Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

Making sense of the social world


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Professor Tim Strangleman

Professor in Sociology

School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

Room CNE217
School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Cornwallis North East
Canterbury , Kent, CT2 7NF


I am a Professor in Sociology and Director of Employability and Enterprise at the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research.

My research interests are wide ranging - spanning the sociology of work and its historiography, work identity and meaning; deindustrialisation; visual approaches and methods; corporate photography; working class studies; the sociology of nostalgia and mass-observation and in particular the work of Humphrey Jennings. The focus of my research includes the UK, EU, North America and China.

I am a founding member and co-convenor of the BSA Work, Employment and Economic Life Study Group (WEEL).

My work has featured on radio, in print media and on television including BBC’s The One Show.


I joined the University of Kent in 2007 as a Reader in Sociology. During my career I have held a Lectureship in Sociology at the University of Nottingham and been a Research Associate at the universities of Manchester and Durham. Prior to arriving at Kent I was Senior Research Fellow and Institute Research Manager at the Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University.


I started my working life as a signalman on the London Underground. In 1988, I left London Transport to go to Ruskin College in Oxford where I completed a Diploma in Social Studies. I studied for my BA (Hons) History and Sociology and PhD at Durham University.  In 2010 I was elected as an Academician in the Academy of Social Science.
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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

    Strangleman, Tim and Warren, Tracey (2008) Work and Society: Sociological Approaches, Themes and Methods. Routledge, London, 360 pp. ISBN 9780415336499.


    Work and Society is an important new text about the sociology of work and employment. It provides both undergraduate and postgraduate students of sociology, business and politics, with a firm and enjoyable foundation to this fascinating area of sociology, giving comprehensive coverage of traditional areas of the sub-discipline as well as new trends and developments. The book is divided into three complementary and interconnected sections - investigating work, work and social change and understanding work. These sections allow readers to explore themes, issues and approaches by examining how sociologists have thought about, and researched work and how the sub-discipline has been influenced by wider society itself. Novel features include separate chapters on researching work, domestic work, unemployment and work, and the representation of work in literary and visual media.

    Strangleman, Tim (2004) Work Identity at the End of the Line? Privatisation and Culture Change in the Uk Railway industry. Palgrave, Basingstoke, 204 pp. ISBN 1403939802.


    What do we mean by workplace culture? Is culture change in an organization possible, and what happens when managers and politicians try? Work Identity at the End of the Line? is the story of workplace culture and identity in the railway industry before, during and after privatisation in the mid-1990s. Drawing on original interviews as well as autobiographies from those who worked for British Rail, the author analyses the experience of the privatisation process. By placing those events in their historical context of previous private and state ownership, this book provides a critical and highly readable understanding of what happened to the railway industry and its workforce during the 1990s. It provides a powerful critique of the attack on the wider public sector and the culture of its workforce since the 1980s. The book will be of interest to sociologists, cultural and economic historians, policy makers, as well as those studying culture change in business and management.


    Strangleman, Tim and Rhodes, James (2014) The ‘New’ Sociology of Deindustrialisation?: Understanding Industrial Change. Sociology Compass, 8 (4). pp. 411-421. ISSN 1751-9020.


    This article reviews a range of new and established writing on deindustrialisation. It traces the origins of the concept from its popularisation in the early 1980s with the onset of large scale loss in the industrial regions of North America and Europe. We argue that with the passage of time, the academic field of deindustrialisation has matured as the scale and consequences of industrial loss become more apparent. We suggest here that sociology has not made the contribution it could have in this debate and that one of the key strengths of the area is its interdisciplinary nature; especially from disciplines such as geography, anthropology, and social history. Its key aim is to explain why this is the case and suggest that by fully engaging with the issue of deindustrialisation and the range of new material available, the sociology of economic life can develop a more rounded account both of work and its absence.

    Strangleman, Tim (2013) Smokestack nostalgia, ruin porn or working-class obituary: The role and meaning of deindustrial representation. International Labor and Working-Class History, 84 (1). pp. 23-37. ISSN 01475479.


    This article explores some of the visual imagery that has emerged from the process of deindustrialization. It seeks to understand the similarities and differences between post-industrial photography collected in book format in both North America and Europe and the critics of this genre. It makes sense of the value and meaning of this publishing trend and what it says about its market. While it would be easy to dismiss this material as simply nostalgic, representing another manifestation of smokestack nostalgia, this article suggests that we need a more nuanced account which asks questions about the continuing desire to reflect back and find value in the industrial past. In so doing it makes a contribution to a wider critical account of the role of cultural approaches to interpreting industrial change and working-class history. Copyright © 2013 International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc.

    Strangleman, Tim and Rhodes, James and Linkon, Sherry (2013) Introduction to crumbling cultures: Deindustrialization, class, and memory. International Labor and Working-Class History, 84 (1). pp. 7-22. ISSN 01475479.


    In this introductory essay we review key themes in the scholarly literature on deindustrialization over the last twenty-five to thirty years. While the term deindustrialization has been in use since the early 1980s, more careful attention needs to be brought to bear on the cultural significance of industrial change over time, including on how individuals and communities reinterpret deindustrialization through the lens of memory. This essay highlights contributions that reflect multiple disciplines and approaches, including interdisciplinary work. We also argue that cultural representations such as photography, literature, the media, and personal narratives offer especially useful insights into the continuing significance of deindustrialization, giving us access to the ways people are drawing on and constructing their memories of industrial work and of the process of deindustrialization itself. This essay and the wider special issue suggest that taking a long view - from the perspective of more than two decades after major shutdowns - and examining documentary, personal, and creative representations provides important insights into the meanings and consequences of the experience of deindustrialization for individuals, communities, and nations. Copyright © 2013 International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc.

    Strangleman, Tim (2012) Work Identity in Crisis?: Rethinking the problem of attachment and loss at work. Sociology, 46 (3). pp. 411-425. ISSN 0038-0385.


    The identity and meaning people obtain from their work is a central issue in contemporary sociology. There is a debate between those suggesting that we have witnessed either great rupture or continuity in the way employees engage with their jobs. This article reframes the question posed, developing a critical theoretical framework for understanding narratives of change derived from a range of theorists using concepts of nostalgia, tradition and generations. This framework is then used to read a set of work/life history interviews and autobiographical material from mainly older male workers in the UK railway industry who lament the erosion of their workplace culture and the sustainable moral order of the past. The article seeks to move beyond dismissing such accounts as simple nostalgia and instead suggests that these narratives can be understood as valuable organic critiques of industrial and social change emergent from work culture.

    Strangleman, Tim (2012) Picturing work in an industrial landscape. Sociological Research Online, 17 (2). pp. 20. ISSN 1360-7804.


    This paper explores the notion of the visual landscape of work. Coming from a sociological perspective it attempts to view work, its meanings and the identities that surround it, through the lens of landscape. It takes on recent challenges to work sociology made by economic/labour geographers who argue that sociological understanding of employment are insufficiently spatial - space if used as a concept at all is reduced to the notion of a boundary containing economic processes rather than something that is constructed and in turn constructs work. Using material from ongoing research into the former Guinness Brewery at Park Royal in West London, and in particular a range of archival and contemporary visual sources, this paper illustrates the ways in which spatial ideas underpin complex sociological notions of work practice and culture. It will examine the way space is implicated in the location, construction, labour, and closing of this once famous brewery and how visual material helps to unlock theoretical and methodological understandings of work and industry.

    Strangleman, Tim (2012) Imagining The Thought of Work. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 24 (4). pp. 289-293. ISSN 0892-7545.


    This article develops the idea of the interrelated complexity of work attested to in John Budd's (2011) The Thought of Work. Drawing on material from oral history and other non-academic writing about work I argue that we need to be alive to the complex paradox of labor and the workplace. We have to be attuned to and more attentive of the realities of employment. This way of understanding work has a rich tradition and is exemplified in the writing of people like Studs Terkel or Humphrey Jennings. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

    Strangleman, Tim (2011) Writing Workers: Re-reading Workplace Autobiography. Scottish Labour History, 46. pp. 26-37.

    Strangleman, Tim (2010) Food drink and the cultures of work: Consumption in the life and death of an English factory. Food, Culture and Society, 13 (2). pp. 257-278. ISSN 1552-8014.


    This paper looks at the consumption of food and drink in the context of the workplace. It examines a variety of ways in which work culture and identity are constructed and reproduced across time and space. The paper is based on the author's research into the former Guinness brewery at Park Royal, London, which closed in the summer of 2005 after nearly seventy years of production. The paper reflects on industrial culture, memory, loss and nostalgia for a workplace in transition and in particular the role played by food and drink in this process. The paper draws on material generated by a mixture of methods and approaches including semi-structured interviews, archival research as well as visual methods.

    Halford, Susan and Strangleman, Tim (2009) In Search of the Sociology of Work: Past Present and Future. Sociology, 43 (5). pp. 811-828. ISSN 0038-0385.


    This paper traces relations between the study of work and the evolution of British sociology as an academic discipline. This reveals broad trajectories of marginalization, as the study of work becomes less central to Sociology as a discipline; increasing fragmentation of divergent approaches to the study of work; and — as a consequence of both — a narrowing of the sociological vision for the study of work. Our paper calls for constructive dialogue across different approaches to the study of work and a re-invigoration of sociological debate about work and — on this basis — for in-depth interdisciplinary engagement enabling us to build new approaches that will allow us to study work in all its diversity and complexity.

    Crow, Graham and Hatton, Peter and Lyon, Dawn et al. (2009) New Divisions of Labour?: Comparative Thoughts on the Current Recession. Sociological Research Online, 14 (2). ISSN 1360-7804.


    This article argues that it is useful to compare the current recession with that which occurred three decades ago. Drawing on research undertaken at that time by Ray Pahl, it is suggested that four questions are once again revealing in the study of the current economic downturn: 'How have we come to be where we are currently?', 'Who gets what?', 'How do we know what we claim to know?', and 'What sorts of lessons can be drawn to inform thinking about the future?' The usefulness of asking these questions is discussed, even though the answers must await further research.

    Strangleman, Tim (2008) Representations of labour: Visual sociology and work. Sociological Compass, 2 (5). pp. 1491-1505.


    This paper explores the potential that visual methods, approaches, and resources offer to the sociologist of work. It looks at the way work is represented in a range of publications and asks questions about what the visual can add to our understanding of the workplace, workers, and work processes. It argues that we need to develop and expand a sociological language of the visual in order to better understand cultural and other aspects of work and employment

    Strangleman, Tim (2008) Sociology, Social Class and New Working Class Studies. Antipode, 40 (1). pp. 15-19. ISSN 0066-4812.

    Strangleman, Tim (2007) The nostalgia for permanence at work? The end of work and its commentators. Sociological Review, 55 (1). pp. 81-103. ISSN 0038-0261.


    This article examines a contemporary trend in the sociology of work that is labelled here the 'end of work' debate after Jeremy Rifkin's book of the same name. It explores this trend, suggesting that marked similarities exist between a range of authors in Europe and North America who propose that work regimes and the meaning derived from them are changing fundamentally. This literature is then placed in the context of an older canon on decline in work and employment. Using the insights of newer qualitative studies that have emerged over the last decade it is suggested that much of the 'end of work' type of writing over-generalises a complex situation, suggesting that sociology needs to incorporate macro theorisation with detailed empirical research if it is to properly understand changes in the contemporary world of work

    Hanlon, Gerard and Goode, Jackie and Greatbatch, David et al. (2006) Risk society and the NHS-From the traditional to the new citizen? Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 17 (2-3). pp. 270-282. ISSN 10452354.


    Much has been written about reflexive modernity and risk society in the recent past. It has been argued that a shift has occurred within late modernity which has led to the emergence of the reflexive citizen. Supposedly, this citizen engages with his or her world in ways that are significantly different to the past. This paper maps out the thrust of these theories, some criticisms of them and then outlines a strategy for researching them. It does so by explaining how these changes can be traced through an examination of NHS Direct, the UK telephone health advice line. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Strangleman, Tim (2006) Book Review: Dignity, respect and the cultures of work. Work Employment & Society, 20 (1). pp. 181-188. ISSN 0950-0170.


    A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to attend a session at a conference in Youngstown, Ohio, where a recently redundant steelworker talked with great eloquence about his former working life. He related the story of his first job while still a schoolboy collecting baseballs at his local diamond. One day his father was talking to the owner when the boy’s boss ordered him about with a wag of a finger. The boy’s father, a steelworker himself, took the boy home and never let him collect balls again. The story for the teller illustrated the interlinked qualities of dignity and respect at work. His father recognized in the other man’s gesture a disrespect for his son’s labour. The narrator spoke of the profound effect of this event on his working life and the way he subsequently viewed his treatment at work.

    Strangleman, Tim (2005) Sociological Futures and the Sociology of Work. Sociological Research Online, 10 (4). ISSN 13607804.


    This essay is a response to the call for a discussion about future trends in sociology by focusing broadly on the sub-discipline of work and employment. In doing so the piece directly engages with earlier interventions made by John Scott (2005) and Gayle Letherby (2005) in Sociological Research Online. It examines the current state of the sociology of work by charting its foundation and subsequent development. It suggests that there is currently a problem in the area caused in part by intellectual trends and fragmentation. It argues that those sociologists working in the field need to engage collectively in a reflective process to refocus the subject combining elements from its 'golden age' as well as from more contemporary sources.

    Hanlon, Gerard and Strangleman, Tim and Goode, Jackie et al. (2005) Knowledge, technology and nursing: The case of MHS Direct. Human Relations, 58 (2). pp. 147-171. ISSN 00187267.


    NHS Direct is a relatively new, nurse-based, 24-hour health advice line run as part of the UK's National Health Service (NHS). The service delivers health advice remotely via the telephone. A central aspect of the service is the attempt to provide a standard level of health advice regardless of time, space or the background of the nurse. At the heart of this attempt is an innovative health software called CLINICAL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM (CAS). Using a number of qualitative methods, this article highlights how the interaction between the nursing staff and this technology is key to the service. The technology is based on management's attempt to standardize and control the caller-nurse relationship. Thus the software can be seen as part of an abstract rationality, whereas how it is deployed by nurses is based on a practical rationality that places practice and experience first and sees the technology and protocols as tools. Copyright ©2005.

    Greatbatch, David and Hanlon, Gerard and Goode, Jackie et al. (2005) Telephone triage, expert systems and clinical expertise. Sociology of Health & Illness, 27 (6). pp. 802-830. ISSN 0141-9889.


    This paper reports on a qualitative study of the use of an expert system developed for the British telephone triage service NHS Direct. This system, known as CAS, is designed to standardise and control the interaction between NHS Direct nurses and callers. The paper shows, however, that in practice the nurses use CAS in a range of ways and, in so doing, privilege their own expertise and deliver an individualised service. The paper concludes by arguing that NHS Direct management's policy of using CAS as a means of standardising service delivery will achieve only limited success due not only to the professional ideology of nursing but also to the fact that rule-based expert systems capture only part of what 'experts' do. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness 2005. Published by Blackwell Publishing.

    Strangleman, Tim (2004) Ways of (not) seeing work: The visual as a blind spot in WES? Work Employment & Society, 18 (1). pp. 179-192. ISSN 0950-0170.

    Goode, Jackie and Greatbatch, David and O'Cathain, Alicia et al. (2004) Risk and the responsible health consumer: The problematics of entitlement among callers to NHS Direct. Critical Social Policy, 24 (2). pp. 210-232. ISSN 0261-0183.


    NHS Direct, the 24-hour telephone helpline, uses modern communications technology to offer easier and faster access to advice about health, illness and the NHS so that people are better able to care for themselves and their families. In-depth interviews with callers to the service show that they bring with them discourses of the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' familiar in the provision of other welfare services. The figure of the 'time-waster' is the NHS equivalent of the welfare 'scrounger', acting as a mechanism to problematize entitlement. NHS Direct dispels such fears and legitimizes demand. At the same time, ever-rising levels of service use constitute a threat to what callers value most about it. © 2004 Critical Social Policy Ltd.

    Goode, Jackie and Hanlon, Gerard and Luff, Donna et al. (2004) Male callers to NHS Direct: The assertive carer, the new dad and the reluctant patient. Health, 8 (3). pp. 311-328. ISSN 1363-4593.


    It has been suggested in the light of mortality and morbidity rates, and men's reluctance to seek medical help and advice, that there is a crisis in men's health. Little is known about men's experiences of using health care services, despite an emergent UK men's health movement. NHS Direct, the new telephone advice line, was designed to be more accessible, convenient and responsive to the public's needs for health care. In-depth interviews with male callers to the service, aged between 29 and 59, reveal that they sought help in their roles as fathers, partners and on their own behalf. Having used it once, they anticipated doing so again. Their learning about health matters, from both the formal structure and the informal agenda of the telephone consultation, suggests the potential of men's use of this service for 'normalizing' help seeking by men, and thereby for longer-term improvements in men's health.

    Strangleman, Tim (2002) ‘Constructing the past: railway history from below or a study in Nostalgia?'. Journal of Transport History, 32 (2). pp. 147-158. ISSN 0022-5266.


    This article seeks to highlight the importance of an underused and underappreciated resource, namely working-class autobiography written by those who were employed in the railway industry. Because of the sheer number of such publications, a peculiar feature itself of the industry, I have chosen to focus this discussion specifically upon the autobiographies and oral histories produced by those who experienced employment in railway workshops. The article opens with an examination of railway historiography, and in particular the criticism made of it by academics and other writers who view the field as overly romantic and nostalgic. Close attention will be paid to what could be viewed as the inherent tension between such criticism and unexpected advantages of these very flaws, namely that the demand on the part of the enthusiasts for detail of railway operation creates a market for the publication of shopfloor reminiscences. The second focus of interest will be the autobiographies themselves, written by employees from various railway workshops in England and Scotland, both public and private-sector. Questions will be asked as to how far these publications represent an important resource for the study of railway history, and the methodological problems entailed in their use will be examined. The article will conclude by attempting to locate these examples of autobiography within the wider historical debate on the use of qualitative material.

    Strangleman, Tim (2002) 'Nostalgia for Nationalisation - the Politics of Privatisation'. Sociological Research Online, 7 (1). ISSN 13607804.


    This article reviews the current problems of the UK railway industry and in particular the effective re- nationalisation of Railtrack by the government during 2001. The present state of the industry is placed in the context of the process of privatisation, and of the historical development of the sector. It reviews the current literature and media debate that deals with rail privatisation.

    Strangleman, Tim (2001) Networks, place and identities in post-industrial mining communities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 25 (2). pp. 253-267. ISSN 0309-1317.


    This article engages with the theme of the symposium by examining the role and meaning of networks in the context of a former coal-mining region in the UK. Mining communities have historically been noted by sociologists and historians for their strong social ties and extended families as well as for forming the bedrock of discussion of class and place. In the wake of the closure programme of the 1980s and early 1990s, such identities have been fundamentally challenged. The notion of networks is explored in four distinct but ultimately interrelated senses: occupational/work networks; networks around place; networks of class relations; and, finally, networks as relationships of family, kin and generation. Material presented here is based on research that investigated four former coalfield communities in the UK after closure, focusing on a former pit village in the North East of England. It begins with a discussion of community and the coalfield within sociological and historical literatures. It then proceeds to discuss the changing nature of community and social networks post-coal by focusing on the experience of two separate cohorts of former workers. It concludes by arguing for a historical understanding of the patterning of networks.

    Strangleman, Tim (2001) I was a Docker, I was a Railwayman. Work Employment & Society, 15 (3). pp. 645-651. ISSN 0950-0170.

    Strangleman, Tim (1999) Making the difference in different places? Northern Economic Review, 5 (2). ISSN 0262-0383.


    This paper examines the role and meaning of nostalgia, and its opposite nostophobia, in the contemporary railway industry. It charts the way the past is passively and actively used by organisational actors, management as well as at the political level. It is argued that in the contemporary railway industry history and heritage are selectively annexed, negatively in order to win consent for change, and positively in an attempt to recapture the `golden age of railways' for marketing purposes. The paper makes sense of these processes by deploying a framework derived from various writers on issues connected with nostalgia and the emotional attachment to work.

    Strangleman, Tim and Roberts, Ian (1999) Looking through the Window of Opportunity: The Cultural Cleansing of Workplace Identity. Sociology, 33 (1). pp. 47-67. ISSN 0038-0385.


    This article emerges from a project that examines the relationship between forms of labour, in the context of managerially directed organisational and cultural change, in a light engineering firm on Tyneside. This material is situated within contemporary and historical accounts of workplace interaction. The paper will address the new emphasis on culture and its manipulation, that is increasingly forming a locus of interest in current literature. Whilst stressing that there is much in these accounts that was common in earlier writing the paper draws out what is distinctive about contemporary concerns. These issues are developed in the empirical account through an analysis of the manipulation of difference along the axes of gender, age and skill. The findings are located within a wider framework of the shift from post figurative to cofigurative culture. In this view there is a reworking of both the substantive relations between generations and in the form of relationships of age and gender. The result of this analysis is an account which, whilst stressing the radical change that has taken place nevertheless recognises that even the `cleansed culture' is subject to contradictions stemming from the employment relationship. Further, that within the context of the social reproduction of the workplace, shopfloor experience is chronically implicated in the construction of autonomous cultures. As such the analysis provides a more positive interpretation of resistance to such change than that available in many recent accounts.

    Strangleman, Tim and Hollywood, Emma and Beynon, Huw et al. (1999) Heritage work: Re-representing the work ethic in the coalfields. Sociological Research Online, 4 (3). pp. n/a. ISSN 13607804.


    This paper aims to discover how, with the decline and ending of the deep coal mining industry in many parts of the UK its legacy is being re-evaluated by those involved in various aspects of economic and social regeneration. It opens by exploring the way coal mine workers and their communities have been seen within popular and academic accounts, and in particular the way this group has been subject to ideal typification and stereo-typing. The main body of the paper examines the way this legacy is still subject to such interpretation, and that further, the specificity of the coal industry is commodified in a variety of ways. We point out the contradictory nature of this process and argue that it is inevitably damaging to a complex analysis of the deep problems facing former coalfield areas.

    Roberts, Ian and Strangleman, Tim (1998) Managing culture and the manipulation of difference: a case study of second-generation transplant. Asia Pacific Business Review, 5 (2). pp. 161-182. ISSN 1360-2381.


    This contribution studies the processes and tensions involved in the introduction of management techniques, largely inspired by the Japanese example, into a non-Japanese manufacturing firm in the North East of England. In treating culture as something an organization has rather than something an organization is, management were able to introduce a new approach by actively using divisions existing among workers, particularly those along the axes of age and gender and skill. While successful in the short term the changes appear as brittle in the longer term context of skill deficits and the fluctuating demand for labour within the firm.

Book Sections

    Strangleman, Tim (2013) Work (Chapter 12). In: Payne, Geoff Social Divisions. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. ISBN 9780230228214.

    Strangleman, Tim (2013) Visual Sociology and Work Organization: An Historical Approach (Chapter 15). In: Bell, Emma and Warren, Samantha and Schroeder, Jonathan E. The Routledge Companion to Visual Organization. Taylor & Francis Ltd, London. ISBN 9780415783675.

    Strangleman, Tim (2011) Working class autobiography as cultural heritage (Chapter 10). In: Smith, Laurajane and Shackel, Paul and Campbell, Gary Heritage, Labour and the Working Classes. Key Issues in Cultural Heritage. Taylor & Francis Ltd, London. ISBN 9780415618113.

    Strangleman, Tim (2008) The Remembrance of a Lost Work: Nostalgia, labour and the visual. In: Whipps, S. Ming Jue: Photographs of Longbridge and Nanjing. The New Art Gallery Walsall, Walsall. ISBN 9780946652891.

    Strangleman, Tim (2006) Work, Sociology and the Visual. In: Vroege, B. Changing Faces/Work In Progress. Steidl, Göttinggen, pp. 172-181. ISBN 3865212115.

    Strangleman, Tim (2006) The nostalgia of organisations and the organisation of nostalgia: Past and present in the contemporary railway industry. In: Smith, Laurajane Cultural Heritage: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies. Taylor & Francis Ltd, London. ISBN 9780415352420.

    Strangleman, Tim and Hanlon, Gerard and Goode, Jackie et al. (2006) Telephone triage, expert systems and clinical expertise (Chapter 7). In: Allen, Davina and Pilnick, Alison The Social Organisation of Healthcare Work. John Wiley and Sons, Oxford, pp. 115-142. ISBN 9781405133340.


    This paper reports on a qualitative study of the use of an expert system developed for the British telephone triage service NHS Direct. This system, known as CAS, is designed to standardise and control the interaction between NHS Direct nurses and callers. The paper shows, however, that in practice the nurses use CAS in a range of ways and, in so doing, privilege their own expertise and deliver an individualised service. The paper concludes by arguing that NHS Direct management's policy of using CAS as a means of standardising service delivery will achieve only limited success due not only to the professional ideology of nursing but also to the fact that rule-based expert systems capture only part of what 'experts' do. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness 2005. Published by Blackwell Publishing

    Strangleman, Tim (2005) Class Memory: Autobiography and the Art of Forgetting. In: Russo, John and Linkon, Sherry New Working-Class Studies. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 137-151. ISBN 978-0801489679.

    Dingwall, Robert and Strangleman, Tim (2005) Organizational Cultures in the Public Services (Chapter 20). In: Ferlie, Ewan B and Lynn Jr, Laurence E. and Pollitt, Christopher The Oxford Handbook of Public Management. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780199259779.


    This article considers how an important social scientific concept became a management fad. It begins with the idea of culture and its history in organizational studies. It then looks at contemporary debates about the way that an understanding of culture may contribute to successful management and concludes by considering whether there are differences between public and private sectors that are relevant to this task. Anthropologists have traditionally seen the study of culture as a defining feature of their discipline: Social anthropologists, in studying the institutionalised social relationships that are their primary concern, have found it essential to take account of the ideas and values which are associated with them, that is, of their cultural content. No account of a social relationship in human terms can be complete unless it includes reference to what it means to the people who have it. Culture does not have a material existence, although physical objects may be treated as cultural artefacts, by virtue of the meanings that people assign to them.

    Roberts, Ian and Strangleman, Tim (2001) Building Again? Trade Unions and Formalisation in the British Construction Industry(Chapter 10). In: van Gyes, Guy and de Witte, Hans and Pasture, Patrick Can Class Still Unite? The Differentiated Work Force, Class Solidarity and Trade Unions. Ashgate Publishing Group, Aldershot, pp. 275-294. ISBN 9780754613022.

    Roberts, Ian and Strangleman, Tim (1999) Managing Culture and the Manipulation of Difference: A Case Study of Second Generation Transplant. In: Garrahan, Philip and Ritchie, John East Asian Direct Investment in Britain. Studies in Asia Pacific Business. Taylor & Francis Ltd, London, pp. 161-182. ISBN 9780714649818.

    Strangleman, Tim and Roberts, Ian (1997) Social reproduction, social dislocation and the labour market. In: Kristensen, Catharina Juul The Meeting of the Waters-Individuality and Community, Work and Solidarity in High Modernity. Scandinavian University Press, Oslo, Copenhagen. ISBN 8200376885.


    Hatton, Peter and Lyon, Dawn and Strangleman, Tim et al. (2011) Living & Working on Sheppey/ Back and Forth on High Street Blue Town. Live Event, website and video.


    The starting point for this project was revisiting the social research undertaken (and archived) by Ray Pahl and his team in the late 70s early 80s published in “Divisions of Labour” (1984). The project team for Living and Working on Sheppey includes Tea, academics from the University of Kent, and the University of Southampton, the UK Data Archive and the community group, Remember BlueTown, whose members are also involved in the Blue Town Heritage Centre. The context was an exploration of the legacy of the Sheerness Dockyard and the decline of Sheppey following its closure with the near disappearance of Blue Town. The research was structured around a secondary analysis of Pahl’s data, via replication and comparison with new research based on oral history interviews with older residents about work and young people’s imagined futures of work and family life. The project was based at the Blue Town Heritage Centre. A steering group was established including the Director of the Heritage Centre, academics and volunteers from third sector organisations. The research interviews and exercises were undertaken across the island in homes, schools and the port. My specific contribution was to produce a video in response to and informed by the replicated social research and the role of the Heritage Centre, and the community contribution to the project. The questions evolved from the process and concerned the visual representation of place, place being spatial and temporal; shared yet an individual construct. The composition and form of DVD “Back and Forth on High Street Blue Town” was a new formulation of data emerging from the project. It also provided a vehicle for inter-generational dialogue about place and regeneration. The construction of the document (DVD) combining a base line recording of what remained architecturally of Blue Town overlaid with reminiscences of incidences experienced by ex residents and the inclusion of young peoples visions of what should be in the High Street undermines the veracity of documentary and questions the easy definition of heritage and ownership of heritage.

Total publications in KAR: 45 [See all in KAR]


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Research interests

My research interests are wide ranging - spanning the sociology of work and its historiography, work identity and meaning; deindustrialisation; visual approaches and methods; corporate photography; working class studies; the sociology of nostalgia and mass-observation and in particular the work of Humphrey Jennings. The focus of my research includes the UK, EU, North America and China.

The uniting themes underlying my work concern ideas of identity, representation and culture. I am fascinated by the idea of the cultural study of work, in particular how and in what ways work has meaning for those who do it and those who observe it.


Currently I am involved in a range of projects. My major focus at the moment is my research on the former Guinness brewery at Park Royal West London which closed in 2005 after seventy years of production. This study combines interviews with workers and a wide variety of photographic material generated as part of the project, as well as from the company archives. A range of the contemporary images of the site before closure can be seen here.

In 2009 I won a British Academy grant to extend this study and I am writing a range of papers and a book on the brewery.

  • The Watermark Project 
    Over the last year or so I have been working with Dover Arts Development (DAD) and film maker Marianne Kapfer on Watermark. This is a film about and which memorialises the history of Buckland paper mill which closed on 30 June 2000, when the then owners, Arjo Wiggins, announced the transfer of production from Dover to Scotland. I carried out some of the interviews for the film and trained some of the other members of the team in oral history techniques:
  • Living and Working on Sheppey: Past, present and future
    This project explores the recent history and changes in working lives in Sheppey in the last decades of the 20th century and into the 21st through oral reminiscence with older people and documenting how young people imagine their futures.

    It is supported by HEFCE knowledge transfer fund, South East Coastal Communities (£85,806). I am working in collaboration with Dawn Lyon (PI) Peter Hatton and Clive Arundel, University of Kent; Graham Crow, University of Southampton; community group, ‘Remember Bluetown’; and artists group, TEA; with the late Ray Pahl as project consultant.  


During the course of my career I have carried out studies in a variety of industries and work settings, including railways, brewing, NHS, banking, teaching, construction and engineering.

I have been developing visual aspects of my work for more than a decade now. I have collaborated with a number of artists and photographers or various projects and have used and written about a variety of visual approaches and techniques. My work combines contemporary and archive material and explores what the visual adds to our sociological imagination.
In 2008, I completed a large project funded by the ESRC under the ‘Identities and Social Action' Programme - ‘Does Work Still Shape Social Identities and Action?'. This three-year study aimed to understand the nature of attachment to work in the contemporary workplace as well as historically. It involved interviews with workers from the teaching, banking and railway sectors across four different generations.

I have worked in collaboration with a number of photographers including Chris Clunn, David McCairley and Stuart Whipps. I hope to broaden this type of collaboration in the future.

Other projects, many of which I continue to develop:

  • British Academy ‘Work organisation and the representation of labour in corporate photography’ Principal applicant £3,678, 2009.
  • HEFC SECC ‘ Sheppey Restudy’ £84,000, 2009-2010 Co-applicant’ (Dr Dawn Lyon PI).
  • ESRC ‘Does Work Still Shape Social Identities and Action?', ESRC ‘Identities and Social Action' Programme, Principal applicant £179,000, 2005 -2008. RES-148-25-0038.
  • ‘Guinness was good for us', Diageo/ Guinness, Principal applicant, £15,000, 2005.
  • ESF HE ‘Age Discrimination against older men', Principal applicant £187,000, 2003.
  • ESRC Seminar Series funding competition, ‘Spaces of Working Class Life', £14,000 Co-applicant 2003.
  • Youngstown State University, Centre for Working Class Studies Research Fellowship $2,000 (USD) 2003.
  • ESRC/MRC Innovative Health Technologies Programme, ‘NHS Direct: Patient Empowerment or Dependency?', £165,000 Co-applicant, 2001. L218252022.
  • ‘Social Change in British Coalfields', Department of Sociology, University of Manchester / International Centre for Labour Studies 1997-1999. ESRC project, Research Associate, with Huw Beynon and Ray Hudson.
  • ‘The relationship between Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Social Processes in Two Industries', Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Durham 1995-1996. ESRC project, Research Associate with Ian Roberts and Richard Brown.


I actively welcome potential PhD students to work with me in the areas of work and employment; nostalgia; visual methods and approaches; oral history; industrial change; deindustrialisation; the history of British sociology; working class studies. If you have a proposal in one of these areas and want to study at the University of Kent, please email me to discuss further.


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I teach on and/or convene the following modules:

Undergraduate Level

SO668 The Sociology of Work [add reviews]
SO602 Social Research Methods
SO300 1st Year Undergraduate module in Sociology – (Session on Work: and Economic life)

Masters Level

SO866 Worlds of Work [add reviews]
SO867 Foundations of Sociology (Session on ‘Mass-Observation’)
SO817 Qualitative Methods (sessions on ‘Oral History’ and ‘Visual Methods’)

PHD Level

I am currently supervising six PHD students:
David Nettleingham; Victoria Tedder; Dan Curran; Jon Dean; Matt Hinds-Aldrich and Nathan Hudson

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I have held awards from the ESRCMRCBritish Academy and ESF.

Professional bodies

I have been very actively involved in the British Sociological Association (BSA).

I was elected to the Executive Committee of the BSA in 2001 and re-elected in 2003. I was the chair of the Publications Committee, which manages the Association's journals WES and Sociology, until 2004. I was on the editorial committee of the BSA's Network newsletter for four years from 1998 and Work, Employment and Society from 2002-2004. I was one of the judges for the 2004 BSA Philip Abrams Book Prize.


I am currently on the editorial board of The Sociological Review and the Sociology Compass. I also recently guest edited a special issue of Sociology ‘Re-thinking sociologies of work: Past present and future’ with Susan Halford University of Southampton.


 I am a founding member and co-convenor of the BSA Work, Employment and Economic Life Study Group (WEEL) and of the Working Class Studies Association. I have also taken a lead in setting up Re-Working Kent a cross faculty network of scholars at the University of Kent interested in work issues. I am also a member of:


I held a fellowship at the Center for Working Class Studies Youngstown state University in Ohio USA in 2003.


I have acted as a referee for a number of sociological and interdisciplinary journals in the USA, UK and EU.

External examiner

I have acted as an external examiner at undergraduate level the University of Kent (2005-2006), University of Newcastle (2007- 2009) and Sheffield University (2008-2011).

I have acted as external examiner for postgraduate work at the Universities of York, Warwick, Salford, Anglia Ruskin, Newcastle, Sheffield Hallam, Essex and LSE.

Conference and papers

I have given plenary presentations at conferences in Germany, USA, UK, and Ireland. Over the past few years I have given papers based on my work at York, Glasgow, City University London, Warwick, University of East London, Exeter, Manchester, Essex, Southampton and Dublin.

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Professor Tim Strangleman talks on BBC1's One Show about time and motion studies in the workplace

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Telephone: +44(0)1227 823072 Fax: +44(0)1227 827005 or email us

SSPSSR, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cornwallis North East, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF

Last Updated: 26/01/2015