Jennifer Mason

Jennifer Mason, FBA


Personal profile

Research interests

Jennifer’s research involves asking questions about ‘relatedness’, affinities, and connectedness in everyday personal lives. She has an enduring interest in kinship in particular, as well as other forms of relationship and association.  In her more recent work she has been developing her interests in ecological sociology and 'socio-atmospherics', exploring connections between human and non-human worlds, including her recent study of how people 'live the weather' and seasons in and around the Calder Valley in the Yorkshire Pennines.  That project resulted in a book of prose and poetry by Jennifer's 'weather correspondents', and a documentary film. As an indication of the range of her interests, other recent projects (all conducted collaboratively with colleagues in the Morgan Centre) have included a study of family resemblances; a study of 'critical associations' (including positive and more 'toxic' forms of friendship and association); and a study of the way children create kinship with others. Her book 'Affinities: Personal Connections in Personal Life', is published by Polity, 2018.

Throughout Jennifer’s research career, she has also cultivated a very strong interest in the methodologies that social scientists can use to explore these kinds of questions and generally to generate meaningful knowledge of lived realities. This has broadened into an interest in methodology and epistemology more generally.  She is particularly interested in qualitative, creative and mixed method approaches, in 'Facet Methodology' (an approached developed by the 'Realities' ESRC NCRM team) and in the challenge for social scientists of creating vibrant and resonant knowledge that lives up to the richness and vitality of real life experience, yet which is also robust and rigorous. The third edition of her bestselling book Qualitative Researching, is published by Sage, 2018.

Recent Projects


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Jennifer joined the University of Manchester in 2005 and (together with Professor Carol Smart) was founding Co-Director of the Morgan Centre, a role which she continued for 10 years until 2015.  Prior to joining Manchester, Jennifer was Reader in Sociology at the University of Leeds.  She began her lecturing career in the Department of Applied Social Science at Lancaster University, having gained her PhD from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and her first degree in Sociology from the University of Southampton.  

Amongst other research leadership activities (see the Research tab for details), Jennifer has directed two 'Nodes' of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods - 'Realities' (2008-2011), and 'Real Life Methods' (2005-2008).

Her professional activities include having been Vice Chair of the ESRC Research Committee and Chair of the ESRC Grants Delivery Group from 2012-2015, and a member of the ESRC Research Resources Board from 2001-2005.

Jennifer was elected Fellow of the British Academy in July 2019




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 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Creative Manchester


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