Professor Bridgette Wessels
- Professor in the Sociology of Inequalities (Sociology)
Professor of Social Inequalities
BA Sociology (Durham), MA Sociology of Contemporary Culture (York), DPhil ‘The Cultural Dynamics of Innovation’ (Sussex)
My research area focuses broadly on social change in the digital age and the dynamics of social inequalities in digital societies. I first undertook research into the development and consumption of the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW) during the mid to late 1990s in the East of London as well as other European cities. It was a time when public, private and third sector organisations, and citizens and consumers were exploring the potential of the WWW to address inequality as well as the risks it posed in widening inequalities. The pervasiveness of the digital technology and services has taken my work in a range of areas with projects on social exclusion and digital divides, financial exclusion and the e-economy, social media and political inequality, health inequalities and telehealth, welfare services and (digital) identity, regional/digital journalism and participatory democracy, and e-policing, ethnicity and communities. My work has addressed inequality and e-inclusion at a global level in South East Asia, Australia, USA, and Europe. Recent research has focused on open data, addresses emerging inequalities embedded within access to data and the inequalities of knowledge required to use data and the use of social media in contexts of political inequality and civic inequality in political culture. I also enjoy working in the area of cultural participation including the development of film audiences in underserved areas of England. A recent project identified the need to address the risks of emerging inequalities within a ‘Fourth Industrial’ period defined through the uses of Robotics and autonomous systems (automation). Furthermore, my role in the EU funded project ‘Joining Efforts for responsible research and innovation’(JERRI) addresses inequalities within research in the areas of gender, diversity and data access in developing research policy.
My research therefore addresses specific areas of change including social participation, health services, social and financial inclusion, cultural participation, public sphere, e-services, identity and everyday life. These cluster under the following headings:
Inequality and social innovation, technological change and methodological innovation.
Inequality and digital-services, social participation, and identity across the lifecourse.
Situating social equality and digital participation in cultural life.
Current and recent projects 2017 to present)
Beyond the Multiplex: audiences for specialised films in English Regions (AHRC)
Ways of Being in the Digital Age (ESRC)
What is the role and value of regional press in a global media age (Barometern Foundation)
Current PhD students
Matthew Hanchard - 'Anchoring digital maps as rough guides: a practice-orientated digital sociology of map use lives.'
Christina Holtz - Collective intelligence and participatory politics
Rupert Knox - Transforming Mexico: social movements mobilizing human rights and social media
James Gulgecer - Zones of in/security in the UK youth labour market