Centre for Research on Families, Life Course and Generations (FLaG)

Families, Life Course and Generations Research (FLaG) Centre
Sociology and Social Policy
University of Leeds
Leeds, LS2 9JT

Tel: +44 (0)113 343 4432
email: s.irwin@leeds.ac.uk

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In this section:

Key Staff

Director of FLaG

sarah-irwinProfessor Sarah Irwin (School of Sociology & Social Policy)

I am interested in family life, parenting, youth transitions, educational pathways, and socio-economic inequalities. I have recently completed a mixed methods and qualitative longitudinal research project into parenting and family life, with a particular focus on parents’ values and practices as their children grew up through their teenage years. I have a longstanding interest in transitions from youth to adulthood, and am developing research into pathways through technical and vocational education and training. I am developing international comparative research work in areas relating to youth, transition  and socio-economic inequalities. I have also published work on subjective experiences, and perceptions, of inequality. I have previously been Director of the ESRC Timescapes Secondary Analysis Project, and Deputy Director of Real Life Methods, part of the National Centre for Research Methods. See my profile on the School website for further details, including a list of my recent publications.

FLaG co-directors

Dr Kahryn Hughes (School of Sociology & Social Policy)kahryn

Most of my time is spent in research, and I have been funded by the ESRC for the past eleven years in research primarily aimed at methods innovation and development. My current research interests are related to three overlapping areas: the sociology of health inequalities; sociological theory; and research methodology. More specifically, I am interested in: addiction, poverty, time, relationality and identity.

christensenProfessor Pia Christensen (School of Education)

My research focuses on children and young people’s agency in everyday life through the lens of ethnography. I have worked with children aged 3-18 years old in families, day-care settings, schools and local communities in England and Denmark. My main research has investigated different aspects of children and young people’s everyday experiences including health, well-being and self-care; time and transitions; the meaning of food; risk engagement and management.

sharon-elleyDr Sharon Elley (School of Sociology & Social Policy)

My research broadly falls under the sociology of education, critical youth studies and widening participation to education. I combine previous professional experience as a youth worker with my academic interests in researching inequalities associated with formal and informal education, young people and their families. I have worked with children, young people and parents in schools, higher education and local communities. My research has investigated young people’s everyday lived experiences of sex and relationship education; parents’ experiences, motivations and aspirations around parenting, family-life and education; youth transitions and imagined futures.

Centre Members

Research Fellows

Dr Anna Tarrant, Leverhume Research Fellowanna

I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the School of Sociology and Social Policy. The project, which is funded for three and half years, is entitled “Men’s experiences of family life and multiple care responsibilities in low-income localities”. The study will explore the impact of economic insecurity on the everyday care practices of men (including fathers and grandfathers) and the extent to which socio-cultural and historical factors influence the practical, moral and ethical decisions that they make in relation to providing care in contexts of constraint.

Prior to the Leverhulme award I have worked on a number of research projects that have developed my research expertise in men and masculinities, grandparenting, and informal care and family practices. As a project member of the ESRC funded ‘Beyond Male Role Models’ project, I have interviewed young men and staff in different welfare settings, examining the part played by gender in their relationships. I was also a researcher for an urban regeneration project in a low-income community in Milton Keynes, exploring the impact of a housing scheme on residents’ health and for an evaluation of an advice and advocacy service that supports family and kin carers who are raising children when their parents are unable to care for them.

This research built on expertise gained during a three year PhD project that examined the geographies of contemporary grandfathering. Findings based on in-depth interviews with grandfathers in families where care arrangements were informally organised, indicate that the association of care with women impacts on how and where men grandfather and consequently how men construct their identities.

Key Publications

  • Tarrant, A.(2014) Negotiating multiple positionalities in the interview setting; researching across gender and generational boundaries, The Professional Geographer, 66 (3): 493-50
  • Tarrant, A.(2013) ‘Grandfathering as spatio-temporal practice: conceptualizing performances of ageing masculinities in contemporary familial carescapes’, Social and Cultural Geography, 14 (2): 192-210.
  • Tarrant, A. (2012) ‘Grandfathering: the construction of new identities and masculinities’, in: Arber, S., and Timonen, V. (eds.)Contemporary Grandparenting: Changing Family Relationships in Global Contexts, Bristol: Policy Press, Chapter 9, pp. 200-21.
  • Tarrant, A.(2010a) ‘Constructing a social geography of grandparenthood: a new focus for intergenerationality’, Area, 42 (2), pp. 190–197.
  • Tarrant, A. (2010b) ‘‘Maturing’ a Sub-discipline: The Intersectional Geographies of Masculinities and Old Age’, Geography Compass, 4 (10), pp. 1580 – 1591.

Dr. Laura DaviesLaura Davis

I am the Research Fellow on the ESRC funded research programme Following Young Fathers which uses qualitative longitudinal methods to develop understandings of the changing lives, relationships and support needs of young fathers. My work on this project focuses primarily on a case study evaluation of local service provision, secondary analysis of existing data sets and a mapping of service provision for young fathers across the UK.

I am a member of the Steering Group for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood and work in active collaboration with practitioners and policy makers to co-create knowledge and make these research findings accessible so that they may inform the development of policies and services.

Prior to this appointment I worked on the project HEIF Social Care: strand related to children and young people in vulnerable/challenging circumstances.

I have also worked within the ESRC Timescapes initiative as the secondary analyst on the project Grandparenting: charting trajectories of inter-generational exclusion and health and as the Data Preparation Officer preparing and anonymising data for ingest into the Timescapes data archive. The archive can be accessed at http://www.timescapes.leeds.ac.uk.

Research Interests

My wider research interests include care ethics; welfare-to-work; family policy; policy evaluation; conditionality and the morality of welfare; inter-generational exchange; QL methods; secondary analysis; the sociology of the family; life-course transitions; knowledge to action and knowledge exchange.

Key Publications

  • Davies, L. (2014) ‘Nudged into Employment: Lone Parents and Welfare Reform’ in M. Harrison And Sanders, T. (eds.) Social Policies and Social Control: New Perspectives on The Not-so-Big Society Bristol: Policy Press
  • Davies, L. and Murphy, A. (2013) Understanding Vulnerability: children and young people in challenging circumstances, Care-Connect Working Paper Series No. 1, Care-Connect, The Social Care Innovation Hub: Leeds
  • Davies, L. (2012) ‘Lone parents: unemployed or otherwise engaged?’ in People, Place & Policy Online (2012): 6/1, pp. 16-28
  • Emmel, N., Davies L. & Hughes, K. (2011) The aspirations of vulnerable grandparents and the life chances of their grandchildren, University of Leeds: Timescapes

My full profile is here http://www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk/people/staff/davies

PhD Students

PhD students belong to a flourishing and extensive PhD community with access to a variety of resources through their departments, the University of Leeds and the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre. Below we list some of the students linked to FLaG to give a flavour of the kinds of PhD projects being undertaken.

Helen Williams

My research examines the intersections between school based sex education, popular culture and new digital technologies. Focusing on young people’s perspectives, I am principally interested in what and how young people in contemporary Britain learn and communicate about sex. I also examine how young people negotiate the “sexualisation” of modern culture and how this affects the development of their own sexual identity. I aim to use my research to make recommendations for the improvement of sex and relationship education in school taking into account the changing cultural landscape.

For further information please see: http://www.gender-studies.leeds.ac.uk/research/current-research-students/williams.php

Joy Walker

My research interests include: Evaluation of health programmes; parent & family health education; sexual health & teenage pregnancy, (in)fertility, kinship, origins and reproductive technology, adult -child interaction, generation exchange, Qualitative methodologies including qualitative longitudinal methodology. These research interests have inspired my proposed part-time PhD study drawing on a qualitative longitudinal perspective to explore how emergent thinking about infertility, in contexts where infertility is managed, shapes peoples’ understanding of infertility, continuity and change, and subsequently how these are lived and given meaning within intergenerational relationships.

My student page is here: http://www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk/people/students/joy-walker

Julian Bowers-Brown

My PhD, to start in 2014, will explore the making and remaking of ideas about responsible parenting. Through case studies of past and contemporary debates and programmes surrounding the parent/parental role I hope to better understand the formation of parental knowledge and how parental subjectivities are constituted. Likely case studies include ideas of ‘feckless mothering,’ child welfare and the ‘Mothercraft’ programme in the 19th century and contemporary debates and programmes that centre on children’s readiness (or lack of it) for school.

Linzi Ladlow

My research project, Housing Young Parents: A Micro-Dynamic Study of the Housing Experiences and Support Needs of Teenage Mothers and Fathers,is an ESRC Collaborative Award studying the housing support needs and experiences of young parents. Working with a local housing charity, I am interested in exploring the housing pathways of disadvantaged young parents and how they develop parental identities and practices.

My research is affiliated with the ESRC Following Young Fathers Study, my profile can be found here: http://followingfathers.leeds.ac.uk/people/

Lynley Aldridge

My research focuses on the overseas gap year/ working holiday from a cross-cultural comparative perspective. In particular, I am interested in exploring what motivates graduates from Britain and Japan to undertake overseas working holidays, and what graduates, employers/ recruiters and other informants see as the perceived consequences of such overseas gap years and working holidays.

My student page is at the following link:


Ruth Patrick

My research explores the lived experiences of welfare reform, and I am particularly interested in how welfare reform impacts on the social citizenship of out-of-work benefit claimants and their in/exclusion from mainstream society. Taking a qualitative longitudinal approach, my doctoral study has involved talking to a small group of claimants as they experienced and responded to a range of welfare reforms between 2011 & 2013. I have employed aspects of participatory research; with a sub-group of participants (the ‘Dole Animators’) making an animated documentary about the study’s key findings.

More details at: www.doleanimators.org

My SSP page is: http://www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk/people/students/patrick

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