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Torsten Geelan

Torsten Geelan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and a member of Darwin College. His thesis focuses on extending our traditional understanding of how trade unions exercise power by including mass communication – bridging the field of industrial relations with the sociology of media. Specifically, he uses a case study and mixed methods approach (interviews, content analysis and survey data) to examine four cases of contemporary union mobilisations in the UK and Denmark. Of particular interest are cross-national differences in the use of old and new forms of mass media, and the ways in which the communicative environment enhances or constrains the effectiveness of trade union campaigns.

As a sociologist, Torsten is interested in civil society and the pressing socio-economic and political issues of our time – inequality, environmental degradation, and (post) democracy. He is currently co-editing a book – ‘From Financial Crisis to Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons’ – which addresses three interrelated questions in the aftermath of the North Atlantic financial crisis: how to reclaim Universities, revitalize social movements and recast politics. The collection will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016.

As side projects, he is involved in producing a documentary film about art collectives and political street art on the island of Java (Indonesia), and is co-organising a Mini Conference at the Annual Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) titled ‘Re-Embedding the Social: New Modes of Organization, Critical Consumption and Alternative Lifestyles’. It will be held at the University of California, Berkeley, in June 2016.

Academic background

Torsten received his Master of Philosophy in Sociology from the University of Cambridge (2010) and a Bachelor in Economics and Social Science, specializing in Politics and Development, from the University of Manchester (2008).


Peer-Reviewed Journals

Geelan, Torsten. (2013) Confederate Responses to the Youth Employment Crisis", Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 19 (3): 399-413.

Geelan, Torsten. (2013) Union Solidarity International, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 19 (3): 419-424.

Book Chapters

Geelan, Torsten. (2015) 'Trade unions and young people: using media in the battle for hearts and minds ' in Hodder and Kretsos (eds.) Trade Unions and Young People: A Global View, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lars Engberg-Pedersen and Neil Webster with Torsten Geelan and Adam Moe Fejerskov. (2015) ‘Corporatism and the Development of Private Aid Organizations in Denmark’ in Hoebink and Schulpen (eds.) Private Development Aid in Europe: Foreign Aid between the Public and Private Domain, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Forthcoming Publications

Edited books

Geelan, Torsten et al. (eds.) From Financial Crisis to Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan (forthcoming, 2016)

Peer-reviewed Journals

Geelan, Torsten et al. ‘The Highly Educated Precariat in the Danish Labour Market’ (accepted for revise and resubmit in Danish Sociology)

Book Reviews

Geelan, Torsten. ‘Book Review. Lina Dencik and Peter Wilkin, Worker Resistance and the Media: Challenging Global Corporate Power in the 21st Century, London: Peter Lang.’ (accepted for publication in British Journal of Industrial Relations)

Selected Conference Papers

2015 ‘Yogyakarta Art Collectives in Post-Suharto Indonesia: Movements in time of Democratic Transition’, Political Participation in Asia: Defining and Deploying Political Space, University of Stockholm, November 24 – 27

2015 ‘David and Goliath: Trade Union attempts to Influence News Media Coverage of the Economic Crisis’, European Sociological Association (ESA), Prague, 25 – 28 August

2014 ‘Trade unions and young people: communication power in the battle for hearts and minds’, Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) Annual Conference, Chicago, 10-12 July

2014 ‘Union Solidarity International: unions and social media in the 21st century’, British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA) Annual Conference, University of Westminster, 25-27 June 2014

2014 ‘The Highly Educated Precariat in the Danish Labour Market’, International Labour Process Conference (ILPC), Kings College London, 7-9 April 2014

2013 ‘Trade Unions and Communication Power at a time of Austerity’, Work Employment and Society (WES) Conference, University of Warwick, 3-5 September 2013

2013 ‘Trade Unions and Responses to Unemployment Policy Reform’, British Sociological Association (BSA) Annual Conference, London, 3-5 April 2013

2012 ‘Trade Unions and Communicative Action - a New Research Avenue?’ Industrial Relations in Europe Conference (IREC), University of Lisbon, 5-7 September 2012

Research Affiliations

Associated Researcher, Employment Relations Research Centre (FAOS), Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen

Corresponding Scholar, Centre for Civil Society Studies (CSC), Copenhagen Business School

Individual in the Labour Market Research Group (ILRM), Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge

Advisory Board, Analyse & Tal (cooperative consultancy), Copenhagen, Denmark

Advisory Board, Explain Artist (non-profit that promotes academic engagement with the public by working with artists to create animations of research), Gothenburg, Sweden

Selected Academic Service

Conferences and Seminars Arranged

2016 Co-organizing Mini Conference, ‘New Modes of Production, Critical Consumption and Alternative Lifestyles’, Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) Annual Conference, Berkley, 24 – 26 June

2014 Conference Organizing Committee Chair, ‘Crisis and Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons’, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, September 26 – 27 2014


2014/2015 Undergraduate Supervisor in the Political Economy of Capitalism, Media Culture and Society, and Modern Society and Global Transformations, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge

2013 External Lecturer and Course Designer, Sociology of Labour Markets, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, MA level

Guest Lectures

2016 ‘The Cooperative Movement in Danish Society’, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, March 15

2014 ‘Economic Sociology: Reconsidering Labour Markets’, Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism (CESP), Department of Economics, University of Cambridge

Non-Academic Professional Experience

Educational Columnist, Information (National Danish Newspaper, readership 130,000) (2012-2013)

Freelance Journalist (Copenhagen Post, Balkan Insight)

Programme Associate, Institute for Parliamentary Democracy, Macedonia

  • E-mail:
  • Address: Department of Sociology, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ
  • Supervisor: Emeritus Professor William Brown
  • College: Darwin
  • Thesis Title: Disrupting the Status Quo: Trade Unions and Communication Power at a time of Austerity