Lydia Martens is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social, Political and Global Studies at Keele University. Her work has focused on consumption and food, mundane domestic practices, and intergenerational relationships, in research that has been methodologically innovative and informed by practice theories, feminist and more-than-human perspectives. In the past decade, Professor Martens has applied these interests to the challenges of environmental decline. She is currently a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow and investigates fish-bird-human entanglements and the complexities of human-nature disconnections to inform an analysis of the challenges inherent in shifting towards a world of marine environmental flourishing. Professor Martens sits on the ESRC Peer Review College and is a member of the Food Standards Agency’s Register of Specialists in the Social Sciences.

Research and scholarship

Professor Martens is currently a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow (2022-2025) on a project called Storying Worlds Beyond Fish: Kinship and Connection in the Minch. The central aim of this fellowship is to understand the practices, purposes and value of different ways of storying worlds beyond fish for conveying the import of marine environmental decline and for imagining possibilities for future recuperation. The work planned for this fellowship will focus on the interconnecting worlds of fish, seabirds and people of The Minch, which is the expanse of sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean and located between Scotland’s western islands and the west coast mainland. The research questions are:

  • How have recent changes in local livelihoods impacted upon situated marine connectedness?
  • How is the local marine environment with fish, seabirds and people imagined across generations, and how do these imaginations differ between people and organisations differently engaged with the sea?
  • In what ways can the storying of fish, seabird and people connectedness and marine environmental degradation be appreciated as a valuable practice for (re-)connecting people with marine nature and does storying have the potential to correct the diverse ways through which human lives have become disconnected from nature?

The themes of storying, arts and human-nature connection are explored also with Keele colleagues, Natural England and artists (including Henna Asikainen and Andrew Howe).

If you are interested in my work, please contact me

Professor Martens has an international reputation for her research on consumption and food, mundane domestic practices, and intergenerational relationships. Supported by funding from the ESRC, EUHorizon2020, Leverhulme, the British Academy and the Food Standards Agency, her research is methodologically innovative and informed by theories of practice, and feminist and more-than-human perspectives. She is co-author (with Alan Warde) of the widely cited book Eating Out: Social Differentiation, Consumption and Pleasure (Cambridge) and is co-editor of Gender and Consumption: Domestic Cultures and the Commercialisation of Everyday Life (Ashgate) and Motherhood, Markets and Consumption: The Making of Mothers in Contemporary Western Cultures (Routledge). Her latest book Childhood and Markets: Infants, Parents and the Business of Child Caring (Palgrave 2018) uses theories of practice and insights from STS in an analysis of how notions of childhood and understandings of child caring are created in the interactional worlds of the business of child caring, whilst simultaneously operating as ‘fixtures’ that channel the possibilities for action.

Martens led UK research on the EU Horizon2020 project SafeConsume (€9M) between 2017 and 2022. She co-developed a transdisciplinary methodology to explore food consumption at the intersection between social and biological realities, and an EU consumer survey with a UK add-on. This work has been published in Sociology and Food Control, and informs SafeConsume’s primary objective of making a positive impact on the health of consumers in Europe. Together with a range of companies and European health organisations, including Unilever, IKEA and the UK Health Security Agency, the SafeConsume consortium has developed new product prototypes, an online myth busting game on food safety and educational materials in 6 different languages (with e-Bug).


Between 2022 and 2025, I will be busy with my Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship and will not participate in the delivery of the Sociology curriculum.

In recent years, my aim has been to develop content on the challenges of environment decline in the sociology curriculum. This has been built into modules focussing on food and nature at levels 5 and 6. In addition to developing content, the level 6 module offers an applied sociological approach that attends to the transferable skills useful for making a difference to challenging problems.


School of Social Sciences
Chancellor's Building CBA1.039
Keele University
Staffordshire, ST5 5BG
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346

Undergraduate and postgraduate enquiries
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734346