Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

Making sense of the social world



I am a Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research who joined the school in September 2012.

My main interests are public attitudes, values and perceptions of vulnerable groups on a series of dimensions applying an intersectional and gender sensitive approach. I research these comparatively, and have focused on Mainland China the last two years.

One dimension of my work focuses on welfare legitimacy and the values, attitudes and perception underlying and supporting different types of welfare arrangements across the world. I am continously developing and working on several research strands along this dimension: one focusing on deservingness and stereotyping of welfare claimants, one focusing on comparative views of government responsibilities in East-Asia, China and Europe.

A second dimension of my work focuses on reactions to and the lived experiences of attitudes, stereotypes, values and perceptions held by the public and by those facing the consequences of these. This has led me to research Chinese feminism as well as the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in China.

The last dimension of my work is aimed to improve research methods research through radically inclusive and innovative research methos, and previously I have in particular done research on systematic review methodology and the ‘what works’ tradition.

I am also Joint Coordinator of the University of Kent's Q-Step Centre, a Centre were we aim to combine innovative teaching and applied social sciences to the benefit of both our own students as well as the wider population in Kent, and in particular students in Secondary Education. For any questions on our centre email


I did my PhD at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent and have a MSc in Comparative Politics (Research) from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as an Mphil in Political Science from the University of Oslo.


Contact Information


Room E126
Cornwallis East
University of Kent
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NZ

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Sundberg, T. (2016). In Difference We Grow. Discover Society [website]. Available at:
Taylor-Gooby, P., Gumy, J. and Sundberg, T. (2014). Can 'New Welfare' Address Poverty through More and Better Jobs? Journal of Social Policy:1-22.
Sundberg, T. (2014). Attitudes to the Welfare State: A Systematic Review Approach to the Example of Ethnically Diverse Welfare States. Sociological Research Online [Online] 19. Available at:
Sundberg, T. and Taylor-Gooby, P. (2013). A Systematic Review of Comparative Studies of Attitudes to Social Policy. Social Policy & Administration [Online] 47:416-433. Available at:
Book section
Sundberg, T. (2017). Systematic reviews in social policy evaluation. in: Greve, B. ed. Handbook of Social Policy Evaluation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 100-118. Available at:
Sundberg, T. (2014). A Crisis in Welfare Legitimacy? A review of citizens' support for the welfare state in times of change.
Internet publication
Sundberg, T. (2014). The negative campaigning in Rochester and Strood may have long-lasting implications for attitudes towards people and the poor [internet blog]. Available at:
Mukherjee, S., Sundberg, T. and Schütt, B. (2019). Issues, Dimensions and Approaches of Assessing Urban Water Security in Developing and Emerging Countries: An Inclusive Perspective. in: Sikdar, P. ed. Environmental Management: Issues and Concerns in Developing Countries. Springer.
Total publications in KAR: 8 [See all in KAR]
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Research Interests

I have a wide range of research interests with an emphasis on cross-national views and the effect of negative attitudes, stereotyping, values and perceptions affecting vulnerable groups. Since my PhD I have conducted research projects on comparative welfare state attitudes, deservingness, immigration and social research methods. The last few years my research has brought me to focus on public views and the lived experiences of particular vulnerable groups in Mainland China. This research on ‘two sides’ (‘holders’ and ‘receivers’) of attitudes, stereotypes and perceptions have also brought me to do research on feminists, to understand the reactions to value and attitude systems in the societies researched. I am also currently working on projects emphasising and developing research methods that are inclusive, community driven and critically reflect on the role of the social researcher.

One of my projects involved research focusing on understanding what trends and dynamics are at play in people's attitudes towards welfare states. I am in particular interested in comparative perspectives as well as the theoretical underpinnings and dynamics of values, attitudes and stereotypes across different cultures. Among the questions I have researched are: What, if any, changes are there in citizen's attitudes towards the welfare state? Is there less or more support for principles such as redistribution? What differences are there between and within countries? I also have a special interest in the relationship between immigration and welfare state legitimacy, and in particular the deservingness and negative out-group judgement.

My main current interests include:

  • The relationship between immigration and welfare legitimacy;
  • Research on stigma of welfare claimants, and deservingness in a welfare state setting;
  • Comparative welfare attitudes in Europe, East-Asia, China and North America;
  • The impact of political and welfare institutions on welfare attitudes;
  • The lived experiences of stigma, stereotypes and negative perceptions and attitudes by LGBTQ+ individuals and groups;
  • Chinese feminism;
  • The development of and use of innovative research methods, with an emphasis on them being critical, radically inclusive and community driven.
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I convene the Masters course on Critical Social Research (SO832) as well as the core modules Key Welfare Issues (SA503) at Stage 3 and Social Research Methods (SO602) at Stage 2.

I am also involved in innovating and changing quantitative methods teaching across the Social Sciences at the University of Kent. Our focus in the Q-Step Centre is to create engaging teaching material and teaching environment and to ensure that students make use of their skills on ‘real life’ data.

My teaching focuses on two main areas - critical social research methods and comparative welfare issues. These two areas reflect two of my main interests which are to carry out high quality critical research in a highly interconnected world and to understand cross-national variations. It is my aim to make my teaching not only relevant and related to current social issues, but also to make it clear and comprehensive for students.

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Editorial board membership


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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: 12/06/2017