My intellectual interests have always spanned the social sciences and, having completed my joint honours in geography and sociology, I found myself at Lancaster University and in receipt of an ESRC Studentship to do my PhD. My doctoral work explored how consumption mediates social relations in a New Town, examining senses of belonging, processes of identity formation and the relevance of class in contemporary society.
In 2000 I joined the ESRC Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition (CRIC), which allowed for my return to inter-disciplinary work. During my time at CRIC I conducted several projects, which focused on: the changing temporal organization of consumption, with particular attention to the challenges of coordinating social practices and networks within daily life; the material culture and spatial ordering of homes; and, an exploration of trajectories of practices using time-diary data across 5 countries and over 25 years.
Currently I am Director of the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) principally funded by Tesco plc, and of the Sustainable Practices Research Group (SPRG) funded by ESRC, DEFRA & The Scottish Government. I also edited the three volume ‘Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture’ (2011), which remains the largest and most ambitious inter-disciplinary collection in this field of study to date. My work is regularly selected for re-print in compendia of critical contributions to understandings of consumption, and in 2012 I was selected to contribute to the American Sociological Association’s Climate Change Task Force on the subject of consumption. I have sat on a number of advisory boards and strategy panels for UK Government Departments and National Research Councils, and was an editorial board member on the journal 'Sociology' (2006-9).