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Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change

University Place at the University of Manchester

About us

The Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) is a joint initiative between The University of Manchester and The Open University.

Our researchers work across disciplinary boundaries drawing together approaches from the social sciences and the humanities more generally.

Committed to exploring new methods and to engaging critically with existing methods – we also assume a reflexive approach to how methods actively shape our research on the multi-dimensional aspects of social and cultural change. 

What does CRESC do?

After ten year's of ESRC core funding ended in 2014, The University of Manchester and The Open University are now supporting CRESC activity for three years of transition.

Many projects are working towards the finalisation of results, while others are re-shaping around new partnerships and funding opportunities. The details of the projects are listed under our six core themes:

Our general approach remains relevant. Our work is still grounded in the critical analysis of chronic and dramatic, socio-cultural turbulence.

CRESC research continues to offer interdisciplinary analyses of social and cultural change using state of the art research methods to challenge contemporary myths and offer empirically grounded accounts of change in specific key areas.

Our research on cultural participation, on the challenge of the digital and the technological, on financialization, on the foundational economy and urban infrastructures, and on the media and transnationalism engages both academic and policy debates.

Our expertise

We draw on the expertise of leading sociologists, historians, anthropologists, museologists, business analysts, geographers and cultural and media studies researchers.

We use rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the extent, direction, and dynamics of socio-cultural change over recent decades, not only in the UK, but globally.

See also the CRESC’s document library containing working papers and publications 

Our events and activities

From 2014-17 we will continue to hold an annual lecture, and each of our core themes will also host at least one event a year.

We continue to explore new collaborations with public and private sector partners. Our working paper series will continue, as will the Routledge book series ‘Culture, Economy and the Social’, and the Journal of Cultural Economy – both of which were initially launched as CRESC collaborations.

These activities build on the legacy of our annual conferences and earlier events which attracted hundreds of participants from all over the world.

New collaborations are important because our research has proven relevance to users working inside the cultural and media sector, in numerous government departments, and in the private sector.

Our methodological strengths

We pull together strengths in both quantitative methods (including longitudinal survey analysis) and qualitative research (in ethnography, in-depth interviewing, and visual analysis).

We have particular interests in developing methods for addressing the challenge of digital data, in finding ways of effectively linking different research methods, and in exploring the significance of visual methods.

We pool our collective interests in a cross cutting theme on the Social Life of Methods, which examines how social science methods can themselves become agents of change.


Past and present partners include the Department of Culture, Media and Sport; the British Film Institute; the Office of National Statistics; the BBC; KPMG; the Equality and Human Rights Commission; ARUP engineers; the Olympic Park Legacy Company, Enfield Borough Council, The Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority. 

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