Department of Sociology

Recently completed research

Brief details of recently completed funded research projects in the Department of Sociology are listed here. Further details can be obtained either by visiting the relevant websites or by contacting those involved in the research.

Assessing the trustworthiness of GPs

Dates

Start date: 1 October 2012
End date: 31 January 2014

Details

This project aims to draw on a range of data to explore how judgements regarding the trustworthiness of GPs are formed. This will be tackled through three separate but complementary work packages: (1) a review of existing trust in GP measures from social surveys and how the concept is operationalised; (2) focus group work to assess in more detail patient perceptions of what makes GPs trustworthy; (3) an analysis of health related online forums to gain additional insights into patient experiences. Data in each work package will be analysed separately, but will be ultimately combined to explore the affordances of each approach for addressing trust in GPs. In doing so, this project addresses the conditions which foster trustworthy interactions between patients and GPs and will inform any policy interventions designed to do so.

NCRM

http://www.ncrm.ac.uk/research/collaborative/2011-14/trust.php

Primary Investigator: Dr P Stoneman

CAQDAS: Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software

Dates

Start date: 1 January 1994
End date: 13 December 2011

Summary

The project received seven consecutive terms of funding by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, with no commercial links to any software developer or supplier. It aimed to provide practical support, training and information in the use of a range of software programs designed to assist qualitative data analysis. The project also provided various platforms for debate concerning the methodological and epistemological issues arising from the use of such software packages. The CAQDAS Networking Project also encompassed an additional project, Qualitative Innovations in CAQDAS (QUIC), funded by the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) which explored three new breaking developments in the use of CAQDAS alongside the training and capacity building activities.

Funding

ESRC Researcher Development Initiative

Details

http://caqdas.soc.surrey.ac.uk

Investigators

Curriculum Innovation: Integrating Quantative Methods and Substantive Teaching for HE Level One Students

Dates

Start date: 1 January 2012
End date: 31 December 2013

Details

This project aims to increase students’ knowledge and use of QM amongst HE1 Sociology students. The project will do this via i) increasing Level 1 sociology teaching staff’s familiarity with QM to support ii) integrating substantive and QM teaching across the Level 1 programme. The project emphasises the ‘full integration’ of QM skills into the undergraduate curriculum in a manner that ensures quantitative literacy is achieved early, occurs frequently and is integrated with approaches that account for students’ different learning styles.

The practical goals of the project are:

(1) Full integration: As relevant and in ways that respect the learning outcomes of the individual modules, the same materials/exemplars are used across substantive and quantitative modules so that students get repeated exposure to the same information in different contexts.
(2) Full coverage: To integrate QM and substantive teaching across the whole of the Level 1 curricula.
(3) Full support: To ensure full support from all Level 1 module convenors and tutors and the departmental management group.
(4) Full provision: To develop online resources that supplement other modes of teaching and support all Level 1 modules.

ESRC

http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/ES.J011592.1/read

Primary Investigator: Dr KA Bullock

Collaborative Investigator: Dr IR Brunton-Smith, Dr RAL Meadows, Prof LP Cooke, Dr SM Earthy

e-POLICY

Dates

Start date: 1 October 2013
End date: 30 September 2014

Details

The e-POLICY project is a FP7 STREP project funded under the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) theme, Objective 5.6 ICT solutions for Governance and Policy Modeling. Its main aim is to support policy makers in their decision process across a multi-disciplinary effort aimed at engineering the policy making life-cycle. For the first time, global and individual perspectives on the decision process are merged and integrated. The project focuses on regional planning and promotes the assessment of economic, social and environmental impacts during the policy making process (at both the global and individual levels). For the individual aspects, e-POLICY aims at deriving social impacts through opinion mining on e-participation data extracted from the web. To aid policy makers, citizens and stakeholders, e-POLICY heavily relies on visualization tools providing an easy access to data, impacts and political choices.

FP7 European Commission

http://www.epolicy-project.eu/node

http://www.tellmeproject.eu/

Primary Investigator: Prof N. Gilbert

Ethics and police practice

Dates

Start date: 1 July 2013
End date: 31 October 2013

Funding

College of Policing

Details

Following a number of recent high profile cases which have brought into question the integrity of the police in England and Wales (e.g. Hillsborough Independent Panel and Leveson Inquiry), the government and the police service is looking to raise standards of ethical behaviour across the service. Together with the psychology department Dr Karen Bullock has been conducting a review of the literature on what interventions, processes and levers might be effective in preventing wrongdoing in organisations. The purpose is to highlight policies or practices aimed at raising the standards of ethical behaviour across the police service.

Investigator (from Sociology):
Karen Bullock

International Higher Education and the Mobility of UK Students: motivations, experiences and labour market outcomes

Dates

Start date: 1 August 2007
End date: 31 July 2008

Details

This project examined the motivations and experiences of UK students and graduates who had pursued, or intended to pursue, education overseas for the whole of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The sample comprised 40 sixth-formers and undergraduates who were seriously considering studying abroad, and 45 graduates who had completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree abroad. The research was informed by a number of current debates around the internationalisation of education, an emergent ‘choice’ agenda, and the consequences of credential inflation, resulting in a growing need to secure ‘positional advantage’ within graduate labour markets in the UK and elsewhere.

Funder

British Academy

Investigator

Rachel Brooks

Living Multiculture: the new geographies of ethnicity and the changing formations of multiculture in England

Dates

Start date: 30 June 2012
End date: 1 July 2014

Details

Living Multiculture: the new geographies of ethnicity and the changing formations of multiculture in England is a two-year research project that explores the changing social and geographic dimensions of contemporary multiculture in urban England.

With a focus on the ordinary encounters of increasingly diverse populations in everyday locations the project asks two key questions: how do people live cultural difference, and what role does place play in this process? It is examines the way in which ethnically complex populations routinely interact in convivial and competent ways. Exploring the dynamics and limits of this competency - and its relationship to places that have long and short histories of multiculture - is at the heart of the research.

ESRC

http://www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/living-multiculture/

Primary Investigator: Dr S Neal

MILES (Models and Mathematics in Life and Social Sciences)

Dates

Start date: 1 September 2010
End date: 31 August 2013

Summary

MILES (Models and Mathematics in Life and Social Sciences) is a new three-year programme of events and funding opportunities to stimulate interdisciplinary research collaborations across the University of Surrey.  MILES will stimulate and foster projects that bring together academics from mathematics, computing, physical sciences and engineering with those from the life and social sciences and beyond.  MILES events will include networking and idea-generation activities, opportunities to showcase and discuss existing interdisciplinary research and workshops designed to support the development of collaborations.

Funding

EPSRC

Details

Investigators:
Rebecca Hoyle (Maths), Nigel Gilbert (Sociology), Paul Krause (Computing), Johnjoe McFadden (Biological Sciences)

Multi-level and agent-based models: comparison and integration (MLM)

Dates

Start date: 15 November 2010
End date: 31 October 2011

Summary

Multilevel models (MLM) have pioneered the analysis of data that have a hierarchical structure with two or more 'levels'. They have been developed within a statistical paradigm, primarily as a method of describing and analysing large data-sets. Agent-based models (ABM) are also used to analyse social phenomena in which are there are two or more 'levels' involved, often called the micro- and macro- levels. ABM were developed from a non-statistical background, drawing on artificial intelligence and physics. Agent-based modelling usually follow a deductive or abductive methodology, testing a model against data, while multi-level modelling is often inductive, deriving a model from data. MLM allow the user to make inferences with known confidence, which is generally not true of ABM, while ABM are capable of modelling non-linear, complex systems with emergent behaviour. Thus to some extent the two modelling 'paradigms' are interested in the same kind of issues but approach them from entirely different directions and have different strengths. The aim of this short study is to clarify the similarities and differences between the two styles of modelling, attending to the modelling of levels, and to investigate whether there is value in the integrating some aspects.

Funding

ESRC through National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM)

Details

Website:
http://www.simian.ac.uk/research/ncrm-collaborative-fund-projects/multi-level-and-agent-based-models-comparison-and-integration

Principal Investigator:
Nigel Gilbert

Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People

Minding the Knowledge Gap

Dates

Start date: 1 February 2013
End date: 31 January 2015

Details

This series involves six themed seminars followed by a final conference, aimed at exploring gaps in knowledge and research about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Ageing. The series will identify ways to address those gaps. Seminars are planned on the following topics: Older Bisexual Lives; Intergenerational Issues; Trans Ageing; Race, Ethnicity and Religion; Retirement, Resources and Social Networks; Health and Social Care. Each seminar involves a combination of invited speakers and facilitated work groups. The series will bring together academics, policy-makers, service providers, third-sector organisations, LGBT activists and advocacy groups and older LGBT people themselves.

ESRC

http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/ES.J022454.1/read

Primary Investigator: Dr A King

Policing Private Lives

Dates

Start date: 1 September 2010
End date: 31 August 2011

Summary

Issues of ‘privacy’ present challenges for contemporary policing. Police powers, set out in statute and codes of practice, are wide in scope. The potentially intrusive nature of police powers is regularly debated by the media and raised by organisations concerned with protecting privacy. There is, however, a dearth of research evidence regarding how the use of police powers is informed by concerns with privacy. This research seeks to provide an empirical account of how officers negotiate the balance between the duty to prevent and detect crime with the respect for private life required by the Human Rights Act (1998). The research consists of semi-structured, qualitative interviews with a sample of police officers and support/civilian staff in one police service in England and Wales. The aim is to offer a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which police practices both challenge and enhance privacy and the implications for contemporary society.

Funding

British Academy

Details

Investigators:
Karen Bullock -  k.bullock@surrey.ac.uk
Paul Johnson -  p.johnson@surrey.ac.uk

Putting Policy into Practice (PPIP) Project: Improving Services for Older LGB People in Tower Hamlets, London and Beyond

Dates

Start date: 1 November 2010
End date: 31 October 2011

Summary

The aim of this knowledge transfer follow-on project is to enable the findings of earlier research (2008) conducted by the applicants for Tower Hamlets Borough Council to further influence policy initiatives and practices that will improve the services used by older (fifty years of age and over) lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) residents within the borough and beyond. It will disseminate the recommendations of the report and lessons learned from the initial study will be shared with a wider audience of academics and practitioners to encourage further research, policy initiatives and knowledge transfer.

Funding

ESRC Knowledge Transfer Fund/Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Details

Investigators:
Dr Andrew King (PI), Kingston University
Dr Ann Cronin (CI), Surrey University

QUIC: Qualitative Innovations in CAQDAS - Research Node

Dates

Start date: 1 September 2008
End date: 1 September 2011

Summary

The QUIC Research Node is a Node of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods. The Node will continue to deliver its highly-regarded Training and Capacity Building programme in qualitative software, but will also explore three new breaking developments. The first concerns the support that CAQDAS offers to bring together qualitative and quantitative data in mixed method research designs. The second relates to multi-stream visual data. Social science increasingly uses visual data, and a new technology called the 'Access Grid' allows people at many locations to participate in 'virtual fieldwork' or teaching sessions convened by a host site. The Node will document how to analyse AG multi-stream visual data using CAQDAS, and deliver training via AG. The third development concerns a technology many drivers have encountered, the GPS navigating system. We designed a tool to do crime and disorder audits in neighbourhoods and now plan to add GPS to it, enriching its qualitative output. Also, developers are now providing Google Earth utilities in CAQDAS software. Putting these things together will enable users to add a spatial dimension to their analyses of qualitative data. The Node will explore the three new areas in relation to one broad topic: environmental risk. Two will be tested in mini-research projects concerning social factors in response to natural environmental risk arising from climate change, and the third in social environmental risk arising from crime/disorder. We will derive exemplars, teaching data sets, and self-learning materials from each mini-research project and transfer these to our Training and Capacity Building programme.

Funding

ESRC National Centre for Research Methods

Details

Nigel Fielding- Node Director
Jane Fielding - Node Co-Director
Ray Lee (Royal Holloway, University of London) –Node Co-Director
Ann Lewins - TCB Research Fellow
Christina Silver - TCB Research Fellow
Thomas Koenig - MICS Research Fellow
Graham Hughes - MICS Research Fellow
Zoe Tenger - Administrator

Investigators

RESOLVE (Lifestyle Values and Energy Consumption)

Dates

Start date: 1 May 2006
End date: 31 May 2011

Summary

RESOLVE is a novel, cross-disciplinary research collaboration between four separate groups in the University of Surrey: the Centre for Environmental Strategy, the Environmental Psychology Research Group, the Surrey Energy Economics Centre and the Department of Sociology.

The overall aim of RESOLVE is to develop a robust understanding of the links between lifestyle, societal values and environment. In particular, RESOLVE works to provide robust, evidence-based advice to policy-makers in the UK and elsewhere who are seeking to understand and to influence the behaviours and practices of ‘energy consumers’.

Funding

ESRC

Details

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/resolve/

Investigator

Simulation Innovation: a Node (SIMIAN)

Dates

Start date: 1 August 2008
End date: 31 August 2011

Summary

Social simulation is a new method for the social sciences that combines some of the advantages of statistics and qualitative research. The SIMIAN project aims to develop expertise in simulation within UK social science.

The project involves three "demonstrator" simulations chosen to address important social science challenges:

1.Repeated Interaction: Where many theories exist across the social sciences, how can simulation be used to integrate and compare them so that social science as a whole can progress?
2.Novelty: How can simulation develop theories in which meanings and capabilities of objects are not "given" but change and develop in use.
3.Norms: Different social sciences understand and measure norms in different ways. How can these understandings be integrated to produce effective theories?
These three demonstrators will form the basis for a range of training and capacity building activities:
1.Taster courses to show what simulation can do.
2.Build-a-model courses to show how to create a first working simulation.
3.Specialised courses to train advanced users in specific topics.
In addition, there will be presentations at conferences and workshops, fellowships to encourage collaboration between users and academics, and international exchange visits.

Funding

ESRC. This project is funded as an ESRC Research Methods Node

Details

Nigel Gilbert, Corinna Elsenbrioch, Christopher Watts, Lu Yang

http://www.simian.ac.uk

Investigators

SomnIA: Optimising Quality of Sleep Among Older People in the Community and Care Homes: An integrated approach

Dates

Start date: 1 December 2006
End date: 3 May 2011

Summary

This Collaborative Research Project (CRP) addresses practice and policy relevant issues arising from the nature, impact and management of the sleep-wake balance in later life. It will extend and 'join up' strategically targeted areas of sleep research relevant to understanding and improving autonomy, active ageing, and quality of later life.

The interdisciplinary research team comprises partners from six disciplines and four institutions - sociology (Surrey), psychology (Loughborough), neuroendocrinology (Surrey), engineering (Bath), nursing (Surrey) and medicine (Kings College London), together with consultants in health economics, medical statistics and clinical psychology.

This collaborative research project is also working closely with five project partners: Philips Lighting, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Healthtalkonline (formerly DIPEx), Help the Aged, and The Relatives and Residents Association. Each is providing advice, access to research settings and products, and dissemination regarding one or more Work Package.

Funding

This project is funded by the cross-council New Dynamics of Ageing initiative, a multidisciplinary research programme supported by AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC and MRC.

Details

http://www.somnia.surrey.ac.uk

Investigators

Student parents and higher education: a cross-national comparison

Dates

Start date: 1 November 2010
End date: 31 October 2011

Details

During its time in office, the UK’s Labour government gave a strong message that having caring responsibilities for a young child should not be seen as a barrier to engaging in education and training. Nevertheless, despite this policy focus, there have been relatively few studies of the experiences of ‘student parents’ within higher education. This project explored the ways in which such students make a decision to embark upon a degree, their experiences during their time at university and the ways in which they are affected by institutional policies and practices. Moreover, by comparing the experiences of student parents in two European countries with considerably different higher education systems and ‘welfare regimes’ (the UK and Denmark), it highlighted the influence of the wider social and political environment.

Funder

Nuffield Foundation

Investigator

Rachel Brooks

Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group

Dates

Start date: 1 March 2010
End date: 31 August 2013

Summary

The Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group (SLRG) is a DEFRA and ESRC funded research group with a group of universities across the UK and led by Surrey. A range of studies will be conducted among which a 3 year in depth qualitative study which will explore the opportunities and constraints for sustainable lifestyle changes during two life course transitions - having a first child and retiring. The study will involve around 80 participants in four locations in the UK. Participants will be surveyed at the start and end of the study and be interviewed in depth on three occasions.  

Funding

ESRC, Defra, Scottish Government

Details

Investigators:
Tim Jackson (PI) Centre for Environmental Strategy), Birgitta Gatersleben (Psychology), Kate Burningham (Sociology/CES)

TELL ME

Dates

Start date: 1 January 2012
End date: 31 December 2014

Details

TELL ME will establish an integrated research project involving experts in social and behavioural sciences, communication and media, health professionals at various levels and specialties and representatives of civil society organisations to develop an evidence-based behavioural and communication package to respond to major epidemic outbreaks, notably flu pandemics. The main outcomes of TELL ME will be an Integrated Communication Kit for Outbreak Communication and simulation software to assess alternative communication strategies.

FP7 European Commission

http://www.tellmeproject.eu/

Primary Investigator: Prof N. Gilbert

The Aesthetic Value of Commercial Arts and Culture

Dates

Start date: 1 April 2014
End date: 30 June 2014

Funding

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Details

This project explores the cultural and aesthetic value of commercial culture and arts, focusing on six main areas of contemporary popular culture: film, television, popular music, video gaming, popular literature and comedy. Aesthetic and cultural value are of great importance. In our daily live we constantly make decisions about which forms of culture, art and entertainment we engage with; what texts, works and genres we enjoy, and which ones we value. The vast majority of these are commercial produced. Scholars of many disciplines across arts and humanities, in turn, are tasked to assess the relative worth of different works and objects of art and culture. Yet, methods to evaluate, let alone quantify, cultural value have remained highly controversial, often either focusing solely on process of the production of arts and culture (artists, authors and industries) or conversely only studying uses of popular culture and arts by users alone. There are no objective criteria by which we can determine the aesthetic value of a given object, work or genre - and, as some sociological research has demonstrated, the cultural hierarchies that underpin many of our experiences of popular culture and arts reflect and sometimes legitimise existing hierarchies and inequalities in society. This project therefore seeks to understand aesthetic value not as something that is bound up with a given work of art or text, but that is located in the interaction between culture/art and recipient. Drawing on the notion of 'horizon of experience' the project explores to what extent texts and works in the six different fields of commercial popular culture studied in this project challenge audiences' previous experiences, preferences and expectations and facilities a 'horizontal change' that enriches and broadens previous experiences. This study of intrinsic cultural value in the reception of popular commercial art and culture is supplement by the study of extrinsic social value: the degree to which users, enthusiast and fans experience film, television, popular music, video gaming, popular literature and comedy as pleasurable and enjoyable, becoming an affective part of our identities, and contributing to our wider engagement with culture, arts and society.

We do so by employing two different methods from social science research: firstly, based on the analysis of past surveys, we will design and conduct a survey across the main fields of commercial popular culture and arts. This survey will reveal a number of characteristics about the audiences for different fields and genres in commercial arts and culture, including their age, sex and occupation, their values, cultural preferences, consumption patterns, and media usage. Secondly, on the basis of different groups identified in the survey we will select a total of 24 participants, four each from the fields of film, television, popular music, video gaming, popular literature and comedy, for in-depth follow-up interviews in which we explore the history of interviewees' enthusiasm and engagements, and the role that particular fields of popular commercial culture music plays in their everyday life and their sense of identity. Using both methods in parallel will allow us to achieve the following aims:

  • To identify how and under what circumstances commercial culture and arts enriches and broadens the experiences of users and readers.
  • To reveal significant variations in the degrees that different fields of commercial culture and arts enrich and broaden the experiences of users and readers.
  • To explore and document how commercial culture and value become important sources of enjoyment, well-being, belonging and wider participation in cultural life.
  • To develop and assess research strategies that successfully use a combination of surveying and interviewing methods which are particularly suited to cultural value in commercial arts and culture.

Principle Investigator

Cornel Sandvoss

Co- Investigator 

Paul Stoneman

Research Officer

Jessica Davies

The changing role of student union leadership and its impact on "the student experience"

Dates

Start date: 25 September 2012
End date: 31 December 2013

Details

The role of students’ unions has undergone significant change over recent years. In large part, this is due to wider changes in the higher education sector which have tended to emphasise the role of prospective students as active choosers within a marketplace and encourage higher education institutions (HEIs) to place more emphasis on student engagement and representation as a means of improving the quality of the learning experience. Students’ unions have come to assume an increasingly important place within this new landscape. Nevertheless, to date there has been little research on the role of student leadership within UK HEIs. The proposed research is intended to address this gap. It will address the following themes: (i) the nature of the student leadership role (focussing on the perceptions of both students and staff); (ii) the extent to which changes in the relationship between students’ leaders and senior managers within HEIs represent a genuine partnership; (iii) the impact of students’ unions on policy and practice within HEIs; and (iv) the social characteristics of students who assume leadership roles.

The Leadership Foundation For Higher Education

Primary Investigator: Prof R Brooks

The complexity science for the real world network

Dates

Start date: 13 June 2013
End date: 12 June 2014

Details

The Complexity Science in the Real World network brings together 4 projects at 5 Universities in 4 UK locations.  It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's Complexity Science in the Real World programme, helping Science, Social Science and Engineering to tackle global challenges.

EPSRC

http://www.csrw.ac.uk/

Primary Investigator: Prof N Gilbert

The Impact of Injuries Study

Dates

Start date: 1 April 2009
End date: 31 October 2013

Details

The multi-centre Impact of Injuries Study, led by the University of Nottingham, explores physical, psychological, social and occupational functioning following unintentional injury. The study comprises a longitudinal study of 680 patients admitted to hospital in four study centres across England (Nottingham, Leicester/Loughborough, Bristol and Surrey). A stratified sample of injuries will ensure a range of common and less common injuries is included. Participants are recruited in Emergency Departments, on hospital wards, in outpatient departments or by post following hospital discharge. They complete a baseline questionnaire about their injury and pre-injury quality of life and follow-up questionnaires at 1, 2, 4 and 12 months post injury. Measures include health and social care utilisation, perceptions of recovery, physical, psychological, social and occupational functioning and health-related quality of life. A nested qualitative study is exploring the experiences of a sample of patients, their carers and service providers to inform service design.  The University of Surrey researchers are leading on the analysis of the qualitative interviews with patients and carers.

Funding body: NHIR

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/clahrc/research/primarycare/impact-of-injuries

Primary Investigator: Dr S Earthy                                                                                  

Understanding Experiences of Hate Crime Victimisation and Expectations of Criminal Justice Responses

Dates

Start date: 10 September 2012
End date: 9 September 2014

Details

This two-year study will examine the experiences and expectations of those who are victimised because of their identity, vulnerability or perceived 'difference' in the eyes of the perpetrator. By exploring hate crime in a broader sense of 'targeted victimisation', the project aims to investigate the experiences of the more ‘recognised’ hate crime victim communities, including those who experience racist, religiously motivated, homophobic, disablist and transphobic victimisation, as well as those who are marginalised from existing hate crime scholarly and policy frameworks. The study will also investigate respondents’ perceptions of criminal justice agencies and other service providers in order to assess the needs of victims and to identify lessons for effective service delivery

ESRC

http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/criminology/research/current-projects/hate-crime

Primary Investigator: Dr N Chakraborti (University of Leicester)

Collaborative Investigator: Mr J Garland