The 2022 Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence in Sociology was awarded to Dr Sarah Cant and her colleagues from the London School of Economics and the University of Manchester for their article ‘Social Polarisation at the Local Level’. Sociology is a prestigious journal with an impact rating of 4.8.

Drawing on sociology, anthropology and geography, the study uniquely combined quantitative analysis with ethnographic methods to compare the experience of living with intensifying inequality in four different towns in the UK.

The team explored the differing dynamics of ‘elite-based’ polarisation in Tunbridge Wells and Oxford, where the poor are pushed to the margins of the towns, and ‘poverty-based’ polarisation in Margate and Oldham, where deprivation characterises the town centres. In all towns, marginalised communities articulated a sense of belonging, but experienced very different mechanisms of exclusion, social polarisation, and stigma as well as complex relations of allegiance.

The judges said that the article showcased ‘an innovative and highly rigorous combination of ethnographic and quantitative secondary data analysis, which provides answers to a sociological phenomenon that speaks to a range of subfields in the discipline. By placing the focus on the local level, it challenges the methodological nationalism to which we tend to lean on many occasions, avoiding simplistic explanations and letting diversity emerge’.

‘Through multidisciplinary collaboration, this research showcases the strength of bringing together different traditions of sociological research. Going beyond the confines of methodological nationalism, the local focus is particularly valuable. It provides unprecedented systematic and fine-grained insights into the concept and phenomenon of “polarisation”. The paper has a strong, innovative research design, bringing together different types of data and evidence. This research also lends itself to grassroots social dynamics, actions for change, and activism’.

If you would like to read the article it can be accessed here

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