The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Bridgette Wessels

Professor of Sociology


Bridgette Wessels research focuses on social change and digital culture. She has extensive research experience in the area of digital culture in a wide range of areas, such as public sphere, the creative and cultural industries, media and new media, e-services, and in everyday life studies. She is currently working on projects that include focusing on the open data movement, participatory design for digital research in the early news books, mainstreaming telehealth, and the role of social media in the new dynamics of cultural audiences.  She is addressing two emerging research areas, which are issues that are emerging in civic media in terms of political culture and in the developing uses of open data such as open services, data journalism and data curation. These areas inform wider debates about possible transformations to a knowledge society and new ways of being in the digital age. . These foci also involve addressing methodological challenges in terms of working with big data in meaningful ways. Bridgette has undertaken comparative research in Europe that addresses diversity, participation and communication. She has also undertaken research globally in developing countries looking at inclusion and the digital divide. She has written 6 books and numerous articles and has received funding from the research councils in the UK as well as European funding. She has been on advisory boards for the EU, UK government, the Association of South East Asia nations, and the Consumer Action Network, Australia, and the EU e-Forum Privacy Group, including the EU ICT–China programme.

Her work is based on a sociological informed interdisciplinary approach and explores the cultural dynamics of social and technological change. There are three main interrelated strands:

1. Social innovation and technological change, focusing on digital and social media technologies, digital services and social agency.

2. Social media, digital-services and social participation, in the public sector, the wider public sphere, the creative sector and in everyday life.

3. Innovations in methodology: e-research, participatory methods, and action research.

She has been awarded the title of Visiting Scholar to pursue research activities in the School of Letters, Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney. She is also Guest Professor at the University of Linnaeus, Sweden.


She is Director of Post Graduate Research.

She teaches on Comparing Cultures module and on the MA in Sociology.  She undertakes PhD supervision in areas concerned with social change and digital worlds.  She is currently supervising the following PhD students: Rupert Knox, Mathew Hanchard, Freya Ernsting, and Abureza M. Muzareba.


Her current and previous funded projects are listed below.

1. Ways of Being in the Digital Age (2016-2017) : funded by ESRC.

2. Study of the interpretation and decision making about mobility by passengers who use public transport (2016): a STMS project funded by the EU. 

3. Data and Employee Wellbeing (2015-2017) : funded by ESRC.

4. Exploring Big Data to Examine Employee Health and Wellbeing: A Seminar Series (2015-2017) : funded by ESRC.

5. Investigating what the regional means in a global media culture (REGPRESS) (2015-2017) : funded by Barometern Foundation (Sweden)

6. New Services, New Perspectives: Decision making in remote care (2015-2016) : funded by IIKE Collaborative Research & Development Fund

7. Virtually Live (2014-2015) : funded by Arts and Humanities, University of Sheffield

8. Web Observatory Project (2015) : funded by WUN

9. Transforming Research in the Humanities (2014) : funded by Futures 2022

10. How cinema audiences form: social media and specialist film (2014) : funded by IIKE Collaborative Research & Development Fund

11. Evaluation of the ESRC Digital Social Research Programme (2014) : funded by ESRC

12. Digital Engagement in Wales (2014) : funded by Welsh Government

13. Social Networks and travel behaviour (2013-2017) : funded by EU COST Action TU1305

14. Policy Recommendations for Open Access to Research Data in Europe (RECODE) (2013-2015) : funded by European Commission

15. South Yorkshire Digital by Default Alpha Project (2012-2013) : funded by Cabinet Office

16. Participating in Search Design: A Study of George Thomason’s English Newsbooks (2012-2014) : funded by AHRC

17. QCinema: Monetising Research-led Public Engagement at the Showroom Cinema (2012) : funded by University of Sheffield Research and Innovation Fund and EPSRC

18. Mainstreaming Assisted Living Technologies (2011-2014) : funded by ESRC & TSB

19. Promoting Independence through Personalised Interactive Technologies (PIPIN) (2011-2014) : funded by Digital Worlds

20. Digital Economy and the Mediapolis (2011) : funded by ESRC Digital Economy Hub

21. Beyond the Label (2011-2012) : funded by Museums, Libraries and Archive Council and University of Sheffield KT Fund

22. Networking and seminar series to develop ‘Interdisciplinary Research in Socio-Digital Worlds’ (IRiS) (2009) : funded by University of Sheffield Divisional Directors Award

23. Identity and Privacy in Digital Contexts (2008) : funded by University of Sheffield Devolved Fund

24. Public Participation and Sustaining e-Enabled Portal Services (2005-2006) : funded by KTOF-HEIF 2

25. e-Social Science Demonstrator Project: Collaborative Analysis of Offenders’ personal and Area-based Social Exclusion (2003-2004) : funded by ESRC

26. National Evaluation of e-Government (2002-2004) : funded by Office of Deputy Prime Minister