The University of Sheffield
Department of Sociological Studies

Dr Bridgette Wessels

Senior Lecturer in Sociology (BA (Durham), MA (York), D. Phil (Sussex))

Photo of Bridgette Wessels

Room: Elmfield, LG23 | Telephone: 0114 222 6416 (external), 26416 (internal)

Academic Profile

My writing and research focuses on the social and cultural change in relation to the innovation and use of information and communication technologies (ICT). I have addressed the production and use of Internet related social and cultural forms such as new media and iDTV; e-services in public services and in the public sphere; ICT and mobile telephony in culture and everyday life, and the development of e-social science. As well as my funded research, I have been an expert evaluator for the European Information Society Technologies programme (2002). I acted as an expert in an Office for Science and Technology and Department for Trade and Industry project on Cyber-trust and Crime Prevention and in a Royal Society project on Public Perceptions of Cyber-trust (2003/4). I was also on the ESRC National e-Social Science Committee (2004). I organized an international conference with Prof Brooks Bank Jones on Internet Identities in Europe in 2004 funded by the AHRC. I teach courses on the Internet and Society at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, MA in Qualitative Research and undertake PhD supervision in information society and new media related topics. I am Book Reviews Editor (Europe) for the International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics.


My research takes a cultural approach to various aspects of contemporary everyday life. My European CASE collaborative research in 8 cities in Europe (Vienna, Leeds, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Bologna, Barcelona, Stockholm and Groningen) explored 'coping strategies' in situations of exclusion addressing identity, culture and locale. In the area of public services, citizenship and everyday life, I have researched communication between police, local authorities and multicultural 'communities' of Afro-Caribbean, Asian and white residents as well as refugees. My research of the development and use of new media communication in the public sphere involved (re)-understanding citizenship, consumerism and forms of life in multicultural environments in London and in other European contexts. My work with the European Media and Technology in Everyday Life network explored the use of media technologies in everyday life, and work with COST (EU) looked at the use of mobile 'phones. My last project was interdisciplinary and addressed communication using new media technologies in relation to e-citizenship and the 'joining up' of services for disabled children. My research with CURDS, University of Newcastle, addressed the processes of developing e-government in England and Wales (DTLR).

Social anthropology is influential in my work in particular the anthropology of performance in contexts of contemporary innovation. My work in relation to developing a dynamic understanding of participation focuses on identity and belonging, which includes considering institutions, space and communication. Ongoing work involves understanding aspects of the Internet in relation to contemporary everyday life, citizenship and leisure.

I am Director of the Interdisciplinary Research in Socio-Digital Worlds (IRiS) research stream: see and

I have been awarded the title of Visiting Scholar to pursue research activities in the School of Letters, Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney.

Funded Research Projects
Date Sponsor Details
2013-2017 European Cooperation in the field of Scientificand Technical Research - COST Social Networks and Travel Behaviour
2013-2015 European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 Policy RECommendations for Open Access to Research Data in Europe (RECODE)
2012-2013 The Cabinet Office Digital by Default: South Yorkshire Alpha Project
2012 University of Sheffield

Q Cinema (Co-Investigator): this project aims to provide enterprise training for early career researchers and to assess the economic impact of the research content they develop.

2012-2014 AHRC Participating in Search Design: A Study of George Thomason's Newsbooks, 1649-1653
2011 Horizon, the Nottingham University Digital Economy Research Hub Cultural Movements. Digital Economy and Mediapolis
(with Dr Abigail Durrant and Professor Bob Anderson)
2011-2014 TSB and ESRC Overcoming Barriers to Mainstreaming Assisted Living Technology
2011 The University of Sheffield HEIF-4 Knowledge Transfer Scheme and The Museum, Libraries & Archives Council (MLA Council, DCMS) Look Closer: Augmenting The Courtauld Gallery
2009 Divisional Director's Award Developing Interdisciplinary Digital Worlds
2008 University of Sheffield Devolved Funds Identity and Privacy in Digital Contexts
2005 University of Sheffield Knowledge Transfer Opportunities Fund - HEIF 2 Public participation and sustainability in complex e-enabled portal services: comparing the cases of London Connects (UK), South Yorkshire Connects (UK) and Digital City Ronneby (Sweden)
2003-2005 ESRC Collaborative Analysis of Offenders' Personal and Area-based Social Exclusion: A demonstrator project for e-social science
2002-2003 Office of Deputy Prime Minister National Evaluation of e-government (with Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies and the Social and Business Informatics Centre, University of Newcastle


At undergraduate level, my teaching at Sheffield includes:

See our Undergraduate Degree pages.

At posgraduate level, I teach the following modules on the MA in Social Research:

Publications since 2005

Brewster, L, Mountain, G, Wessels, B, Kelly, C, and Hawley, M (2013) 'Factors affecting frontline staff acceptance of telehealth technologies: a mixed-method systematic review'. In the Journal of Advanced Nursing Studies. Early View published 20 June 2013. doi: 10.1111/jan.12196

Wessels, B., Anderson, B, Durrant, A. and Ellis, J. (2013) 'Mediating genocide: cultural understanding through digital and print media stories in global communication' in the International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, doi: 10.1386/macp.8.2-3.193_1

Wessels, B (2013) 'The reproduction and reconfiguration of inequality: differentiation and class, status and power in the dynamics of digital divides' in The Digital Divide: The Internet and Social Inequality in International Perspective eds. Ragnedda and Muschert, G. Routledge Advances in Sociology series

Wessels, B. (2012) 'Identification and the practices of identity and privacy in everyday digital communication' in New Media and Society, first published on July 23, 2012 as doi:10.1177/1461444812450679

Wessels, B., Dittrich, Y., Ekelin, A and Eriksen, S. (2012). 'Creating synergies between participatory design of e-services and collaborative planning' in International Journal of E-planning Research, Volume 1, Issue 3, doi: 10.4018/ijepr.2012070101

Wessels, B. (2012) 'Exploring human agency and digital systems:services, personalisation and participation' in Information, Communication and Society, first published on August 14, 2012 as doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.715666

Wessels, B. (2010): The Cultural Dynamics of the Innovation of New Media; the Case of Telematics, VDM Verlag: Saarbrucken

Wessels, B. and Craglia, M. (2010): ‘Researcher led development of e-Research in the Social Sciences: the case of the ‘Collaborative Analysis of Offenders’ Personal and Area-based Social Exclusion’ project’ in Sociological Research Online,15 (2) 7

Wessels, B. (2010): ‘The Role of Local Agencies in Developing Community Participation in E-Government and E-Public Services’ in Carlos Nunes Silva (Ed.) Handbook of Research on E-Planning: ICTs for Urban Development and Monitoring pp. 286-305 (Hershey, PA: IGI Global)

Wessels, B. (2010): ‘E-inclusion: European Perspectives Beyond the Digital Divide’ in the Encyclopedia of E-Business Development and Management in the Global Economy, Vol III, edited by In Lee (Hershey PA: Business Science Reference/Global), pp 1068-1075 (Chapter 107).

Wessels, B (2010): 'The Public Sphere and the European Information Society' in Bee, C and Bozzini, E.(eds.) Mapping the European Public Sphere, Aldershot: Ashgate

Wessels, B. (2009): 'Locating the Self in Web 2.0: explorations in creativity, identity and digital expression' in Observatorio (OBS*), Vol 3, No 3

Wessels, B. (2009): 'Information and Communication Technologies and Policing: The Dynamics of Changing Police-Public Communication in the East End of London' in Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol 48, Issue 5, p.501-513

Wessels (2009): Understanding the Internet: a socio-cultural perspective, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Wessels, B and Craglia, M (2009): 'Situated Innovations in e-social science' in Jankowski, N. (ed.) E-research: transformations in scholarly practice, London: Routledge, p.291-310.

Harrison, J. and Wessels, B. (eds.) (2009): Mediating Europe: new media, mass communication, and the European Public Sphere, Berghahn Publishers, Oxford

Wessels, B. (2009): 'The Public Sphere and the European Information Society' in Mediating Europe: new media, mass communication, and the European Public Sphere, Berghahn Publishers, Oxford

Dittrich, Y., Eriksen, S., & Wessels, B. (2009): 'From Knowledge Transfer to Situated Innovation: cultivating spaces for co-operation in innovation and design between academics, user-groups and ICT providers' BTH: Blekinge Techiska Hogskola

Wessels, B. (2008): 'Creating a regional agency to foster eInclusion: the case of South Yorkshire, UK¹' in European Journal of ePractice, No 3 pp 1-11

Wessels, B. (2008): 'Exploring the Notion of the Europeanization of Public Spheres and Civil Society in Fostering a Culture of Dialogue Through the Concept of Proper Distance¹' in Sociology: Thought and Action (Sociologija. Mintis ir veiksmas) No 3 (23) pp 28-46

Wessels, B., Walsh, S., and Adam, E.(2008): 'Mediating Voices: Community Participation in the Design of E-Enabled Community Care Services' in The Information Society 24 (1)

Wessels, B. (2007) Inside the Digital Revolution: policing and changing communication with the public, Ashgate: Aldershot

Wessels, B and Craglia, M (2007): 'Situated innovation of e-social science: performances between infrastructure, collaboration and knowledge'. Special edition on e-social science in Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 12(2), article 18.

Wessels, B. and Miedema, S. (2007): 'Towards Understanding Situations of Exclusion' in Steinert, H. and Pilgram, A. (eds.) (2007) Welfare Policy from Below: struggles against Social Exclusion in Europe 2nd Edition, Aldershot: Ashgate pp 61-76

Wessels, B. (2007): 'Community, Subculture, Secondary Association as a Resource: patterns of association to counter exclusion and configured networks to manage exclusion' in Steinert, H. and Pilgram, A. (eds.) (2007) Welfare Policy from Below: struggles against Social Exclusion in Europe 2nd Edition, Aldershot: Ashgate pp 175 – 186

Wessels, B, Janssen, J. and Miedema, S. (2007): 'Double Difficulty: female and foreigner' in Steinert, H. and Pilgram, A. (eds.) (2007) Welfare Policy from Below: struggles against Social Exclusion in Europe Aldershot: Ashgate pp 241-254

Wessels, B. (2006): ‘First Impressions: Arriving and Reading the City’ (a digital photoessay) in Materializing Sheffield: Place, Culture and Identity, Sharon Macdonald (ed.), HRI Online publishing: Sheffield

Harrison, J and Wessels, B (2005): ‘A new public service communication environment? Public service broadcasting values in the reconfiguring media’ in New Media and Society, Vol. 7 (6): 861-880

Craglia, M. Wessels, B. Griffiths, M. and Costello, A (2005): ‘Building bridges between social science, grid, and geospatial communities: a reflection on practice’ JISC: ESRC

A full list of publications can be downloaded by clicking the link on the right of this page.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome applications from students interested in the following broad areas of research:

To find out more about our PhD programmes, go to:
Studying for a PhD in Sociology