I am Professor of Sociology in the Department, and have held roles as Head of Department (2012-16) and Associate Dean for the Doctoral College (2017-19). I am currently an executive editor of the British Journal of Sociology of Education, co-editor of the 'Research into Higher Education' book series, a member of Governing Council of the Society for Research into Higher Education, and a member of the education sub-panel for REF 2021.
Areas of specialism
Affiliations and memberships
My research interests lie in the sociology of education (particularly higher education), youth studies and the sociology of the family. Details about specific research projects are given below.
There are over 35 million students within Europe and yet, to date, we have no clear understanding of the extent to which understandings of ‘the student’ are shared. This project (which runs from 2016-2022, funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant) thus investigates how the contemporary higher education student is conceptualised and the extent to which this differs both within nation-states and across them. This is significant in terms of implicit (and sometimes explicit) assumptions that are made about common understandings of ‘the student’ across Europe – underpinning, for example, initiatives to increase cross-border educational mobility and the wider development of a European Higher Education Area. It is also significant in relation to exploring the extent to which understandings are shared within a single nation and, particularly, the degree to which there is congruence between the ways in which students are conceptualised within policy texts and by policymakers, and the understandings of other key social actors, such as the media, higher education institutions and students themselves. You can read more about the project here.
Together with Johanna Waters, a geographer based at UCL, I am writing a book, entitled Student Migrants and Contemporary Educational Mobilities, to be published in late 2021. We are also conducting research on the extent to which mobile students can be considered to be part of ‘knowledge diasporas’, and patterns of student migration from East Asia to elite UK higher education institutions. In addition, I am currently conducting research for the British Council on higher education partnerships (including student and staff mobility) between Turkey and the UK.
Since November 2020, I have been working with colleagues at UCL and the University of Oxford on a project exploring the supranational space in higher education policy – i.e. the ways in which policy is formed, disseminated and implemented above or beyond nation-states. This is part of the ESRC-funded Centre for Global Higher Education, which runs until autumn 2023.
I am working with my colleague Paul Hodkinson at Surrey on a project about fathers who have taken on substantial responsibilities for caring for young children. Based on a series of interviews with fathers who were equal or primary carers for children age 3 or under, we have written various articles and a book about the circumstances that enable and constrain equal or primary caring among UK fathers, and the everyday realities of such care. We are currently conducting a follow-up study of the fathers, exploring how their caring practices have changed over time and the extent to which they have been impacted by the pandemic.
In addition, I am co-editing a book on Student Carers in Higher Education (to be published by Routledge in 2022), with Marie-Pierre Moreau and Genine Hook.
Postgraduate research supervision
I am an experienced supervisor of postgraduate researchers and would be keen to receive proposals for doctoral work in any of the following areas: sociology of education (particularly higher education); education policy; youth studies; and sociology of the family.
In the 2020-21 academic year I am teaching Current Sociology (with Katherine Hubbard) and Field Methods (with Tom Roberts).