About us

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

Our researchers worked 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 assumed a reflexive approach to how methods actively shape our research on the multi-dimensional aspects of social and cultural change. 

What did CRESC do?

After ten years of ESRC core funding ended in 2014, The University of Manchester and The Open University supported CRESC activity for three years of transition which came to an end in August 2017.

The details of projects undertaken by CRSEC 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 offers 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 drew on the expertise of leading sociologists, historians, anthropologists, museologists, business analysts, geographers and cultural and media studies researchers.

We used 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 methodological strengths

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

We had 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 pooled 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. 

Related links