Professor John Goodwin, FAcSS SFHEA AFCIPD

Professor of Sociology and Sociological Practice

John Goodwin Photo

Room 1.06 Astley Clarke

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5922


Research Gate:


Web of Science: B-1771-2012

Personal details

    • BSc (Loughborough) Sociology and Social Psychology
    • Ph.D. (Leicester) Sociology
    • Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS)
    • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

My Sociological Practice

In early 2019 my Professorial title changed from Professor of Sociology to Professor of Sociology and Sociological Practice. This is something I had thought about for some time based on a desire to do more of the ‘doing’ of sociology rather than talking about how others ‘do' sociology. To be clear 'sociological practice' is not a form of methodological fetishism but, instead, is something much simpler. A recognition that the sociology which is important to me is deeply rooted in the Millsean /Jephcottian ideas of sociology as 'craft and skills' (see Goodwin 2016). That being a sociologist requires certain skills and the best way to develop these skills is to enact them continually. This approach is also informed by the sociology of Norbert Elias (the best sociological understanding is offered by examining long-term historical, social processes) and the sociology of those who work with auto\biography such as Liz Stanley (histories and biographies intersect, and sociological insight into long term social processes can be gained by examining auto\biographical material in all its forms). We as sociologists belong to a 'community of practice' and the role of those who teach sociology is to teach the craft, teach the ‘doing’ and to enable membership of that community practice we call sociology.

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 twenty years, including nearly five years as Head, I worked in the Centre for Labour Market Studies (CLMS) before returning to the Sociology Department (now School of Media, Communication and Sociology) in August 2014.

External activities

    • Research Excellence Framework, 2021. Sub-panel 21: Sociology, Panel Member.
    • Chair of the Data, Infrastructure, Skills, and Methods Expert Advisory Group, ESRC.
    • Member of i) The Working Class Studies Association; ii) The International Visual Sociology Association; iii) International Sociological Association (Research Committee on History of Sociology (RC08) & Research Committee on Youth (RC34); iv) American Sociological Association (sections on Teaching Sociology and Social Psychology); v) Archives & Records Association (UK & Ireland); vi) The Association for Psychosocial Studies.
    • 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: National Institute of Health Research; Finnish Academy of Social Sciences; The British Academy; Routledge; SAGE; Ashgate; Open University Press; Policy Press.
    • External Examiner (UG): Durham University


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

Undergraduate, Postgraduate & PGR

  • SY1004: Sociology in Practice (with Steve Holmes and Laurie Parsons)
  • SY1008: Interpreting Key Sociological Texts (contributor)
  • SY1013: Ways of Researching
  • SY2091: Live Sociology (contributor)
  • SY2098: Sociology Through Literature and Film (with Laurie Parsons)
  • SY3100: Social Psychology
  • SY3094: The Autobiographical Society (with Laurie Parsons)
  • SY3093: Space, Place and Contemporary Culture (contributor)
  • SY7005 and LM7504: Dissertation supervisor
  • Supervision of PhD students

Selected Recent Publications

Goodwin J, Parsons L. A Life in Motion: Exploring Auto/Biographical Exchanges by ‘Walking With’ Nelson Sullivan. Sociological Research Online. July 2021. doi:10.1177/13607804211025541

Goodwin, J., O'Connor, H. and Parsons, L. (2021) Certainties and control in the lives of young men: Stories from three research projects, in Nico, M. and Caetano, A (2020) Structure and Agency in Young People’s Lives. London Routledge.

Goodwin, J. Parsons, L., and O'Connor, H. (2020) COVID-19: A Global ‘Civilising Offensive', Timelines, Issue 29 pp.13-15

Goodwin, J. and Parsons, L. (2020) Locating the auto/biographical: sociological exchanges through walking with Nelson Sullivan, School of Media, Commutation and Sociology: Occasional Paper. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.31346.73928

Droy, L. Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2020) Using a Multi-Strategy Approach to Manage Methodological Uncertainty about the Long-Term Effects of Government Sponsored Youth Training on Occupational Mobility, Bulletin of Sociological Methodology/Bulletin de Méthodologie (forthcoming)

Goodwin, J. and O’Connor, H. (2020) Imagination and the Analytical Potential of Working with Non-Interview or Unusual Data in Hughes, K., and Tarrant, A. (2020) Qualitative Secondary Analysis: London: SAGE

Goodwin, J., O’Connor H., Droy, L. and Holmes, S. (2020) Returning to YTS: the long-term impact of youth training scheme participation, Journal of Youth Studies, Volume 23, Issue 1

Droy, L. Goodwin, J. and O'Connor, H. (2019) The Impact of Youth Training Schemes (YTS) on Occupational Mobility in BCS1970: An approach considering methodological Uncertainty, School of Media, Commutation and Sociology: Occasional Paper. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.29787.11047



I have a broad range of research interests including (i) Youth transitions, employment, training schemes (YTS), underemployment and precarity; (ii) The sociology of Pearl Jephcott, Norbert Elias, and C Wright Mills. The social psychology of Milgram and Zimbardo; (iii) Auto/biographical data, methods and analysis (correspondence, film, photographs, biography, social media, art); (iv) The 'reuse' of 'classic' British empirical studies post 1940; and (v) Non-standard' research methods and data source.

Current Research

Return to Radby: Re-entering the field from the Social Background of Delinquency (1954) (BA)

The contributions of many women sociologists have become overlooked in research historiographies. As such, there is a need to reexamine these past contributions in order to both recognise their significance and to reassess the contemporary relevance of the findings from their work so as to draw out any methodological lessons for creative research practice. Using data from three work packages – reconstructing 'then and now ', archival demographic and biographical research, and interviews with local residents – we contribute to this research agenda by extending our growing body of work on the forgotten sociologist Pearl Jephcott. Goodwin, O'Connor and Parsons do so by returning to her largely unknown study The Social Background of Delinquency (1954). We will re-examine this work in order to i) detail this aspect of Jephcott's research; ii)understand how the original fieldwork site has been transformed since 1954, and iii) test the link between delinquency and socio-economic change.

Youth Opportunities? The long-term impacts of youth training and YT schemes (1960s – 2020) (ESRC)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £2bn Kickstart jobs scheme in July 2020 as a response to the looming youth unemployment crisis emerging from the COVID-19 global pandemic and as a corrective to undergird the UK industrial strategy. This scheme, alongside the earlier Future Jobs Fund, have origins in much older labour market interventions – The Youth Training Scheme (YTS). While positioned as relatively short-time labour market interventions the long-term impacts of participating in such schemes is not fully understood. While Kickstart sounds promising who can be really sure what the long-term benefit will be? Therefore, it is reasonable to ask two questions i) what policy/ practice lessons can be learned from the earlier variants; and ii) what were the long-term impacts of participating in YTS? O’Connor and Goodwin, along with the late Professor Andy Furlong (Glasgow), received British Academy funding (£9,190, 2016-2019) for a pilot study to provide a better understanding of youth training schemes and to explore their long-term impacts over between 1980 and 2015. The fieldwork for Youth Opportunities comprised of qualitative research in-depth interviews with original YTS participants and secondary analysis of existing data, including the 1970 British Cohort Study. The research also extended some of the analysis offered in Furlong, Goodwin and O’Connor (2018) and their ESRC funded projects Making the 'Precariat' (£178,035 2013-2016) and ‘From Young Workers’ (£29K, 2001-2005).  The team have now completed the initial phase of data collection and analysis. Findings reveal a complex transition from school or college, through a YTS (if completed) and into the labour market. Rather than a linear ‘stepping stone’ into employment, the success of youth training schemes was often impacted by the local area, culture and perceptions, family, school priorities and the labour market, as well as – if not more so – than individual personalities and capabilities of the young trainee (see Droy et al 2020, 2019; Goodwin et al 2020).

Documenting Downtown: The Sociological Relevance of Nelson Sullivan

In this research John and Laurie Parsons are combining a number of inter are related materials – YouTube films, autobiographical methods, diaries, letters and walking. We use these ‘as lens’ through which to explore the sociological value of films of New York vlogger Nelson Sullivan (1948 – 1989).

The Sociological Relevance of Nelson Sullivan


Pearl Jephcott – A programme of research reexamining the research work and publications of the sociologist Pearl Jephcott.

Pearl Jephcott (1900-1980), in a research career spanning some forty years, made an outstanding contribution to British social science research. Her key works, including Girls Growing Up (1942), Rising Twenty (1948), Some Young People (1954), Married Women Working (1962), A Troubled Area: Notes on Notting Hill (1964), Time of One’s Own (1967) and Homes in High Flats (1971), alongside other reports and articles, paved the way for many of the subsequent development. In the recent past 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. See

Return to Winston ParvaWinston 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.

Research Funding

British Academy

Return to Radby: Re-entering the field from the social background of delinquency (1954), £8,311.30 (John Goodwin PI, Henrietta O'Connor CI, Laurie Parsons CI).

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (IAA)

Youth Opportunities? The long-term impacts of youth training and YT schemes (1960s – 2020), £7,352 (John Goodwin PI, Henrietta O'Connor CI, Laurie Parsons CI).

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 38 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:

  • Emma Aldwinckle
    How are disabilities represented and included in the media - the significance of autoethnography methods, PhD (with Anna Claydon
  • Jessica Davey-Peel
    Third culture identities: An investigation into how occupying a childhood third culture identity influences adult cultural and national identity, PhD (with Grace Sykes)
  • Thuy Duong Pham
    Conceptualising legal capability through intercultural competence:A case study on activities for Law School students in aiding Public Legal Education, PhD - School of Law (second supervisor with Dawn Watkins)
  • Hesham Alghamdi
    Saudi Perceptions and Motives for Volunteering , PhD (with Michael Dunning)
  • Mia Rai
    Punk and Emotions: The Misunderstood Subculture/Youth Identity,  PhD (with Matt Hart and Michael Dunning)
  • Abeer Bajandough
    The Role of Social Media in the Empowerment of Saudi Women in the Workforce, PhD (with Athina Karatzogianni)
  • Susan Foreseille
    How Post-Secondary Educated Students Transition from Program of Study to Meaningful Career, PhD (with Henrietta O'Connor)
  • Hatice Kayman
    Ethnic Identity formation of Turkish young in Leicester and London, PhD (with Henrietta O'Connor)
  • Matt McIntosh
  • Laurie Parsons
    Elias and Gender Identities: The Sociogenesis and Psychogenesis of Family Relations in Work of Fiction 12th - 21st Century (With Jason Hughes)
  • Zahide Yildiz
    Turkish Postgraduate Students’ Attitudes Toward Marriage: A Case of The United Kingdom, PhD (with Henrietta O'Connor)
  • Jan Davis
    The Sociogenesis of a Village, PhD. (with Jason Hughes and Michael Dunning)
  • Will Davis
    Are Native Americans Still The ‘Invisible People’?: An Investigation Into How This Came To Be And What Can Be Done, PhD (3rd supervisor with Michael Dunning and Stephen Mennell)

Post Submission (Awaiting Viva)

  • Monica Mapp
    Sociological Investigation Into the Usage of Religious Symbolism in Fashion, PhD (with Henrietta O'Connor)

Post Viva

  • Steven Holmes
    Die Like a Man! The role of masculinity within suicidal ideation in middle-aged men, PhD
  • Sagar Sonawane
    Highly Skilled Indian Migrants: A comparison of the social and cultural challenges of Indians in the United Kingdom versus India, PhD
  • Nadine Ingrid Vidia Newman
    Employee Perception of Engagement: A Case Study of a Higher Education Institution in Jamaica, DSocSci (School of Business)

Recently Completed

  • Charlotte Barrat
    How do families experience museums: a study of one super-diverse community and its local museum, PhD
  • Rayya Al Barazi
    Cultural Capital, Social Capital, and Nationality in Relation to Academic Achievement among University Students in the United Arab Emirates , PhD.
  • Sam Belkin
    Your Co-Worker Undressed: Tattoos, Identity, and Stigma in the American White Collar Workplace, PhD
  • Nerina Boursinou
    Digital freedom vs Physical Immobility: Appropriation of ICTs by the (Forced) Migrants in Greece, PhD
  • Josette Barbara Cardona
    The Building Blocks of Human Capital: The Career Development Process of Maltese Youths,  PhD
  • 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.
  • Ram Subramaniam
    Are it entrepreneurs more likely than non-it ones to reattempt entrepreneurship after a failure?, PhD
  • Rania Alghamidi
    Factors that Motivate and Demotivate Employees to Participate in Knowledge Transfer Programs, DSocSci (School of Business)

Find out more about applying for a PhD

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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
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