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Faculty of Humanities

Hilary Pilkington

Being and experiencing sociology with Hilary Pilkington

Professor of Sociology, School of Social Sciences

It is one thing to immerse yourself in the lives of others through research, it is quite another to walk alongside them.

“I mean what's so good about ethnography is that it puts you in the same position - at least temporarily - as the people you're studying.”

Hilary Pilkington’s contribution to sociology focuses on misrecognised, marginalised and politically - and even radically - active young people. The DARE project examines the socio-political influences that motivate those on the fringe to take their frustrations to radical ‘Islamist’ milieus, while the PROMISE project looks at why young people mislabelled by society are prevented from contributing. Her work captures the tone, and identifies where second-guessing by society has sometimes got it wrong.

I mean what's so good about ethnography is that it puts you in the same position - at least temporarily - as the people you're studying

Hilary Pilkington / Professor of Sociology

The ubiquity of social media and the mobilisation of young people in the recent climate change protests means now is an especially interesting time for sociologists, and Hilary watches on in interest as young people respond in droves to today’s most pressing subjects.  But could their mobilisation be predicted?

The MYPLACE project found that 60 per cent of young people in Europe believe politicians to be corrupt, while the wealthy have too much power, so it is the distortion of politics that is rejected, not politics itself.

“Thus, that they should be ready to respond actively on issues they care about, and in ways they feel are morally sound, should not come as a surprise,” said Hilary.