Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC)

The Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) was a joint initiative between The University of Manchester and The Open University.

Our researchers worked across disciplinary boundaries drawing together approaches from the social sciences and the humanities more generally.

Committed to exploring new methods and to engaging critically with existing methods, we also assumed a reflexive approach to how methods actively shape our research on the multi-dimensional aspects of social and cultural change.

What did CRESC do?

After ten years of ESRC core funding ended in 2014, The University of Manchester and The Open University supported CRESC activity for three years of transition which came to an end in August 2017.

The details of projects undertaken by CRSEC were listed under our six core themes.

  • Infrastructures of Social Change
  • Reframing the Nation
  • Remaking Capitalism
  • Social Life of Methods
  • Trajectories of Participation and Inequality
  • Urban Experiments

CRESC research offered interdisciplinary analyses of social and cultural change using state-of-the-art research methods to challenge contemporary myths and offer empirically grounded accounts of change in specific key areas.

Our research on cultural participation, on the challenge of the digital and the technological, on financialization, on the foundational economy and urban infrastructures, and on the media and transnationalism engages both academic and policy debates.

Our expertise

We drew on the expertise of leading sociologists, historians, anthropologists, museologists, business analysts, geographers and cultural and media studies researchers.

We used rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the extent, direction, and dynamics of socio-cultural change over recent decades, not only in the UK, but globally.

Our methodological strengths

We pulled together strengths in both quantitative methods (including longitudinal survey analysis) and qualitative research (in ethnography, in-depth interviewing, and visual analysis).

We had particular interests in developing methods for addressing the challenge of digital data, in finding ways of effectively linking different research methods, and in exploring the significance of visual methods.

We pooled our collective interests in a cross-cutting theme on the Social Life of Methods, which examined how social science methods can themselves become agents of change.


  • Department of Culture, Media and Sport
  • British Film Institute
  • Office of National Statistics
  • BBC
  • KPMG
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • ARUP engineers
  • Olympic Park Legacy Company
  • Enfield Borough Council
  • Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority.

Related links