Some information about me
I am a sociologist interested in social hierarchies, and how inequalities are wound through our personal ties and social connections. I have explored this from three angles in my work: using the patterning of social ties to map hierarchies; thinking about how social ties and interaction can help us to theorise hierarchy and inequality; and exploring how our web of social connections affects the visibility of inequality.
I have worked with members of the Cambridge Stratification Group (Bob Blackburn, Ken Prandy, Sandy Stewart and Paul Lambert) in developing social interaction scales of inequality, and have used these to measure historical social mobility and the reproduction of inequality in nineteenth century Britain.
I have also explored questions of social identity, reflexivity, and intersubjectivity, most recently in work examining the theories of Pierre Bourdieu.
I studied Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge, before completing my PhD at the University of Edinburgh. I taught at the University of Abertay, Dundee, worked as a Researcher on the Family History Project at Cambridge University, and then moved to a Lecturership at the University of Southampton. I have been at Manchester Sociology since January 2006.
As well as being a member of CRESC, I am also affiliated to the Morgan Centre for the Study of Relationships and Personal Life, and the Mitchell Centre for the Analysis of Social Networks.
My research interests centre on the social reproduction of inequality and the role of our social ties and connections in this process. I have three current projects exploring these issues in different ways:
- Social Ties: Sociology after the "End of the Social" (to be published with Palgrave)
- "Who do you think they were?" Exploring Family History
- Visible Inequalities
Social Ties: sociology after the ‘end of the social’
Is who we are shaped by who we know? Social Ties looks at how social connectedness shapes our behaviour, and forges our view of the world and our sense of self. Drawing on the relational and network ‘turn’ in social analysis, the book explores attempts to re-construct the ‘sociological imagination’ after the ‘deconstruction of the social’. The book introduces these debates, and critically explores frameworks for contemporary social theorising which rest on the concept of social ties and relationality.
'Who do you think they were?' Exploring Family History
- A qualitative study of family historians, the 'Who do you think they were?' project explores how people make sense of the occupational and status information they collect about their ancestors. This project looks at the visibility of inequality in everyday accounts of social life.
- The research examines how family historians form a sense of the social position of their ancestors, in the context of long-term social change which potentially destabilises the meaning of key markers (occupation, education or material possessions) of social position at different points in time. What social comparisons do family historians make to establish social location in their family tree at different time-points?
- A key theme to emerge from this research project is the varying visibility of inequality in everyday accounts of social life, depending on the sorts of social comparison that people undertake, as part of different cultural contexts and activities.
- My personal research agenda is to carry forward this theme of the visibility of inequality. What is the nature of everyday social comparison and how does it affect perceptions and understandings of inequality?
- Since inequality is an inherently relational concept, we must ask which social comparisons matter, both in establishing people’s sense of their relative position and in their perceptions of wider inequalities.
- When and how do people compare, and how such comparisons are affected by social change and affluence, the nature of people’s social contacts and networks, and the context of different kinds of social practices.
Wendy Bottero (2011), 'Placing people in the past: Family history and understandings of inequality', CRESC Working Paper 104.