Dr Stephanie Lawler
Reader in Sociology

  • Email: stephanie.lawler@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7497
  • Address: School of Geography, Politics and Sociology,
    Newcastle University
    Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU


After a first degree as a mature student at Liverpool University, I did my PhD (researching the mother-daughter relationship) at Lancaster University. I joined the school in 2006, after posts at Lancaster and Durham. My research interests centre on social and sociological aspects of identity, including the relationship between 'big issues' and the personal pleasures and pains of 'doing' identity. I am particularly concerned with the ways in which a concern with identity underwrites a number of contemporary troubling issues, such as authenticity, belonging, and value. Which identities are understood as worthwhile? Which are not? and why?

Roles and responsibilities 

 Head of Sociology


BA (Hons) Liverpool
PhD Lancaster

Previous Positions

Lecturer in Sociology and Women's Studies, Lancaster University
Lecturer in Sociology, Durham University


British Sociological Association.

research interests

Identities, especially in relation to gender, class and generation; the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu; people's negotiations with expert knowledges; narratives; psychoanalysis and psycho-social analysis; kinship and families; motherhood, childhood and the mother-daughter relationship, the sociology of everyday life.
I am happy to discuss supervision in any of these (or related) areas.

current work

My latest book (Identity: Sociological Perspectives, Polity) brings together many of the themes of my research over the last 10 years - notably how issues of identity act to 'trouble' social relations.
A second edition of the book has now been published (2013), and I am working on a book to be published in Palgrave's 'themes in social theory' book series (Identity and Social Theory). This book will discuss conceptual approaches to, and empirical investigation of, identity matters.

I have also been exploring themes of identity and inequality in recent articles (see list of publications). Work in progress includes an exploration of nostalgia,  the social contexts of parenting / non-parenting decisions, and historicizing class identity  

postgraduate supervision and examining

currently supervising:

Ipshita Debnath (ft) Log-in / Log-out: a Sociological Exploration of how the Internet is Affecting Kinship Relations. Supervision with Dr Anselma Gallinat.

Jacqueline Close (ft ESRC-funded)  Ideals and Expectations: Representations, Practices and Governance of Contemporary Motherhood. Supervision with Prof. Jackie Leach Scully

Erica Timoney (ft)  Falling Through the Gap: Muslim Women and the Construction of Identities in Tension. Supervision with Prof. Jackie Leach Scully.

recently completed

Michelle Addison (ft, ESRC-funded) Knowing how to 'play the game' at work: a study of class, gender and emotion work in Higher Education. Newcastle University. Supervised with Jackie Leach Scully.  

Peter Steggals (ft ESRC-funded). Harming the body/constructing the self: identity, selfhood and power relations in the construction of a self-harming subject. Newcastle University. Supervised with Elaine Campbell

Victoria Mountford (ft ESRC-funded) Everyday class distinctions in Higher Education.  Newcastle University.  Supervised with Yvette Taylor / Robert Hollands

Gemma Metcalfe (ft. ESRC-funded) Contemporary Gender Relations in Former Mining Communities. Newcastle University.  Supervised with Alison Stenning / Tracey Warren.

Sabina Begum (M.Phil, ft) Narratives of Radical Lives: Women, Auto/Biography and Feminism in Bangladesh. Newcastle University.  Supervised with Peter Phillimore.

Ceri Black (ft. ESRC-funded) Queering virginity: social, cultural and embodied notions of the question of what counts as real sex. Newcastle University.  Supervised with Cate Degnen

Elaine Robson (ft. ESRC-funded) The Problem of Youth: Representations of Young People in the British Press. Durham University. 

Steve Walls (ft. ESRC-funded) 'Are you being served?' Gendered Aesthetics among Retail Workers. Durham University.  Supervised with Robin Williams

Judy Richards (ft. ESRC-funded) Marketing the self in cyberspace. Durham University. 

Andrew Smith (ft. Durham University funded)  The process of change in a public-private partnership.  Durham University.  Supervised with Ian Roberts.

Susan Parker (pt) Mothering in the New Moral Economy: Making, Marking and Classing Selves. Durham University.


external PhD examiner

Sarah Milton, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. 2014 

Charles Leddy-Owen, University of Surrey. 2013

Irina Cheresheva, Central European University. 2012 (comprehensive examination)

Nigel Cox, Sheffield Hallam University. 2011

Kaisa Ketokivi, University of Helsinki. 2010

Jane Liffen, Loughborough University. 2008

Dawn Gurbutt, Lancaster University. 2004

Annie Meyer, University of Manchester. 2004


internal PhD examiner

Angela Abbott. 2011

Alison Jobe. 2008

Elizabeth Brace. 2008

Thomas Hill. 2005

Emma Uprichard. 2004

Cynthia Horrocks. 2000

Heshni Moynifar. 1999.


professional service

2014  Member of the judging panel, Philip Leverhulme Prizes in Sociology & Social Policy 

2010-2013 Co-convenor of the Social Divisions / Social Identities stream, BSA annual conference

2009-2012 Member of the ESRC Peer Review College

2003-2006, co-editor of Sociology, the journal of the British Sociological Association.

arts and media

Interviewed by local and national UK press, Taiwanese press and Canadian public-service radio. 

2013 Discussant on Thinking Allowed (BBC R4): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qm7pd 

2010  Invited participant in conversation with Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, 'Mapping the social order'. Part of The Serpentine Gallery's Map Marathon, 16 October 2010: http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/map-marathon


2003 Participant in feature on mothers and daughters, Woman's Hour, BBC R4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/2003_17_thu_04.shtml

Cited by Barbie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5URYMzHAdQ0


plenary / keynote papers

2013    'Truth and nostalgic tales of class in England' Finnish Gender Studies / Cultural Studies Conference, University of Lapland

 2011   ‘Noble workers and angry young men: class nostalgia, progress and identity’, Enquire Conference, University of Nottingham

 2000   ‘What’s love got to do with it?  on the difference between having and being a mother’, Motherhood Conference, Centre for Women’s Studies, University of Lancaster.

other invited conference / seminar papers 

 2014                ‘Legitimation and capital’, at Science, Capital and Dis/advantage: Beyond an Arts-Based Conceptualisation of Cultural Capital?, Science Museum, London.

 2014                'Towards a psycho-social analysis of taste? at ‘Taste’, symposium organized by University of York, the Centre ECCE and the Stratification and Culture Research Network

2013                What is intersectionality for? at Intersectionality Research Group, University of Uppsala.

2013                Fixed in space and time: representations of the white English working class,  Identity, Belonging, Power and Place symposium, Newcastle University.

2012                Angry young men, dirty women and ‘our mam’: nostalgia in narratives of working-class life. Josephine Butler College, Durham University.

2010                Mapping the social order: in conversation with Emma Wolukau Wanambwa. The Serpentine Gallery Map Marathon: Maps for the 21st Century, London. Curated by Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans-Ulrich Obrist.

2009                Can feminists learn to count past three? identities, Bourdieu’s socioanalysis, and feminist theorizing, Sociology / Gender Studies, University of Hull.

2009                Mobilizing nature as culture in class representations, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey.

2008                Emotional politics and sociological careers, Sociological Beginnings seminar, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College

2007                Consuming the aristos: middle-class dis-ease, at ESRC-funded seminar, Cultural Consumption, Classification and Power’ CRESC, University of Manchester.

2007                Toilet anxiety: why the aristocracy matters,  Belonging symposium, Newcastle University.

2005                Coming home to love: classing the intimate,  ESRC-funded seminar, Working-Class Lives: Geographies and Sociologies, University of Newcastle.

2005                Beside oneself: identity in Butler’s Undoing Gender,  Dept. of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London.

2005                Desire and disgust: making class through heterosexuality, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Hull.

2004                Speaking with authority or being authorized to speak?, Subjects of Enunciation Seminar, Interventiotyhmälle, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki.

2003                Narratives of kinship,  ESRC-funded seminar, Knowing Families, University of  Leeds.

2003                ‘The lower classes smell’: disgust and the maintenance of boundaries, Department of Sociology, University of York.

2003                Dissolving the theory /method divide? discourse as a methodological approach, ESRC-funded seminar, Problematizing Methodology.  University of Staffordshire.

2002                Rules of engagement: gender, class and habitus, Feminists Evaluate Bourdieu: International Perspectives symposium, Department of Sociology, University of Manchester.

2001                Mobs and monsters: le Bon revisited?, Women’s Studies seminar, University of York.

2001                Independent man meets Paulsgrove woman: gender, class and the politics of protest, Class, Community and Space conference, University of Durham.

2000                Responsible conversations, Generating Feminist Research conference, University of Durham.

2000                Classing childhood: new spin, old story,  Women’s Studies, University of York.

2000                Educating Susan: class, gender and authenticity,  Cultural Studies and the Working Class conference, University of East  London.

2000                ‘Who does she think she is?’  gender, class and distinction,  Media and Cultural Studies research seminar, University of Sunderland.

1999                Between biology and sociology (panel presentation with S. Fuller, N. Rose and G. Runciman) symposium at the BSA annual conference, For Sociology, University of Glasgow.

1998                Which women are we talking about?  feminism and the (still) troubling concept of difference  at All About Eve seminar series, St. Mary’s College, University of Durham.

1997                ‘That place from which one has come’: women, class and habitus,  Centre for Women’s Studies, Loughborough University.

1994                Middle-class daughters, working-class mothers: othering the mother and claiming the self, at Motherhood, Maturation and Kinship dayschool, Lancaster University.

1993                Class and gender in Twentieth Century mother-daughter relationships, Women’s History Network Annual Conference, London.


academic visits and collaborations

2013     Invited visitor at  University of Lapland, Finland.

2013     Invited visitor at  University of Uppsala.

2004     Socrates-funded teaching exchange,  Dept of Sociology, University of Helsinki.

1999      Participant in British Council /DTI sponsored Women’s Studies/Gender Studies visit to Taipei, Taiwan



British Academy Small Grant (with Dr Jackie Leach Scully) 'Parenthood and non-parenthood in an age of assisted conception'


Undergraduate Teaching

Lecturer on  SOC 2058, Understanding Social Change  (level 2)

Module Leader, SOC 1031, Knowing in Sociology (level 1)

Postgraduate Teaching