Michael Savage University of Manchester, UK
I studied originally as a historian (BA at York and MA at Lancaster). I became a sociologist partly by design, since I was interested in the grand theoretical questions which sociologists tend to pose, and partly by luck (the Department of Sociology at Lancaster happened to have a PhD grant available!). My doctoral work, which became my first book, was on the history of the local Labour movement in Preston, Lancashire between 1880 and 1940. Although this was a specific case study, it contains many issues of enduring interest to me: the changing role of place, space, locality; the significance of time; and social inequality and social movements. I have been unable to shake off an enduring enthusiasm for geography (my favourite subject at school) and history.
My research tries to develop a sociology of stratification which is adequate to 21st century complexities and fluidities. This has involved me in thinking about the sociology of the middle classes which now makes up a large proportion of the labour force; in exploring the nature of changing gender relations; in thinking about how people’s sense of attachment to place and locale is being reconfigured; and in thinking about new and under-utilised conceptual and methodological tools for understanding social inequality, social protest and social mobility. I have pursued these interests through jobs at the Universities of Lancaster, Sussex, Surrey, Keele, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and since 1995 I have been here at Manchester (where I was head of Department between 1999-2001). My concerns have crystallized since 2004 in my role as Director of the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), which brings together anthropologists, media researchers, geographers, historians, political economists, and sociologists from the University of Manchester and the Open University.
I was elected a member of the Academy of Social Sciences (2003), elected Fellow-Designate of the British Academy (2007), and I am a member of HEFCE’s Sociology sub-panel assessing the quality of research in the 2008 Research Assessment exercise. I have been visiting professor at the Universities of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I was a Fulbright Scholar) and at Sciences-Po in Paris. I was managing editor of The Sociological Review between 2001 and 2007.