Photo of Dr Phillip Brooker

Dr Phillip Brooker

Senior Lecturer in Sociology Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology


Personal Statement

Though grounded in sociology, my research and teaching lies across a range of interdisciplinary fields, including:

- Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)
- Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

- Ordinary Language Philosophy
- The Philosophy of Mind

- Social Studies of Human Spaceflight
- Artificial Intelligence

- Social Media Analytics
- Programming-as-Social-Science (PaSS)
- Maker Skills/Technologies (e.g. 3D Printing, Electronic Engineering) for Social Science

In a broad sense, my research is unified by a focus on social and collaborative computing and software development/usage. This is reflected in the various domains my work has cut across throughout my academic career. For instance, my thesis was a video-aided ethnomethodological study of the use of programming languages in astrophysics and electrical engineering.

After completing my thesis, as a postdoctoral researcher I contributed to the development and testing of a software package for facilitating social science research work involving Twitter data - Chorus ( With Chorus and other related projects, I have contributed to the development of innovative methods and methodologies for doing Social Media Analytics, as applied to various projects in and around online interactions which result in 'cultures of fear' and the stigmatisation of social groups, and have helped develop 'critical software interventions' that address such topics as poverty porn and class stigma, weight stigma, far-right politics, and 'fake news'.

Since then, I have also developed research and teaching around the potential for computer programming to feature in core social science research methods training, manifest in various research projects (see publications) and teaching activities (including several "Bootcamps" operated through the National Centre for Research Methods and my 2019 book "Programming with Python for Social Scientists"), and am beginning new research into the potential for physical hardware maker skills (e.g. 3D printing, electronic engineering) to inform the doing of social science. These interests converge in a current research direction; bringing ethnomethodological approaches to the study of human spaceflight missions, as sites of science and technology knowledge production. In this aspect of my research, I have studied NASA's Apollo 13 mission and the Skylab program of the early 1970s, using publicly-available legacy materials (conversation transcripts, design specifications, audio and video recordings, etc) to elucidate the practical work of doing astronautics; see existing publications, but also a forthcoming book contracted with Manchester University Press on this topic called "Living and Working in Space: An Ethnomethodological Study of Skylab". Building on this topical interest, I am also currently developing two further projects - "Skylab 2049" and "Terra Pi" - which aim to deploy programming skills/game design and electronics maker skills as methods for engaging with the lived work of astronautics in different ways. For more information on these projects, please contact me at the provided email address.