Sophie Woodward

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Personal profile


I research material culture, everyday life and consumption using a range of creative research methods. I have a particular interest in the materiality of everyday life (having researched clothing, fashion and unused objects in the home), and also feminist theory (in recent research on birth and death). 

I have an interdisciplinary background - having studied Archaeology and Anthropology for a BA at the University of Cambridge, Research Methods for an MA at the University of York, and Social Anthropology (Material Culture) for a PhD at University College London. I have worked in various Art and Design schools, before moving to Sociology at the University of Manchester in 2009. This background leads me to creatively draw upon methods, theories and approaches from a range of disciplines to think critically and sociologically about everyday life and material relationships. 

I am Co-Director of the Morgan Centre into everyday lives where I use theories of personal life and everyday relationships to think through how people relate to things/objects and how relations to each other are mediated through things.  My ongoing research is into Dormant Things (things people keep but are no longer using) which I am currently writing up. I have recently published 2 books:

Woodward, S. 2019 Material Methods: researching and thinking with things (London: Sage). 

Woodward, K and Woodward, S. 2019 Birth and Death: experience, ethics, politics (London: Routledge). 

In addition to my research activities and teaching, I am also Co-Investigator for NCRM (the ESRC funded National Centre for Reserach Methods) leading on creative methods. Activities include creating a series of In Conversation events on material methods

Other research

Current Research Projects

My research falls within 3 interconnected areas; material culture and everyday life, creative methods(particularly related to how we understand the material) and feminist theories.

My interest in material culture and everyday life has been developed through an ethnography into women's wardrobes and subsequent research into denim with Daniel Miller (see the Global Denim Project for details). This includes an ethnographic project into jeans wearing in London into how wearing jeans is part of a desire and struggle for ordinariness. I am currently carrying out research into ‘dormant things’ in domestic spaces (such as things in cupboards, attics). The project aims to explore the vitalities and relationalities of things that are not currently being used. It does this by developing methods which foreground the things themselves in a kind of ‘socio-archaeological’ approach (see the project website

This develops my interest in ‘material methods’, which I have recently written a book on (Material methods: researching and thinking with things for Sage). I have previously carried out an exploratory interdisciplinary collaboration, with the school of materials, which developed methodologies for understanding materiality through the example of old, denim jeans. I am developing a series of In Conversation videos on material methods with the NCRM - see the first video which sets the series up.  

My work in feminist theory engages with the connections and disruptions between theory, methods and everyday life; this has been explored through an intergenerational dialogue (with Kath Woodward) as a means to challenge generational bound wave models of feminist thinking as evident in a recent book  on Birth and Death: experience, ethics, politics with Routledge. 

Recent publications

I have 2 recently published books: 
Woodward, S. 2019 Material Methods: researching and thinking with things. London: Sage
Woodward, K and Woodwardm S. 2020. Birth and Death: experience, ethics, politics. London: Routledge. 

Research interests

  • Materiality and material culture 
  • Feminism and feminist theory
  • Clothing and fashion
  • Consumption
  • The everyday and ordinary
  • Creative qualitative research methods (especially ethnographic)


I welcome PhD applicants in the following areas:

• Materiality, material culture; clothing and fashion; consumption

• Feminist theory and methodologies; gender performances. 

•creative qualitative and interdisciplinary methods and approaches

Current PhD students:

Alexus Davis - Birth expectations amongst Australian Aboriginal Women

Mariana Dias - Homemaking, material culture and belonging for Portuguese women in the UK


  • Neta Yodovich - Does that make me a bad feminist? Feminism and female fandom. 
  • Jessica Mancuso - Sapphic Space Scarcity: lesbian women's spaces in Manchester
  • Maisie Tomlinson: Critical anthropo-morphisms and Multi-species ehtnography.
  • Matko Krce-Ivancic - Gendering Individuals: women and the trnasition to neo-liberalism in Croatia
  • Deborah Giustini -Towards a Sociology of Interpreting
  • Irmak Hazir - ‘Culture Consumption and Lifestyle: The Case of Turkish Middle Class’ Awarded 2013.
  • Naomi Braithwaite - ‘A Study of Material Agency, Independent Shoe Designers’. Awarded 2012
  • Sabine Hielscher (EPSRC funded), ‘Routine Hair Care Practices and Design Responsibility’. Awarded 2010.

Other teaching information

SOCY20061 Sociology of Fashion

SOCY30192 Material Culture; social lives of things

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 5 - Gender Equality

Areas of expertise

  • HM Sociology
  • Materiality
  • Material culture
  • fashion
  • feminism
  • Gender
  • consumption
  • creative methods

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester
  • Healthier Futures


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