The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Research Impact

Research Impact in Sociology

Case Studies

Much of the research in the School makes an impact in the wider world. Our research contributes to a better understanding of the major societal challenges of the day and the formulation of public policies designed to address particular issues of societal concern.

The following examples showcase how our research is making an impact across the areas of sociology:

Post Trafficking

Nepal is one of the leading sources of sexually trafficked women in South Asia, with estimates of 12,000 to 100,000 women trafficked annually.

There are many organisations (NGOs) working to help and repatriate these women. However, repatriation is only half the story. For many, it can be just as traumatic as their trafficked experience. Our researchers led an interdisciplinary research team to study their experience.

The project is the first to consider the post trafficking experiences and the challenges faced by returnee women, highlighting how the complex social, political and economic exclusions they encounter makes creating a new life and livelihood extremely difficult. Most are rejected by their families, their communities and the state.

Research staff

Read the full case study - Changing perceptions and policy for Nepalese women in post trafficking situations (PDF: 210KB)

Life Sciences

The Policy Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) research centre within the School is internationally known for its innovative research activities as well as the strong connections it builds with its academic and community-based partners.

The primary role of PEALS is to produce world class research that focuses on the social and ethical debates connected to the contemporary life sciences, often concentrating on issues and viewpoints which are neglected.

Its approach is to foster partnerships and the exchange of knowledge between researchers and other key stakeholders, including:

  • clinicians
  • life scientists
  • patient organisations
  • policymakers
  • practitioners
  • the general public

PEALS is known for its empirical approach to bioethics research, which enables the exchange of views to inform debates, challenge assumptions and shape best practice in the life science arena.

Since its launch in 1998, PEALS research has informed policy, influenced professional guidelines and practice, contributed to improved ethical protection of research participants and raised clinicians’ awareness of the broader life experiences of their patients and their families.

Read the full case study - Shaping policy, practice and ethics in the life sciences (PDF: 217KB) or find out more on the PEALS website.

Sexuality & Gender

In the UK, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equalities are undergoing a period of rapid change. The developments are fuelled by the introduction of a range of new legislation as well as ongoing local government modernisation.

Professor of Sociology Diane Richardson recently conducted pioneering research, in partnership with Dr Surya Monro at Huddersfield University, on gender and sexual minorities’ rights of citizenship. The aim was to establish how citizenship is connected to sexuality, as well as to gender, race and class.

"Whilst LGBT work is taking place in a range of local authorities, in areas such as human resources, social services, leisure services, and education, this work is quite differentiated across type and size of authority as well as locality. The changes concerning LGBT equalities are taking place in the context of a broader drive towards equality concerning age and faith, as well as areas of equalities work which are more established," says Professor Richardson.

The research examined the progress of equality measures introduced into local government following a raft of legislation which has obliged local authorities to develop equalities policies specifically focusing on sexual orientation.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the project involved comparison of Welsh, Northern Irish and English situations in the context of the Local Authority Modernisation Agenda.

Read the full case study - Transforming sexuality, gender and citizenship (PDF: 202KB)


It is widely recognised that we face a global water crisis, particularly affecting our poorest countries, but this crisis is not the result of water scarcity or a lack of technology and expertise in the efficient management of water. For leading Sociologist, Professor Esteban Castro, the main causes are social, ethical and, predominantly political.

For over a decade Professor Castro’s substantial international research and engagement activities on tackling water inequality and injustice in Latin America and the Caribbean have had a significant impact shaping public policy and the global debate on the democratisation of water and water governance and management.

As lead coordinator of the WATERLAT research network, Professor Castro is a key activator at the forefront of the debate. The network, which was consolidated with support from the Leverhulme Trust during 2009-2011, focuses on governance and citizenship in water management and environmental health in Latin America.

"Although Latin America has the world’s largest availability of freshwater resources, according to the World Bank, around 11% of the population still lacks access to clean water and 26% has no adequate sanitation facilities. Inequality in access to water is a major issue in the economic and social development of communities across Latin America.

"Through the work we do in WATERLAT, we share the technological, social, economic and political experiences of the UK and our international counterparts working with Latin American partners in devising sustainable and truly democratic approaches to water governance and management for the benefit of the population" explains Professor Castro.

Read the full case study - Ensuring the future of Europe’s water resources (PDF: 207KB)