Professor Jason Hughes


BSc, PhD (Leicester)

Room: 1.06 107-111 Princess Road East
Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2734

Personal details


I am Head of the School of Media, Communication and Sociology: a school of some 60 staff formed by the 2016 merger of the Department of Sociology and the Department of Media & Communication. I have held and am currently holding external examiner roles at the University of Kent; City University, London; Ulster University; University of Mauritius; Mauritius Institute of Education; and the University of Hong Kong. I am chair of the editorial board for Human Figurations and have acted as guest editor for the journals Crime, Media and Culture and The Journal of Workplace Learning, and Historical Social Research. I previously served on the editorial board of Work, Employment and Society, and I am currently a member of the editorial board for Historical Social Research. I am one of three members of the Board of the Norbert Elias Foundation, and I am a member of the Intoxicants and Intoxication in Cultural and Historical Perspective research network convened from the University of Cambridge [Click on this link to go to the Intoxicants and Intoxication in Cultural and Historical Perspective Research Network web page], the Moral Panics Research Network based at Brunel University [Click on this link to go to the Moral Panics Research Network web page] and the Figurational Research Network based in The Netherlands. [Click on this link to go to the Figurational Research Network web page]

Successful grants/consultations

  • 'Adolescent Vaping Careers'. Principal Investigator, Funded by Cancer Research UK. C60744/A23882. FEC Value of £278,321.17. Commencing 1/5/2017.
  • ‘The Regulation of E-Cigarettes in and Around Organisational Lives’. Co-Investigator (PI Dr Charlotte Smith, Leicester Business School). Funded by Cancer Research UK. C60666/A23885. FEC value of £102,246.83. Commencing 1/5/2017.
  • 'Communicating smoking-related health risks: a scoping study of professional and lay understandings in China'. Co-Investigator, Funded by College of Social Sciences Development Fund. 2017. (Principal Investigator, Sarah Gong, School of Media, Communication and Sociology).
  • Return to Winston Parva: A Re-study of Established and Outsider Relationships. Co-funded University of Leicester College of Social Sciences Research Development fund and Brunel University, Social Science QR fund. £1395, awarded 2012. Project to undertake preliminary work for restudy of Elias and Scotson’s ‘Established and Outsiders’ in Leicester region. Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator, Professor John Goodwin, School of Media, Communication and Sociology).
  • Co-Investigator with Professor Ruth Simpson and Dr Natasha Slutskaya (both Brunel). 'Dirty Work': Managing 'Taint' in the Retail Meat Trade. Funded by British Academy, £7500, awarded 2011. Project involving depth interviews, photo-elicitation, plus narrative reconstruction with some fifty participants.
  • Project with Dr John Goodwin (Leicester): The Sociological Legacy of Ilya Neustadt. Co-funded by CLMS, University of Leicester and Brunel University. £3000, awarded 2010.
  • Consultant for Prof. Alan Felstead and Nick Jewson, Cardiff University for ESRC Learning at Work project. High-Performance Work Practices review. £4000, awarded October 2007.
  • Consultant to Sage Publications on Web 2.0 and virtual learning environments.
  • Consultant for World Employment Reports, International Labour Office, 2004.



  • SY2087: Interpreting Key Sociological Texts (Contributions)
  • SY3042: Undergraduate Research Project


  • Supervision of Masters and PhD theses
  • SY7037: Social and Cultural Theory (Convenor)
  • SY7034: Exploring the Social World (Contributions)


I have a broad range of research interests, all of which stem from my core engagement with relational/processual sociology: that is, sociology which focuses on social processes, human relationships, and which is centrally concerned with how the stuff of the social world 'comes to be'. Thus far, I have extended this engagement with relational/processual sociology to three key areas: consumption and regulation; sociological practice; and work, emotions and identity.

1. Consumption and Regulation

In my first book, Learning to Smoke (2003, University of Chicago Press) I explore an interest in 'regulation' in two key senses, first in the increasing socio-legal regulation over the manufacture, sale, and promotion of tobacco products, and second in the changing use of a particular substance in processes of 'self-regulation'. [Click on this link for more information via publisher] Learning to Smoke was winner of the 2006 Norbert Elias Prize. I discuss the book in depth in an interview with Laurie Taylor for BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed. [Click on this link to go to Thinking Allowed programme] More recently, I have examined some of these concerns in relation to research on e-cigarettes, including two projects for Cancer Research UK.

My interest in consumption and regulation also extends to media 'consumption' and processes of moral regulation. Recent work in this area includes a co-edited volume (together with Chas Critcher, Julian Petley and Amanda Rohloff) entitled Moral Panics in the Contemporary World (2013, Bloomsbury Academic) in which we, together with other contributors, sought to extend Stan Cohen and Jock Young’s concept of 'moral panic' in relation to a series of contemporary cases. [Click on this links for more information via publisher] The book's title draws from a conference I co-organised at Brunel University (December 2010). The conference spurred the development of an Moral Panics Research Network. [Click on this link to go to Moral Panics Research Network web page]

2. Sociological practice

Broadly speaking, 'sociological practice' is intended here to refer to sociological theory, methods, and the history of sociology. One of my core interests in this respect is the work of former University of Leicester sociologist, Norbert Elias. Together with Professor Eric Dunning, I have recently co-authored a major study into the work of Elias entitled Norbert Elias and Modern Sociology: Knowledge, Interdependence, Power, Process (2013, Bloomsbury Academic). [Click on this link for more information via publisher] In the book, we explore parallels, critical differences and affinities between Elias’s work and that of other major social theorists including Anthony Giddens, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu. We argue that, together with these and other theorists, Elias's work may point towards a possible 'relational turn' within the social sciences. I recently discussed some of the empirical components of Elias’s work for a BBC World Service programme on 'Manners' for the radio series The Why Factor. [Click on this link to go to The Why Factor programme]

In 2014, I co-organised together with Dr John Goodwin a major conference on the work of Elias held at College Court, Leicester. [Click on this link to go to the conference web site]

Other examples of my interest in sociological practice – theory and methods in particular – include the four volume edited collections I have recently published for the Sage Library of Research Methods series: Visual Methods (2012, Sage Publications) [Click on this link for more information via publisher] and Internet Research Methods (2012, Sage Publications). [Click on this link for more information via publisher] I have also recently completed, together with John Goodwin, a further four volume work for the Sage Benchmarks in Social Research Methods series entitled Documentary and Archival Research published in 2014. [Click on this link for more information via publisher] We plan to further explore the issues surrounding treating documents as part and parcel of the social landscape in a series of papers and in a forthcoming co-edited book entitled Norbert Elias and Popular Culture.

3. Work, emotions and identity

Over the past decade, I have undertaken research and have written a series of articles on topics which address the interface between management research and organisational sociology, with a particular focus on emotions and identity. Key examples in this respect are papers on emotional intelligence, the learning organisation, happiness and well being, high performance working, and communities of practice (see co-edited book Communities of Practice, Critical Perspectives, Routledge 2007). [Click on this link for more information via publisher] More recently, I have worked together with Professor Ruth Simpson and Dr Natasha Slutskaya (both of Brunel University Business School) utilising Everett C. Hughes’s concept of 'dirty work' to explore the management of various forms of 'taint' in low status occupations. One of our articles (entitled "Lessons from Photoelicitation: Encouraging Working Men to Speak" and published in Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management recently received the Emerald Literati award for outstanding paper of 2013. [Click on this link for online access via publisher]


I have previously supervised research students in relation to such diverse topics as: retirement, power and influence; e-cigarettes and tobacco control; punk and ageing; homelessness among Polish migrants; graduate 'talent stories'; the sociogenesis of hypermasculinity; representations of climate change and moral panics; happiness, well-being and positivity; terrorism and civilisation; higher education and communities of practice; Chinese culture and learning; web 2.0 research; dark tourism; higher education and epistemic regimes; genocide and ethnic cleansing; knowledge management and knowledge sharing. I am interested in supervising research that fits with my current interests and cognate areas of concern, but am open to considering other topics.

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School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Campus based courses
T: +44(0)116 252 3863

Distance Learning Courses
T: 0116 252 3755

Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
T: +44(0)116 252 2785

University of Leicester
Bankfield House
132 New Walk
United Kingdom

University of Leicester
107-111 Princess Road East
United Kingdom

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