Torsten Geelan

Sociological research on trade unions, media power and just transitions



I am a sociologist working in the fields of economic sociology, sociology of media, environmental sociology and industrial relations.

I’m currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, and a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science.

My EU-funded project (2021-2024) is titled Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy: Trade Unions and the ‘Jobs Versus Environment’ Dilemma. Before moving to Denmark, I worked for two and a half years as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures, University of Leicester.

I hold a BA in Economic and Social Studies from the University of Manchester, and an MPhil and PhD in Sociology from the University of Cambridge. My doctorate thesis, under the supervision of the late William Brown (Montague Burton Professor of Industrial Relations and Master of Darwin College), examined the role of media and communication in Danish and British trade union responses to the 2007/2008 North Atlantic financial crisis.

My first area of research focuses on the relationship between trade union power and the media, especially during industrial and political conflicts. This small but growing body of work has been published in New Technology, Work and Employment, Industrial Relations Journal, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, as well as in edited collections. I was also awarded a BA/Leverhulme Small Grant for a collaborative project examining the role of Twitter in the 2018-2020 UK higher education strike, but I handed this over to my Co-PI Professor Athina Karatzogianni after moving to Copenhagen in 2021.

My second area of research focuses on alternative ways of organising the economy and society to make them more sustainable, democratic, and equitable. And I’ve been exploring this around the world as co-founder and co-chair of the Alternatives to Capitalism Research Network at the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE). My earliest foray into this field was as the co-editor of a book published by Palgrave MacMillan (2018; 2020 paperback) titled From Financial Crisis to Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons. I am now the co-editor of a new Bristol University Press book series titled Alternatives to Capitalism in the 21st Century.

As a public speaker, I’m regularly invited to give lectures to student societies, research centres and the Danish and British trade union movement.