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Staff Profile

Prof Elizabeth Silva

Prof Elizabeth Silva
Faculty of Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Professor of Sociology



PhD Imperial College (Industrial Sociology) - University of London, UK
MA (Political Science) - University of São Paulo, Brazil
BA (Social Sciences) - University of São Paulo, Brazil

Professional affiliations

Editorial Board of Sociological Review on Line (BSA - UK) 2009-2012
Editorial Board of the Brazilian refereed Journal Revista Tecnologia e Sociedade (Brazil) since January 2010
Editorial Board of the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology (UK) since October 2009
International Editorial Board of Cadernos Pagu (UNICAMP, Brazil) since 1998
Member of the ESRC Centre for Research on Culture and Social Change (CRESC)
Member of the Centre for Citizenship, Identity and Governance (CCIG), Open University

Course development and teaching

I currently chair the Postgraduate module Discourse and Society (D843).

I have contributed to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University, most centrally on Introducing the social sciences (DD101) Level 1, Sociology and society (DD201) Level 2, Making social worlds (DD308) Level 3, Research methods dissertation in the social sciences (D845) Postgraduate Social Sciences.

Research interests

My current research interests are in Sociology and Culture. These encompass (1) Social Connections and Social Divisions particularly those of gender and class and (2) the connections between the Material (objects / technologies) and Social Relations, particularly in the contemporary context of the home and family life, art objects and museums. Feminist theories have informed these interests. Research methodologies have been central to my concerns (qualitative approaches of focus groups, interviews, ethnographies and visual explorations, as well as quantitative survey methods. I also engage with exploration of how different approaches and cross cultural and cross national comparisons complement the creation and understanding of social 'realities'.

I am currently developing a project on 'art in cosmopolitan spaces'. This is intended to compare London, São Paulo and New York and is a collaborative proposal with visual art, psycho-social, geography and sociology.

PhD supervision

My current interests in supervision focus on Cultural Sociology (I particularly welcome engagement with Bourdieu's work and with academic feminist work), Material Studies, Visual Art and Urban Explorations. I mostly appreciate uses of multiple methods, in particular qualitative ones.

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.


British Council, Counterpoint - Culture and Class: a conversation between John Holden and Elizabeth Silva.

'How do we know? Methodological Journeys in Social Research', Inaugural Professorial Lecture. The Open University, 14 March 2012.

'Accounting for the Modern Habitus', Round Table: 'Remembering Pierre Bourdieu, 1930-2002, held at the Maison Française d'Oxford, University of Oxford, 09 March 2012.

Podcast for Centre of Citizenship, Identity and Governance, CCIG, Open University - Interview with Arlie Hochschild, 'Family and Relationships' theme. Recorded 05 April 2011.

Keynote presentation of Arlie Hochschild's work - Chair of event 05 april 2011, OU Camden, London.

The British Council - Counterpoint - 'Culture and Class: a conversation between John Holden and Elizabeth Silva' - a podcast - August 2010.

Books and special issues of journals

Special Issue Cultural Sociology (forthcoming June 2013, edition 7.2,) 'Field analysis, boundary drawing and socio-cultural inequality', co-edited with Mike Savage.

Special Issue Poetics (2011), 39(6) 'Cultural Capital: Limits and Prospects', co-edited with Tony Bennett.

Special Issue Sociological Research on Line (Autumn 2011) 'Critical Concepts: Families, Intimacies and Personal Relationships', co-edited with Jacqui Gabb.

Silva, E.B. (2010) Technology, Culture, Family: Influences on Home Life. London: Palgrave.

Silva, E. and Warde, A. (eds) (2010) Cultural Analysis and Bourdieu's Legacy: Settling accounts and developing alternatives. London: Routledge. Paperback 2012.

Bennett, T.; Savage, M.; Silva, E.; Warde, A.; Gayo-Cal, M. and Wright, D. (2009) Culture, Class, Distinction, London: Routledge. Paperback 2010. Project Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion, CCSE.

Double Special issue (2006) 'Culture, Taste and Social Divisions in Contemporary Britain', Cultural Trends. Vol 15 (2/3), June/September. Co-editor with Tony Bennett.

Redman, P.; Silva, E.B. and Watson, S. (eds) (2005) The Uses of Sociology: Traditions, methods and practices. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Silva, E.B. and Bennett, T. (eds) (2004) Contemporary Culture and Everyday Life, Durham: Sociologypress

Recent refereed journal articles

Savage, M. and Silva, E.B (2013 forthcoming) 'Field analysis in cultural sociology: some critical reflections', Cultural Sociology, edition 7.2

Dominguez Rubio, F. and Silva, E.B (2013 forthcoming) 'Materials in the field: object-trajectories and object-positions in the field of contemporary art', Cultural Sociology, edition 7.2

Silva, E. B. and Le Roux, B (2011) 'Cultural Capital of Couples: Tensions in elective affinities' in Poetics, 39 (6): 547-565.

Bennett, T. and Silva, E (2011) 'Cultural Capital: histories, limits, prospects', Poetics, 39 (6): 427-443

Silva, E.B. (2010) 'Empregadas domésticas, máquinas e moral nos lares brasileiros', in Revista Tecnologia e Sociedade no. 10.

Pinho, P. and Silva, E.B. (2010) 'Domestic relations in Brazil', Latin American Research Review 45(2).

Silva, E.B. (2010) 'Maids, machines and morality in Brazilian homes', Feminist Review 94: 20-37.

Silva, E., Warde, A. and Wright, D. (2009) 'Using mixed methods for analyzing culture: The Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion Project', Cultural Sociology, 3(2): 299-316.

Silva, E.B. and Wright, D. (2009) 'Display, desire and distinction in housing', Cultural Sociology, 3(1): 31-50.

Silva, E. ( 2008) 'Cultural capital and visual art in the contemporary UK', Special Issue on 'The consequences of instrumental museum and gallery policy', Cultural Trends 17 (4): 267-287.

Silva, E.B. and Wright, D. (2008) 'Researching Cultural Capital: Complexities in mixing methods' in Methodological Innovations, vol 2, issue 3, published 13/12.2007).

Silva, E.B. (2007) 'What's [Yet] to Be Seen? Re-Using Qualitative Data' in Sociological Research Online, vol 12, issue 3, published 30/5/2007. Refereed Special Section: 'Reusing Qualitative Data'. pp.16

Silva, E.B. (2007) 'Security, self and the home' Ch 4 in Carter, S., Jordan, T. and Watson, S. (eds) Security. Making Social Worlds, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 81-100.

Silva E B (2007) 'Gender, class, emotional capital and consumption in family life' in E Casey and L Martens (eds) Gender and Consumption: Domestic Cultures and the Commercialisation of Everyday Life. Hampshire: Ashgate, pp.141-162.

Silva E B (2006) 'Homologies of social space and elective affinities: researching cultural capital' in Sociology, 40(6): 1171-1189.

Silva E (2006) 'Distinction through Visual Arts' in Cultural Trends, vol 15 (2/3): 141-158.

Bennett, T and E B Silva (2006) 'Cultural Capital and Inequality: Policy Issues and Contexts' in Cultural Trends, vol 15 (2/3): 87-106.

Silva E B (2005) 'Gender, home and family in cultural capital theory', British Journal of Sociology, 56 (1): 83-103.

Silva E B and Wright D (2005) 'The judgement of taste and social position in focus group research', Sociologia i Ricerca Sociale, Special double issue on 'Focus group methodology' , 76/77, pp.241-253. Milan: Angeli.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Other interests

Visual art, Photography, Fiction, Music, Travel, New Technological Gadgets, Cooking, Driving, Languages, Physical activities.

Last updated: 8 November 2012