Students Staff

Academic Staff

Dr Katy Wheeler

Position in departmentPersonal Tutor, Ethics Officer, Deputy Director of CRESI
Staff positionLecturer (Sociology of Consumption)
Telephone3061 (non Essex users should add 01206-87 to the beginning of this number)
Academic support hoursThursday 11.00-13.00 or by appointment

Katy returned to Essex University after working for three years as a central academic at The Open University (Milton Keynes). Whilst at the OU, Katy played a leading role in the development of a first year interdisciplinary module, ’Investigating the Social World (DD103)’. Before this, she held positions as a post-doctoral researcher at Essex University and Queen Mary, University of London where she conducted research on recycling and obesity interventions respectively. Katy's PhD research explored Fairtrade consumption and support in the UK, focusing on the Fairtrade Towns movement. Katy completed her PhD (ESRC 1+3) and undergraduate studies at Essex.

Katy has been an instructor at the Essex Summer School since 2012, offering a course in qualitative interviewing and analysis. She is a Professional Trainer for the qualitative software, MAXQDA.

Katy is on the editorial board for the Journal of Cultural Economy. Twitter @KatyMWheeler

  • PhD, Sociology (2010)
  • MA Sociological Research Methods (2006)
  • BA Sociology & Criminology (2004)
  • Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy (2016)

Current research

Katy's work deals with the ways ordinary consumers respond to the normative pressures placed upon them to act in sustainable or responsible ways. Katy has researched the Fairtrade movement and recycling in comparative contexts, exploring how these different consumer practices generate distinctive moral economies. There has been a growing interest in the concept of moral economy along with the growing interest in sustainable consumption and markets. Her recent work develops a holistic moral economy framework that explores the interactions and interdependencies between individuals, communities and political-economic structures.

Katy is currently developing her interests in consumption and moral economies, through exploring the growing number of ethically certified schools (Eco Schools, Fairtrade Schools, MSC Schools) and environmental education programmes. She was awarded a British Academy Small grant in 2017 entitled 'Educating young people as sustainable citizen-consumers'.

Katy is also working with Dr. Stephanie Taylor (The Open University) and Dr. Bridget Conor (Kings College) to explore new forms of own-account creative work within the digital economy.

Research interests
  • Sociology of consumption and consumer culture
  • Consumption Work
  • Ethical consumption and Fairtrade
  • Recycling and waste management
  • Moral economy and political economy
  • Food provisioning
  • Sustainability and climate change
  • Theories of practice
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis
Teaching responsibilities
  • SC101: Researching Social Life I
  • SC111: The Sociological Imagination
  • SC203: Researching Social Life II
  • SC507: Consumption, political economy and sustainability


Edited Books

  • Drake, D., Morris, A., Shipman, A. & Wheeler, K. (eds.) (2015) Investigating the Social World 2, Milton Keynes: The Open University

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Chapters within Edited Collections

  • Wheeler, K. (2015) ‘Fair trade: Bridging Boundaries?’ in Drake, D., Morris, A., Shipman, A. & Wheeler, K. (eds.) (2015) Investigating the Social World 2, Milton Keynes: The Open University

Working Papers

Book Reviews

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