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Dr Libby Schweber

  • School Director of Postgraduate Research Studies (for current students)

Areas of interest

Social theory, methodology, sustainability, innovation, assessment, standards and feedback.

Research centres and groups

Background

My academic career can be divided into two related, but distinct phases.

In the first part I specialised in the sociology of knowledge and comparative historical sociology. I first developed this interest while working on my PhD for Princeton, much of which was written in Paris as a visiting student at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes. This work focused on the effect of national state and scientific institutions on styles of reasoning.

I pursued this work in Berlin at the Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, before taking a position at Harvard University as an Assistant, and then Associate, Professor in the Department of Sociology. In 2003, I moved to the University of Reading as Reader and Head of the Department of Sociology, where I continued my work on styles of reasoning.

The second phase of my academic career began in 2008 when I joined the Innovative Construction Research Centre (ICRC) to develop a research programme on sustainable construction. This research applies my interest in the sociology of science and technology to a new object, namely large construction firms.

While the theoretical frameworks and research questions are similar, the move has introduced me to a world of engineers, architects and industry partners and allowed me to engage in an exciting, contemporary field of research. My work focuses on the way in which large construction and engineering consultancy firms have responded to the challenges of sustainable construction.

I am particularly interested in the way in which professionals engage with policy and management tools and in the relation between innovation and standardisation. Specific research projects include the integration of assessment tools such as BREEAM and different types of feedback into the design process, mainstreaming sustainability in large construction firms, the uptake and diffusion of innovations such as renewable technologies and MMC.

My current research uses a variety of social theories to explore these issues, including: neo-institutionalism, social practice theory, STS and ANT.

Academic qualifications

  • BA Sociology, Harvard University 
  • MA Hebrew University 
  • MA, Princeton University 
  • PhD Sociology, Princeton University.

Professional bodies/affiliations

  • ARCOM committee member

Publications