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Professor William Housley PhD, DSc.Econ.

Chair in Sociology

School of Social Sciences


Professor William Housley PhD, DSc.Econ. FAcSS is an internationally recognised expert in qualitative and social research methods, sociological theory, the study of practical reason, ethnomethodology, membership categorization analysis, social interaction and digital sociology. He was a co-founder and core member of the Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory (COSMOS) that was funded by the ESRC and JISC and currently convenes the Emerging Technology and Digital Sociology (EMTEDS) Research Group at Cardiff University. His contribution to Sociology was confirmed through the award of a DSc Econ. by Cardiff University in 2012 for his internationally recognized work in the field of interaction, communication and social organization. Professor Housley served as a member of the expert review group for the QAA (UK) Sociology subject benchmarking statement in 2016. He has published widely on social research methods, interaction and communication, social media, citizenship, identity and collaborative team-work. His current focus is on the emerging field of digital sociology as it relates to new socio-technical systems, disruptive technologies, interaction, algorithmic accountability, automation, interdisciplinarity, community and civil society. He recently completed a Cardiff University 12 Month Research Fellowship entitled ‘Media, Manufacture and Mobilities: Disruptive Digital Technologies in Action’. He has served as a co-editor of Qualitative Research (SAGE, 2012-2018) and served on the editorial boards of the BSA flag ship journal Sociology (SAGE), Big Data and Society (SAGE) and Discourse, Context and Media (Wiley). Professor Housley was awarded the prestigious Vincent Wright Chair, at Sciences Po, Paris, in 2017. He has provided expert review for a number of research funders and organisations including the ESRC (UK), British Academy and the Austrian Research Council and is currently an international panel member for the Volkswagen Foundation Momentum programme. Professor Housley is a member of the REF (UK) 2021 Sociology sub-panel.

I welcome supervision in the areas of:

  • The emerging contours of digital societies
  • Ethnomethodology and the social life of methods and data
  • Social implications of disruptive digital technologies
  • Communication and interaction
  • The sociology of art and design
  • Collaborative working and interdisciplinary practice
  • Decision-making and organisations

























Book sections






Funded Research Projects

2015 – 2017 Digital Wildfires, responsible citizenship and social media. Funded by the British Academy, £10,000 (with Girvan, Edwards, Jirotka and Procter).

2014 – 2017, Digital Wildfire: (Mis)information flows, propagation and responsible governance. Funded by ESRC, Cardiff Lead Co-investigator (Global Uncertainties), £248,413 (with Jirotka, Procter, Edwards et al)

2015 - Media, Manufacture and Mobilities: Disruptive Digital Technologies in Action. Cardiff University Research Fellowship, £15,000

2014 – 2015, Detecting Tension and Cohesion in Local Communities with Social Media, Funded by Airbus Group, £51,040 Co-investigator (with Rana, Burnap, Edwards and Williams)

2014 – 2016, Sage Postdoctoral Fellowship Funding, Co-sponsored Research Methods Fellowship at Cardiff University, Co-investigator (with Coffey, Edwards and Brindle, SAGE) £38,000

2013 – 2015, Understanding the role of social media in the aftermath of youth suicides. Funded by Department of Health, England. £200,000, Co-investigator (with Scourfield, Williams, Burnap and Edwards).

2013-2014, Hate Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows.Funded by ESRC and Google (Google Data Analytics Social Science Research Call) £124, 986, Principal- Investigator (with Williams, Edwards, Burnap, Rana, Procter, Voss and Knight).

2013-2014, Social Media and Prediction: Crime Sensing, Data Integration and Statistical Modelling. Funded by ESRC /NCRM Methodological Innovation, £195,000, Co-Investigator (with Williams, Edwards, Burnap, Rana, Procter, Voss and Knight).

2013-2014, Supporting Empirical Digital Social Research for the Social Sciences with a Virtual Research Environment. Funded by JISC, £55,519, Co Investigator (with Burnap, Williams, Rana, Edwards & Avis).

2011-12, Digital Social Research Tools, Tension Indicators and Safer Communities: A Demonstration of the Cardiff Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS). Funded by the ESRC £79,000 Co-Investigator (with Matthew Williams, Adam Edwards, Malcolm Williams, Omer Rana and Nick Avis).

2012, Requirements Analysis for Social Media Research Tools. Funded by the ESRC £5,000, Co Investigator (with Burnap, Housley, Rana, Edwards, Avis & Proctor).

2010 – 2012, Alternative Dwelling Construction, Lifestyle and Green Expertise. Funded by the British Academy, £5000.

2005 – 2006, Coal, Slate and Culture. Funded by the Board of Celtic Studies, £7000.

2001 – 2002, Art and Devolution in Wales: Perceptions and Expectations. Funded by the British Academy, £5000.

Research impact

My current impact activities focus on Disruptive Digital Technologies: Governance, Regulation and Responsible Innovation. This has been identified as an emerging impact narrative for SOCSI.


  • ESRC Impact Acceleration Award: In addition to the above I  recently secured (as a co-applicant) an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award  (£20,000, 2016 - 2017) with colleagues based at Oxford University (Professor Marina Jirotka, Computer Science) and Warwick University (Professor Rob Procter, Computer Science). This will help accelerate a range of impact initiatives that are connected to a suite of interconnected research projects that I have been undertaking over the last four years (2012 – 2016).


I have been employed in a number of different teaching positions. This has provided me with considerable teaching experience and time to develop a range of effective strategies for carrying out tutorials, seminars, workshops and lectures. I am aware of the issues surrounding assessment and delivery of course material within a changing environment in Higher Education. I am grounded within the practical challenges of teaching and have a reservoir of experience in teaching mainstream social science in a number of diverse settings and to range of learning audiences. This has included full time and part time students, undergraduates, postgraduates and professionals on short training courses. I represented the Welsh social science and sociology community as a panel member for the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) sociology subject benchmark review carried out during the course of 2015/2016.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Social Theory (S1006);
  • Sociology of Culture (S10134);
  • Power, Culture and Identity (S10164);
  • New Frontiers in Sociology (S10163)

Postgraduate Teaching

MSc/Diploma Social Science Research Methods

  • Discourse and Conversation Analysis (SIT072)
  • Advanced Concepts in Sociology(SIT074)
  • Qualitative Research


Professor William Housley, PhD, DSc.Econ, FAcSS

Honours and awards

Vincent Wright Chair, Sciences Po, 2016 - 2017

FAcSS. (Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, conferred 2016)

DSc.Econ. (Senior Doctorate) Cardiff University, 2012

Visiting Research Fellow, Welsh Institute for Social and Cultural Affairs (WISCA), University of Wales, Bangor  (2006)

Professional memberships

Member of British Sociological Association

Member of Association for Studies in Innovation Science and Technology (AsSIST - UK)

Associate member of WISERD ESRC/HEFCE/WAG research institute (Cardiff, Bangor, Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities, Wales, UK)

Academic positions

  • Deputy Director, Research and Graduate School in Social Sciences; (2004 – 2007)
  • Lecturer in Sociology, SOCSI (1998 – 2007)

Committees and reviewing

Cardiff University

2016 - present, Director MSc Social Science Research Methods (SSRM), Cardiff University

2011 - 2014 Research Committee member, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences (2011/12 – 2013/14)

2010 - present, Pathway Convenor for Sociology (ESRC, Wales, DTP)

2011 – 2014, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences – Member of the Senior Management Team (SOCSI)

2009 - Member of Qualitative Methods Training and Capacity Building Committee - WISERD

2004 – 2007 Deputy Director of the Research and Graduate School in the Social Sciences (Cardiff University, RGS)


2015 - 2016, Member of Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (UK) Benchmarking Committee (Sociology) 2015/2016

2014 - present, Member of ISRF Digital Social Science Forum


I welcome PhD supervision in the areas of:

  • The emerging contours of digital societies
  • Ethnomethodology and the social life of methods and data
  • Social implications of disruptive digital technologies (e.g. social media, robotics, 3D printing, automation, A.I.)
  • Communication, talk and interaction
  • The sociology of art and design
  • Collaborative working and interdisciplinary practice
  • Decision-making and organisations