Beverley Skeggs

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Beverley Skeggs was born in Middlesbrough and studied at University of York (BA), Keele University (PGCE, PhD). She has worked at Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education (Research Fellow), Worcester College of Higher Education (Sociology), University of York (Education and Women's Studies). From 1996 to 1999 she was Director of Women's Studies at Lancaster University (with Celia Lury). In 1999 she was appointed to a Chair in Sociology at the University of Manchester, where she was Head of Department from 2001 – 2004. Since 2004 she has been Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. During 2007 she was the Kerstin Hesselgren Professor in Gender Studies at Stockholm University. In 2003 she was elected as an Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies for the Social Sciences. Professor Skeggs is an honorary professor at the University of Warwick and has received honorary doctorates from Stockholm University, Aalborg University and the University of Teesside (her home town). She is the joint managing editor of the journal The Sociological Review (with Professor Sarah Green, Anthropology, University of Helsinki and Professor Mike Michael, Sociology, University of Sydney)and currently holds and ESRC Professorial Fellowship.

Key Studies[edit]

Beverley Skeggs is the author of the influential study Formations of Class and Gender: Becoming Respectable (1997), a longitudinal ethnography of subjectivity across the lives of women as they move from 'caring courses' to work and family, into sexuality and how they negotiate living class in the UK.[1] Translations of this work have appeared in Swedish and Finnish. The understandings of class in Formations were developed in Class, Self, Culture (2004), which critiques the idea of the self and explores the different ways class circulates as a form of value as it attaches to different bodies.[2] Examining spaces for the production of values, such as the IMF, popular culture and academic theory, it puts to the test sociological theories which suggest that class is in decline. Her understanding of how the self is classed is developed through engagement with the works of Pierre Bourdieu. In Feminism After Bourdieu, co-edited by Skeggs and Lisa Adkins, feminists address Bourdieu's ideas on reflexivity, emotional capital, the self and the social and their relation to gender.

Her methodological approach was first elaborated in Feminist Cultural Theory: Production and Process(1995), an edited collection that brings together feminists from across disciplines (literature, film, design, media, law, sociology) to discuss how they went about producing their classic texts in cultural studies. In 1998 at Lancaster University, a group of feminists (of which Beverley Skeggs was a part) organised an international conference on feminist theory. The resulting book Transformations: Thinking Through Feminism (edited with Sara Ahmed, Celia Lury, Jane Kilby and Maureen McNeil) includes chapters by Lauren Berlant, Gayatri Spivak, Donna Haraway, Elspeth Probyn, Lisa Adkins and Vikki Bell. The conference also spawned Routledge's 'Transformations' series, which includes a wide range of volumes on feminist theory, including the works of Kirsten Campbell, Breda Grey, Ann Cronin and Steph Lawler. A large scale government funded ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) research project with Professor Leslie Moran on the sustainability and experience of gay space resulted in the book Sexuality and the Politics of Violence and Safety. The book explores how violence can be used as a resource in political claims-making, thus challenging many theories on violence. The idea of gender and sexuality as resources that can be deployed, fixed or attached is developed in the article 'Uneasy Alignments, Resourcing Respectable Subjectivity'[3]. Numerous publications were generated from the sexuality project (see below). Another large ESRC research project was conducted by Beverley Skeggs (with Helen Wood, Leicester University) between 2005–2008 on reality television and the making of the moral economy, Making Class and Self through Televised Ethical Scenarios. This project brings together many of the threads already apparent in Professor Skeggs' research, including the making of the exchange-value self, the emphasis that is placed on performing and telling one's self as a source of value and the class and race based challenges that are made through the construction of an alternative moral value system. This research project was part of a much larger research programme, 'Identities,' a £7million investigation into identity construction in contemporary Britain. [4] Professor Skeggs delivered one of the inaugural lectures for the programme. [5] A significant methodological contribution was made by this project, which by using a multi-method approach that combined textual analysis with audience research developed the 'affective textual encounter' for studying audience responses. This method showed how class, gender and race relations are made in the research encounter when women authorise their own speech through recourse to cultural resources such as 'taste' and maternal authority (this is developed in their article on method in the 2008 European Journal of Cultural Studies and the ESRC research report). The research participant's authorisation of particular moral economies was closely related to their positions in circuits of value, positions which cut through, disturb and constitute gender, race and class. It has been published by Routledge as 'Reacting to Reality TV; Audience, Performance and Value'(with Helen Wood). The research also led to an international edited collection on 'Reality Television and Class' (also with Helen Wood) published by BFI/Palgrave. Numerous articles have been published on this project. Her most recent work consolidates the prior analysis of the relationship between value and values, leading to the development of ideas about the moral economy of person production (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2009.01865.x/abstract). She developed the idea of 'person value' following a critique of Bourdieu (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2011.02018.x/abstract) and an exploration of how ideology is produced through 'value struggles'(http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-4446.2012.01420.x/abstract).

Beverley Skeggs can be heard reviewing the analysis of her 'Formations of Class and Gender; Becoming Respectable' book on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWC4vzxMlsQ. An interview about the reality television research can be heard on http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/ta/ta_20120208-1650b.mp3. She has also appeared in contributions to popular debates, such as the 1998 Channel 4 TV programme on 'Things to Come', exploring (with a comic twist) the future role of women.[6] The BBC's Thinking Allowed radio programme also covered her work in 2003 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/thinkingallowed_20030507.shtml) and again in 2008 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/thinkingallowed/thinkingallowed_20080917.shtml).

In 2013 she took part in a discussion on Thinking Alllowed on The Great British Class Survey (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s4qqs)

Julie Burchill interviewed Beverley Skeggs for the Sky TV programmes, 'Chavs' (2005); and 'Girl Power' (2007) (see YouTube).

In September 2013 Beverley Skeggs began an ESRC Professorial Fellowship on 'A Sociology of Value and Values'. You can hear her discuss her introductory framework at the LSE for the British Journal of Sociology annual lecture http://richmedia.lse.ac.uk/publiclecturesandevents/20131017_1830_valuesBeyondValue.mp4

She can be found on Twitter at @Bevskeggs

Key publications[edit]

  • The Media (Issues in Sociology) (with John Mundy) (1992) Thomas Nelson (ISBN 9780174384465)
  • Feminist Cultural Theory: Production and Process (1995) (ed.) Manchester. Manchester University Press
  • Formations of Class and Gender: Becoming Respectable (1997) London. Sage (ISBN 9780761955122)
  • Transformations: Thinking through Feminism (ed. with Sara Ahmed, Jane Kilby, Celia Lury and Maureen McNeil) (2000) Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-22066-8)
  • Class, Self, Culture (2004) London. Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-30085-8)
  • Sexuality and the Politics of Violence and Safety (with Leslie Moran) (2003) London. Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-30091-9)
  • Feminism after Bourdieu (with Lisa Adkins) (2005) Oxford. Wiley-Blackwell (Sociological Review Series) (ISBN 978-1-4051-2395-2)

External links[edit]