Political sociology

The Political Sociology Research Group acts as a fulcrum for those members of POLSIS and the College of Social Sciences more broadly who wish to interrogate the intersections of state and society and the power relations involved.

The research group was established in 1995 and, since then, has played host to the large and vibrant community of political sociology scholars at the University of Birmingham.

The group holds regular events throughout the year, including workshops, symposiums, reading groups and guest seminars. In addition to these activities, the group also offers a forum for members to present their work in an informal and constructive atmosphere as part of our working paper series. 

The Political Sociology Research Group has a long track record of producing high-quality postgraduate research. This is something we wish to maintain and, as such, we are especially keen to continue and increase our recruitment of postgraduate students by supporting new research initiatives in the broad area of Political Sociology.

Prospective PhD students interested in any aspect of Political Sociology are encouraged to contact the POLSIS Doctoral Research Administrator, Tricia Carr, in the first instance (p.a.carr@bham.ac.uk).

Current research projects

Depoliticisation, Governance and the State (2012 - ongoing)
The purposes of this project are to interrogate how contemporary patterns of governance affect and are affected by politicizing and depoliticizing strategies in different political realms. Outputs thus far include three articles in a special issue of Policy and Politics that will also be published in an edited collection published by Policy Press.

New advocates of social justice? Challenger actors during the crisis
The objective of this project is to map and explain the patterns and effects of protest and opposition during the global economic crisis. It will provide important original insights into the ideas, motives, frames of understanding, and experiences of ‘challenger actors’ during this period.

Power and International Development
In collaboration with the Developmental Leadership Programme, this project has two key aims: first, to produce a critical survey of how power is used in existing international development work; and, secondly, to suggest a better conceptual typology/framework for how to think about and analyse power in developing countries for use by practitioners and policymakers


Dr David Bailey

David Bailey is Lecturer in Political Science and has research interests in European Union politics; comparative European politics; and critical approaches to the state, representative democracy, and capitalism.

Dr Stephen Bates

Stephen Bates is Lecturer in Political Science and is Director of the Political Sociology Research Group. His research interests are in political change; public engagement; the political and social aspects of biotechnology; and philosophy of the social sciences.

Professor Peter Burnham


Dr Emma Foster


Dr Laura Jenkins


Dr Peter Kerr

Peter Kerr is a Lecturer in Political Science and has research interests in state theory; theories of social and political change; and party politics, political leadership and processes of party modernisation in the UK.

Dr Nicola Smith 

Nicki Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science and has research interests in globalisation; prostitution and pornography; queer theory; masculinity; and the body.

PhD Research Students

Fran Amery
Abortion politics in the UK: Feminism, medicine and the state

Christopher Byrne
Transformation of the British labour party

Stephen Hetherington 
The rationales of cultural policy in the UK

Cherry Miller

Alex Oaten
The English Defence League: A postmodern political movement?

Peter Redford

Ken Searle 
Is gay queer?

Liam Stanley
The politics of the global financial crisis: Legitimating the 'age of austerity' in the UK

Sam Warner

For further information about the research group contact:
Stephen Bates: Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6264 Email: s.r.bates@bham.ac.uk.