The Department of Sociology, University College Cork is recognised internationally for the excellence of its research which has been independently evaluated through two university wide reviews which ranked the Department in the equivalent top 10-15% in Europe. The Department has been in existence since the 1960s and has established research strengths on the following themes
The Department has a long and established tradition of research within Political Sociology. Dr. J. P. (Paddy) O’Carroll’s oft-cited work on ‘Cute Hoors and Sneaking Regarders’ marks the early high point of a tradition which has continued most recently with the publication of Niamh Hourigan’s Rule-breakers: Why ‘being there’ trumps ‘being fair’ in Ireland (Gill and Macmillan, 2015). The research of Prof. Arpad Szakolczai is also recognised as having made an important international contribution to Political Sociology through a range of monographs published by Routledge and Cambridge University Press as well as the forthcoming A Political Sociology and Anthropology of Evil: Tricksterology (2019, with Agnes Horvath)
International Political Anthropology
The Department has a strong tradition of theoretical research as well, with is combined with an anthropological orientation. It has connections both to International Political Anthropology and the Irish Journal of Anthropology, extending especially to political sociology and cultural sociology. It includes a whole series of recent and forthcoming publications by Arpad Szakolczai, like Comedy and the Public Sphere (2013), Novels and the Sociology of the Contemporary (2016), Permanent Liminality and Modernity (2017), Walking into the Void (2018, with Agnes Horvath) as well as other books published in a new Routledge series edited by him, several by our former PhD students.
The Department has a long-standing tradition of research excellence in such areas as critical social theory, democratic theory, collective learning, human rights, distributive, social, political and climate justice. The focus on the theory of society in this tradition is associated with a methodological programme addressing issues in the public sphere and hence has an active research component. Critical theory, initiated in the department of Sociology by Piet Strydom in the 1970s, has by now a relatively long tradition there, continuing in a vibrant manner today. Research activities related to Dr. Patrick O’Mahony and Dr. Tracey Skillington’s contribution to this field and have taken the form of a series of research projects and cooperation in networks over the last number of decades. Concrete recent outputs in published form include The Contemporary Theory of the Public Sphere (O’Mahony, 2013) and Climate Justice and Human Rights (?) (Skillington, 2015).
Feminist sociology complements the Department’s research profile in that it cross-cuts all areas of sociological research and offers innovative epistemological and methodological contributions to the discipline as a whole. Feminist sociological research sheds light on previously neglected aspects of social life and highlights social problems and trends that were once ignored or marginalised in sociology like reproductive rights, gender-based violence, and the gendered division of labour. It also provides a lens to better analyse key sociological subjects like the family, community, crime and deviance, globalisation, social movements,
work and education. At the heart of feminist sociology is a long-standing commitment to egalitarian social change and a desire to unite theory with practice, or feminist praxis. As such it offers important insights for developing a public sociology, an approach clearly embraced by Department, wherein research is conducted for and with civil society. Feminist praxis is a central feature of Dr. Theresa O’Keefe’s scholarly work through her use of feminist ethnography and participatory action research to examine topics such as feminist organising in conflict zones, gendered state violence, the precarisation of academic work, and feminist protest.
Within the discipline of Criminology, Terrorism research in increasingly more visible given both the significant empirical work being conducted in the field but also due to the recognition that criminological theory has a relevance for the analysis of political violence. Within the discipline of criminology here at UCC there are a range of research interests amongst staff but political violence is a central theme in our research agenda. Staff are active researchers in this area and are currently working on projects that examine the crime terror nexus, the role of trauma in reciprocal violence, the impact of political violence on victims and the concept of the victim perpetrator. Dr Orla Lynch is currently involved in research that examines the impact of terrorism on children, particularly children who have been used as child soldiers in conflict zones. In addition, Dr Carmel Joyce is researching the role of the Irish Diaspora in North American in the support for dissident Irish republicanism. There are also a number of PhD students actively involved in researching this area who are conducting projects on topics such as' the Disappeared' in Northern Ireland and the "conceptualisation of terrorism as hate crime".
Science, Technology and Health
The Department has a strong research interest in the areas of science, technology and health. Lecturers in the Dept. actively teach and research medical sociology at all levels of the programme, from undergraduate through to Ph.D. This research interest manifests itself in terms of work that we do on walking and health; the social causes of illness; the impacts of social media and new technologies; technology and climate change; the structure of the health system and patient-professional interactions; social networks, standards and professionalization; healthcare workers involvement in violent and destructive behaviours; and on cancer survivorship, amongst many others. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly technological in nature and increasingly medicalized as our ability to advance, control and alter ourselves through science and technology becomes more and more sophisticated; though at the same times our social and economic systems seem to generating more and more collateral health problems, and our health systems seem to be unable to cope. The work that we do is wide ranging and provides insight into a variety of these important social, medical and technological issues. To advance this research agenda the Dept. has a number of very positive collaborations with other Depts. in UCC such as Nursing and Public Health.
Sociology Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization
Dr. Kieran Keohane is a Co-PI on SPCC, an on-going international collaborative research project, running since 2009, with a programme of research symposia, international conferences and publications. SPCC researches symbolic disorders and socio-psychopathologies associated with experiences of anomie and liminality on health, well-being and human flourishing; http://socialpath.simplesite.com
Dr. James Windle is centrally involved in research on criminal drugs gangs and social control in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The is also a strong tradition of empirical and ethnographic research on organized crime. Niamh Hourigan’s ethnographic research on community violence, intimidation and organized crime which was published as part of the Understanding Limerick collection received a CACSSS Research Award in 2011.
Staff in the Department are also centrally involved in two research centres
Moral Foundations of Economy & Society: MFE&S, a collaboration between UCC and WIT, studies the manner in which the development of the modern global economy, driven by unlimited technological growth and an unbridled profit motive, irreparably damages the very tissue of social life; suggests ways to stop this process by re-ethicizing the social and moral fabric that is necessary in order to live a healthy, meaningful and ethical life; organizes courses, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, that promote an education oriented towards a responsible, meaningful, healthy and hopeful life. The Moral Foundations of Economy & Society Research Centre (www.moraleconomy.eu) in particular focuses on this by examining the unlimited technological growth of the contemporary era and aims to highlight ways in which we can ensure an ethical engagement with technology that protects the fabric of social life. Dr. James Cuffe is director of the Ethnographic and Human Centred Research Group www.ehcr.ie associated with the MFES centre. His work approaches the technological through anthropological and philosophical perspectives in order to investigate the spaces between technological knowledge and cultural understanding. His work aims to address global issues in social control and the social effects of technology at large. He is the General Editor of the Irish Journal of Anthropology (www.anthropologyireland.org) which is currently hosted by the department at UCC. http://www.moraleconomy.eu
Centre for Planning Education and Research (CPER)
William Brady is based in UCC’s Centre for Planning Education and Research [CPER]. The Department of Sociology was one of the founding partners in the establishment of the M.Plan [Masters in Planning and Sustainable Development] programme, now home to Ireland’s largest double-accredited planning school. The CPER is at the forefront of planning education and research with a strong national and international profile. Research efforts in the CPER are consistent with the profile and ethics of Sociology in UCC, with a strong core interest in the conceptual and applied aspects of sustainable development, with a particular interest in a range of societal, developmental and global issues. William’s research interests relate broadly to the patterns, forms and processes of social, physical and economic development of urban and metropolitan areas, the spatial and physical manifestations of the urban development process and the challenges associated with the use of the land-use planning system as a way of delivering and operationalising sustainable development.