Dr Sarah Burton
Dr Sarah Burton

Dr Sarah Burton


Accepting PhDs



I joined the Department as Lecturer in Sociology in 2022. Prior to this, I held a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London, as well as positions at Durham University and the University of Glasgow. I completed my doctoral thesis, an ethnographic study of the relationship between legitimacy and knowledge production, at Goldsmiths in 2017. 

My research sits largely within social theory and political sociology, especially ideas of neoliberalism, cosmopolitanism, mobility, and nationalism. I'm most interested in these as they relate to processes and practices of knowledge production, questions of expertise and authority, and concepts of value and legitimacy. I also work substantially with theories of affect and emotion with a particular focus on how things like authority and legitimacy 'stick' to certain bodies, spaces, languages, and architecture. As a researcher I'm primarily an ethnographer but often draw on my background in literary studies and pull in novels, television, art, and film to my analysis. 

My monograph Writing with the Canon: Reflections on Intellectuals, Power, and the Making of Knowledge is due to be published in late 2022 by Manchester University Press.


  • PhD Sociology 
    2017 - Goldsmiths 
  • MRes Sociology and Research Methods 
    2013 - University of Glasgow 
  • PGCE English 
    2012 - University of Cambridge 
  • MLitt English Literature 
    2009 - Newcastle University 
  • BA (Hons) English Literature 
    2007 - Newcastle University 

External Memberships

Convenor, British Sociological Association Early Career Forum

Associate Fellow, Advance HE


Research Overview

My research concentrates on the production of knowledge, how knowledge becomes authoritative and legitimate, and the ways concepts such as ‘race’, nationality, language, gender, and cultural capital shape these processes. My current Leverhulme Trust fellowship research specifically examines how ideas of cosmopolitanism and belonging shape both academic and public comprehensions of ‘the intellectual’ and ‘the expert’ and speaks to key contemporary questions surrounding the decolonisation of ideas and language and the ongoing centrality of Western knowledge. 

Within my focus on mobilities and cosmopolitanism I am especially interested in the dual ideas of Anglocentrism and multilingualism. Much of my ethnographic research takes place in South America; my most recent ethnography in Santiago, Chile included walking ethnographies of the city and the material responses and conversations taking place after the ‘October Crisis’ of 2019. As part of my research within South American contexts and my scholarship on Anglocentrism, I am committed to working multilingually across Spanish and English. 

Related to my interest in theories of affect, I also research the concept of kindness - most particularly its mobilisation within neoliberal and capitalist narratives of wellbeing and wellness. As part of this, I'm developing scholarship into how these mobilisations are also gendered, racialised, and classed.  

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Sociology.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me


Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Political Sociology
  • Social Theory
  • Cultural Studies
  • Comparative Literary Studies
  • Latin American Studies

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Knowledge Exchange

As part of my work on intellectuals and experts I regularly give public talks and interviews on the 'dark academia' trend. You can read interviews with me in The Guardian and The New Statesman.


I welcome supervision inquiries within any of my broad research themes.

I'm especially interested in supervising projects that involve some element of multilingualism, particularly Spanish-speaking contexts, and am enthusiastic about supervising students whose 'first' language is not English.

Funding and Grants

2018 - 2022: Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship

2013 - 2016: ESRC Doctoral Studentship


Page 1 of 1 Results 1 to 9 of 9

  • Solidarity, Now! Care, Collegiality and Comprehending the Power Relations of “Academic Kindness” in the Neoliberal Academy

    Burton, S.
    Performance Paradigm, vol. 16, pp. 20-39
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • The Urgency of Critical Theory Today: Towards Optimism and Renewal in a Neoliberal World

    Burton, S., Susen, S., Outhwaite, W.
    Berlin Journal of Critical Theory, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 141-168
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Becoming a Multilingual Researcher in Contemporary Academic Culture: Experiential Stories of (Not) Learning and Using Languages

    Burton, S.
    Learning and Using Languages in Ethnographic Fieldwork. Gibb, R., Tremlett, A., Danero Iglesias, J. (eds.). MultiLingual Matters, pp. 207-220
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
  • Introduction: New Writings in Feminist and Women’s Studies

    Clancy, L., Burton, S.
    Journal of International Women's Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 1-5
    Contributions to Journals: Editorials
  • New Writings in Feminist Studies: Winning and Shortlisted Entries from the 2017 Feminist and Women’s Studies Association’s Annual Student Essay Competition

    Burton, S., Clancy, L.
    Journal of International Women's Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 1-107
    Contributions to Journals: Special Issues
  • Writing Yourself In? The Price of Playing the (Feminist) Game in the Neoliberal Academy

    Burton, S.
    Feeling Academic in the Neoliberal University. Taylor, Y., Lahad, K. (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 115-136
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters (Peer-Reviewed)
  • Becoming Sociological: disciplinarity and a sense of 'home'

    Burton, S.
    Sociology, vol. 50, no. 5, pp. 984-992
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Experimento: ¿Cómo escribir lo social?

    Burton, S., Basaure, M., Barozet, E., Alvaro, D., Ariztía, T., Barozet, E., Bielsa, E., Bell, V., Bolaños, B., Borch, C., Chernilo, D., Connell, R., Cordero, R., Espósito, E., Heredia, M., Lahire, B., Modonesi, M., Outhwaite, W., Salinas, F., Tijoux, M., Torres, E., Turner, C., Vanderberghe, F., Wajcman, J.
    Cuadernos de Teoría Social, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 49-70
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • The Monstrous ‘White Theory Boy’: Symbolic Capital, Pedagogy and the Politics of Knowledge

    Burton, S.
    Sociological Research Online, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 167-177
    Contributions to Journals: Articles


Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals