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Sociology Research


Dr. Torsten Geelan is an affiliated researcher at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, where he completed his MPhil and PhD.  His doctorate thesis examined the role of media in Danish and British trade union responses to the 2008 financial crisis. 

Torsten's primary strand of research focuses on the media (newspapers, social media) as arenas in which trade unions, employers and the State seek to shape public debate on the changing nature of work, thereby shaping the future of employment.  He applies a comparative (Denmark and the UK), interdisciplinary (industrial relations, sociology of media and social movement studies) and multi-method approach (interviews, thematic content analysis) to the study of contemporary industrial and political conflicts and is currently working on two collaborative projects.  The first project is as Co-PI on a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant examining the role of Twitter in the 2018-2020 UK higher education strike together with PI Professor Athina Karatzogianni.  The second project is a special issue in New Technology, Work and Employment co-edited with Dr. Andy Hodder titled ‘The Internet, Social Media and Labour Movement Revitalization: Still behind the Digital Curve or Catching up?’

His secondary strand of research focuses on alternative ways of organising the economy which he pursues as the co-founder and co-chair of the ‘Alternatives to Capitalism’ Research Network at the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE). He has held a Lectureship at the University of Leicester (2018-2020) and an External Lectureship at the University of Copenhagen (2013) during which he developed and delivered an undergraduate module on ‘Work and Society’ and a post-graduate module on ‘The Comparative Sociology of Labour Markets’.

To date his work has been published in the Industrial Relations Journal, Employee Relations, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, and Danish Sociology. He is also the co-editor of a book published by Palgrave MacMillan (2018; 2020 paperback) titled ‘From Financial Crisis to Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons.’

Research Interests

  • Comparative industrial relations and industrial relations theory
  • Trade union power and revitalisation in the digital age
  • New and old forms of collective action
  • The past, present and future role of the media (newspapers, television, radio and social media) in industrial and political conflict
  • Precarious work
  • Alternatives to capitalism

Key Publications - Books

Geelan, T., González Hernando, M. and Walsh, P. W. (Eds.) (2018; 2020 paperback). From Financial Crisis to Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Geelan, T. and Hodder A. (2020) 'The Trials and Tribulations of Social Media and Transnational Labour Solidarity', in Karatzogianni et al. (eds.) Media Technologies and Protest Revolutions: The Long Duree, Bingley: Emerald.

Geelan, T. (2015) Danish Trade Unions and Young People: Using Media in the Battle for Hearts and Minds, in Hodder and Kretsos (eds.) Trade Unions and Young People: A Global View, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Wright, Chris. Wood, Alex. Trevor, Jonathan. McLaughlin, Colm. Huang, Wei. Harney, Brian. Geelan, Torsten. Colfer, Barry. Chang, Cheng. Brown, William. (2018) Towards a New Web of Rules: An International Review of Institutional Experimentation to Strengthen Employment Protections, Employee Relations, 41 (2): 313-330.

Geelan, Torsten. and Hodder, Andy. (2017) Enhancing Transnational Labour Solidarity: The Unfulfilled Promise of the Internet and Social Media, Industrial Relations Journal, 48 (4): 345-364.

Geelan, Torsten. Skovrind, Magnus. and Ribe, Malthe. (2017) The Highly-Educated Precariat in the Danish Labour Market, Danish Sociology, 28 (2): 27-51.

Geelan, T. (2013) Confederate Responses to the Youth Employment Crisis, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 19 (3): 399-413.

Key Publications - Other

Geelan, T. (2016) Book review: Worker Resistance and the Media: Challenging Global Corporate Power in the 21st Century, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 54 (1): 239–240.


2020 Co-PI, British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant, 'The New Frontier of Industrial Relations Research: Investigating the Social Media Networks and Digital Geography of Contemporary Industrial Action' (£9,733)

2019 Research Development Award, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Leicester (£3,300)

2019 Workshop Grant, School of Business, University of Leicester (£2,500)

2015 Cambridge Political Economy Society Trust Emergency Funding (£1,000)

2014 Cambridge Political Economy Society Trust Supplementary Funding (£6,916)

2012 University of Cambridge Oversees Fieldwork Funding (£2,220)

2012 Scholarship: Oticon Foundation (£3,000)

2011 Scholarship: Knud Hojgaard Foundation (£3,100)

2009 Grant for MPhil in Sociology at the University of Cambridge from the Danish Education and Research Ministry (£4,600)

Job Title:
Affiliated Researcher, Darwin College
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