Department of Sociology

Department of Sociology research

The Department of Sociology is widely recognised for its field-defining and conceptually driven empirical research and its pioneering quantitative and qualitative methods work. It has extensive collaborations with European and international researchers and networks and the Department has a record of success in securing a diverse portfolio of research income from the EU, the UK Research Councils, British Academy and research charities.

Sociology at Surrey is known for its applied approach to sociology and this sociological policy focus is reflected in the ways it works in partnership with a range of private, public and third-sector organisations. For example, the Department currently works with the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the Environment Agency, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Police Dependents’ Trust, among others.

The Department also hosts a number of Research Centres which include the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender directed by Professor Sara Arber and Dr. Andy King; the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) and the Centre for Research on Simulation in the Social Sciences, both directed by Professor Nigel Gilbert and CAQDAS the Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Networking Project, directed by Professor Nigel Fielding. The Department has a large and thriving community of postgraduate researchers and is a partner institution in the ESRC-funded South East Doctoral Training Centre.

The sociological achievements of the Department were reflected in the results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 in which over three quarters of the work of the Department was categorised as internationally excellent or world leading and its vibrant research environment was highly rated.

Health, technology and biosocial sciences

Research Groups

Research in the Sociology Department is organised into five research groupings which reflect contemporary concerns.

Research Centres

The Department of Sociology hosts several Research Centres and there are strong research links with the Digital World Research Centre.

Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis

Practical support, training and information in the use of a range of software programs designed to assist qualitative data analysis. Platforms for debate concerning the methodological and epistemological issues arising from the use of such software packages. Research into methodological applications of CAQDAS.

Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender

CRAG focuses specifically on the interconnections between gender and ageing. Ageing is an area of increasing policy concern, stimulated by recognition of the growth in the older population, the projected costs of pensions and health care, earlier ages of retirement from paid work, changing patterns of consumer behaviour in later life and the opportunities afforded by increased leisure.

Centre for Research in Social Simulation

A multidisciplinary centre bringing together the social sciences, software engineering and agent-based computing to promote and support the use of social simulation in research in the human sciences.

In addition to the Research Groupings, there is a wide range of individual scholarship in different fields of sociology. The latter can be traced by looking at the individual interests of particular members of staff. Please browse the brief descriptions of staff interests. These embrace a variety of topics including sociological theory, gender, employment, culture, ethnicity, ageing (Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender) language and communication, the sociology of organisations, sociology of childhood, sociology of sleep, the study of religion and values, sociology of development, the voluntary sector, the history of sociology, and the sociology of social policy.

Activities relating to the advancement of research methodology include:

  • CAQDAS - the national centre for the advancement of methods for the qualitative analysis of data by computer, which has included QUIC, an ESRC Research Methods Node.
  • CRESS - a multidisciplinary centre bringing together social science, computer and software engineering to use and to promote computer modelling in social science research, which has included SIMIAN, an ESRC Research Methods Node.
  • The secondary analysis of large and complex datasets.
  • A programme of Day Courses in Social Research.
  • Holding regular international workshops on theory and methods.
  • Publishing the quarterly Social Research Update to improve methodological awareness within the research community.
  • The Visiting International Fellowship scheme, which is aimed at supporting advanced development in the state of the art in social research methods by supporting international scholars to meet with members of the Department on methodological projects of mutual interest.

Journals edited from the Department include:

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Sociological Research Online
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS)
Popular Culture: International Journal of Media and Culture

Staff in the Department are on a wide range of Editorial Boards.