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General information

The Oxford team is jointly organised and co-funded by the Department of Sociology and Nuffield College.

The Department of Sociology. Oxford has a long and distinguished history of sociological research. Some of the most well known and influential sociological studies in the UK, e.g. the Oxford Social Mobility Survey, the Social Change and Economic Life Initiative, the British Election Survey series, were led by Oxford Sociologists. The Department of Sociology was established in 1999 to provide a renewed focus for sociological research and teaching in the University. Currently, the department has 15 core academics in established posts (including four Official Fellows in Sociology of Nuffield College), about 15 research fellows, and 100 postgraduate students, working on a wide range of research topics.

Oxford Sociology has an international reputation for innovative and rigorous research that addresses real-world, policy-relevant issues. This is reflected in the fact that it has five Fellows of the British Academy in its rank, and in its success, given its size, in generating external research income. Oxford Sociology is best known for quantitative analysis of large-scale social survey data. But there is strength in other kinds of research as well, including ethnography, historical sociology, agent-based modelling, social network analysis and experimental social sciences. Currently, there are four main research clusters within the Department of Sociology.

• Social Stratification: The Oxford Network for Social Inequality Research investigates various aspects of social stratification in contemporary societies. There are ongoing projects examining, among other things, social mobility across generations, the closing of gender gap in educational attainment, ethnic educational inequalities, ethno-religious diversity and social trust, and the social stratification of cultural consumption.
• Political Sociology: The Centre for Research into Elections and Social Trends specializes in the quantitative analysis of social attitudes and voting behaviour. The Department also has expertise in other areas, including national identity, ethnicity, social movements, and violent extremists.
• Sociology of gender, family and households: The Centre for Time Use Research manages the two largest data sets in the world on how people spend their time and analyzes the dimension of time in social life, addressing questions such as the domestic divition of labour, decision-making and bargaining within marriage, inequalities within households, work-life balance, single motherhood, and mate selection.
• Economic and Organisational Sociology: The Extra-legal Governance Institute studies the ways in which economic and social activity may be governed by institutions and structures that are outside the state. Current projects include studies of cross-border criminal groups, terrorism and suicide missions, and signalling and trust.

Nuffield College is the specialist social science college of the University of Oxford, founded in 1937. It has particular strengths in Economics, Politics and Sociology. The College has a strong tradition of quantitative social science, making extensive use of large-scale data sets (both cross-sectional and longitudinal).

The College has a commitment to meeting the Founder’s aim of bringing academics and non-academics together to solve social, economic and political problems. It has a wide range of Visiting Fellows who occupy core institutional roles in politics, the civil service, the media, business and trade unionism. Its Fellows have been active in providing advice to external bodies at both national and European level including the Office of National Statistics, the Cabinet Office, Parliamentary Commissions of Enquiry, DG Employment and DG Research.

Overall, the College has 35 permanent Fellows, 28 Research Fellows and 17 Visiting Fellows. A number of the Fellows hold University posts, including four Professors of Economics, a Professor of Sociology, the Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government, the John M Olin Visiting Professor in American Government, the Nuffield Professor of Comparative European Politics and the Professor of Economic History. The College plays an active role in postgraduate social science training. It has a total student body of around 90, of whom about 35 are resident in College. The size and specialised nature of the College enable students to work closely with each other and faculty members in a stimulating and research-orientated environment.

Individual members of the Nuffield team have coordinated comparative projects which bring together institutes and researchers from EU countries. Duncan Gallie coordinated both the Employment Precarity, Unemployment and Social Exclusion Network (EPUSE) and the Unemployment, Work and Welfare Cluster (UWWCLUS). EPUSE was an interdisciplinary EU research programme which comprises leading institutes and researchers from eight EU countries. UWWCLUS was an EU funded project which brought together researchers in economics, sociology and social policy from eighteen different European countries. John Goldthorpe coordinated (with Walter Müller) the Comparative Analysis of Social Mobility in Industrial Nations (CASMIN) Project. Richard Breen coordinated an international project, ‘National Patterns of Social Mobility : Divergence or Convergence?’, comparing intergenerational social mobility in twelve countries over the period 1970-2000. Geoffrey Evans has directed major surveys in Eastern Europe designed to study the implications of the transition from communism to post-communism. Academies of Science in the whole range of Eastern European countries have collaborated in the project, which is funded by both ESRC and the EU. Anthony Heath has coordinated an international network, ‘Ethnic Minority Disadvantage in the Labour Market: Cross-National Perspectives’, including researchers drawn from Europe, the Middle East, Australia, South Africa, Canada and the USA.