Professor Fiona Devine

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Position: Head of School


Fiona Devine is Head of Alliance Manchester Business School and Professor of Sociology at The University of Manchester. She was previously Head of Sociology (2004-7), Head of the School of Social Sciences (2009-13) and Co-Director of Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) (2012-4) at the University which she first joined in 1994. Prior to Manchester she worked at the University of Liverpool, the Policy Studies Institute, and the former Department of Employment in London. She studied Sociology and Government as an undergraduate at the University of Essex where she also completed an MA and PhD.

Fiona's research interests are in the related fields of social stratification and mobility (with a comparative focus including the US), work and employment, and politics and participation. Much of her research has been funded by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Leverhulme Trust. With a team of colleagues from the LSE, York, Durham and MMU, she was involved in the BBC’s Great British Class Survey, an online survey completed by over 300,000 thousand people and a class calculator completed by 9 million people. The results have appeared in the book, Social Class in the 21st Century, published by Penguin in 2015.

Fiona was a member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Chair of its International Advisory Committee (2003-7), a member of the Governing Council of the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the UK representative on the New Opportunities for Research Funding Co-operation Agency in Europe (NORFACE) Network Board. She has held visiting positions at the Department of Sociology, University at Chicago, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and the Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, and was a member of the Research Evaluation Committee for Education and Human Society for Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). Fiona is also currently a Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, Stanford University, USA. She is an Honorary Professor in the Institute for Social Sciences and the Department of Sociology at the University of Queensland, Australia and continues to work with colleagues there.

She was awarded an OBE for services to social sciences in 2010, elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) in 2011 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (FRSA). Fiona is a companion of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). She was elected onto the Assembly of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce in 2015.

Research Interests

These include social stratification and mobility, politics and participation, space mobility and lifestyles and gender, work and family.

Current Projects

The Great British Class Survey
Fiona, together with Mike Savage from the London School of Economics and BBC Lab UK, was behind the BBC’s Great British Class Survey. More than 360,000 people completed a survey on different dimensions of class, making it one of the largest ever studies of class in Great Britain. The results identified a new model of class with seven classes ranging from the Elite at the top to a 'Precariat' at the bottom. Over 6.9 million people have since used the BBC’s class calculator to identify their own class. Work on the Great British Class Survey is ongoing. The data is being prepared for the UK Data Archive so it can be used by other researchers, and a number of publications are in progress, including a special issue of The Sociological Review and a popular book provisionally entitled Social Class in the 21st Century published by Penguin in 2015
A Study of Mobility and Immobility
This project, undertaken with Yaojun Li from the institute of Social Change at the University of Manchester, addresses the recent academic, public and political debate about whether social mobility is declining and the considerable anxieties around the issue. The research involves a quantitative analysis of patterns and trends in social mobility in the 1980s and 1990s using the General Household Survey and the British Household Panel Survey. Yaojun and Fiona have found that men’s absolute upward mobility is on the decline although long-range mobility from working-class to middle-class positions is still evident. In contrast, women’s absolute upward mobility has increased considerably. In terms of relative mobility, Yaojun and Fiona concur with others that there has been a very slow move towards increased fluidity in the system.
Working Class Stability and Change
This is a qualitative project following on Fiona’s work on middle-class reproduction, working with Helene Snee (Sociology, University of Manchester). In 2010, in-depth interviews were conducted with thirty young women and men in Year 11 of a PFI school in a working-class area of Greater Manchester. In their final year of compulsory schooling, they were asked about their educational and occupational aspirations. In 2011, these young people were re-interviewed as they pursue a range of vocational and academic courses through FE. Their experiences of mobility or not will be especially interesting as a generation of young people either entering a severely depressed economy following the financial crisis in 2008 or moving into higher education at a time of consideration change with the introduction of student fees in 2012/3.

Additional Information

Fiona is one of the country's leading experts on social stratification and mobility with related interests in work and employment and politics and participation. She has discussed the results of the Great British Class Survey on national and international broadcast media, including BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4 and NPR Public Radio. Fiona recently appeared on BBC Breakfast to comment on the experiences of low income families in the housing market, and commented on class and gender diversity on company boards for The Sunday Times.

Fiona has also contributed to Radio 4’s Science Now (on women scientists and engineers), written commissioned pieces for the Times Higher (including class differentials in access to higher education with regard to the debate on tuition fees) and The Sunday Times Supplement (on downward social mobility revealed on the Genes Reunited website).

Fiona is happy to be contacted by the media for comment on her areas of research expertise as outlined above.

Programme involvement

Specialist fields




Publication summary




Working papers

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Showing 67 publication(s)




  • Devine, F., Snee, H., Wyn, J. (Ed.), & Cahill, H. (Ed.) (2015). Young People's Transitions to Employment: Making Choices, Negotiating Constraints. In Handbook of Children and Youth Studies. Dordrecht: Springer Verlag. . Publication link: bfc347dc-7787-41bc-9517-5d0bce3c5954
  • Devine, F., & Li, Y. (2015). Social Mobility of Young People in the UK. (House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility), (Overlooked and left behind: improving the transition from school to work for the majority of young people; No. HL Paper 120). London: The Stationery Office Limited.. Publication link: bb358722-b4be-40d9-bd7b-b4129592f13b
  • Li, Y., Heath, A., & Devine, F. (2015). Formal and informal social connections in the UK. In The Handbook of Research Methods and Applications on Social Capital. (pp. 187-203). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. . Publication link: a66e3d08-ca06-4b04-8e43-83b4a0423d36
  • Savage, M., Cunningham, N., Devine, F., Friedman, S., Laurison, D., McKenzie, L., ... Wakeling, P. (2015). Social Class in the 21st Century. London: Pelican.. Publication link: 6c5d4f36-9c20-4ca4-8ee9-2cfba2434387


  • Li, Y., Devine, F., Archer, L. (Ed.), Mann, A. (Ed.), & Stanley, J. (Ed.) (2014). Social Mobility in Britain, 1991-2011. In Understanding Employer Engagement in Education: theories and evidence. (pp. 79-91). London: Routledge. . Publication link: 214ec5a7-2100-4b36-9f2e-38ae932ec050
  • Savage, M., Devine, F., Cunningham, N., Friedman, S., Laurison, D., Miles, A., ... Taylor, M. (2014). On Social Class, Anno 2014. Sociology. . Publication link: ff68dbb8-b2ef-4086-a1ac-da0ce2d25672


  • Savage, M., Devine, F., Cunningham, N., Taylor, M., Li, Y., Hjellbrekke, J., ... Miles, A. (2013). A New Model of Social Class? Findings from the BBC's Great British Class Survey Experiment. Sociology, 47(2), 219-250. DOI: 10.1177/0038038513481128. Publication link: 4124ef9b-6cca-485e-b119-bc1e49c2c38a



  • Devine, F., Bouffartigue, P. (Ed.), Gadea, C. (Ed.), & Pochic, S. (Ed.) (2010). Upper-middle ou lower-middle?: Classes moyennes et identité de classe aux USA et en Angleterre. In Cadres, classes moyennes: vers l'éclatement?. (1st ed., pp. 275-286). Paris, France: Armand Colin. . Publication link: 930b73f3-c939-40ff-bd9f-17f5b4d86bfb
  • Devine, F. (2010). Class reproduction, occupational inheritance and occupational choices. In Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century: New Barriers and Continuing Constraints|Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century: New Barriers and Continuing Constraints. (1st ed., pp. 40-58). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. . Publication link: 9301d273-bee9-4bb3-9ad5-90b655f1ed14
  • Devine, F., Silva, E. (Ed.), & Warde, A. (Ed.) (2010). Habitus and Classfications. In Cultural Analysis and Bourdieu's Legacy: Settling Accounts and Developing Alternatives. (1st ed., pp. 151-156). London: Routledge. . Publication link: 0339e19c-adc2-4a58-90dc-2898be38654c


  • Devine, F., & Heath, S. (2009). Evidence and Methods in Social Science. In Doing Social Science: Evidence and Methods in Empirical Research. (1st ed., pp. 1-12). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan . . Publication link: c4efa8c3-8e81-46e9-bdda-db2ba23cc7d8
  • Devine, F., Flinders, M. (Ed.), Gamble, A. (Ed.), Hay, C. (Ed.), & Kenny, M. (Ed.) (2009). Class. In The Oxford Handbook of British Politics. (1 ed., pp. 609-628). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. . Publication link: ff8a012e-1aff-4e5d-97e9-d7e5d55d28a6
  • Devine, F., & Heath, S. (2009). Doing Social Science: Evidence and Methods in Empirical Research. (1st ed.) Basingstoke: Palgrave.. Publication link: 2dd86a0b-b9ea-4c59-a96f-a4895dc9fc25


  • Devine, F., Halfpenny, P., Britton, N. J., & Mellor, R. (2008). Conserving the past of a quiet suburb: Urban politics, association networks and speaking for 'the community': Associational Networks and Speaking for the Community. In Networked Urbanism: Social Capital in the City|Networked Urbanism: Soc. Cap. in the City: Critical Perspectives on Social Capital in the City. (1 ed., pp. 197-215). Basingstoke, UK: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.. . Publication link: 290eadcf-718e-4247-8c04-5587e04d7b34
  • Li, Y., Devine, F., & Heath, A. (2008). Inequalities in education, employment and earnings among equality groups: A research review and analysis of trends over time. (EHRC). Manchester: EHRC.. Publication link: 85c405cb-3933-4b18-9589-9712e0587509


  • Savage, M., Warde, A., & Devine, F. (2007). Cultivating cultural capital: a reply to Goldthorpe. Sociological Methods and Research. . Publication link: 2230fb1b-90c2-40b5-bdc6-7403a490f9aa



  • Devine, F., & Savage, M. (2005). The Cultural Turn, Sociology and Class Analysis. In Rethinking Class, Cultures, Identities and Lifestyles. (pp. 1-23). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave. . Publication link: 8958be82-6940-4c29-999f-7e08e0133f46
  • Devine, F., Savage, F., Crompton, M. (Ed.), Scott, R. (Ed.), & J., . U. (Ed.) (2005). Rethinking Class: Identities. Cultures and Lifestyles. London: Palgrave.. Publication link: d829b1bf-9adc-4927-8b5b-fa0fb96a8318
  • Devine, F. (2005). Middle-Class Identities in the United States. In Rethinking Class: Identities, Cultures and Lifestyles. London: Palgrave. . Publication link: eb43daac-5598-49e8-a5e0-6282cdc9959d


  • Devine, F., Halfpenny, P., Britton, N. J., Mellor, R., Boddy, M. (Ed.), & Parkinson, M. (Ed.) (2004). The 'good suburb' as an urban asset in enhancing a city's competitiveness. In City Matters: Competitiveness, Cohesion and Urban Governance. Polity Press. . Publication link: b5d7cc11-e523-4261-92f3-951115b177e8
  • Devine, F., & Savage, M. (2004). The Cultural Turn, Sociology and Class Analysis. In Rethinking Class: Identities, Cultures and Lifestyles. London: Palgrave. . Publication link: 416193cc-3c45-4ac1-80b1-8ba602bfe71a
  • Devine, F., & Waters, M. (Ed.) (2004). Talking about Class in Britain. In Social Inequalities in Comparative Perspective. Oxford: Blackwell. . Publication link: 65a1a5f4-4a38-4e49-b10b-d0c72ff1da3d
  • Britton, N. J., Halfpenny, P., Devine, F., & Mellor, R. (2004). The future of regional cities in the information age: The impact of information technology on manchester's financial and business services sector. Sociology, 38(4), 795-814. DOI: 10.1177/0038038504045865. Publication link: 873afb63-87f6-4011-bc22-a0f0a6f870c7


  • Devine, F., & Roberts, J. M. (2003). Alternative approaches to researching social capital: A comment on van Deth's measuring social capital. International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice, 6(1), 93-100. DOI: 10.1080/13645570305054. Publication link: 46e971ef-e910-44cf-a6e8-c2e88b38953f
  • Devine, F., Britton, N. J., Mellor, R., & Halfpenny, P. (2003). Mobility and the middle classes: A case study of Manchester and the North West. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(3), 495-509. DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.00463. Publication link: 4125b798-3bbe-416b-8a59-5305c8945f0f
  • Devine, F., & Waters, M. (Ed.) (2003). Comparative Inequalities. In Social Inequalities in Comparative Perspective. MA, USA: Maldon. . Publication link: 1d4f602e-783e-4ed1-aac9-682c264b40c0


  • Devine, F., Marsh, D. (Ed.), & Stoker, G. (Ed.) (2002). Qualitative Methods. In Theory & Method in Polical Science. Basingstoke: Palgrave. . Publication link: a50be2af-746b-4d9d-869a-3d437ddf6332
  • Devine, F., Britton, N. J., Halfpenny, P., & Mellor, R. (2002). Family and Community Ties in Time and Space. In Social Relations & the Life Course. Basingstoke: Palgrave. . Publication link: f69a5d9d-674f-4c52-9c59-e35b7037cd5e


  • Devine, R., Savage, F., Crompton, . U. (Ed.), Scott, M. (Ed.), & J., . U. (Ed.) (2000). Conclusion: renewing class analysis. In Renewing Class Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell. . Publication link: 8b08c85c-fa27-43ef-a44b-3348123675c7
  • Devine, F., Britton, J., Mellor, R., & Halfpenny, P. (2000). Professional work and professional careers in Manchester's business and financial sector. Work, Employment and Society, 14,3. . Publication link: ebadf34d-26fa-4a5a-bbdc-7f889b4e1c65


  • Devine, F. (1999). Gender Stereotyping and Modern Apprenticeships. (Quality and Performance Improvement Division, Department for Education and Employment). Department for Education and Employment.. Publication link: cf761089-8f34-4b88-ac9b-139d5fde0650




  • Devine, F. (1996). The stability of class in contemporary society: studying the processes of social mobility and immobility. In Cambridge Sociological Research Group.. Publication link: bb639b5e-11b9-4704-8c35-1cf8596581b2


  • Devine, F., & Broughton, D. (Ed.) (1995). Learning More about Mass Political Behaviour. In British Elections and Parties Yearbook, 1994. Frank Cass. . Publication link: 253e0367-35b5-4274-85f0-77cac9f6de46
  • Devine, F., Marsh, D. (Ed.), & Stoker, G. (Ed.) (1995). Qualitative Methods. In Theories and Methods in Political Science. Macmillan. . Publication link: 1cdbddf9-4cab-43e9-ab8a-aa6296aa81ef
  • Devine, F., & Roberts, K. (Ed.) (1995). Privatism and the Working Class. In Leisure and Social Stratification. Lesiure Studies Association. . Publication link: d9621a03-e468-4624-b963-12c4072e081b



  • Devine, F. (1992). Review of Research Planning Procedures. (Social Science Branch, Department of Employment). No publisher name.. Publication link: 606d26bd-43aa-4fab-b5c2-532d190c52b1


  • Devine, F., & Crewe, I. (Ed.) (1991). Working-Class Evaluations of the Labour Party. In British Elections and Parties Yearbook, 1991. Sage. . Publication link: 39a3a623-b077-4e67-8713-4da62f6e3e5c


  • Devine, F., Allen, G. (Ed.), & Crow, G. (Ed.) (1989). The working class and home-centredness. In Home and Family. Macmillan. . Publication link: 93db7d11-d6fe-450f-99ba-e95d73c1d3a8