Social sciences capabilities

Social sciences research capabilities for infrastructure

Monash University social science researchers have wide ranging expertise to assist the development of infrastructure projects that bring social and technical elements into alignment in cities, workplaces and communities.

Researcher profiles

Associate Professor Dharma Arunachalam

Dharma’s current research focuses on social cohesion in Australia, international migration, family and household structures, ageing and health. In his research Dharma use census data and primary and secondary survey data. He specialises in quantitative methods, multilevel models, population projection  and simulation techniques and conventional demographic methods. In answering key research questions, Dharma’s perspective pays attention to group-level social, economic and cultural features and seeks explanations at multiple levels.

Dr Lennon Chang

Dr Lennon Yao-chung Chang is currently a lecturer in criminology in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. He is a co-founder and vice-chairman of the Asia Pacific Association of Technology and Society. From 2005 to 2007, he worked as a researcher and project manager at the Science and Technology Law Centre, Institute for Information Industry, which is recognized as one of the most important think-tanks in Taiwan in the area of legal responses to new technology.

Dr Chang is interested in researching cybercrime, co-production of cyber security and governance of cyberspace - cybercrime, cyber terrorism and cyber warfare. He is particularly interested in researching public-private partnership on cyber security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr Megan Farrelly

Dr Farrelly is a social scientist exploring questions related to experimentation, innovation and learning for promoting sustainable urban transformations. She has spent the last ten years exploring transitions within Australian urban water sector and is now interested in exploring the patterns of transition within the Australian energy sector.  She has expertise in environmental governance, sustainability transitions, experimentation/innovation, policy analysis and evaluation.

Dr Ruth Lane

Dr Lane’s research focuses on flows of goods and materials through households, cities and around the world, and is specifically concerned with social and institutional processes and practices that transform waste materials and used products into new resources. Since 2013 she has led an interdisciplinary Monash University team at on the Wealth from Waste CSIRO flagship cluster program, which focuses on characterising and mapping the potential resource of recyclable metals in Australian cities, identifying social, economic, legal and logistical challenges for collection and proposing realistic measures for addressing these. She has well developed research and industry networks in this area. She is keen to develop new research facilitating a circular economy that is also diverse, accommodating many different types of organisations and enterprises.

A Prof Jo Lindsay

AProf Jo Lindsay specialises in the sociology of families, consumption and the environment. She had recently conducted research on the social dynamics of water use and conservation. She led the project understanding social processes to achieve water sensitive cities as part of the CRC for water sensitive cities. Jo has expertise in households and communities and is currently developing new research on public parks and household energy use.

Dr Steven Roberts

Dr Roberts is an internationally recognised expert in the sociological study of youth and young adulthood and related social policy. Currently leading the population and life-course 'hub' of the CSPR, he is a mixed methods researcher, with his major scholarly and policy-related works consisting combinations of interviews, focus groups, literature reviews as well as secondary and primary data analyses of large scale data sets. Steve has published widely on the ways in which social class and gender shape, influence and constrain young people’s experiences of and aspirations for education, employment, housing, consumption and the domestic sphere.

Dr Briony Rogers

Dr Rogers research brings a social science lens to infrastructural and environmental challenges, exploring processes of change across communities, organisations, institutions and sectors to enable transitions towards future liveable cities that are sustainable and resilient. She has had a particular focus on an empirical context of urban water, working across the Australian water sector and more recently in Indonesia. Briony teaches undergraduate and postgraduate units on themes related to water, sustainability and cities. She has an interdisciplinary background, with a PhD in Environmental Sociology, a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science, as well as experience as an engineering consultant on water infrastructure projects in Australia and Vietnam. Briony was selected by the International Social Science Council as one of twenty World Social Science Fellows in the area of sustainable urbanisation. She is an Associate Director of the Monash Water for Liveability Centre, leads social research with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, and co-chairs the International Working Group on Water Sensitive Urban Design.

Dr Jonathon Smith

Dr. Jonathan Smith is a Research Fellow in Sociology at the School of Social Sciences. He leads the newly formed ‘Infrastructure and Community’ Research Hub in the Centre for Social and Population Research (CSPR). Jonathan administers the ‘Social Futures and Life Pathways of Young People (‘Our Lives’) Project, which is a longitudinal ARC Discovery Project tracking the career and family pathways of young people growing up in Queensland, Australia. He is also a Chief Investigator on the ‘Housing + Transport Affordability‘ project, an interdisciplinary collaboration (between Arts and Engineering) that aims to measure and illustrate the relationship between transport costs and housing affordability in Melbourne, Australia. Jonathan’s research examines issues such as youth and life pathway formation, career and housing transitions, social attitude and value formation, social networks, and digital media use. Jonathan has expertise in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research design and analysis. He has experience managing all aspects of large-scale social research, from liaising with relevant stakeholders, sample recruitment and management, designing and administering quantitative surveys questionnaires, and conducting face-to-face qualitative interviews with individual participants.

AProf Wendy Stubbs

Wendy Stubbs' research is focused on sustainable business practices and sustainable business models. She has investigated  closed loop models (referred to as industrial ecosystems, industrial symbiosis and circular economy), where waste streams are inputs into other industrial processes.  She is currently investigating 'for-profit, for-purpose' models of business (B corps). Wendy has received a number of grants to investigate sustainability reporting and the latest reporting reform, integrated reporting.

A Prof Rebecca Wickes

Rebecca Wickes is an Associate Professor in Criminology and the Deputy Director for the Centre for Social and Population Research at the School of Social Sciences, Monash University. She is the lead investigator of the Australian Community Capacity Study, a multi-million, multisite, longitudinal study of place. Rebecca’s research focusses on demographic changes in urban communities and their influence on social relationships, community regulation, victimisation, crime and disorder over time. She has published substantive works in Criminology, Journal for Research in Crime and Delinquency, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Social Science Research, Plos One, the Sociological Review and the Journal for Urban Affairs among others. Dr. Wickes is the Associate Editor for the Australia New Zealand Journal of Criminology and is a Research Fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Life Course Research.

Centre for Social and Population Research (CSPR)

In addition to these individual researchers the Centre for Social and Population Research brings together social science research capacity.

CSPR is an interdisciplinary centre for expertise in data-driven social research at Monash University. It addresses contemporary social and population challenges through empirical research that is both theoretically-informed and methodologically rigorous. CSPR contributes to research that impacts policy and programme development. Its researchers employ a range of methodologies and data types, including Australian census, administrative and survey data, and data obtained through qualitative methods, to answer key social questions of our times.

Director:Dharma Arunachalam (
Deputy Director: Rebecca Wickes ( )

Program 1: Population, social change and the life course

Australia is experiencing significant social and demographic transformations. Research in this program is concerned with the drivers, nature, impact and challenges of such changes for individuals, groups and society at large. A key aim for this program is to better understand individuals’ experiences of social, demographic, and economic changes across the life course. To achieve this, we undertake analyses of current and future trends in education, health, workforce, partnering, family formation and housing careers.

Key Projects

Key Researchers

Program 2: Infrastructure and Community

Research within this area aims to better understand individual and community needs, attitudes, experiences and behaviours with respect to major infrastructures, including housing, transport, water, health and recreational facilities, as well as information and communication networks (ICTs).  Key areas of research focus include: (1) the interrelated issues of housing un-affordability, housing stress, residential insecurity, and homelessness; (2) the demographic and spatial characteristics of access to, and reliance on, transportation, water, and ICT systems; (3) impacts and consequences of current and future infrastructure development on individuals, neighbourhoods, and communities, including within different vulnerable population subgroups.

Key Projects

Key Researchers

Program 3: Immigration and Social Cohesion

Immigration is an increasing global phenomenon. The need to understand and manage cultural diversity and the associated social and economic impacts are crucial for social cohesion.  This research stream focuses on examining the experiences and attitudes of new and existing populations in terms  of  cultural diversity, social issues, and social cohesion. The exploration is driven by a variety of research methods.

Key projects

Key researchers