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UOA23 – Sociology

This is the first submission of the Sociology unit to the national research evaluation. It reflects a strategic focus on building a vibrant research culture to complement our teaching expertise. Two research groupings provide focus for current and emergent research activities.

First, the Security, Identity and Policy grouping connects the unit to the University’s internal multidisciplinary Security research theme and to external stakeholder networks, including the Scottish Police Service.  Second, the Social Theory and Critique grouping contributes to the University’s Society research theme through staff seminars, study group, and publication strategy with the aim of expanding the unit’s contribution to the theory base of sociology and underpinning multidisciplinary research.

In line with the University’s strategic goal to be ‘rooted in the community’, public impact has become an increasingly explicit part of the unit’s discussion on and formulation of research strategy. This has resulted in a relatively wide range of research impact and user engagement in public policy and the public sphere more generally.

The Sociology unit’s main non-academic user groups reflect research interests within the unit:

  • Policy Sociology, especially health, education, youth and environment – key impact on public policy, communities and professional practice
  • Criminal Justice – key impact on criminal justice stakeholders
  • Media, arts and cultural industries – key impact on digital design processes, media educationalists, artists and curator

Future Strategy

Looking forward, the central driver for the next five years will be to extend and improve the focus, quality and impact of research output within the Sociology unit. To realise this, the unit’s strategy for 2014-2019 aims to:

  • produce national and international recognised research which prioritises external impact
  • contribute productively to the work of R-LINCS research themes (; ; )

Exemplar case studies

Case Study 1: Countering the Culture of Fear

This case study of impact concerns research on ‘moral panics’ around children, young people, and football fans. Increasingly, the author has developed a national profile as a ‘public sociologist’ and has been invited to contribute to policy debates and processes related to this research. This has had an impact on practitioners and stakeholders in areas like community work, youth work and practices, and government committees.

Case study 2: Discourse and Communication in Public Life

The work in this Case Study details the impact of research on communication across different institutional areas of public life, including, health consultations and pedagogical discourse in higher education.  Specific impacts include influencing the way in which general practitioners in medicine are trained with respect to their discussions within medical consultations; and contributing to pedagogical debate and policy within the Higher Education sector, particularly in Scotland with respect to the discourse on graduate attributes.