The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Emily Rainsford

Research Associate



I am an experienced social researcher proficient in both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. My research interests focus on young people, their political participation, citizenship and employment. I have led on the data collection and project management for the UK team of the multinational mixed method CUPESSE project, exploring the role of family social, cultural and economic capital in young people's employment pathways and achievement of economic self-sufficiency. 

I am an impact focused researcher, and have taken up various opportunities to work in the public and third sectors. Most recently I was seconded to the Industrial Strategy Council in BEIS working on a research project exploring the decision making process behind local growth strategies across England. 


BA Politics and Philosophy, University of Sheffield

MSc Citizenship and Democracy (research), University of Southampton

PhD Politics and International Relations, University of Southampton

Roles and responsibilities

Founding convenor of the PSA Young People's Politics specialist group.

Previous posts

ESRC Social Researcher Industrial Strategy Council, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Innovation Fellow, Youth Employment UK

CRN Visiting Fellow at Canberra University, Australia. Providing a youth perspective on the Murray Darling Futures project.

ESRC Intern, Mutuals Taskforce, Cabinet Office




I have two strands of research interests.

  1. Young people's political participation; I have a long established track record of researching young activists in different political settings. I have collected survey data on young people in political parties, the British Youth Council and UK Youth Parliament as well as at street demonstrations. Within this research area I am particularly interested in what youth citizenship means, what opportunities young people have to participate politically and what impact it has. I am currently writing a book for Bristol University Press to explore these themes further.

  2. Youth employment; my work on the CUPESSE project has explored the role of parental social, economic and cultural capital for young people's labour market success. Within this I have also explored young people's work values and how their previous experience in the labour market affect them. I have presented this work to many external organisations like BEIS, DWP, Youth Employment UK, and ERSA.