Dr David Nettleingham

Lecturer in Cultural Sociology


Dr David Nettleingham joined the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research as a Lecturer in Cultural Studies in 2012, but has been a member of the School for much longer as both student and teacher. He studied at Kent for a BA in Sociology and Philosophy (2006), an MA in Sociology (2007) and a PhD in Sociology (2013), and taught as an Assistant Lecturer in Sociology and Cultural Studies from 2008 - 2012.

Research interests

Dr Nettleingham’s research is informed by interests in the politics of memory and narrative, perceptions of class, generation and community, and oral historical methods. He is currently researching/writing on the cultural life and collective memory of the British left, identity and place on the Isle of Thanet, and the role that heritage practices play in shaping deindustrialisation and rurality. 

He is a member of the SSPSSR’s Work, Employment and Economic Life research cluster and the Centre for Heritage in the School of European Culture and Languages.  


Dr Nettleingham teaches on various modules across the Cultural Studies and Sociology programmes, including his research-led module Narrative, Myth and Cultural Memory. 


Dr Nettleingham would be interested in receiving supervision enquires in the areas of cultural memory and heritage, autobiography, social and cultural history, generational identities, deindustrialisation, or political cultures and movements.



Editorial work 

  • Journal of Working-Class Studies - member of the Editorial Collective 
  • The Conversation Paperpress - former Commissioning Editor (2009-2014) 

Media work 

Dr Nettleingham's research has featured on BBC South East Today and BBC Radio Kent. 



  • Nettleingham, D. (2018). Heritage Work: the Preservations and Performances of Thames Sailing Barges. Cultural Sociology [Online] 12:384-399. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1749975518783380.
    ‘Heritage’ represents a series of contested and contingent relationships in the preservation and performance of the past. It is a relationship made all the more complex by taking into account the work that goes into both aspects: preserving what would otherwise be lost, and actively seeking public exposure and support. Work has been central to studies of heritage practices in the context of deindustrialisation: how working identities and communities use or become used in the development of heritage-led regeneration. This article examines what it is to engage in forms of work defined by their personal, community and commercial heritage appeal. It presents a study of those who live and work on Thames sailing barges – historic cargo vessels whose future survival relies on the impetus to preserve them as part of an industrial heritage, and in their fulfilment of a number of (often problematic) performative roles.
  • Nettleingham, D. (2018). Beyond the Heartlands: Deindustrialization, Naturalization and the Meaning of an 'Industrial' Tradition. British Journal of Sociology [Online] 70:610-626. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12365.
    Deindustrialization is a complex and multifaceted series of processes and transitions, reflecting the equally complicated web of social relationships and interdependencies that constitute(d) an industrial society. Contemporary scholars have looked beyond just the economic impact of industrial loss, to the cultural, temporal and spatial legacies and impacts wrought by the mass closures of the 1980s, as well as the continuing presence of an industrial identity in struggles over representation and regeneration. However, deindustrialization has a history that precedes the volatility and culmination of that period, and has impacted upon a more geographically diverse range of former industrial locations than are commonly represented. The narratives that surround some sites are complicated by their displacement in time, place and discourse; they lack the political capital of an ‘industrial’ identity through this disassociation. In this article I aim to go beyond what we might consider the industrial ‘heartlands’ of the UK to a place that has felt the impact of deindustrialization, but which falls outside of the usual representations of the UK’s industrial past. I explore how the industrial identity and memory of a place can be naturalized and selectively re-worked for the needs of the hour, the very meaning of ‘industrial’ altered in the process. I argue that for sites unable to access or utilize the imagery of modern, heavy industry for community or promotional aims, deindustrialization becomes a process of re-writing an historic identity – one that sheds new light on industrial loss in diverse situations, and at an ever-increasing distance from closure.
  • Nettleingham, D. (2018). Community, Locality and Social(ist) Transformation. The Sociological Review [Online] 66:593-607. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0038026117723251.
    Community is elusive, desirable, rhetorical; something lost and something to be built; a relationship, a concept, a synonym, a place (real or imagined). This article explores the roles that the complexity of community’s conceptualisation has played in the development of political identities, goals and rationales for action. Drawing on the ways in which it has been conceptualised and utilised in sociological, historical and political understandings of social change, and a series of interviews with members of British socialist organisations, I examine the relationship and equation between ‘community’, and ‘location’, ‘local’ and ‘place’ that develop as these terms become drawn into a wider project for social transformation. I argue that ideas of location have not only framed how community is operationalised to imagine and enact this transformation, but that location itself is conceptualised in multiple, equally complex ways through this association. Social change becomes relatable, an articulable experience of large-scale processes, of social problems, of power and resistance. Community is reified, and change is made possible through a sense of locality.
  • Nettleingham, D. (2017). Canonical Generations and the British Left: The Narrative Construction of the Miners’ Strike 1984–85. Sociology-the Journal of the British Sociological Association [Online] 51:850-864. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0038038515604308.
    ‘Generations’ have been invoked to describe a variety of social and cultural relationships, and to understand the development of self-conscious group identity. Equally, the term can be an applied label and politically useful construct; generations can be retrospectively produced. Drawing on the concept of ‘canonical generations’ – those whose experiences come to epitomise an event of historic and symbolic importance – this article examines the narrative creation and functions of ‘generations’ as collective memory shapes and re-shapes the desire for social change. Building a case study of the canonical role of the miners’ strike of 1984–85 in the narrative history of the British left, it examines the selective appropriation and transmission of the past in the development of political consciousness. It foregrounds the autobiographical narratives of activists who, in examining and legitimising their own actions and prospects, (re)produce a ‘generation’ in order to create a relatable and useful historical understanding.

Edited book

  • Mushakavanhu, T. and Nettleingham, D. eds. (2009). State of the Nation: Contemporary Zimbabwean Poetry. The Conversation Paperpress.
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