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Research interests

My two main areas of research are utopianism and poverty and social exclusion.

My research interests in the first field cover the history of oppositional and utopian thought, the relationship between utopia and social theory, utopia as a method in the social sciences, utopia and music, and utopia, history, memory and place. These themes are reflected in The Concept of Utopia (1990/2010) and in my 2005 Inaugural Lecture 'The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society: or why sociologists and others should take Utopia seriously'. This work continues ‘Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society’, funded by the Leverhulme Trust for 2010-2012.

I have also written widely on contemporary political ideologies and discourses and on New Labour, poverty, inequality and social inclusion and exclusion. (See The Inclusive Society? Social Exclusion and New Labour, 1998/2005). Recent work on social exclusion in collaboration with colleagues in the School for Policy Studies has focused on conceptualisation and measurement. It includes the JRF-funded 1999 Poverty and Social Exclusion Survey (PSE) and the SEU-funded Multi-dimensional analysis of social exclusion (2007) which generated the Bristol Social Exclusion Matrix, or B-SEM. From 2010-2013 this work continues with ‘Poverty and Social Exclusion in Britain: the 2010 Survey’ funded by an ESRC Large Grant.

I am co-founder and immediate past Chair of the Utopian Studies Society – Europe. This is an interdisciplinary society that aims to co-ordinate and encourage the diverse work currently taking place on the subject of utopianism, and which holds an annual conference in Europe. For more information about USSE visit: www.utopianstudieseurope.org

I am Vice-Chair of the William Morris Society, a charity founded in London in 1955. Its principal purpose is to raise awareness of life and work of William Morris and his associates. It has branches in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, and organises lectures, conferences, tours, museum visits, and social gatherings, as well as undertaking an increasing amount of educational work in schools. For more information, go to www.morrissociety.org.


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