Prof Jane Gray awarded €2.5m ERC grant to study loss and social change

Professor Jane Gray, of the Department of Sociology, has received a prestigious €2.5m European Research Council (ERC) Advanced award
Wednesday, September 20, 2023 - 12:00

Prof Jane Gray
Professor Jane Gray, of the Department of Sociology, has received a prestigious €2.5m European Research Council (ERC) Advanced award to lead research into how moments of loss or uncertainty such as a pandemic, financial crash or climate crisis, can drive social change.
Awarded annually to exceptional individuals conducting pioneering research across all disciplines, the ERC Advanced awards are highly competitive.
Prof Gray’s research project LINLOSS - Towards a Sociology of Loss: Disposals and dead-ends in Lineages of Social Innovation and Change aims to understand how social loss and our response to crisis and change, shapes society’s direction, leading to a more sustainable and inclusive future or more harmful paths that reduce our resilience to challenges. 

Maynooth University Department of Sociology and Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute (MUSSI) will co-host the prestigious five-year project that will compare experiences of social loss in two communities – one in Ireland and one in Poland – in partnership with Dr. Witold Mandrysz of the University of Silesia in Katowice.  The study will focus on communities at the edge of metropolitan suburbs, but within commuting distance of cities.  These are places with long histories of different forms of loss leading to social change; for example in ways that life is organised, social relationships within families or communities, and even collective memories and how we understand our own personal history, Dr Gray explained.
Commenting on the research, Prof Gray said: “The European Research Council supports ground-breaking, frontier research to increase our understanding of the world.  This advanced grant will allow me to bring together a team of six researchers to examine experiences of ruptures, disposals and dead-ends within communities in Ireland and Poland, in order to develop a new understanding of how social loss shapes patterns of social change, so we can generate knowledge that can help us to choose more progressive paths.”

The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe. The ERC offers four core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants and Synergy Grants.