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 have recently completed a two year term as an Honorary Senior Research Associate at UCL Institute of Education.
British Sociological Association; International Sociological Association; Childhood Bereavement Network; Women’s Workshop for Qualitative Family/Household Research.
Current professional roles include:
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 have used a sociological focus to research 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:
I am a member of the Open University’s Strategic Research Area for Citizenship.
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.
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, see http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/deathinthefamilyinsenegal/
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 Renmin, 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.