Skip to main content
Owen Abbott

Dr Owen Abbott


Research Associate

School of Social Sciences


I joined Cardiff University on a Leverhulme fellowship in January 2022, having previously been a lecturer at the University of York and the University of Manchester. Before that, I completed my PhD in Sociology at the University of Exeter in September 2017. My research mainly focuses on the sociology of morality (with a particular emphasis on everyday practice), sociologies of the self, and relational sociology. My research has culminated in the completion of a book entitled The Self, Relational Sociology, and Morality in Practice, published in 2019. This book won the BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2020 for best first and sole-authored book in sociology.

My current fellowship project is an empirical study into forgiveness in personal relationships, an area of research that has so far gone largely untouched by sociologists. This continues my interest in the moral features and dynamics of everyday personal lives.

This interest is also extended through my ongoing participation in The Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives (University of Manchester). Together with Morgan Centre colleagues, I am co-authoring a book entitled Masking and Social Change: Materiality, Interaction, and Moral Practice, which explores the sudden flux of face coverings in our lives and interactions from March 2020.

My second monograph, Social Theorists of Morality, is due to be published in 2024. This book will provide a collection of critical essays on key social theorists whose work has informed sociological approaches to morality, with each essay setting out what the theorist's contribution to sociological understandings of morality is, how they have been used in sociology and adjacent disciplines, and what the limitations of their arguments might be from the perspective of contemporary sociological understandings of morality.












Book sections




My main research areas are:

  • Sociology of morality, with a specific focus on everyday moral practice and the moral features of personal lives.
  • Forgiveness, specifically forgiveness in personal relationships, but also the cultural settings and interactional processes of forgiveness.
  • Social theory, specifically moral theories, relational and interactional approaches to sociology, and pragmatism. I have written on a number of social theorists and philosophers for my second monograph (Social Theorists of Morality), including:
    • W.E.B. Du Bois
    • Emile Durkheim
    • Jane Addams
    • G. H. Mead
    • Hannah Arendt
    • Charles Taylor
    • Alasdair MacIntyre
    • Carol Gilligan
    • Seyla Benhabib
    • Zygmunt Bauman
    • Peter Singer
    • Jonathan Haidt


Honours and awards

Winner of the British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2020 for best first and sole-authored book. 

Awarded for Abbott, O. (2019) The Self, Relational Sociology, and Morality in Practice.

Runner up of Outstanding Published Article Award Competition 2023 in the American Sociological Association section on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity.

Awarded for Abbott, O. (2022) ‘W. E. B. Du Bois's Forgotten Sociology of Morality: Contesting the Foundations and Informing the Future of the Sociology of Morality’.

Academic positions

2017-2021: Lecturer in Sociology, University of Manchester

2021: Lecture in Sociology, University of York

January 2022-present: Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Cardiff University.

Committees and reviewing

2021: External Examiner for Birkbeck College for a PhD thesis entitled ‘Moral agency analysed as self-enactment in social roles: A productive recast of Dewey’s pragmatist analysis’.

Research themes


  • Morality
  • Forgiveness
  • Personal relationships
  • Social theory
  • Self