I am a Research Associate in the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute based in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology here at Newcastle University. My PhD, entitled 'Making Sexual Selves: A Qualitative Study of Lesbian and Gay Youth' (2011), looked at the contemporary construction of lesbian and gay identities by a group of young people living in the North-East of England. I am currently working on a book under contract with Palgrave Macmillan based on the fieldwork carried out during my doctorate.
My research interests centre around questions of youth, identity, and biography. I am keen to explore how young people make sense of their bodies, selves, lives and social worlds, paying specific attention to how those understandings are shaped by the institutional contexts in which young people act and the historical and social transformations which shape generational experience.
At its broadest, this can be put as an interest in what C. Wright Mills saw as the intersections between the historical, social and psychological in the construction of people's biographies, particularly as that concerns adolescent agency and identity making. Personally, I am just interested in people's lives and experiences, and the stories they tell of them.
Methodologically I am interested in exploring the implications of the proliferation of visual and communication technologies for the narration of identity, their uptake by young people, as well as their application in social research. The project I am working on currently draws on photography, social-networking as well as narrative interviews to enable young people to tell their own stories of growing-up with cerebral palsy.
PhD, Newcastle University, Feb 2011
'Making Sexual Selves: A Qualitative Study of Lesbian and Gay Youth.' Supervisors: Prof Diane Richardson and Dr Janice McLaughlin. ESRC Funded.
MA Sociology and Social Research, Newcastle University, 2005
MA (hons) Sociology, University of Aberdeen, 2004 (1st Class)
Project Leader(s): Janice McLaughlin,
Staff: Edmund Coleman-Fountain, Allan Colver (Institute of Health and Society) and Patrick Olivier (School of Computer Sciences)
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council
The study adopts a range of innovative qualitative methods to explore a number of issues of concern to young people generally as they grow up, including things to do with who they are, how they spend their time, and what they think about themselves and their bodies as they get older – encapsulating key themes of embodiment, identity and transformation. In exploring these questions, we are working with a group of young people with cerebral palsy in order to get their perspective on these broader issues. We want to know how these young people engage with the questions we are asking, and in what ways, if any, having an impairment or disability makes a difference.