Main research and teaching areas
- Social psychology, cultural sociology, interactionism, ethnomethodology, cultural analysis
- Qualitative methods, ethnography
- Criminology (sociological and social psychological) and social control
Current research and teaching
Research: My research is quite often at the intersection of cultural sociology, social psychology and criminology.
I mostly work with research materials that are close to everyday life (qualitative interviews, personal narratives, texts, fieldnotes from participant observation, etc.). I combine these with quite general and curiosity-driven questions, such as “how do people act toward one another here?”, “how is social order created?”, “what characterizes a people-processing institution?”, “how does interaction become violent?”, “what is considered to be corruption?”, “how do young people relate to the police?”, “how do people get access to various places and resources?”, “why is fieldwork embarrassing?”, “what motivates the actors of this field?”, or “which meanings are ascribed to the phenomenon X?”
By doing so I try to contribute to various directions and strands of sociological research: to criminology and the study of social control, to social psychology, disability studies and medical sociology, to the sociology of violence and interpersonal conflicts, to the sociology of gifts and corruption, to cultural sociology, the sociology of emotions and the sociology of play, and to the study of young people and today’s so-called ‘total institutions’ (and the institutions of the welfare state). My studies often revolve around social problems in some way or another, and often include a critical stance towards established “solutions”.
A common denominator is my interest in how people are entwined in each other’s ways of acting and how they really cannot be separated from culture and society – and the other way around. While many would characterize my work as micro-sociology, it more often transcends “micro”. Crime and punishment, disability and culture, control and institutions – these phenomena and circumstances are “meso” and “macro”, too.
I’m especially fond of theoretically surprising research that captures glimpses of real life. This involves the tricky combination of capturing social life in words, so that it still feels “alive”, and simultaneously offering an original theoretical understanding of it.
I also try to develop our research methods, including social scientists’ ways of analyzing and theorizing. This is a kind of research about research. The very process of knowledge formation interests me the most, how social science is made out of empirical material, theory and a sort of restrained fantasy. Sometimes this follows what the method books say, sometimes not.
Teaching: criminology, social psychology, sociological theory (for instance symbolic interactionism, constructionism, ethnomethodology), ethnography and other qualitative methods, analysis and theorizing, supervisor for students and PhD students.
Displaying of publications. Sorted by year, then title.
David Wästerfors is a sociologist and writer with rich experience of fieldwork and analysis.
His graduate studies (and studies in journalism) took place at Lund University but also at UCLA, University of California Los Angeles, where he studied Self and Society (with Jack Katz and Jeffrey Prager) and Aesthetic Anthropology (with Maureen Mahon).
1. Citizens as Crime Investigators. Digital crowdsourcing in civil policing and intelligence work (funded by the Swedish Research Council).
2. Accessibility and its Resistance. Everyday deviations from spatial and social practicability for persons with disabilities (funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare).
3. Pecuniary Sensitivity in Narratives about Foster Care (funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare), with Malin Åkerström and Katrina Jacobsson.
Embarrassing ethnography. Studies of awkwardness in fieldwork.
School sabotage. Continuing studies of school work at youth detention homes.
Not so heroic: the significance of sad and absurd war narratives.
Seductive meetings (with Malin Åkerström, Katarina Jacobsson och Erika Andersson Cederholm), studies of the administration society.
Violence as concept and phenomenon.
Stories about the police among ethnic minority youth.
Peer reviewed articles
I have published 29 peer reviewed articles in scientific journals, of which 15 together with other researchers.
My articles can be found in for instance Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Journal of Youth Studies, Disability & Society, Social Inclusion, Qualitative Research, Ethnography, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Critical Criminology, New Media & Society, Policing & Society, European Journal of Social Work, Text & Talk, Sociological Perspectives, Sociological Focus, Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift and Socialvetenskaplig Tidskrift.
External reviewer and discussant
I have been opponent (external reviewer and discussant) at the nine defences: Christina Söderberg 2023 (Norrköping, LiU), Elisabeth Myhre Lie 2022 (Oslo), Dawan Raoof 2022 (Malmö), Kajsa Nolbeck 2022 (Gothenburg), Linda Häll (Norrköping, LiU) 2022, Lina Lundström (Stockholm) 2020, Susanne Liljeholm Hansson 2014 (Gothenburg), Lars Fynbo 2013 (Copenhagen), Sara Uhnoo 2011 (Gothenburg)
… and at the following eleven seminars: Emil Bernmalm 2022 (Lund), Peter Andersson 2020 (Stockholm), Richard Gäddman Johansson 2020 (Uppsala), Christopher Martin 2019 (Lund), Berit Prack 2016 (Halmstad), Ana Maria Vargas Falla 2016 (Lund), Sofia Enell 2015 (Växjö), Zulmir Bečević 2014 (Linköping), Hilma Holm 2010 (Lund), Weddig Runquist 2009 (Lund), Elizabeth Martinell Barfoed 2008 (Lund).
I have done field studies in youth detention homes (for young people with criminal experiences) and in habilitation units and leisure activities for persons with disabilities. The studies in detention homes have revolved around conflicts, school work and violent events. I have also studied inmates and staff in prisons and crime preventers in an urban setting, as well a patients and staff in the care for traumatic brain injuries. For my dissertation I collected material from a transnational business world. I have also done "go alongs" with persons living with disabilities as they encounter accessibility troubles in their everyday life, and at the moment I'm engaged in field studies of crime case discussions on the Internet.
As a student, I did participant observation in kindergartens and among Westerners in the Czech Republic.
I have supervised the following ten PhD students until they graduated:
- Lars Crusefalk 2023 (supervisor),
- Alexandra Franzén 2021 (main supervisor),
- Matthias Abelin 2019 (supervisor),
- Sophia Yakhlef 2018 (supervisor),
- Lisa Flower 2018 (supervisor),
- Annika Capelán 2017 (supervisor),
- Katalin Henriksson 2016 (supervisor),
- Daniel Görtz 2015 (main supervisor),
- Goran Basic 2012 (supervisor),
- Tove Harnett 2010 (formally supervisor, in practice main supervisor).