Personal profile

Biography

I joined the University of Manchester in 2000 directly from Lancaster University where I had completed my PhD on consumption, identity and social differentiation. My first post at Manchester was a Research Fellow at the ESRC Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition and, since 2006 I have been a member of the Sociology Department.

My research is conducted in collaboration with a wide range of research groups at Manchester, particularly the Morgan Centre, the Manchester Institute for Innovation Research (MIoIR), and the Sustainable Consumption Institute. Additionally, I work with a number of groups outside of Manchester, including the DEMAND Centre at Lancaster University, the Centre for Time Use Research at Oxford University, and with the European Sociological Association Research Network on Consumption.

The core focus of my research is the study of consumption and its significance in processes of societal change, with contributions made to a number of critical debates. (1) The significance of consumption in mediating senses of identity was central to my earlier work, with a particular focus on sociality, senses of community and belonging, and social distinction. (2) I have led on a number of research projects that explore the changing contemporary home, domestic spaces and technologies, with a particular interest in the relationship between materiality, inter-personal relationships and everyday practices. (3) A further focal area of my work has been the changing temporal organization of daily life, developing theories focused on the coordination of daily lives – of people and of social practices. (4) A further feature of my work has been comparative analysis, examining the changing patterns of consumption across European and North American societies.

While these four critical debates remain important areas of research, much of my recent focus has been on sustainable consumption. Here, my work has explored the synergies and tensions between different disciplinary-based theoretical understandings and applications of consumption; developed critiques of ‘consumer behavior’ in policy framings of sustainability; extended a focus on food consumption as a critical substantive challenge for sustainability; and has begun to develop new theoretical lenses for understanding processes of social change with respect to the relationships between production and consumption. 

An important part of my work is engaging with public debate and policy, which I have done through contributions to the IPCC Special Report Scoping panel, the UK Committee on Climate Change, DEFRA, the Scottish Government, and through a range of engagements with businesses. I have also served on a number of research grant assessment panels, including the ESRC, EPSRC, Formas, Mistra and the Danish Research Council. 

I have been Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute since 2013, and was Director of the ESRC Sustainable Practices Research Group between 2010-14. Additionally, I am Visiting Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of Copenhagen, and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2018.

Research interests

 
My broad interests concern theories and processes of social change and its implications for the ordering of daily life. This leads to more specialised interests in:
  • Consumption and everyday life. 
  • Theories of practice.
  • Climate change and sustainability.
  • Time and the temporal ordering of daily life.
  • Social relations and differentiation.
  • Socio-technical systems and innovation processes.
  • Comparative analysis (over time and space).
I would be interested in supervising PhD students or mentoring Post-Doctoral Fellows in research areas related to these topics. 

Current research projects

  • Southerton, D (PI), McMeekin, A., Evans, D. ‘Eco-Innovation and Consumer Behaviour’, research grant under the ESRC Co-Investment Pilot, £377,000 (2012-2014).
  • Southerton, D (PI), McMeekin, A., Harvey, M., Shove, E., Walker, G., & Warde, A.,  ‘Sustainable Practices Research Group’, co-funded by the ESRC, DEFRA & the Scottish Government, £1.65 million (2010-2014).
  • Southerton, D (PI), Beattie, G., Warde, A., & Wossink, A. ‘Modelling Consumer Behaviour’, research grant funded by the Sustainable Consumption Institute, £1 million (2009-2013).

Opportunities

Supervision areas

I would be happy to supervise PhD students in any areas related to my research and teaching interests, particularly:

  • The Sociology of consumption
  • Everyday life and the domestic sphere
  • The study of time and temporalities
  • The sociology of technology and innovation
  • Social networks and community
  • Identity-formation and belonging
  • Social stratification and socio-cultural change
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Comparative research

 

Other research

Current Phd students

  • Josh Richards (privacy and consumer culture)
  • Jennifer Drury (the shifting temporal boundaries of daily life)
  • Zhang Chao (cultural production and consumption in Shanghai)
  • Khaleeq Anjum (lifestyle and consumption in Lahore)
  • Luke Yates (protest, boycotts and consumer culture)
  • Dan Welch (ethical consumption and sustainability)
  • Phillip Brooker (inter-disciplinary technologies of methodology)

Further information

I am available to discuss with the media any aspects of my research, especially in relation to consumption, consumer culture, time, sustainability, and socio-cultural change. Previous media experiences includes 6 national television interviews/features, 18 radio interviews, and 11 UK newspaper article coverage.

For more information visit Dale's Morgan Centre webpages.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute

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