Professor John Goodwin

Professor of Sociology and Sociological Practice

Programme Director BA Sociology

UoA 21 Sociology REF Lead

Contact details

Room 1.12, 107 Princess Road East.

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5922


Personal details

  • BSc (Loughborough)
  • Ph.D. (Leicester)
  • FRSA

I joined the University of Leicester in 1991, having previously taught briefly at Loughborough University and in the Sociology Department at Leicester as a tutorial assistant. For more than 20 years I worked in the Centre for Labour Market Studies (CLMS) before returning to the Sociology Department in August 2014.

I have a BSc in Sociology and Social Psychology from Loughborough (1991) and a PhD from the University of Leicester (1997). In 1999, I was a Summer Visiting Research Fellow at the Policy Studies Institute, Trinity College Dublin. I'm also an Academic Fellow of CIPD and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Between January 2006 and October 2010, I served for nearly five years as Head of Department for CLMS. I was also the Sub-Dean for Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences from 2003-2006 and served as the first Academic Director for the College of Social Science between 2009-2010. I've served as an undergraduate external examiner at the Universities of Ulster, Limerick, Brunel, Kent, Abertay, Hong Kong and the Dublin Institute of Technology. I was previously a Board member of RN30 Youth and Generation (European Sociological Association) and Vice President (Conferences) - RC33 Research Methods (International Sociological Association). I was a member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Capability Committee between 2015 and 2018 and I am now a member of the ESRC's Strategic Advisory Network given the recent establishment of UKRI. My work with ESRC has included chairing TROIKA meetings with Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPS), reviewing DTPs and DTCs as well as supporting other key ESRC data, methods and infrastructure investments.

Sociological practice

I'm a recognised expert on the life and sociology of Pearl Jephcott and have a significant interest in the works of Norbert Elias and C Wright Mills as well as an emerging interest in the social psychology of Stanley Milgram.

My expertise lies in qualitative secondary analysis, restudies, biographical methods and the use of unconventional data sources in sociological research. For example, the highly rated From Young Workers to Older Workers project uniquely combined secondary analysis with the tracing of past respondents for restudy. Professor Jason Hughes and I developed a figurational analysis of epistolary forms (see British Journal of Sociology) arguing that letters and correspondence offer a unique insight into the history of British sociology. Reflecting these methodological interests I have recently edited/co-edited four major works for SAGE – Biographical Methods - 4 Volumes (2012), Secondary Analysis - 4 Volumes (2012), Documentary and Archival Research  - 4 Volumes (2014) with Jason Hughes and Contemporary Approaches to Ethnographic Research - 4 Volumes (2018) with Jason Hughes, Jerry Coulton and Kahryn Hughes (Leeds University).

External activities

  • ESRC Strategic Advisory Network 2018-  (previously Capability Committee since 2015)
  • Editorial Board Member Human Figurations, Industrial Relations Journal, Education and Training, and the European Journal of Training and Development. Previously I was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Youth Studies the UK Regional Editor of the Irish Journal of Sociology. I have also served on the boards of Work, Employment and Society and Sociological Research Online and have edited special editions of the Women's History Review, Historical Social Research /Historischee Sozialforschung, the Journal of Education, Work and Education and Training.
  • Reviewer for:
    - The Economic and Social Research Council
    - The British Academy
    - Routledge
    - SAGE
    - Ashgate
    - Open University Press
  • Member of the International Sociological Association, the American Sociological Association and the British Sociological Association. Member of Research Committee on History of Sociology (RC08) and Member of ISA Research Committee 34 (Youth)



Office hours

I operate an 'open office' system. Please email me directly for an appointment.


  • SY1004: Sociology in Practice (Module Convenor - new for 2019/20)
  • SY1008: Interpreting Key Sociological Texts (Module Convenor)
  • SY2091: Live Sociology (with Michael Dunning and Steve Holmes)
  • SY2098: Sociology Through Literature and Film (Module Convenor - with Laurie Parsons)
  • SY3100: Social Psychology (Module Convenor)
  • SY3094: The Autobiographical Society (Module Convenor)
  • SY3093: Space, Place and Contemporary Culture (Module Convenor)


  • SY7005: Dissertation

Postgraduate research (PGR)

  • Supervision of PhD and DSocSci students

Recent Publications


Hughes, K., Coulton, J., Goodwin, J., and Hughes, J. (eds) (2018) Contemporary Approaches to Ethnographic Research - SAGE Library of Research Methods (Four Volumes). London: SAGE

Furlong, A., Goodwin, J., O’Connor, H., Hadfield, S., Hall, S., Lowden, H., and Plugor, R. (2018) Young People in the Labour market: Past, Present, Future. London: Routledge.

Edwards, R., Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H. and Phoenix, A. (2017) Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes: The Centrality of By-Products of Social Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2015) Norbert Elias’s Lost Research: Revisiting the Young Worker Project. London: Routledge

Hughes, J. and Goodwin, J. (2014) Human Documents and Archival Research. Sage Benchmarks in Research Methods (Four Volumes). London: Sage.

Goodwin, J. (2012) Secondary Analysis. (Four Volumes). London: Sage (Hardcover ISBN: 9781446246900)

Goodwin, J. (2012) Biographical Methods. (Four Volumes). London: Sage (Hardcover ISBN: 9781446246917)

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Droy, L., Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2019) Liminality, Marginalisation and Low-Skilled Work: Mapping long-term labour market difficulty following participation in the 1980s UK government-sponsored youth training schemes (YTS). School of Media, Commutation and Sociology: Occasional Paper.

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2018) Pearl Jephcott: Reflections, Resurgence and Replications. Women's History Review. DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2018.1472888

Goodwin, J. (2018) Searching for Pearls: 'Doing' Biographical Research on Pearl Jephcott. Contemporary Social Science, 1-14.

Goodwin, J. (2018) Quantity and Quality: Alan Bryman – Teacher, Mentor and Friend. International Journal of Social Science Methodology. Published online: 12 Feb 2018.

Hughes, K., Coulton, J., Goodwin, J., and Hughes, J. (2018)  Contemporary Approaches to Ethnographic. In Hughes, K., Coulton, J., Goodwin, J. and Hughes, J. (eds) (2018) Contemporary Approaches to Ethnographic Research - SAGE Library of Research Methods (Four Volumes). Delhi: SAGE pp xxiii - xlvii.

O’Connor, H. and Goodwin, J. (2017) Fieldnotes, Marginalia and Paradata in Youth Employment Restudies 1960-1985, in Edwards, R., Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H. and Phoenix, A. (2016) Working with Paradata, Marginalia and Fieldnotes: The Centrality of By-Products of Social Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Goodwin, J., Hughes, J., and O'Connor, H. (2016) 'Return to Winston Parva: Starting to Reconstruct The Established and the Outsiders ‘From the Margins’. Historical Social Research, 41:3 18-30.

Hughes, J. and Goodwin, J. (2016) 'Established–Outsider Relations and Figurational Analysis'. Historical Social Research, 41:3 7-17.

Hughes, K., Goodwin, J., and Hughes, J., (2016) Documenti e reperti umani come figurazioni. CAMBIO:Rivista sulle trasformazioni socialiJournal on Social Transformations, Anno VI, Numero 11/Giugno, 2016: 123-138 ( in Italian)

Goodwin, J. (2016) Sociology's Fate: Intersections of History and (My)Biography, Sociology, Vol. 50(5) 975–983.

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2015) A Restudy of Young Workers from the 1960s: Researching Intersections of Work and Lifecourse in One Locality over 50 years, Chapter 3 in Worth, N., and Hardhill, I. (eds) (2015) Researching the life course: Critical reflections from the social sciences. London: Policy Press (June 2015)

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2015) Pearl Jephcott: The Legacy of a Forgotten Sociological Research Pioneer, Sociology, 49(1) 139-155.

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2015) A Critical Reassessment Of The ‘Complexity’ Orthodoxy: Lessons From Existing Data And Youth ‘Legacy’ Studies, Chapter two in Kelly, P., and Kamp, A. (2014) Critical Youth Studies for the 21st Century. Leiden: Brill, Chapter 2, pp 38-52.

Goodwin, J., O’Connor, H. and Plugor, R. (2014) Ifjúság és Elias: A Fiatal Munkás projekt. Erdélyi Társadalom, Évfolyam, 2. Szám, 12(2): 83–96.

Goodwin, J., Miklós, H., Hughes, J., Plugor, R. (2014) 'Bevezetés: Norbert Elias és a folyamatszociológia' (Introduction: Norbert Elias and Process Sociology). Erdélyi Társadalom, 12(2): 9–18.

Hughes, J., and Goodwin, J. (2014) Human Documents as Figurations: Towards a Relational Approach to Documentary Research, Volume 1, Sage Library of Research Methods. London: Sage Publications, pp. xxv-xlvii.

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2014) Notions of Fantasy and Reality in the Adjustment to Retirement, Ageing and Society, 34(4): 569-589. (published online 2012)

Goodwin, J., O'Connor. H., and Quinn M. (2014) Training and Labour Needs of Young Workers in Vietnamese Organisations, Education and Training, 56(1): 35-46.

Goodwin, J. (2013) On Elias’s Theory of Communities. An Introduction to Verso una teoria della Comunità. CAMBIO: Rivista sulle trasformazioni sociali - Journal on Social Transformations (in English and Italian) Anno III, Numero 6/Dicembre 2013: pp. 161-163.

Hughes, J. and Goodwin, J. (2013) Becoming Elias: Themes From Four Interviews With Norbert Elias, Human Figurations, Volume 2, Issue 2, July 2013:

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2013) Embodying Leisure: The Use of Images in Jephcott's Time of One's Own, LERN Occasional Papers No. 2

O’Connor H. and Goodwin J. (2013) Beyond 'Average' Family Life: a secondary analysis of atypicality in 1960s families, Families, Relationships and Societies DOI: 10.1332/204674313X667777

Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2013) Ordinary Lives: 'Typical Stories' of Girls' Transitions in the 1960s and the 1980s, Sociological Research Online, Sociological Research Online, 18 (1) 4:

O’Connor H. and Goodwin J. (2013) The Ethical Dilemmas of Restudies in Researching Youth, YOUNG: Nordic Journal of Youth Research, 21(3) 289–307.

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor H. (2012) 'The Impacts of Demographic Change: Young Workers, Older Workers and the Consequences for Education, Skills and Employment', Education and Training, Vol. 54, No. 7.

O'Connor, H., and Goodwin, J. (2012) 'Revisiting Norbert Elias's Sociology of Community: Learning from the Leicester Restudies', The Sociological Review, Vol. 60. No. 3, pp 476-497.

Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H., and Plugor, R. (2012) 'Doctoral Students' Experiences at the University of Leicester, Journal for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Vol 3,

Goodwin, J. and Hughes, J. (2011) 'Ilya Neustadt, Norbert Elias, and the Development of Sociology in Britain: Formal and Informal Sources of Historical Data'. British Journal of Sociology, Volume 26, No. 4. pp. 677-695.


I have a broad range of research interests including:

  • Youth transitions, employment, training schemes (YTS), underemployment and precarity
  • The sociology of Pearl Jephcott, Norbert Elias, and C Wright Mills. The social psychology of Milgram and Zimbardo
  • Auto/biographical data, methods and analysis (correspondence, film, photographs, biography, social media, art)
  • The 'reuse' of 'classic' British empirical studies post 1940
  • 'Non-standard' research methods and data sources

I'm a member of the Figurational Research Network. In 2014, I co-organised, together with Professor Jason Hughes, a major conference on the work of Elias held at the University of Leicester called 'From the Past to the Present and towards Possible Futures: The Collected Works of Norbert Elias'. The conference attracted more than 150 participants from 23 countries. In 2016 I was the lead organizer for the ISA RC33 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology, held in Leicester.

Research themes

1. Youth Opportunities? The Long-Term Impacts of Participation in Youth Training Schemes during the 1980s

2. Continuity and Change in Forty Years of School to Work Transitions

John, Henrietta O’Connor and are undertaking a re-analysis of two classic transitions studies - Youth Labour Markets Young People’s Survey (1986 - Professor Ken Roberts) and Young Adults in the Labour Market (1983 - Professor David Ashton) with the overall aim of re-examining the transitional experience of young people during the 1980s. Along with the late Andy Furlong, University of Glasgow, we were funded by Economic and Social Research Council's Secondary Analysis Initiative Phase 1 (2012) for the project The Making of the 'Precariat': Unemployment, Insecurity and Work-Poor Young Adults in Harsh Economic Conditions and combines data from the Ashton and Roberts projects with data from Understanding Society.

3. Return to Winston Parva                                                                      Winston Parva

Building upon the success of the Adjustment of Young Workers re-study John, Henrietta O’Connor, Micheal Dunning, and Jason Hughes are undertaking a re-study of Elias and Scotson’s classic sociological text The Established and The Outsiders (1965). In this book Elias and Scotson develop the theory of established and outsider relations, illuminating how groups living within the same community had differential access to ‘power’ and different group identification as a consequence of the development of that community.

The principal objectives of the restudy are, firstly, to determine whether the established/outsider relationships described by Elias and Scotson still exist within the three districts of Winston Parva. Second, to consider whether variations in the social conditions of these different districts continue to impact upon young people’s transitions from education to work, and, moreover, we will explore the character of such influence. Finally, to develop an understanding of processes of transition through examining the interrelationships and interdependencies that comprise such ‘environments’, ‘experiences’, ‘processes’, and a consideration of how these interdependencies have emerged and changed over time.

4. Pearl Jephcott – The Employment of Married Women in a Leicester Factory, Time of One’s Own, and Homes and High Flats

Completing the trilogy of ‘Leicester restudies’, we are revisiting Pearl Jephcottthe Employment of Married Women in a Leicester Hosiery Factory (1959-1961). Like the Young Worker research that followed, this project was funded by the Department for Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR).

The original fieldwork took place in the N. Corah & Sons St Margaret’s Factory in Leicester. This study was a replication of Jephcott et al.’s study of the Peak Frean Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey (see Jephcott , P. et al. (1962) Married Women Working, London: Allen and Unwin).

Our overall aim is to replicate this study with a contemporary group of women workers in Leicester and to trace some of those women who worked for N. Corah and Sons between 1959-1961 – and who may have participated in the original research.

University of Glasgow Archive

John and Henrietta O’Connor have worked with Colleagues at the University of Glasgow Archive on a retrospective of Pearl Jephcott’s life and work with research initially focusing on a reanalysis of the visual images used in Jephcott's Glasgow studies. The photo set for Time of One's Own can be found at:




5. Ilya Neustadt: Sociologist

Ilya NeustadtIlya Neustadt (1915-1993), along with Norbert Elias, was central to the development of sociology, and the sociology department, at the University of Leicester, UK. Yet, whilst Elias has now become established as one of the central figures in European sociology, and is hailed as a truly original writer, Neustadt’s contribution to sociology remains largely hidden and, to some extent, obscured by his colleague. Hence there is scope for a more systematic and focused account of Ilya Neustadt’s time at Leicester, and of his place in British sociology. John and Jason Hughes are currently working on a trilogy of papers exploring Neustadt’s contribution to sociology in Britain and in Ghana. The first of these is being published in the British Journal of Sociology entitled Ilya Neustadt, Norbert Elias, and the Leicester Department: personal correspondence and the history of sociology in Britain. The two subsequent papers are have working titles of On Teaching Sociology and African Interludes: Neustadt, Elias and Sociology in Ghana.

6. Mills: Archival Insights into a Sociological Imagination     Sociological Imagination

The year 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the American sociologist C Wright Mills. Mills left a unique legacy for sociology that is best encapsulated in his work The Sociological Imagination (1959) - his blistering critique of both grand theory and abstract empiricism. Using archive materials collected during trips to the various archives and repositories of Mills writings and correspondence (most notably the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History) this project explores the sociological practice Mills and deconstructs his plea for those involved in intellectual craftsmanship to 'set up a file'.





Research Funding

Cancer Research UK
Adolescent Vaping Careers. C60744/A23882. FEC Value of £278,321.17. (Jason Hughes (Principal Investigator) Michelle O’Reilly (Co-Investigator ) Khalid Karim (Collaborator) Kahryn Hughes (Collaborator) and John Goodwin (Collaborator)).

British Academy
Youth Opportunities? The Long-Term Impacts of Participation in Youth Training Schemes during the 1980s: A Preliminary Study, £9,190, 2016-2018 (Henrietta O'Connor (PI) Professor John Goodwin and Professor Andy Furlong (University of Glasgow)).

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Making the 'Precariat': Unemployment, Insecurity and Work-Poor Young Adults in Harsh Economic Conditions, £178,035, 2013-2015 (with Henrietta O'Connor and Professor Andy Furlong (University of Glasgow)).

British Academy
Scoping Data Analysis on Youth Transitions and Class in Britain Post 1945, £5,752, 2008-2009 (with Henrietta O'Connor).

From Young Workers to Older Workers: Reflections on Work in the Life Process, £29, 671, 2001-2005, Rated Outstanding (with Henrietta O'Connor).

Other awards, from a variety of non-funding council sources, totalling £90,000.


I am a very experienced supervisor having supervised well over well 230 MA/MSc dissertations and 30 Doctoral theses to completion (two of which won the Outstanding DSocSci prize). I also have a significant amount of Doctoral examining experience both at Leicester and beyond. I'd be interested in supervising doctoral and dissertation work in the above areas or any of the areas relating to, or overlapping with my sociological practice. Current students include:

  • Abeer Bajandough
    The Role of Social Media in the Empowerment of Saudi Women in the Workforce, PhD
  • Josette Barbara Cardona
    The Building Blocks of Human Capital: The Career Development Process of Maltese Youths,  PhD
  • Charlotte Barrat
    How do families experience museums: a study of one super-diverse community and its local museum, PhD
  • Nerina Boursinou
    Digital freedom vs Physical Immobility: Appropriation of ICTs by the (Forced) Migrants in Greece, PhD (3rd Supervisor)
  • Sam Belkin
    Your Co-Worker Undressed, PhD
  • Susan Foreseille
    How Post-Secondary Educated Students Transition from Program of Study to Meaningful Career, PhD
  • Steven Holmes
    Die Like a Man! The role of masculinity within suicidal ideation in middle-aged men, PhD
  • Hatice Kayman
    Ethnic Identity formation of Turkish young in Leicester and London, PhD
  • Matt McIntosh
  • Monica Mapp
    Sociological Investigation Into the Usage of Religious Symbolism in Fashion, PhD
  • Laurie Parsons
    Elias and Gender Identities: The Sociogenesis and Psychogenesis of Family Relations in Work of Fiction 12th - 21st Century
  • Zahide Yildiz
    Turkish Postgraduate Students’ Attitudes Toward Marriage: A Case of The United Kingdom, PhD
  • Jan Davis
    The Sociogenesis of a Village, PhD.
  • Will Davis
    Are Native Americans Still The ‘Invisible People’?: An Investigation Into How This Came To Be And What Can Be Done, PhD
  • Sagar Sonawane
    Highly Skilled Indian Migrants: A comparison of the social and cultural challenges of Indians in the United Kingdom versus India, PhD

Post Viva

  • Nadine Ingrid Vidia Newman
    Employee Perception of Engagement: A Case Study of a Higher Education Institution in Jamaica, DSocSci (School of Business)
  • Rania Alghamidi
    Factors that Motivate and Demotivate Employees to Participate in Knowledge Transfer Programs, DSocSci (School of Business)

Recently Completed

  • Helen Lentall
    The Role of University Leadership and Management in the Development and Sustainability of Distance Learning in UK Dual Mode Universities: A View From Below, PhD.

Find out more about applying for a PhD

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School of Media, Communication and Sociology

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T: +44(0)116 252 3863

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