European Centre for Cultural Exploration



ECCE is a European research centre seeking to put culture at the centre of public debates and academic research. The centre was created by Prof Mike Savage in 2011 and led afterwards by Prof Sharon Macdonald until 2015. The current director is Dr Laurie Hanquinet 

Through social science methods and theorizing, we explore questions of social and cultural change, identity, cultural institutions and heritage.

Our work looks at how culture is produced, consumed, performed and contested. We are interested in how cultural values, forms and processes play out in social and political life across the continent. Culture is here defined in broad terms as referring both to culture as ‘arts’ and their institutions (music, visual arts, literature, etc.) but also people’s everyday practices and lifestyles.

The centre focuses on central themes:

  • Culture, lifestyle, and stratification
  • Taste and aesthetics
  • Identity
  • Popular Culture 
  • Ethnicity, race and the politics of cultural diversity

We work with partners across Europe as well as with other Centres at York, including the 'Stratification & Culture' Research Network. 

ECCE aims to become a major global training centre in cultural research, offering a suite of postgraduate modules and high quality PhD supervision.

In 2014 we have launched our exciting new MA in Culture, Society and Globalization.

Research Issues

Culture, lifestyle, and stratification

  • To what extent are cultural processes useful to understand the production and reproduction of inequalities and stratification?
  • How is cultural participation related to class, age, gender, ethnicty and race?
  • How are people’s lifestyles related to social mobility? To what extent are they a class-based mechanism?

Taste and aesthetics

  • How can we account for people’s tastes? Why does it matter?
  • What is the role of aesthetics and social forces in people’s tastes?


  • How is identity socially produced and how does it socially circulate?
  • How are identity and inequality interrelated?
  • Is there something like a European identity?

Popular culture

  • Is there still a distinction between popular and highbrow culture?
  • Death and popular culture
  • Celebrities

Ethnicity, race and the politics of cultural diversity

  • What are people’s attitude towards and perceptions of diversity and living with differences?
  • How can we define multiculturalism nowadays? Is it ‘dead’?

Funded projects (a selection)

  • 'Connecting wounds: nonsuicidal self-injury in the context of social elations' led by Steph Lawler (with Pete Steggals and Ruth Graham) starting September 2016
  • AHRC grant 'Curating profusion', as part of the Beacon project 'Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage' under the 'Care for the Future Theme' (April 2015-£350k over 4 years), Sharon Macdonald
  • Department Student Internship, 'Art and Social Value', July 2015, Peggy Lockwood-Lord and Alice Venir, supervised by Laurie Hanquinet and Sharon Macdonald. Read the report here: Art and social value (PDF  , 555kb)
  • EU Framework 7 grant on ‘Europeanisation of Everyday life’ (April 2011, 280k euros over three years), Mike Savage and Laurie Hanquinet
  • Funded collaboration with the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, (CRESC) at the University of Manchester (£23k 2010-2011)

Conferences and Events

Conferences and Events

Please click on the title to access more information

Wednesday 16 March 2016, 3.00pm to 5.00pm, W/243

Making Differences in Berlin: Transforming Museums and Heritage in the 21st Century

 Prof. Sharon Macdonald (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Monday 30 November 2015, 13.30pm to 15.30pm, W/222

Social class and the new cultural distinctions today

Mike Savage will discuss his new collective book 'Social Class in the 21st Century'. 

Prof. Mike Savage (LSE)

Tuesday 15 July 2014, 9.15AM to 17:45

Tastes in Practice

Organised by the Stratification and Culture Research Network developed by Sam Friedman (City), Mike Savage (LSE), Andy Miles (Manchester) and Laurie Hanquinet (York) (


Wednesday 28 May 2014 9.30am - 5.00pm
in University of York, Research Centre for the Social Sciences (RCSS), Room YH/001b,6 Innovation Close, York YO10 5ZF

Understanding Audiences

Organised by Sharon Macdonald and Katiana Le Mentec on behalf of the European Centre for Cultural Exploration.  A video of this event is available from this link

March 7th, 1.30-5.00pm 2014,
Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building

Museum Narrative (MS Word  , 14kb)

Organised in collaboration with IPUP by Sharon Macdonald and Geoff Cubitt. Speakers include Sheila Watson (University of Leicester) and Geoff Cubitt (University of York)

May 2013

Engaging Audiences: international perspectives on museum and heritage visiting.

Organised in collaboration with IPUP by Sharon Macdonald and Geoff Cubitt.

Laurajane Smith (ANU) and Laurie Hanquinet
April 2013

Cultural Institutions and Creativity.

Organized by Alejandra Vazquez Jarmillo

Ligia Dabul (Fluminense Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Du Hui (Minzu University, Beijing, China) and Alejandra Vazquez Jarmillo.
October 2012

Cultural Heritage: new insights

Organised by Laurie Hanquinet

Nathalie Heinich (CNRS), Sian Jones (University of Manchester) and Sharon Macdonald.
May 2012 Bringing Bourdieu to town conference  
May 24- 25 2011

Seminar on Field Analysis, boundary drawing and socio-cultural inequality

(funded by Danish SCUD network and the University of York, organisers

 Mike Savage (UNiversity of York) and Elizabeth Silva, Open University).







David Beer

David’s research focuses on the sociology of popular culture, especially the intersections between popular culture and new media. His recent work has focused  on developments in the organisation and relation of music cultures, the social and cultural implications of mobile devices and mobile music, celebrity culture and celebrity gossip, the rise of participatory web cultures, and the significance of the presence of sociological narratives and commentary within popular culture. His current work continues the above themes and engages with the relations between popular culture and new forms of digital by-product data. This work attempts to understand the challenges and potentials of data created through routine everyday interactions with popular culture, and how this data shapes contemporary popular culture or might be used for analytical purposes to create sociological insights. He is also further developing his exciting work on music, sound and urban spaces through a project on noise.

Gabriele Griffin

Gabriele (Centre of Women’s Studies) has a particular interest in the intersections between race and culture as these are articulated in contemporary women’s cultural production. She has worked extensively on lesbian writing, contemporary Black and South Asian theatre, and Women’s Studies as a discipline. Her current research centres on the narrative analysis of (auto)biographical accounts of non-normative subjects. She edits the first series on ‘Research Methods for the Arts and Humanities’ in the UK (Edinburgh University Press), and was cofounding editor of Feminist Theory.

Laurie Hanquinet

Laurie Hanquinet is a sociologist specialized in quantitative analysis. Her main fields of interest are sociology of culture and art as well as social sciences methodology. She has undertaken researches on the visitors of modern and contemporary art museums, on the role of artists in the society and on cultural participation. She currently collaborates with the French-speaking government of Belgium in order to treat data about cultural participation in this part of the country. She has also worked on themes such as ethnicity, intergroups relations and immigration and on the operationalisation of these concepts in empirical research.

 Nisha Kapoor

Nisha Kapoor was appointed at York in 2012 as Lecturer in Sociology. Her research interests are broadly concerned with racism, racial governmentalities and critical race theory. She was the 2012-13 Samuel DuBois Cook Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Race and Gender in the Social Sciences at Duke University and now holds a Visiting Research Fellow position there. Her work is keen to explore expressions and manifestations of racism in the postracial moment, specifically focusing on the shifting nature of state sovereignty and exception legitimated through the War on Terror. Stemming from this, her current book project looks at processes of expulsion including the use of extradition between the US and the UK as a way of considering contemporary racial liberalism in Britain.

Steph Lawler

Her research has been concerned with social inequalities and social identities, particularly those of class, gender and generation. She has explored the ways in which identity and inequality are interrelated through, for example, the conferring or the denial of value (if people are considered to be stupid or ignorant, how will their claims or demands be listened to?). ‘Identity’ is of course a contested and contentious term but she has been concerned to analyse it, not primarily in terms of the categories it produces, but in terms of how it is socially produced and how it socially circulates: in other words, she has asked how identity as such is possible, how it is made and re-made, and why it occupies such a privileged (yet often untheorized) position in the social imaginary.

Xiaodong Lin

Xiaodong Lin’s research focuses on the sociology of gender and migration. A central theme of his research is to highlight the importance of culture in understanding identity formation in the context of changing work and family life as a result of migration.  Through engagement with traditional cultural values, such as filial piety, Confucian father-son relations, guanxi networks, and mianzi (face), as important resources for Chinese migrant men’s identity formation, his research critically applies western analytical frameworks, such as ‘Bourdieusian class analysis’, to address the intersection of different forms of power. His recent publication includes a monograph, entitled Gender, Modernity and Male Migrant Workers in China: Becoming a ‘modern’ man (Routledge, 2013).

Sharon Macdonald

Appointed in September 2012 as Anniversary Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Sharon was Director of ECCE until September 2015. A leading expert in museums and cultural heritage, she has wide-ranging interests in cultural theory, cultural change and revitalization. She has worked in various countries, especially Germany, where she is also Visiting Professor in the Institute of European Ethnology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her work addresses questions of European identities, especially in relation to social and cultural memory, including 'difficult heritage'. Her most recent book is Memorylands: Heritage and Identity in Europe Today (2013). Her post at York is now part-time, primarily to work on the research project Curating Profusion. Her main employment is in the Institute of European Ethnology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. There she holds an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship as Professor of Social Anthropology (with special emphasis on cultural heritage and museum studies). 

Daryl Martin

Daryl's work primarily focuses on the evolution of domestic, commercial and public space in towns and cities in the North of England. His understanding of these spaces is informed by debates in the field of mobilities research, and his writing draws together work from the areas of architectural theory, cultural geography and social history. His background is in the Humanities (his first degree was in Literature) and he retains an interest in exploring representations of the urban theoretically using literary examples. His teaching spans a range of additional interests, including the impact of new media on the reception of popular cultural forms, and cultural constructions of Northernness (in both national and European

 Gareth Millington

Appointed in September 2012, Gareth has caried out research on racism and culture in the UK (including with asylum seekers), France and the US.  His Race, Culture and the Right to the City: Centres, Peripheries and Margins was published in 2011.  

 Jennie Morgan

Jennie joined the department in April 2015 as a researcher on Curating Profusion. She has extensive experience of ethnographic methods, including visual and sensory approaches, and has carried out research in England, Scotland and New Zealand.

Sarah Nettleton

Sarah is a medical sociologist who has an interest embodied cultural activities such as: drug use, food and eating, and running. Within public health and policy discourses these have increasingly come to be conceptualized as 'health related’ and ‘risk behaviours' rather than nuanced practices that are embedded in social contexts. A common theme throughout her work is an interest in pursuing an embodied sociology in order to critically engage with these debates.

 Ruth Penfold-Mounce

Ruth's research expertise includes the cultural analysis of celebrity and crime from which she published Celebrity Culture and Crime: The Joy of Transgression (2009). She is also interested in the boundaries of propriety and gossip in relation to social media usage and is currently developing a new research interest in the area of dark tourism.

 Amanda Rees

In 2013-14 Mandy is holding a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for a project entitled 'Excavating Deep History: historiography, methodology and narratives of human nature'. This builds on her extensive expertise in the cultural analysis of science. Previous research has focused on primatology, and in 2009 she published The Infanticide Controversy: Primatology and the Art of Field-Science. Her research interests include the cultural analysis of human-animal relations; representations of science; and history, historiography and heritage.



Visiting Researchers

Katiana le Mentec - Dr Le Mentec is in receipt of a prestigious Braudel fellowship, which she will hold at the University of York between March and November 2014. With a doctorate in Social Anthropology from the Univesity of Paris West, Nanterre, Katiana is an expert in Chinese anthropological research. Working with Professor Sharon Macdonald, she will undertake a project on the public exhibition of the Three Gorges Dam forced migration, Chongqing.

Ligia Dabul - Professor of Sociology, Fluminense Federal University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. October 2012 - May 2013. Ligia's interests focus upon the sociology of art, especially the social dimensions of artistic production. This includes the work of artisans, local and community art practices, including those of 'outsider artists'. She is concerned with how creative and economic practices interelate; and with the role of art in the production of city space.

Du Hui - Visiting Scholar from the School of Anthropology and Museum Studies, Minzu University, Beijing; February - August 2013. Hui is researching aborginal Taiwanese collections in China, Taiwan and the UK. Hre transnational comparative research is concerned with networks of collecting practices, as well as with the dynamics of changing exhibitionary practices across nations.