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Dr Jane McCarthy

Profile summary

  • Visiting Informal Academic
  • Visiting Fellow
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Hist, Rel St, Soc, SP&C
  • Social Policy & Criminology
  • jane.mccarthy

Professional biography

Qualifications

I have a BA Hons in Sociology (First Class) from the University of Reading, an MSc in Advanced Social and Educational Research Methods from The Open University, and a PhD in Sociology from South Bank Polytechnic/CNAA, entitled, Accounting for Our Children: Differing Perspectives on 'Family' Life in Middle Income Households. I also have a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, London University, double distinctions.

Besides my position at the Open University, I am also a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading, and an Honorary Senior Research Associate at UCL Institute of Education.

Professional affiliations

British Sociological Association; International Sociological Association; Childhood Bereavement Network; Women’s Workshop for Qualitative Family/Household Research.

I am currently a member of the editorial board of Bereavement Care, and a Research Advisory Consultant for Tavistock Relationships.

Research interests

My central research focus concerns people's family lives and relationships, particularly the family lives of children and young people. My theoretical interests are concerned with the connections and disconnections between people in their close relationships; notably, experiences and forms of relationality as these are shaped across global and local contexts, and by gender and generation, including aspects of emotions and embodiment. I am particularly interested in feminist, anthropological and historical work around these themes, with long-standing interests in the meanings of family and individuality, relatedness and autonomy. My current work has strong international and cross-cultural concerns, and extends to issues of how to understand ‘harm’ and ‘suffering’ in children’s family lives. Methodologically, I favour open-ended qualitative research, with a focus on the ways in which people understand their own everyday lives, and the implications for policy and professional practices. Earlier projects I have undertaken with funding from the ESRC and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation include sociological research on contemporary family lives, including mothers with an eldest child aged 7; the family lives of young people aged 16-18; parents and children in step-families; and bereavement and loss in young people's lives. My current research is particularly framed by the following:

  1. In 2010 I helped organise a two day international Colloquium on Family Troubles? Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of York and London South Bank University. An edited collection with Policy Press was published in 2013 under this title, and the framework has been taken forward in various contexts since then, including events at the University of Reading, September 2015, and the International Sociological Association in Vienna, July 2016. Several special journal publications are in progress. For further details please see http://www.open.ac.uk/ccig/research/projects/family-troubles
  2. I have a particular interest in relationships at the end of life, particularly with regard to children and young people's experiences of death. Previous work included a major literature review, culminating in several publications and a number of dissemination events: see Young People, Bereavement and Loss: Disruptive Transitions. More recently I have been involved with researching death in family lives in urban Senegal, West Africa, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, with a report available via open access, and several journal publications in press and in progress: http://www.reading.ac.uk/geographyandenvironmentalscience/research/ges-leverhulme.aspx
  3. My interests also extend to the lives and relationships of children in China, working with colleagues at UCL Institute of Education in the UK, the University of New South Wales in Australia, and Renmin University, Beijing Normal University, and Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China, to develop work around childhood in China, including the institutionalisation of childhood, children’s family lives, and research on the ‘best interests’ of children in state care in China.

I am a member of the Open University Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance.

Teaching interests

I retired from teaching at the Open University in July 2015, where I was a Reader in Family Studies, teaching postgraduate research methods, and undergraduate social policy. Before joining The Open University in 2001, I worked at Oxford Brookes University where my teaching responsibilities included family sociology and family research (undergraduate and postgraduate), and contemporary sociological theory.

Impact and engagement

See the link at the side for public engagement work for Young People, Bereavement and Loss, and for the dissemination activities of the Leverhulme project Death in the Family in Urban Senegal. http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/deathinthefamilyinsenegal/

External collaborations

I am currently a member of the editorial board of Bereavement Care, and a Research Advisory Consultant for Tavistock Relationships. I regularly undertake reviews of work for a variety of academic journals and funding bodies. My research projects entail regular collaborative work with academics across the UK and beyond, particularly the University of Reading, and UCL Institute of Education London.

The Leverhulme funded project, Death in the Family in Urban Senegal is linked to the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar.

Work around childhood in China, and the Best Interests of the Child in China, is linked to the University of Remnin, Beijing Normal University, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, and University of New South Wales, Australia.

The work on Family Troubles involves a network of academics spread across Europe and the USA.

Publications

The Institutionalisation of ‘TongNian’ and ‘childhood’ in China and Britain: Exploring Cautious Comparisons (2017-01)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Guo, Yu; Phoenix, Ann; Xu, Xiaoli and Knight, Abigail
Children and Society, 31(1) (pp. 1-12)
Interpreting ‘grief’ in Senegal: language, emotions and cross-cultural translation in a francophone African context (2017)
Evans, Ruth; Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Kébé, Fatou; Bowlby, Sophie and Wouango, Joséphine
Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying, 22(2) (pp. 118-135)
Producing emotionally sensed knowledge? Reflexivity and emotions in researching responses to death (2017)
Evans, Ruth; Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Bowlby, Sophie; Wouango, Joséphine and Kébé, Fatou
International Journal of Social Research Methodology ((Early Access))
Embodied relationality and caring after death (2014-06)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Prokhovnik, Raia
Body & Society, 20(2) (pp. 18-43)
The politics of concepts: family and its (putative) replacements (2012-12)
Edwards, Rosalind; Gillies, Val and Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
British Journal of Sociology, 63(4) (pp. 730-746)
The powerful relational language of ‘family’: togetherness, belonging and personhood (2012-02)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
Sociological Review, 60(1) (pp. 68-90)
'They all look as if they're coping, but I'm not': the relational power/lessness of 'youth' in responding to experiences of bereavement (2007-07)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
Journal of Youth Studies, 10(3) (pp. 285-303)
'They all look as if they're coping, but I'm not': the relational power/lessness of 'youth' in responding to experiences of bereavement (2007-07)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
Journal of Youth Studies, 10(3) (pp. 285-304)
Reslience and bereaved children: developing complex approaches (2006-07)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
Grief Matters, 9(3) (pp. 58-61)
Multiple perspectives on the 'family' lives of young people: methodological and theoretical issues in case study research (2003-01)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Holland, Janet and Gillies, Val
International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 6(1) (pp. 1-23)
Step-fathering: comparing policy and everyday experience in Britain and Sweden (2002-05-31)
Edwards, Rosalind; Back-Wiklund, Margareta; Bak, Maren and Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
Sociological Research Online, 7(1)
Illuminating meanings of `the Private' in sociological thought: a response to Joe Bailey (2001)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Edwards, Rosalind
Sociology, 35(3) (pp. 765-777)
Moral tales of the child and the adult: Narratives of contemporary family lives under changing circumstances (2000)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Edwards, Rosalind and Gillies, Val
Sociology, 34(4) (pp. 785-803)
Isolated housewives and complex maternal worlds: The significance of social contacts between women with young children in industrial societies (1994-05)
Bell, Linda and Ribbens, Jane
Sociological Review, 42(2) (pp. 227-262)
Understanding family meanings: a reflective text (2012-02-15)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Doolittle, Megan and Day Sclater, Shelley
ISBN : 9781447301134 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : Bristol, UK
Key Concepts in Family Studies (2011-12)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Edwards, Rosalind
ISBN : 9781412920063 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Family Meanings (2008)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Doolittle , Megan and Day Sclater, Shelley
ISBN : 9780749216351 | Publisher : Open University | Published : Milton Keynes
Young People's Experiences Of Loss And Bereavement: Towards An Interdisciplinary Approach (2006-11-01)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
ISBN : 335216641 | Publisher : Open University Press | Published : Maidenhead, UK
Making families: moral tales of parenting and step-parenting (2003-04)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Edwards, Rosalind and Gillies, Val
ISBN : 190345705X | Publisher : Sociology Press | Published : London, UK
Pulling together, pulling apart: the family lives of young people aged 16-18 (2001)
Gillies, Val; Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Holland, Janet
ISBN : 1 901455 42 4 | Publisher : Family Policy Studies Centre / Joseph Rowntree Foundation | Published : London, UK
Mothers and Their Children: A Feminist Sociology of Childrearing (1994)
Ribbens , Jane
ISBN : 0-8039-8835-4 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Troubling normalities and normal family troubles: diversities, experiences and tensions (2013-04)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Hooper, Carol-Ann and Gillies, Val
In: Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Hooper, Carol-Ann and Gillies, Val eds. Family Troubles? Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People ((In Press))
ISBN : 978-1447304432 | Publisher : The Policy Press | Published : Bristol
What is at stake in family troubles? Existential issues and value frameworks (2013-04)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Hooper, Carol-Ann and Gillies, Val eds. Family Troubles? Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People ((In Press))
ISBN : 978-1447304432 | Publisher : The Policy Press | Published : Bristol
Caring after death: issues of embodiment and relationality (2012-07-19)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Rogers, Chrissie and Weller, Susie eds. Critical Approaches to Care: Understanding Caring Relations, Identities and Cultures.. Relationships and resources (pp. 183-194)
ISBN : 978-0-415-61329-3 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
Bereavement, young people, and social context (2010)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Monroe, Barbara and Kraus, Frances eds. Brief Interventions with Bereaved Children (pp. 29-36)
ISBN : 978-0-19-956164-3 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK
Young people making meaning in response to death and bereavement (2009)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Balk, David and Corr, Charles eds. Adolescent Encounters with Death, Bereavement and Coping (pp. 21-38)
ISBN : 9780826110732 | Publisher : Springer Publications | Published : New York, USA
Security, insecurity and family lives (2008)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Cochrane, Alan and Talbot, Deborah eds. Security: Welfare, Crime and Society (pp. 61-92)
ISBN : 9780335229321 | Publisher : Open University / Open University Press | Published : Berkshire, UK
Representing academic knowledge: the micro politics of a literature review (2007-08-24)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Gillies, Val and Lucey, Helen eds. Power, knowledge and the academy: the institutional is political (pp. 122-146)
ISBN : 1403998175 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke, Hants, UK
Negotiating public and private: maternal mediations of home-school boundaries (2004-12)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Kirkpatrick, Sue
In: Grozier, Gill and Reay, Diane eds. Activating participation: parents and teachers working towards partnership
ISBN : 1 858563 25 9 | Publisher : Trentham Books | Published : Stoke on Trent, UK
Biological parents and social families: legal discourses and everyday understandings of the position of step-parents (2003)
Edwards, Rosalind; Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Gillies, Val
In: Cheal, David ed. Family. Critical Concepts in Sociology
ISBN : 415226295 | Publisher : Routledge
Past/present/future: time and the meaning of change in the "family" (2003)
Gillies, Val; Holland, Janet and Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Allan, Graham and Jones, Gill eds. Social relations and the life course. Explorations in Sociology (63) (pp. 31-48)
ISBN : 0 333 98497 8 | Publisher : Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke, Hants, UK
Mothers' images of children and their implications for maternal response (2003)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
In: Woodhead, Martin and Montgomery, Heather eds. Understanding Childhood: An Inter-Disciplinary Approach (pp. 75-79)
ISBN : 9780470846926 | Publisher : Wiley/Open University | Published : Milton Keynes
The individual in public and private: the significance of mothers and children (2002-02-21)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Edwards, Rosalind
In: Carling, Alan; Duncan, Simon and Edwards, Rosalind eds. Analysing Families: Morality and Rationality in Policy and Practice (pp. 199-217)
ISBN : 0 415250 39 0 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
Living on the edges: public knowledge, private lives, personal experience (1998)
Edwards, Rosalind and Ribbens, Jane
In: Ribbens, Jane and Edward, Rosalind eds. Feminist Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Public Knowledge and Private Lives. Social Research Methods Online (pp. 2-20)
ISBN : 9781849209137 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Hearing my feeling voice?: An autobiographical discussion of motherhood (1998)
Ribbens, Jane
In: Ribbens, Jane and Edwards, Rosalind eds. Feminist Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Public Knowledge and Private Lives. Social Research Methods Online (pp. 25-37)
ISBN : 9781849209137 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Family Troubles? Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People (2013-04-04)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Hooper, Carol-Ann and Gillies, Val eds.
ISBN : 9781447304432 | Publisher : The Policy Press | Published : Bristol
Feminist Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Public Knowledge and Private Lives (1998)
Ribbens, Jane and Edwards, Rosalind eds.
ISBN : 9781849209137 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Responses to Death, Care and Family Relations in Urban Senegal (2016-02)
Evans, Ruth; Ribbens McCarthy, Jane; Bowlby, Sophie; Wouango, Joséphine and Kébé , Fatou
University of Reading, Reading.
Children, young people and bereavement (2007)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane
National Children's Bureau, London, UK.
Young People, Bereavement and Loss: Disruptive transitions? (2005)
Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Jessop, Julie
National Children's Bureau, London, UK.

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