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Sociology Research


The Political Sociology Research Cluster seeks to create an engaged community of scholars interested in the relationship between power, engagement, and social life. 

The Political Sociology Research Cluster is an open, welcoming space that encourages scholars to share new ideas and works in progress, with the goal of building confidence, community, and collaboration. Political Sociology poses timely and exciting questions of theoretical and empirical analysis. These include, but are not limited to, examining the role of social inequality, ideology, social movements, public opinion, nationalism, and political participation in society.

We aim to address these areas through interdisciplinary research perspectives from across the social sciences within a committed and cooperative space. Our main objectives are a) connecting students and faculty — within and beyond the department — who have an interest in political sociology and comparative historical methods, and b) to inspire new research and help ready outputs of publications or presentation. We maintain a fluid structure in order to allow for different activities with different aims: seminars, reading groups, workshops, and conferences are all organised within this research group to make use of our strengths and resources.

The cluster brings a sense of community to the department and it affords its students a way to connect and collaborate with others whose research pertains to political sociology, an active and growing subfield at Cambridge and beyond. Part think space, part discussion venue, and part workshop, the Political Sociology Research Cluster aims to enable and improve research and be a resource for those who conduct it.

Format: The Political Sociology Research Cluster meets on a biweekly basis. A text is pre-selected and circulated in advance so that people can prepare for a discussion. The text can be a published paper suggested by a group member or an invited speaker, or a group member's own work in the form of a draft paper or a chapter. The group engages in open discussion and/or Q&A where appropriate.


Lent Term 2024

The Political Sociology Research Cluster is back! This term we will dive into issues that are as topical as they are puzzling. These include the dramaturgy of polarization, the relationship between populism and culture, the clash between populism and liberalism and (of course, how can we not) Donald Trump's charisma. How would, for instance, Max Weber, if he were alive today, feel about applying his types of authority model to the former American president now running for re-election? This term we will take on this and many other critical debates that play a central role in the contemporary sociopolitical landscape. 

The meetings will be held both online and in person in the Board Room at the Department of Sociology on the following Thursdays: 22/02 (2-3 pm), 29/02 (4-5 pm), 07/03 (2-3 pm) and 14/03 (3-4 pm). If you're interested in joining online, a Teams link will be circulated the day before each session to all of those who are registered in the mailing list. Feel free to email Santiago Vargas-Acevedo at if you have any questions.  

Lent 2024 termcard


Lent Term 2023

Since Walter Benjamin coined the term the 'aestheticization of politics', several scholars, including Adorno and Debord, have sided with him and signalled the risks that come with projects that make politics about aesthetics; in other words, that make power about beauty. Others, instead, have argued that politics is, in itself, an aesthetic endeavour. Closely interwoven with the doublet politics/aesthetics is the notion of charisma, a concept that has experienced an academic revival in the past few years, after Max Weber first introduced it. Weber put forward charisma as a non-rational form of legitimized authority. Others suggest that charisma actually rationalizes anti-establishment discourses. And yet others denounce charismatic politics as suggestive of populist or authoritarian projects. 

2023's Political Sociology Research Cluster took on these and other debates and included readings by Jacques Rancière and on Weber's sociology of charisma, as well as research discussions and work-in-progress presentations. 

Lent 2023 termcard


Mailing List and Contact

To join the Political Sociology Research Cluster mailing list, subscribe here.

For more details on participation and involvement, please don’t hesitate to contact the convener, Santiago Vargas-Acevedo

[Image: 'Change the Politics' by Joanna Penn [CC BY 2.0]]