Through Thick and Thin : On Public Sociology

Text of a talk given to the Michael Young Centenary Conference November 11 2015


As this event is taking place , by no coincidence, on Remembrance Day , it might be appropriate to start with a personal reminiscence.  I first met Michael Young (hereinafter referred to as MY) in 1963 when he came to Cambridge to give a talk to the Heretics Society, of which I was a member . The society was founded by Bertrand Russell when he was an undergraduate and its aim was to invite speakers who were mavericks or held views widely regarded as  heretical or merely eccentric.  We had someone from the Flat E arth Society , we had Colin Ward the anarchist town planner, D.W. Winnicott talking about psychoanalysis and Michael Young on Sociology. Sociology was not taught in Cambridge at that time,  indeed  apart from its stronghold at the London School of Economics   and   a few regional  outposts like Liverpool  and Keele , it was not taught anywhere much  before the late 1960’s. It was widely  regarded  in higher education circles as an intellectual upstart, a cuckoo in the nest of anthropology or philosophy, politics and economics,  not a proper academic discipline , and certainly not a fit  subject for study by young gentlemen who were being educated  to preside over the orderly decline of what was left of the British Empire and its Imperial economy.    I don’t recall much of MY’s talk but I do remember being inspired by his vision of sociology as a way , not just of understanding society   but of changing  it  for the better. Sociology for him, as it was for some of the early settlement sociologists, was about the struggle for social justice.  This was news from nowhere as far as  I was concerned as a first year student of anthropology  struggling to decode the algebra of African kinships systems and cross cousin marriage and grasp the evolutionary  foundations of human culture.

To remember Michael Young at 100 is not as simple  a task as  personal  reminiscence.  Legacy is a complicated and tricky business, often subject to   contestation and revision . In MY’s  case  there is the hard legacy- the institutions and organisations that he established , including the one that now bears his name. We can celebrate the many achievements of the Consumers Association, the University of the Third Age, the University of the Arts ,  The Open University, and  the development of the whole social enterprise culture which  bear the hall marks of his thinking and influence. Though, I have to say , the recent  move to close down seven of the OU’s   regional centres  and concentrate solely on  developing its on line services  would  have had MY turning in his grave.  I suspect he would  have supported its  academic staff in taking strike action, on the grounds that it is the most disadvantaged students, those who need the academic scaffolding and specialised face to face support , who will suffer most.

When it  comes to the soft legacy, his influence on social science, it is more difficult to arrive at a firm conclusion .  In his latter years  MY  was very concerned to secure his posterity , and he found in his  authorised biographer, Asa Briggs , if not a hagiographer, then at least a close friend who was predisposed to overlook some of the more difficult aspects of his personality and  big up his intellectual credentials and achievements.  In MY’s  Wikipedia entry,  the claim is made that ‘Family and Kinship in East London is ‘widely recognised by sociologists as being one of the most influential sociological studies  of the 20th century,i nspiring British sociology to take a new path  , away from social statistics and theoretical debate  and towards the close observation of everyday life. In the Guardian’s  tribute on   the 50th Anniversary of the study in 2007,  Madeleine Bunting  writes about how  “the voices they found described a world rich in social relationships, networks of dependence and mutual support that were central to the people’s resilience in facing the adversity of insecure and low paid employment.”  She also mentions how the study  was amongst the first to discover “social capital” and its role in shaping community life.

Jennifer Platt, the official historiographer of British Sociology takes a more sanguine view: The ICS tradition of research, she writes,  was  characterised  ‘by a mixture of fairly loose sampling and interviewing, was largely descriptive , sometimes impressionistic  with no formal hypothesis  and included some informal observation.  There is little overt use of multivariate analysis or statistic tests.The main burden of argument is carried by quotations from interviews.’

You can almost hear her academic lips curling in contempt for what she sees as the  amateur tradition of do- it-yourself ethnography,  whose originator was Henry  Mayhew   with its reliance on  ‘impressionistic’ and ‘anecdotal’ evidence, i.e. on participant observation and informant narratives.

Rethinking Family and Kinship in East London

My criticism of ‘Family and Kinship’  and the ICS approach to community studies is rather different : it is that the  concept of community  itself remained implicit and under theorised,  and  secondly that the ethnography was  perfunctory and yielded a rather thin, not a thick description. I will look at each issue in turn.

The historical significance of ‘Family and Kinship’, and why it became a best seller at the time  is down to two factors.  Its  genius loci was East London, a long established platform for state of the nation debates. And secondly  its novel approach to the   embourgeoisement thesis  whose testing – and ultimately demolition- was a central pre-occupation of British sociology  in the late 1950’s and 60’s  with its fixation on the impact of social mobility and the white hot  technological revolution on   the working classes. The mainstream studies  of Goldthorpe and Lockwood followed C Wright Mills  in focussing on  the emergence of the white collar  and affluent worker,  changes in  the social division of labour and  workplace culture and their effect in modernising  class  attitudes and values.  Young and Willmott shifted sociological attention  from the shop floor  to the relocation of working class communities from the inner city slum neighbourhood  to the suburb and even ex-urb as a result of post war reconstruction and re-housing policies . Their version of embourgeoisement  concentrated on the domestication / privatisation  of working  class life where the focus was on the home not the workplace or the street, on values of consumption rather than production,  a cultural shift which they associated with this geographical move.  And of course what this shift in perspective  highlighted was the pivotal role of women,  in particular the mother/daughter relation. Their work was the first, though not the last, to pinpoint the  shift from  concentrated matri-localism  to distributed but still matri-focal networks of mutual aid and social support as the main  pillar of working class community life.

Underpinning this perspective  was a theoretical framework for community studies which Ronald Frankenberg spelt out  in his book Communities in Britain. The book  was an attempt  to  codify  the approach of British social anthropology to  community studies as developed at Manchester , under the direction of Max Gluckman ; it  drew on the work of classical sociology and anthropology to construct  a system of  binary oppositions  for characterising   forms of sociality associated with  the transition to modernity:


Status                     Contract  (Maine)

Ascribed status     achieved status (Weber/Parsons)

Community            association (Tonnies)

Mechanical             Organic solidarity  (Durkheim)

Concentrated          Distributed network  (Granovetter)

This schema, familar to anyone who has taken Sociology 101, underlies much of the early work of ICS, though it is not made explicit. For Frankenberg these  are ideal types of sociality which exist empirically  in a variety of weak and strong combinations and have definite spatial correlations. The transition to a modern capitalist society  was for him a case of uneven and combined development  of these forms,  full of tension and contradiction, reversals and displacements .  ICS in contrast saw it as a simple transition, a one way ticket to ride  from Bethnal Green to Greenleigh,  emphasising the losses rather than the gains in the move, and en route, painting a perhaps too rosy picture of family life in Bethnal Green , and underwriting the popular stereotype of suburbia as an arid social desert: Greenleigh as a poor relation to Levittown and the American suburban dream.

Whatever view you take, the fact is that it is not the case  that MY and Co were a bunch of  a-theoretical  empiricists , only that they were more interested in trying to figure out what was happening on the ground than scoring theoretical points. It is  interesting in this regard to consult MY’s own library, which is still in place at 18 Victoria Park square where it is gathering dust and represents  the material, if not the symbolic  aspect of his intellectual legacy.   Like all libraries it is the way books are classified and grouped together, what  authors are  put where and next to whom, and who is left out  that gives us a clue as to the mental map of the collector, his or her enthusiasms and blind spots and how a  field  of intellectual endeavour is constructed. So we find a lot of  anthropology, from Margaret Mead to Levi-Straus ,from Ruth Benedict to Jack Goody,    but nothing on contemporary popular or youth culture , apart from Richard Neville’s Play Power whose lurid psychedelic cover sticks out  amidst the serried ranks of  sober  hard back tomes like the proverbial sugar plum. MY never got youth culture, even though East London was such a  germinator of them .  As we would expect urbanism, housing  and town planning are well represented but there is no section on community studies as such. It is interesting that  there is no place for  social theory , but T.H. Marshall, Talcott Parsons, Ernest Gellner, John Madge  and Jack Douglas find themselves  awkwardly rubbing shoulders  with Bendix and Lipsett’s  1966 door stopper on Class, status and power,  in a section devoted to social stratification.

A second   weakness  of ‘ family and kinship’, perhaps less obvious  in the follow up study of Dagenham ,  was more methodological. The  relations between workplace, street  neighbourhood and domestic  life  tend t o be  treated as  separate self enclosed worlds,  the workplace  as  largely  the province of men , the street  corner  as the province of  male youth and their territorial allegiances and rivalries  and the great indoors as where women and girls rule OK . The Symmetrical Family  does indeed document and argue for the reconfiguration of these positions, for working class  men  to become more involved in housework  and child rearing  and  women in the labour market, but it does not fully grasp the fact  that  these worlds are anyway structurally  inter- linked  even as they generate split perceptions and social/cognitive closures.

We discovered this in our fieldwork on the Isle of Dogs in the late 1980’s .The social geography of the  Island was based on a pervasive  distinction between an aristocracy of dock labour ( waterman and stevedores)  who had regular well paid jobs and the ordinary dockers , who even once dock work was decasualised, did not.  This workplace   distinction was  also a spatial  /residential one, these occupational groups  lived in different parts of the island,  they went to different churches ,  different pubs and clubs and marrying out –ie. getting it together with someone from the other side of the island , was definitely  frowned upon. Social endogamy ruled OK and the local youth culture added its own territorial markers to the social divide.   There were  ethnic  and religious connotations too and  in a way that often  conflated  moral and economic status : respectable /rough: skilled/unskilled :: protestant: catholic :: English: Irish . This social geography did not disappear with the closure of the docks,  and only shifted when the advent of large numbers of Bangladeshi and Vietnamese Chinese families into the area united  all sections of the long established  white working class : they  closed ranks in  defence of a ‘sons and daughters’ housing policy that gave them privileged access to housing stock which they regarded as  theirs by right.  All this is politically  contextualised  very well in  Geoff Dench and Kate Gavron’s book on the New East End,  but my point is   that you cannot understand what is happening in a working class neighbourhood,  its  internal principles of stratification    its divisions of gender and generation, unless you grasp its  intimate relation with the labourhood, even if it is not immediately and tangibly present. For example you cannot understand the trajectory of the  Becontree estate in Dagenham  unless you understand what is happening down the road at Ford’s Dagenham, not to say Ford’s operations world wide.

My own work in community studies has been about trying to show how the  labourhood relation  is  present and transmitted  in the codes of apprenticeship and inheritance which operate in the interior of   family culture, shaping   its  narrative grammars,  its dispositions of mental and manual  skill, its paradigms of the life course,  its prospects on the world. These codes are not confined to families or to workplaces ,  they operate across a range of sites  from playgrounds  to streets,  from peer groups to  formal organisations like tenants associations, wherever communities of practice get established and social and cultural capital  is mobilised around the staking of claims over local amenity and resource;. It is by tracking the modes of transmission and transformation of these codes,  as they come into negotiation and sometimes open conflict with the dominant codes of vocation and career ,that we can trace the hidden injuries of class, the symbolic violence that has been  done to working class cultures and communities in the long and uneven transition from industrial to post industrial  capitalism .

For example to grasp  the full implications of the current crisis of working class masculinity and its current  disembedding from  the culture of manual labourism , we have understand growing up working class as an apprenticeship to an inheritance tied to  specifically embodied  and hence gendered   prides of place and skill. Even and especially where occupational succession was weak ,  male patrimonies were entailed in  the learning of all kinds of physical dexterities associated with inherited characteristics. You had coal in your blood, your uncle’s strong hands. your fathers knack with machines.   This natural symbolism  had a its material underpinning in forms of   boy labour and  the youth  wage. Boy labour traditionally was proto-domestic labour, it involved fetching and carrying and skivvying jobs that put the young apprentice in a quasi- feminine position of subordination in being  mated to the old hand from whom he learnt the tricks of his manual trade. The counter-assertion of a hard core laddish  form of  masculinity, from which all traces of the feminine has been erased, is primary enacted in the street and through forms of territoriality which stake exclusionary claims of place identity and belonging  ( we rule round here)  as well as  creating little  niches in the urban fabric free from adult surveillance and control , where is it safe to have adventures. In this context it is worth noting  that working class  boys’  sexual apprenticeships traditionally mirrored the occupational form , and included being initiated by an older woman,  the mastery of  sexual skills  practiced on often younger girls  and    the apprenticeship of courtship to marriage.

The  shift from a manufacturing to a services economy set in motion  two  decisive transformations in the habitus of the labourhood: the replacement of traditional  forms of formal and informal apprenticeship  with  training regimes based on   transferable skill sets abstracted from the concrete labour process ;  and secondly the requirement  for working class  boys to master ‘feminine’ techniques of impression management  and ways of selling their body images and ‘personality’ as avatars of labour power :   the Post Fordist just- in -time production of the self . It was a pincer movement which  destabilised this whole system of formation, albeit unevenly, across all the sites of its operation. Apprenticeship pulled apart from inheritance and opened up a space for new kinds of identity work often linked to youth cultures. To  trace the  multiple  pathways of this  de- and re-linking of life stories, life styles  and livelihoods,  we need a form of research that is as subtle and multilayered as the processes it is seeking to describe and analyse.

This brings me  to my second point  about  the role of  ethnography in the work of ICS.  MY and Peter Wilmott  were not trained as  social scientists  but they  wanted their work to be recognised by a profession dominated at that time by quantitative methodologies, and they wanted it  taken  seriously by politicians and policy makers  for whom tables of statistics seems to be the only guarantee of  objectivity   putting  findings beyond ideological challenge.  So they went through the motions of conventional sociology, using questionnaire survey methods with relatively large samples  supplemented by non participant observation and some  in depth interviews with a much smaller number of key informants. It was a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods which did not really do justice to  the heuristic  potential of either.  In particular they turned their back on the methodological innovations that were occurring within ethnography ,as part of its  that would have enriched their research story and liberated it from  the  constraints of a positivist scientific paradigm to which they did not in any case really subscribe.

To give you an idea of what is at stake here , here is list of research methods I have used with colleagues in studies in ex-docklands  area of  London and in  and around Stratford   over the past 30 years. They  have allowed us to produce a close grained reading of the images, texts and other material   produced by our informants in an effort to document and analyse the impact of demographic and economic change on their lives  and life stories  :

  • Narrative Interviews
  • Longitudinal site observations
  • Cognitive and memory mapping
  • Photo-story telling
  • Photo-portraiture
  • Guided Phantasy exercises
  • Video walk abouts
  • Art work constructions
  • Peer to peer discussions
  • Digital diaries and information capture

At the time  some of these methods were regarded as  a bit  experimental but today  they are standard items in  the ethnographers toolkit. Of course some of the research technologies were not available to MY & Co, but many of them were and they  chose to ignore them because they remained committed to a social survey approach.  Yet these new methods,it seems to me , open up a much richer , more textured, account of how urban socio-economic change is actually being  lived ,  in all its singularity and diversity , an account   with real biographical  depth as well as sociological breadth.

These are some of the research themes opened up and explored by this methodology :

  • Fictive kinship and the family romance
  • Youth cultures as social imaginaries of class and gender
  • Civic and ethnic nationalisms of the neighbourhood and their imagined communities
  • Map/territory relations, globalisation and the Cockney diaspora
  • Changing patterns of social im/mobility and their relation to ontological precarity
  • The psycho-geography of race, place, identity and belonging
  • Patterns of local stakeholding in relation to the 2012 Olympic games

Finally in terms of policy , and as an integral part of the research we tested and evaluated the following practical interventions:

  • An alternative to moral, symbolic and docrintaire forms of anti-racist education with working class children and young people based on community art practice
  • The development of an ethno-cartographic approach to participatory community asset mapping
  • An alternative to social and life skills in vocational training based on informal learning and  peer to peer pedagogies
  • A challenge to policing and urban control strategies directed at young people in marginalised communities .

The outputs of  this work have taken the form of exhibitions, films, audio trails, pamphlets and learning resources, primarily directed at the kinds of groups with which we have been working and as well as the usual academic publications.

As an example  of this approach we recently carried out a   multidimensional project in East Village, called Speaking Out of Place , designed   to capture a historical moment of transition in the Post Olympic Legacy  in east London , through the stories, photographs, videos and maps produced by incoming residents and young people.  By documenting these  patterns of inhabitation our aim is not just to evaluate a policy experiment in multi-tenured housing, but to locate what we have called an estate of exception within  its ‘other scene’ , within the  special narrative framework created by the Olympic Dream machine and  its aspirational culture : higher,faster,stronger  urban regeneration.

Public Sociology, critical ethnography and the moral economy of knowledge

This kind of work could be considered an experiment in public sociology, that is a sociology concerned to reconnect public matters to private concerns in C Wright  Mills’ classic formulation and in particular , to treat the sociological knowledge  as a public good , accessible  to a wide and not just a specialist academic audience. Typically this may involve attempts to   widen the interpretative community to include as many informants as possible , so that the  research agenda , methods and even the analysis  become part of a continuing dialogue .  Informants are not used as grist to the researcher’s mill , as pegs to hang ideas on , but themselves take control of the means  of observation and representation. It can also be about encouraging   various  publics  to   exercise their  sociological imagination through  pedagogic interventions. In both cases ,   the aim is to  and  redistribute intellectual capital in and through a mode of knowledge co-production grounded in participatory research methodology.

There are many ways of challenging  existing knowledge /power structures and just as many approaches to doing public sociology. In some cases the sociologist functions as  a public intellectual and/or acts of a political advocate of the communities she works with.  So the sociological study of social inequality  becomes an evidence  platform for campaigns for social justice, and/or  sponsors the creation of new institutions designed to embody these principles.  However the public sociologist has to be authorised by  the informant community  to act on their behalf. Otherwise there is a risk that she simply substitutes her voice for theirs.

There is also  what has been called muck raking sociology,  the aim being to disclose information about the hidden concentrations and operations  of wealth and power in society, to dish the dirt through some process of documentation.  Whether this can actually be considered ‘sociology’ is a moot point , since  the answer to the research question  is known in advance – it is  always and already capitalism or patriarchy or racism what dunnit.  Investigative journalism meets  the soapbox.

A more fruitful  approach is to seek to validate the situated knowledge of marginalised communities, on the grounds that their very marginality, their lack of implication in power, gives them privileged access or insight into its workings. So we seen the emergence of public sociologies based on standpoint epistemologies linked to identity politics of gender, race and class, and aiming to  provide  these groups with a space of representation  in which they can gain  confidence and trust in their own ability to articulate their viewpoint without  needing intermediaries. Yet if only the wearer knows where and how  the shoe pinches, the actual pain of ‘feeling the pinch’ and the struggle for day to day survival can inhibit the capacity to gain the critical knowledge required to know why the shoe is made  that way and  what alternatives to ‘one size fits all ‘ policies  might be possible. The well springs of the sociological imagination are not automatically nurtured by conditions of poverty  and oppression. Political education,  not propaganda for a particular cause , but shifting  the grounds of common sense so that an accessible  space for democratic politics and debate opens up, is  a vital aspect of public sociology.   More conventionally,  the sociologist functions as  a  public educator, even a latter day civilising missionary, using research findings  as a platform to  spread a more enlightened public understanding on  issues such as  the causes of wealth and poverty, the impact of  immigration, and  the unequal distribution of power.

Running like a red thread through all these  approaches  is a concern with establishing a moral economy of knowledge, undermining  its hierarchisation and fragmentation in the academic division of labour.   This  can take the form of developing  a strategic inter-disciplinarity. Not just an intellectual mash up but  the  collaborative production of concepts and methods which   accomplish a paradigm shift  in the way  a problem is addressed , both as a research topic and as focus of political intervention.   In practice that means assembling  a team of  consultants around   the project and  running charettes in which ethnographic and other primary research material is subject to multiple interpretations and internal debate.

Alongside this  there is a trend  to  create  some kind of  intellectual commons   by building a more  inclusive  community of  research practice  and skilling informants so that they become more or less fully fledged members of it. These are almost always ethnographic projects because critical ethnographers have been at the forefront of  attempts to create more participatory  modes of research. The moral economy of knowledge   certainly has implications for how  ethnographic  material is  presented to various publics. The voices of informants have to be presented  live , whether in audio or video, so that the full texture of their statements  is made  available  for discussion.  All too often ethnographers report  using indirect speech  to convey the gist of informant’s stories , merging or submerging their own interpretations  in the flow whilst also substituting their voice for the informants.  And then they talk about this kind of research as empowerment! The research stories we tell about the stories we collect, the interpretative meta-narrative   we weave around  the ethnographic data  to  give it a  wider contextual meaning ( for example in relation to a particular theory in the human sciences )  has to be clearly distinguished  from the primary source material. The best way to do this is to create parallel texts, so that a   dialogue between the  informants interpretation of their world , and the ethnographer’s  becomes possible.

Finally  an ethnographic approach to public sociology is about grounded theory making. It is not about trying to fit  the material you collect into some pre-existing theoretical schema, but allowing it  to permeate your thinking about the issues in ways which unsettle pre-conceived notions, and hopefully enables you to  make new , often counter-intuitive connections.  The equipment the ethnographer brings to this task is not just about professional field work training.  It requires  the  ethnographer, to steep herself  in literature and the arts, as well as a broad range of human sciences, and, ideally  to  live  a full life outside the Academy, moving through a wide range of social mileux, from the corridors of power  to  the wilder side of town.  The ethnographic  imagination  may be stimulated by  reading a novel  or a poem as much as by research monograph ; the act of  observant  listening and embodied looking in the primary encounter with   an object,  informant, or  environment   . but it does not thrive in the library  or the museum.

It would be wrong to think , however, that critical ethnography is the sole platform for  public sociology. There are  approaches which use more conventional  sociological methods   and are  more oriented  to  civic  or market economies of worth, defining  their  value either in terms of  norms of public accountability and improving the efficiency, transparency or justice of governance, or in terms of the collaborative capacity for innovation in the global market place of ideas. Doing public sociology may thus be another strategy for  shoring up  or extending State intervention  in the economy ; equally , it may serve as a vehicle for disseminating the enterprise culture in  civil society .

Mass Observation, that pioneering experiment in public sociology,   moved in the course of its history from  being a  national network of correspondents  committed to sharing information and insight to an arm of government documenting civilian morale during the war, to a market research organisation in the post war consumer boom. Thinks tanks  are equally diverse. They may be strategies for  weaponising   evidence  to blow holes in opponents arguments and win the battle for hearts and minds. Or they may be   environments specially designed to provide living space  for  exotic   or rare  ideas  that would otherwise be fish out of water.  So where does ICS fit in this scheme?

My sense of it is  that  the Institute of Community Studies begins and perhaps ultimately belongs  within the tradition of settlement sociology, grounded in attempts by reformers of various persuasions, to investigate the social conditions of the poor so as to provide evidence for policies and practices designed  to ameliorate them , whether at work, home, or leisure. Of course it is easy to poke fun at some of  these  early missionaries, like the  toffs  slumming it at the Eton Manor club in East London attempting to instil  the public school spirit  in the local rough trade  through a strict regime of  rational recreation.  But many of the early settlement workers were socialists as well as Christians, and  some  like Beatrice Webb at Toynbee Hall  were engaged  in pioneering forms of participant observation within a framework of sociological enquiry. The reforms in work and housing conditions  they campaigned for were often espoused by the labour movement and the Left: they  were about social justice not moral reclamation.  MY had close connections with Toynbee Hall  and the first premises of ICS were in  the Oxford  House Settlement . ICS  never had the close relationship to its neighbourhood that John Barron Mays developed at the Liverpool Settlement and which informed his own work on juvenile delinquency or Howard Parker’s View from the Boys . Contrast with Willmott’s Adolescent Boys of East London. But neither did  ICS  go in for  the kind of extractive hit and run research which came to characterise  much University based sociology from the 1970’s onwards.

If  the strong point of settlement sociology was its locally grounded theorisations of class and community , today its moral impulse finds expression within a globalised knowledge economy in the form of the  Citizen Social Science . This can  typically involve  the use of GIS and other digital information technologies to  crowd source and validate  locally situated knowledge,  and/or create platforms for participatory  community mapping using a  variety of creative media . The aim is  both to generate   situated   accounts, whether  from big or small data sets , to investigate for example of the local effects of  environmental   pollution or  gentrification  and , secondly,  in and through the research process,  to  facilitate and empower communities of resistance to these effects. One thing CSS does is to blur the distinction between amateur and professional  social scientist,  the real challenge being not how to train up amateurs so they think and behave more like professionals , but how to get professional social scientists to  recognise that they are first and foremost amateurs of the social , fascinated by its relays between things not themselves social .  Whether CSS  is genuinely redistributive of intellectual  capital, or  just a more subtle and democratic way of extracting information  without paying for it  remains to be seen.   One thing is certain  if MY was alive today he would be at the forefront of exploring these new possibilities and pushing them as far as he could in the direction of social justice.

Further Reading and References:

Jennifer Platt Realities of Social research: an empirical study of british Sociologists Chatto and Windus 1976

Raymond Kent A History of British Empirical  Sociology Gower 1981

John Goldthorpe and David Lockwood The Affluent Worker CUP 1965

Asa Briggs     Michael Young :social entrepreneur  Palgrave 2001

Michael Young and Peter Willmott  Family and Kinship in east London  Routledge 1957

Michael  Young and Peter Willmott Family and Class in a London Suburb New English Library 1971

Michael Young and Peter Willmott The Symmetrical Family  Routledge 1973

Peter Willmott  The Evolutvion of a community :Dagenham 40 years on  Routledge

Peter Willmott    Adolescent Boys in East London Routledge 1966

Howard Parker  View from the Boys  Heinemann 1976

Geoff Dench and Kate Gavron  The New East End: kinship,race and conflict  Profile 2006

Ronald Frankenberg  Communities in Britain Palgrave 1976

Nora Rathzel and Phil Cohen  Finding the Way Home : race,identity  and belonging amongst young people in London and Hamburg  V&R Publishing 2008

Dave Robins and Phil Cohen  Knuckle sandwich :growing up in the working class city  Penguin Books 1978

Phil Cohen and Mike Rustin London’s Turning : the making of Thames Gateway Ashgate 2007

Phil Cohen  On the Wrong Side of the Track? East London and the Post Olympics Lawrence and Wishart  2013

Richard Sennett    and Jonathon Cobb  The Hidden Injuries of Class  Knopf 1972

Richard Sennett  The Culture of the New capitalism  Yale 2006

Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello  The New Spirit of Capitalism Verso 2005

Philip Nyden et al Public Sociology :research,action,change SAGE 2011

Joyce E Williams et al Settlement Sociology in the Progressive Years  Brill 2015

Bruno Latour   Re-assembling the Social  Oxford  University Press 2005

C Wright Mills  The Sociological Imagination  Methuen 1967