The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Professor Janice McLaughlin

Professor of Sociology


Roles and Responsibilities

Head of Sociology Subject Area


1996 PhD Department of Government, University of Manchester.
1993 MA Political Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
1990 BA Politics Honours (2:1), University of Strathclyde.

Previous Positions

09/99 – 09/01 Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds.
02/99 - 09/99 MA Co-ordinator Women’s Studies, Anglia Polytechnic University.
09/96 - 07/99 Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Politics and Department of Women’s Studies, Anglia Polytechnic University (fractional post: 0.25).
09/96 - 07/99 Research Fellow, Science and Technology Studies Unit, Anglia Polytechnic University.
09/95 - 08/96 Research Assistant, Science and Technology Studies Unit, Anglia Polytechnic University.




Research Interests

My current primary research interest can be briefly represented as: exploring how childhood disability or illness is framed from within the worlds of medicine, community and family. Through this research interest crucial insights are being generated on the importance of the relationships between these different worlds in the production of meaning. In the process the work challenges existing perceptions within disability studies that children and their families are simple objects of medical inquiry, alongside challenging perceptions in medical sociology that disability is interesting when it happens to previously ‘normal’ adult bodies. Clearly explorations of family and kinship are central to such explorations and I am increasingly pursuing an interest in both the fluidity of kinship relations, which are not framed by biology, and the significance of genetics in ascribing particular narratives of what family is based on biological ties.

An additional long term research activity involves writing on contemporary feminist social theory, in particular in relation to identities, materiality and critical theory. These two areas of work come together at various points, particularly when exploring experiences of and ideas about kinship and care.

A wide selection of my publications can be downloaded from Newcastle University's 'e-prints service'.


Current and Recent Work

With Emma Clavering, Erica Haimes and Michael Wright I ran an ESRC project examining the intersections between genetics and kinship from a social anthropological perspective ( between 2008 and 2011. The focus was on families who have a child referred to genetic services and examining over time how varied family members, including children themselves, incorporate and don't incorporate genetic meanings into their family narratives and vice versa. While the project is concluded we are still actively developing our publications from the project.

Edmund Coleman-Fountain, Patrick Olivier, Allan Colver have recently finished an ESRC project examining the embodied transitions disabled young people make as they move towards adulthood ( The project examined whether disability makes a difference in such transitions and if it does what kind of difference is that. We also examined whether pain is a meaningful concept to disabled young people and influential to how they think about their bodies. The work involved both qualitative interviews and alongside, creative work with both photography and artefact making with the research participants. Some of findings can also be found here: 

I am also a member of the international research consortium 'Ethics of Family and Health and Social Care', involving colleagues from Groningen University, Uppsala University, Singapore University and Michigan State University.

Postgraduate Supervision

I have successfully supervised 12 PhD students to the completion of their studies and currently supervise 6 PhD students. The majority of these past and current students are ESRC funded.

I am happy to discuss potential PhD topics in the areas of disability, kinship and care, medical innovation and feminist social theory.  

Esteem Indicators

Committee Membership

Previous member of the Editorial Board of Sociology.

Previous member of the International Advisory Board for the Sage Handbook of Research Ethics (editors Pauline Ginsberg and Donna Mertens)

Review activities

ESRC, Referee Fellowship and Grant Proposals and End of Award Reports

Book Proposal Reviews for Routledge, Palgrave and Polity.

Journal Article Reviews for Sociology, Sociology of Health and Illness, Theory, Culture and Society, Social Science and Medicine, Social Research Methodology: Theory and Practice, European Journal of Health Management, Sociology of Health and Illness, Science Technology and Human Values and Feminist Theory, Women’s Studies International Forum, Community, Work and Family, Social Policy and Society, Journal of Applied Research, Diabetic Medicine, Health.

Keynote Talks

(With Edmund Coleman-Fountain) ‘Unfinished Young Disabled Bodies: Practices and Stories of Body Intervention’, College of Education, Otago University, New Zealand, February 2014.

 (With Emma Clavering) ‘Family connections in genes and stories’ New Families and Genetic Identities: Developments in law, policy and research, London School of Economics, June 2013.

 ‘Who is Family?’ The Ethics of Family Involvement in Healthcare Conference, Centre for Bioethics, Singapore University, February 2013

 ‘About Care and Family’, The Ethics of Family Involvement in Healthcare Conference, Centre for Bioethics, Singapore University, February 2013.

'Families’ experiences of paediatric genetics: Findings from an ethnographic study'. British Society for Human Genetics Conference, 5th – 7th September, Warwick University, 2011

‘Potential familial and patient responses to gene therapy: lessons from current genetics provision in healthcare’ TREAT-NMD 2011 International Conference, Geneva, Nov, 2011

‘Working across disciplinary and institutional boundaries in health and social research.’ BSA Regional Postgraduate Workshop: Bridging the Gap: Translating knowledge into action in Health and Social Research. Newcastle University. 3rd June, 2010.

‘Modes of care and mothering: How does citizenship and care intersect in the lives of mothers of disabled children’?, ESRC Seminar Series ‘Parenting Cultures’, University of Kent, January, 2009.

Parental perspectives on evidence: When are parents experts?, European Academy of Childhood Disability, Vilnius, Lithuania, June, 2009

(with Emma Clavering) ‘How inclusion is operationalised in early year settings. Findings from a research study undertaken in Newcastle and Sheffield’. Twelfth Conference and Annual Meeting of the North of England Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Survey, Trevalyan College, University of Durham, 21st of March, 2007

'What makes looking after a baby with complex needs challenging? The perspective of parents’, North of England Paediatric Society, Centre for Life, Newcastle, 15th of June, 2007

‘The social, ethical and political exploration of genetics and the new life sciences’, Launch of the Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, 27th of October, 2006.

'Gendering the user and technological innovation,' International Summer Academy on Technology Studies, Austria, July. 2001


2001 ‘EBM and Risk: Rhetorical Resources in the Articulation of Professional Identity,’ Journal of Management in Medicine, Vol 15, No 4/5, 352-363. Outstanding Paper of the Year.





I currently teach a Stage 3 Module called 'Investigating the Body' with Simon Woods, within the BA Sociology undergraduate Programme


I have until recently taught the module 'Social Divisions', with Diane Richardson, on the MA Sociology and Social Research