Families and the life course

This research cluster ties together extensive expertise on contemporary families, parenting and grandparenting with a wide range of work on the life course, in relation to understandings of older age, adulthood and youth.

Research strands

Our expertise clusters into three strands:

Parenting and families

Expertise on parenting and families explores contemporary mothering, fathering and family relationships.

Contemporary motherhoods: includes Vicki Harman’s research on the performances of intensive mothering through school lunch boxes, Ranjana Das’ work on new mothers (including migrant mothers) and mental health in digital societies, and Kate Burningham and Sue Venn’s examination of mothers’ discourses on sustainable consumption.

Contemporary fatherhoods: includes Paul Hodkinson’s examination of the experiences and journeys of fathers who are primary or equal carers for young children (with Rachel Brooks) and Ranjana Das and Paul Hodkinson’s research on new fathers’ experiences of mental health issues and the role of digital media as part of their journeys.

Families and incarceration: centres on work by Dan McCarthy and Maria Adams on the perspectives of the carers (particularly mothers) of imprisoned youth offenders and the ways they seek to support their children. It also includes Maria Adam’s PhD work on the families of prisoners in Scotland.

Transnational families: features Venetia Evergeti’s research on the interplay between ethnicity and transnational family networks in relation to the Greek Diaspora in the UK.

Later life and ageing

Research in this strand centres on the lives of LGBTQI+ people across the life course, contemporary grandparenting and ageing and everyday life. The Department is home to the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG).

LGBTQI+ lives and identities across the life course: features several projects led by Andy King, including a cross-European comparison of inequalities across the life course of LGBTQI+ people, research exploring transitions into and through a retirement community, and work on housing inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+ people, including those in later life.

Contemporary grandparenting: includes work by Vicki Harman and Venetia Evergeti on the identities and practices of grandparents in transnational families. It also includes work by Sara Arber on grandparenting in global contexts.

Music scenes and ageing: centres on work by both Kirsty Lohman and Paul Hodkinson on the experiences of music scene participants as they traverse different stages of adulthood and move towards older age.

Ageing and everyday life: features Kate Burningham and Sue Venn’s work on understanding the potential for life course transitions such as retirement to encourage shifts towards more sustainable ways of living, and extensive work by Sara Arber on sleep, food and gender in later life.

Youth and youth cultures

The youth and youth cultures sub-theme centres on young people’s lifestyles, identities and affiliations as they negotiate adolescence.

Youth communities and subcultures: features Kirsty Lohman’s ethnographic work on Dutch punk cultures and feminist punk scenes in the UK, and Paul Hodkinson’s ongoing contributions to youth cultural research and theory, including work on goths, subcultural theory and targeted harassment of subcultural participants.

Young people, good living and sustainability: includes international cross-cultural research by Kate Burningham, Anastasia Loukianov and Sue Venn on the lifestyles and aspirations of young people living in cities, exploring challenges to live well and within environmental limits. Further work by Anastasia Loukianov encompasses young people’s use of and access to good life narratives and their implications for sustainable and fair living.

Youth media cultures: centres on exploration of young people’s negotiation of digital communication and online social networks in separate work by Emily Setty, Ranjana Das and Paul Hodkinson - and Ranjana Das’ research on young people as media audiences and interpretive communities of fantasy media genres.

Young people’s cultures of sex and sexuality: features Emily Setty’s work on young people’s experiences of ‘sexting’ and their broader understandings of sex and sexuality.

Higher education, travel and transitions: includes Alex Seal’s doctoral research on student experiences of studying abroad and the tourist gaze - and Andy King’s early work on young people’s experiences of gap years.