Dr Ulrike Ehgartner

Research Associate

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Overview

I am a sociologist interested in questions related to environmental issues, social inequality, agency and behaviour change. Concerned with how framings and understandings of social challenges are interrelated with policy making, collective individual behaviour and physical environments, my work focusses on the interplay between discourses, imaginaries and practices.

In my current role as a Research Associate on the Methods for Change project, which is based at the School of Environment, Education and Development, I am part of a team dedicated to showcasing the value of social science methodologies to the wider world. This involves illustrating how social science methods can create social change - through their outputs, but also in themselves. The project will further comprise demonstrations of how various methods can be used outside academia - for example in the industry, business and charity sector. 

My methodological expertise is in sociological discourse analysis, which is central to both, my PhD project as well as previous roles at the Sustainabe Consumpion Institute (SCI). I am experienced with a variety of qualitative methods including participant observation, interviews and focus groups with a wide range of respondents (e.g. representatives of businesses, non-profit organisations, consultancies, grassroots initiatives, politicians and households), as well as survey research and statistical analysis. 

Biography

I gained my PhD in Sociology from the University of Manchester in February 2019. The project, which was supervised by Dale Southerton and Daniel Welch, explores how ideas of ‘sustainable food consumption’ are conceptualized and rhetorically contextualized by UK stakeholders such as businesses, NGOs and consultancies over the time period from 2005 to 2017. It specifically addresses changing notions of sustainability and related discourses of responsibilisation. The PhD project evolved from my Master’s dissertation which,based on an empirical study on consumers’ motives and values in the context of their everyday food consumption, critically reflected on common assumptions in relation to Education for Sustainable Development. This work was published in a booklet format by the Austrian Platform for Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development. 

As a Research Associate at the Sustainable Consumption Institute, I worked on an ESRC-funded project on Imagined Futures of Consumption and on an SCI-funded comparative project on Waste and Thrift. Both these projects involved working with data generated through the Mass Observation Archive. I also involved in a variety of collaborative small-scale scoping projects at the SCI: I worked on two pilot studies on “Endangered Practices – Maintenance and Repair” (Co-PIs Dr. Helen Holmes, Dr. Wouter Spekkink, Dr. Daniel Welch) and “Lost Property: Exploring the Sustainability of Lost Objects” (PI Dr. Helen Holmes). Further, I was involved in the preparation of grant proposals on two projects on “Circular Economy Activities by SMEs across Europe” (PI Dr. Tally Katz-Gerro) and on “Cultural Cosmopolitanism in Divided Societies” (PI Dr. Tally Katz-Gerro). Before I started my PhD, I developed and conducted survey-based and qualitative studies for a variety of institutions in Austria (e.g. the Austrian Federal Institute for Educational Research, Innovation & Development of the Austrian School System; the Styrian Universal Museum Joanneum; and Citymanagement Graz).

Whilst considering myself a sociologist, I also have a background in education. In addition to my undergraduate studies in Educational Sciences, I benefited from the studium irregulare regulation in Austria, which allowed me to write my own curriculum for an interdisciplinary Master’s program on Media Education. This encompassed taking university courses from different faculties at two Austrian universities (University of Graz and University of Klagenfurt) and work experience at the Research Institute for Media Education in Munich. I have a professional background in education, both as a researcher and practitioner: In Austria, I conducted school and curriculum research and worked in teaching and social counselling for a non-profit-organization for people speaking a foreign language as their first language. I further command over three years of work experience in British schools. Training and work experience has allowed me to experiment with participatory methods such as futures workshops and action research, both in participant and initiator roles.  

 

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