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Imogen Bayfield


    Accepting PhD Students


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    Research Interests

    Imogen is an ethnographer who specialises in social cohesion, communities, and collective organising: how people work together to get things done, and the cultural norms, assumptions and power dynamics that shape these processes. She is interested in the relationship between groups/organisations/organisational processes of various kinds, and the communities and societies in which they are based. This interest spans community groups and civic engagement processes, radical/alternative spaces of collective organising, as well as formal institutions, both public and private.

    Imogen’s doctoral research consisted of a multi-sited ethnography with three community groups that were part of a UK-based ‘community empowerment’ programme called Big Local. ‘Community empowerment’ is an approach to development based on the idea that, for development programmes to be successful, they must be driven by the people who are supposed to benefit from them. The funders of community empowerment programmes like Big Local therefore aim to ‘hand over control’ to local residents. Imogen’s research explored how the community groups that arose through Big Local organised themselves and their work. It found that, while working ‘Inclusively’ was a common aim amongst the groups, this aim was constrained by the norms of collective organising drawn from the wider societal context in which the groups were based. 

    The findings of this research have implications for the role communities might play in addressing the most critical challenges of our time, and how best to enable the agile and creative working that is possible outside of formal institutions.

    Imogen is interested in collaborating in, and supervising projects on, collective organising; spaces of radical or alternative organising; organisational/institutional ethnography; communities and the future of energy supply; gender, parenting and parental leave policies; social cohesion; community politics; civic engagement.

    Imogen has so far produced academic publications for anthropology and sociology journals, and is in the process of preparing a book manuscript.  

    She has been involved with consultancy work on social cohesion; and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

    Prior to joining CTPSR, she studied Migration and Diaspora Studies at SOAS; Anthropology at Durham; and classical piano at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.


    • H Social Sciences (General)
    • Social cohesion
    • communities
    • collective organising
    • small groups
    • participatory development
    • organisational governance
    • civic engagement
    • in/equalities
    • intersectional analysis
    • ethnography
    • organisational ethnography
    • social theory


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