Image of Dr Susan OmanDr Susan Oman

Research Associate

Room: Elmfield, B06a

Telephone: 0114 222 6428 (external) 26428 (internal)


Susan Oman joined the Department of Sociological Studies in September 2019. Prior to this, Susan held two consecutive AHRC fellowships looking at data in the creative economy: one, in the Sheffield Methods Institute (2019), and one in the School of Media and Communications at the University of Leeds (2018).

Susan completed her interdisciplinary PhD, based in Sociology and the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) at the University of Manchester in 2017. This investigated the cultural politics of participation and well-being; it was specifically concerned with the contexts of metrics and knowledge production for policy. Susan’s MA was in Cultural Policy and Management and her BA was in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Susan was recently awarded an Honorary fellowship to the Institute of Cultural Practices at University of Manchester in recognition of her research on methods, data and partnership working in the cultural sector.


Susan researches how data and evidence work in practice, looking at particular policy issues, such as well-being, loneliness, inequality and class. Her research is situated in the sociology of knowledge and focuses on the role of knowledge in social change. She seeks to develop practice and policy-relevant understanding through methodologically rigorous projects that have practical impact in various ways. She achieves this through working with relevant stakeholders, academics and non-academic research partners within her institution, across the UK and internationally.

She worked on the AHRC-funded projects: Data, diversity and inequality in the creative industries and What constitutes ‘good data’ in the creative economy?. Susan is currently working on the Living with data project.
The Living with data website profiles her research in a section called: How data work in contexts.

Susan has previously led a systematic review of data and literature for a Wellcome-funded project to investigate subjective well-being as a metric for the cultural sector. During her PhD Susan was awarded funding from The University of Manchester’s Student Union to lead a project to investigate postgraduate well-being in the institution through qualitative fieldwork and survey re-analysis.


Publications since 2005


Oman, S. (in writing). Cultural Value and Well-being: Policy, practice and research contexts of well-being measurement. Palgrave MacMillan.

Journal articles

Oman, S. (2019) ‘The ‘selective tradition’ in well-being evidence for policyLeisure Studies, special issue on well-being policy and research. Accepted. Expected publication, May 2019. DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2019.1607536

Oman, S. and Taylor, M. (2018) ‘The New Models of Subjective Well-being in Cultural Advocacy and the Politics of Research’, Journal of Cultural Economy. Vol 11, issue 3. DOI: 10.1080/17530350.2018.1435422

Book chapters (Peer-reviewed)

Oman, S. (2019) ‘Re-ordering and re-performing: Re-placing cultural participation and re-viewing well-being measures’, Cultures of participation – arts, digital media and cultural institutions (ed.) Birgit Eriksson, Carsten Stage & Bjarki Valtysson. Sage.

Oman, S. (2015) ‘‘Measuring National Well-being: What Matters to You?’ What Matters to Whom?’, in Cultures of Wellbeing. Method, Place, Policy (ed.) Sarah C. White. Palgrave MacMillan. DOI: 10.1057/9781137536457_3

Short form articles

A Question of Class: how do social inequality metrics work in cultural organisations?, AHRC, September 2018

The Inequality Challenge in the Arts, Arts Council England, 10 September 2018

‘Student Experience Survey 2017: investigating well-being at university’, Times Higher Education, 27 March 2017

'The Shared Society: wellbeing through participation and the need for research' University of Manchester Policy, January 2017

’UEP research tackles the social life of well-being indicators’, Understanding Everyday Participation, blogpost, October 2016

'Access in Higher Education: A triumph of hope over experience?' Discover Society, December 2015.

'Why government issued well-being may not make us happier', The Conversation, May 2015.

'A 'snapshot of life'? What's missing from this picture? Two years of measuring national well-being', Arts Professional, February 2013.

'Measuring National Wellbeing: the public debate that was never ours', Arts Professional, September 2012.

''Recent Graduates' Exhibition as Education', Curatorial essay, NYArts Magazine, June 2006.

Policy briefings and sector working papers

Oman, S. (2019) Improving Data Practices to Monitor Inequality and Introduce Social Mobility Measures: A Working Paper. The University of Sheffield.

Oman, S. (2019) Measuring Social Mobility in The Creative and Cultural Industries – The importance of working in partnership to improve data practices and address inequality. The University of Sheffield.

Published reports

Oman, S. (2018) Making Social Mobility Metrics Work: the Case of the Arts. Arts Council England

Oman, S. (2018) Introducing social mobility metrics into publicly-funded arts organisations: Report to Arts Council England: Findings from Phase 2 Pilot. Arts Council England.

Oman, S. (2017) Postgraduate Well-being at University of Manchester. University of Manchester Students’ Union

Oman, S. (2017) Mainstream cultural activities and subjective well-being. A review of the literature. Wellcome Trust

Stuart-Fisher, A. & Oman, S. (2011) Exchange: Collaborations. Performance Arts Learning and Teaching Innovation Network, HEA


Oman (2016) Making Culture Count: The Politics of Cultural Measurement, (eds) MacDowall et al., Cultural Trends, Volume 25, Issue 2, 2016 Special Issue: Methodologies

Oman (2013) NESTA’s ‘Counting What Counts: What Big Data Can Do for the Cultural Sector’, Cultural Value Initiative, May 2013