and border control. We also examine race/ethnicity and migration, including historical and contemporary immigration policy, migration and ethnic relations, experiences of transnationalism, and everyday lives of new immigrant groups.

Researchers:
Stephen Castles, Nicola Piper, Catriona Elder, Christine Inglis, Salvatore Babones, Susan Banki, Sonja van Wichelen

See also:

Health and the BioSciences

Led by Mike Michael and Catherine Waldby, we undertake work on health and medical sociology in Australia, especially the health workforce and health service provision and health policy, for example the impact of social policy on health and welfare provision. We also have a cluster of researchers working in the field of biotechnology - embryonic stem cells, blood donation and biobanking – as well as HIV/AIDS and issues of global health.

Researchers:
Catherine Waldby, Mike Michael, Fran Collyer, Melinda Cooper, Sonja van Wichelen, Beatriz Carrillo Garcia, Kirsten Harley , Deborah Lupton,

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Social Theory

We also have a group of international scholars undertaking innovative work in social theory, clustering around theories of knowledge and culture. We have scholars of international standing researching in World Systems Analysis, Critical Race and Whiteness Theory, Globalisation and global transformation Theories. Researchers in our department are experts in Pierre Bourdieu, Norbert Elias, Hannah Arendt, Basil Bernstein, Bruno Latour, Anthony Giddens, Jurgen Habermas. We also host the Centre for the study of Legitimation Code Theory (‘LCT’), a sociological framework for the study of social fields of practice, the sociology of knowledge and conceptual and theoretical development in the social sciences.

Researchers:
Craig Browne, David Bray, Karl Maton, Jennifer Wilkinson, Robert van Krieken, Melinda Cooper, Fran Collyer, Danielle Celermajer, Michael Humphrey, Deirdre Howard-Wagner

Human Rights, Democratisation and Justice

Our Human Rights research covers a wide spectrum, however one focus is the intersection of human rights practice and theory. Some of the projects we undertake explore questions of sovereignty and the nature of rights, how states or communities rehabilitate themselves and recover state legitimacy after periods of violent conflict. Issues of human rights are explored in the areas of animals or humans and non-human animals, disability, refugees, Indigenous social and legal justice, gender and rights. Projects include exploring issues such as corporate social responsibility, consumer movements and fair trade market, the right to have rights and international human rights law and institutions, economic development and rights.

Researchers:
Susan Banki, Danielle Celermajer, Michael Humphrey, Deirdre Howard-Wagner, Dinesh Wadiwel, Sonja van Wichelen, Jonathan Bogais, Karen O'Brien, Nicola Piper, Elisabeth Valiente-Riedl

See also

Socio-Legal Studies and Criminology

The law and society group focuses on reseach in criminology and human rights, but also engages with broader problems and issues concerning the changing role of law in society. Our projects examine law and legal reasoning, protest and public order policing, social movements, family law, coronial law and practice, inquests and death investigation, medico-legal and forensic criminology, cultural criminology, the legal regulation of post-conflict societies.

Researchers:
Robert van Krieken, Rebecca Scott Bray, Greg Martin, Deirder Howard-Wagner, Sonja van Wichelen, Michael Humphrey, Karen O'Brien

See also

Social Policy, Inclusion and Inequality

Projects in this area draw on a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and takes a regional, national or global approach. We have a particular expertise in health policy, both in Australia, but also in China and East Asia. Other research focuses on inequality in relation to migrants, Indigenous peoples, disability and education. Much of the work we do is comparative, focusing on the global shifts in policy making and policy reform that have emerged within neo-liberal frameworks in many states. Here we undertake research on the politics of policy-making and the restructuring of contemporary welfare states.

Researchers:
Amanda Elliot, Gyu-Jin Hwang, Salvatore Babones, Nicola Piper, David Bray, Beatriz Carrillo Garcia, Karen O'Brien, Dinesh Wadiwel, Jonathan Bogais

See also

Identity, Belonging and Culture

Our work on identity focuses on the broad field of cultural sociology and explores individuals and groups in relation to aspects of popular culture (eg social media, music, alcohol, gaming, television, photography, celebrity). We also analyse various forms of belonging – personal friendship, workplace collegiality, migrant groups and religious communities – exploring how these are being transformed. Some of these researchers deploy a variety of theories of race and ethnicity to consider the issue of belonging in the context of changing understandings of the national and the global, others draw on historical sociology to examine the current configuration of status and recognition in ‘celebrity society’.

Researchers:
Catriona Elder, Fiona Gill, Jennifer Wilkinson, Sonja van Wichelen, Amanda Elliot, Rebecca Scott Bray, Greg Martin, Karen O'Brien, Robert van Krieken

Sociology of Knowledge and Education

Led by Fran Collyer and Karl Maton, this research cluster explores the role of knowledge in society in different ways. One strand concerns the 'making of knowledge', the way social structures and social processes influence the construction of knowledge, and the barriers and challenges involved in knowledge production in the context of globalisation. Another strand explores the different forms taken by knowledge practices and their effects on issues such as social justice in education, the capacity for knowledge-building, and relations to other practices. The cluster includes the fortnightly ‘Sydney Roundtable’ seminar series for research enacting Legitimation Code Theory and the weekly ’S-Club Workshop’ for PhDs.
Key projects include an international study of the global politics of knowledge, particularly in the Global south; a major study of knowledge-building in secondary school classrooms; an examination of the kind of knowledge patients and doctors require within the Australian healthcare system and social factors shaping and determining their choices; differential use and effects of educational technology in schooling; and the marketisation of higher education and the impact of neo-liberalism (in the form of university rankings and journal impact factors) on the making of expert knowledge.

Researchers:
Fran Collyer, Karl Maton, Karen O'Brien