David Oswell, BA (Hons), MA , PhD

David’s research is concerned with the social life of children, children’s rights and, more broadly, social theory.

Staff details

David Oswell, BA (Hons), MA , PhD


Professor in Sociology and Pro-Warden for Research, Enterprise and Knowledge Exchange




d.oswell (@gold.ac.uk)

David Oswell started off teaching part-time at the Polytechnic of North London while completing an MA in Film and Television Studies at the Polytechnic of Central London and researching for his PhD based at the Open University. David then got a first full-time lecturing post in media and cultural studies at Staffordshire University in 1993. He finally completed a PhD and moved down to the Department of Human Sciences at Brunel University in 1995. At Brunel, David got the first taste of science and technology studies from Steve Woolgar, Mike Lynch and Alan Irwin and had to proffer the pretence of knowing the field as Director of Graduate Studies at the Centre for Research into Innovation, Culture and Technology (CRICT). David then moved to the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths College in 2001.

In his early years at Goldsmiths, David's research and teaching developed around cultural theory, technology, organisation, and social life. But in recent years his writing has been firmly based around a set of questions and issues concerning the social life of children and childhood, children’s rights, and the way in which knowledge and images of children circulate and get used and maneuvered.

From 2013 to 2016, David was Head of the Department of Sociology, and is currently Pro-Warden Research & Enterprise.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Sociology (Open University)
  • MA in Film and Television Studies (Polytechnic of Central London)
  • BA (Hons) Classics and Philosophy (Polytechnic of North London) 


  • Childhood Matters: Society, Theory and Culture
  • MA Human Rights, Culture and Social Justice 

Areas of supervision

David supervises PhD students across the range of his research interests

Completed PhDs

  • Rehan Hyder, Brimful of Asia: Negotiating Ethnicity on the UK Music Scene, Awarded PhD in 2000
  • Maria Sourbati, Commercial Television Regulation in the UK, Awarded PhD in 2001
  • Lin Williams, Discourse Analysis of Psychiatric Work, Awarded PhD in 2002
  • Bryony Hoskins, Tales of the Intimate: Exploring Young People’s Accounts of Sexual Practice: Evaluation of sex education programmes for young people in the UK, ESRC, Awarded PhD in 2001
  • Karen Wong, The Ambivalence of the Mobile Telephone: A Textual Analysis of User and Non-User Accounts of Meaning, Awarded PhD in 2007
  • Iyabo Osho, Race, Capital and Enterprise: A Qualitative Study of Black Organisations in London, ESRC Funded, Awarded PhD in 2007
  • Ofra Koffman, Genealogy of Teenage Pregnancy in Postwar Britain, Awarded PhD in 2008
  • Fiona Peters, Who Cares About Mixed Race? Care Experiences of Young People in an Inner City Borough, ESRC Funded, Awarded PhD in 2010
  • Paolo Cardullo, Walking on the Rim: Towards a Geography of Resentment, Awarded PhD in 2013
  • Richard Boulton, Children with HIV: the Consolidation of Medicine, Science and the Social into the Clinical Practice of Paediatric HIV, Whitehead Studentship, Awarded PhD in 2013
  • Yael Gerson, (Un)Masking NeoZapatismo: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of the Other Campaign, Awarded PhD in 2013
  • Jenny Nex, The Business of Musical-Instrument Making in Early Industrial London, Awarded PhD in 2013
  • Liam Berriman, Design and Participation Across Young People’s Online Spaces, ESRC Funded, Awarded PhD in 2013
  • David Moats, Decentring Devices: Developing Quali-Quantitative Techniques for Studying Controversies with Online Platforms, ESRC Funded, Awarded PhD in 2015
  • Nela Milic, Digital Archives, Material Culture and Belgrade Demonstrations in 1996 and 1997, Awarded PhD in 2016
  • Alexandra Baixinho, Cruise ship aquamobilities and post-industrial port dynamics: an experimental sensory ethnographic approach, Awarded PhD in 2016
  • Ana-Maria Herman, The Remediation of the MUM App: Reconfiguring the Museum and its Socio-cultural Politics, Awarded PhD in 2016

Publications and research outputs


Oswell, David. 2013. The Agency Of Children: From Family to Global Human Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521604703

Oswell, David. 2006. Culture and Society: An introduction to Cultural Studies. Sage. ISBN 0761942696

Oswell, David. 2002. Television, Childhood and the Home: A History of the Making of the Child Television Audience in Britain. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198742606

Edited Book

Oswell, David, ed. 2010. Cultural Theory, Volumes 1-4. London: SAGE. ISBN 978-1848607057

Book Section

Oswell, David. 2018. What Space for a Children’s Politics? Rethinking Infancy in Childhood Studies. In: Spyros Spyrou; Rachel Rosen and Daniel Thomas Cook, eds. Reimagining Childhood Studies. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 199-211. ISBN 9781350019225

Oswell, David. 2016. Re-aligning children's agency and re-socialising children in Childhood Studies. In: Florian Esser; Meike Baader; Tanja Betz and Beatrice Hungerland, eds. Reconceptualising Agency and Childhood: New Perspectives in Childhood Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 19-33. ISBN 1138854190

Oswell, David. 2010. Cultural Theory: Genealogies, Orientations and Territories. In: David Oswell, ed. Cultural Theory. London: Sage, xxi-xlviii. ISBN 9781848607057


Oswell, David. 2009. Infancy and Experience: Voice, Politics, and Bare Life. European Journal of Social Theory, 12(1), pp. 135-154. ISSN 1368-4310

Oswell, David. 2009. Yet to Come? Globality and the Sound of an Infant Politics. Radical Politics Today, 1(1), pp. 1-18.

Oswell, David. 2007. Infancy, Generation and Experience: Notes on the Sociological Empirical and Toward a Political Theory of Children’s Association. Sociology Working Papers, pp. 1-18.

Research Interests

Cultural studies, media and communication studies, sociology of science and technology, sociology of childhood and social theory