Areas of specialism

sociology of religion; childhood and youth; sociology of education; qualitative methodologies

University roles and responsibilities

  • Director of Employability, Department of Sociology (from January 2022)

    My qualifications

    PgCert in University Teaching and Learning
    Cardiff University
    PhD in Sociology
    University of Leeds
    MA Social Research
    University of Leeds
    PGCE Primary (5-11 years)
    University of Brighton
    BA (Hons) Geography
    University of Sheffield

    Affiliations and memberships

    Member of the British Sociological Association
    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


    Research interests

    Research projects


    Postgraduate research supervision

    Completed postgraduate research projects I have supervised

    My teaching

    Courses I teach on


    My publications


    Nicola Madge, PETER HEMMING, A Goodman, Sue Goodman, Sarah Kingston, Kevin Stenson, C Webster (2012)Conducting Large-Scale Surveys in Secondary Schools: The Case of the Youth On Religion (YOR) Project, In: Children & society26(6)pp. 417-429 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

    There are few published articles on conducting large-scale surveys in secondary schools, and this paper seeks to fill this gap. Drawing on the experiences of the Youth On Religion project, it discusses the politics of gaining access to these schools and the considerations leading to the adoption and administration of an online survey. It is concluded that successful research in schools has to be planned carefully in collaboration with key members of staff, and justified as an educational activity. Providing speedy feedback was helpful to ensure schools benefited from the research and to keep them engaged with the project.

    PETER HEMMING (2011)Educating for religious citizenship: multiculturalism and national identity in an English multi-faith primary school, In: Transactions - Institute of British Geographers (1965)36(3)pp. 441-454 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

    Much attention has been paid to the introduction of Citizenship Education in 2002 as a curriculum subject for schools in England and Wales. However, schools have a much wider role in educating children for citizenship through the informal curriculum and everyday socio-spatial practices. This article draws attention to the issue of ‘religious citizenship’ as an important area of study for geographers, through a focus on a particular space: an English multi-faith community primary school. The model of religious citizenship that was provided and promoted by the school is considered, with reference to the way in which religious minorities were recognised and accommodated. Through this analysis, the significance of procedural liberalism is highlighted, particularly the way in which the concept of neutrality may inadvertently privilege certain groups over others. The multi-scalar nature of the issues in question are also shown through reference to particular constructions of the nation and national identity, along with the significance of everyday micro-spaces for the contestation and negotiation of religious citizenship.

    Victoria A Cook, PETER HEMMING (2011)Education spaces: embodied dimensions and dynamics, In: Social & cultural geography12(1)pp. 1-8 Taylor & Francis Group
    Katherine King, PETER HEMMING (2012)Exploring Multiple Religious Identities through Mixed Qualitative Methods, In: Fieldwork in Religion 7(1)pp. 29-47 Equinox Publishing

    This article offers a reflexive account of the process of researching religious identity with young people, and considers how combining methods may enable young people to explore their own identities in different ways. Drawing upon three participant case studies it explores the public–private spectrum produced as part of discussion groups, semi-structured interviews and an innovative online e-Journal research activity. As participants moved through each stage of the research process, the way in which they represented their religious identities shifted as they encountered differing social environments, became more practised at telling their own lives, or had evolved their own perspectives over time. Employing mixed methods contributes a more nuanced understanding of the role of religion in young people’s lives yet also raises important ethical implications surrounding participant confidentiality in research.

    PETER HEMMING (2011)Meaningful encounters? Religion and social cohesion in the English primary school, In: Social & cultural geography12(1)pp. 63-81 Taylor & Francis Group

    Recent debates about state-funded faith schools in England have focused on the way in which they either promote or discourage social cohesion between different cultural, ethnic and religious groups. While one argument suggests that children must experience interfaith and intercultural encounters in order to understand each other, another insists that values of tolerance and acceptance can instead be taught as part of the curriculum. Despite this, much research to date has tended to focus on macro-processes such as selection procedures and residential segregation at the expense of micro-processes within school space itself. This article seeks to address this conspicuous lack of empirical research, by drawing on qualitative fieldwork in a state-funded Community primary school and Roman Catholic primary school located in multi-faith districts of an urban area in the North of England. It will examine a number of ways in which the two schools tried to encourage positive and meaningful encounters between children of different religious backgrounds, as well as the extent to which such attempts were successful. The article will focus particularly on the role of bodies and emotions in making sense of these processes.

    PETER HEMMING, Nicola Madge (2012)Researching children, youth and religion: Identity, complexity and agency, In: Childhood (Copenhagen, Denmark)19(1)pp. 38-51 Sage

    Research on children, young people and religion is becoming more prevalent following an increased interest in this traditionally under-researched area. However, little discussion has taken place to date on the appropriateness of past frameworks for making sense of children’s religious lives. This article calls attention to the issue of religious identity in relation to children and young people. By drawing on the diffuse body of interdisciplinary social scientific research in this area, the article seeks to apply the new social studies of childhood model through the two concepts of complexity and agency. Following this, it then goes on to make some suggestions for future directions in the study of children, young people and religious identity.

    PETER HEMMING (2011)The Place of Religion in Public Life: School Ethos as a Lens on Society, In: Sociology (Oxford)45(6)pp. 1061-1077 SAGE Publications

    The place of religion in the English education system has always been an issue of debate, ever since the establishment of universal schooling around the turn of the 20th Century. Such questions have often focused on the extent to which religion should be viewed as a public or private affair, and hence whether or not it should have a role in state schooling. This article presents qualitative research that examines the role of religion in the ethos of two different schooling models and the associated construction of state institutional space and home/civic space in each. Drawing on Davie’s (2007) concept of ‘vicarious religion’, the article highlights the continued presence of certain types of religious and spiritual manifestations in the public sphere. In so doing, it contributes to wider debates about secularization and the role of religion in modern liberal democracies.

    Roy Huijsmans, Nancy Worth, PETER HEMMING, A Norman (2009)Book reviews, In: Children's Geographies7(2)pp. 235-241 Routledge
    PETER HEMMING (2008)Mixing qualitative research methods in children's geographies, In: Area (London 1969)40(2)pp. 152-162 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

    Human geographers are increasingly employing mixed-method approaches in theirresearch, including in children’s geographies, where ‘child-centred’ methods are oftenused alongside participant observation and semi-structured interviews to investigatechildren’s perceptions and experiences. Mixing qualitative methods in this way raises anumber of ethical and methodological issues, particularly regarding the changing powerrelationships between researchers and participants. This article considers the challengesand potential benefits of combining methods from participatory and interpretiveapproaches through triangulation or ‘crystallisation’. The issues are illustrated throughan empirical case study on children, health and exercise in the everyday spaces of theprimary school.

    PETER HEMMING (2007)Renegotiating the Primary School: Children's Emotional Geographies of Sport, Exercise and Active Play, In: Children's geographies5(4)pp. 353-371 Routledge

    The current UK policy concern with children's health has led to primary school practices of sport, exercise and active play aimed, in particular, at constructing children's bodies as 'healthy'. Qualitative explorations of children's own values and experiences however, reveal that their understandings of sport in school differ considerably from its potential to be healthy, instead emphasising emotional geographies of pleasure and enjoyment. This article aims to develop a better understanding of children's ability to modify and reconstitute discursive corporeal regimes through their own agency, thus highlighting the fluid nature of the primary school as an institution. Adult discourses and children's bodily challenges to these mingle and intersect, creating spaces of competing values and discourses that work to transform and renegotiate the primary school. Although this article focuses particularly on the UK context, the findings will be relevant for any country in which child obesity is of current concern for social and education policy.

    London School of Economics: Religion in the Public Sphere Blog -

    PETER HEMMING, Louise Holt (2010)Building a sense of community: children, bodies and social cohesion, In: Geographies of Children, Youth and Families: An International Perspectivepp. 55-66 Routledge

    The word ‘community’ is currently back in fashion in the UK, particularly relating to concerns over social cohesion between different ethnic and religious groups in urban localities. Schooling provision, particularly of a faith-based nature, has become entangled within these debates, but there remains a clear lack of research about what actually happens within schools to facilitate or deter the development of social cohesion. Drawing on two qualitative case studies, this chapter will focus in on the embodied processes that occur within schools to build a sense of belonging and togetherness among children. It will examine the inclusive or exclusive nature of such processes within a Community primary school and a Catholic primary school context. The way in which the two schools engage with their wider community will also be considered, along with the implications for social cohesion debates.