My research falls into three broad areas: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Ageing; Adulthoods and Theory and Methods.
1) LGBT Ageing – I am interested in the lives and experiences of older LGBT adults and have been actively researching in this field for over seven years. I have conducted publicly funded research (Tower Hamlets Borough Council and the Economic and Social Research Council) with Dr Ann Cronin about the lives of older LGBT people, including their experiences of services. This has included a project called ‘Putting Policy into Practice’ where we worked with service providers to empower them to improve their services with older LGBT people in mind http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/RES-189-25-0189/read. My book, 'Older Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Adults: Identities, Intersections and Institutions' which draws on these studies, will be published by Routledge in 2016. For more info click here
I was Principal Investigator on an ESRC funded Seminar Series: Older LGBT People: Minding the Knowledge Gaps (with Dr Kathyrn Almack, Dr Yiu-Tung Suen and Dr Sue Westwood) which ran from Jan 2013-Jan 2015. An edited collection, of the same name, is currently being produced and will be published by Routledge in 2017.
I am currently Principal Investigator on the SAFE Housing - Older LGBT Housing in Later Life project, which is exploring the housing preferences, options and choices of older LGBT people in London and Shropshire. This project is running in collaboration with Age UK Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Opening Doors London, Stonewall Housing and Safe Age No Discrimination (SAND), Shropshire.
I have published widely in the field of LGBT Ageing, including publications in: Ageing and Society; Sociology; Gender, Work and Organization; International Social Work; Social Policy and Society; and Quality in Ageing and Older Adults as well as numerous edited collections.
I am also the co-editor (with Dr Ana Cristina Santos and Dr Isabel Crowhurst) of 'Sexualities Research: Critical Interjections, Diverse Methodologies and Practical Applications', which will be published by Routledge in 2017 (click here for more details). This collection draws on papers presented at a European Sociological Association Sexuality Research Network (RN23) Mid-Term conference I co-organised whilst Chair of the ESA Sexuality Network (2011-2015)
2) Adulthoods – my doctoral research focused on young people’s transitions to adulthood, exploring this through the lens of the GapYear. I have continued to write about young adulthoods, publishing in the Journal of Youth Studies and Sociology, as well as edited collections.
3) Theory and Methods – I have a long standing interest in social theory, particularly micro social theories such as symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology, as well as qualitative methods, particularly conversation analysis. I have published on the latter in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology. I co-edited ‘Sociological Objects’ (Ashgate 2009) with Dr Geoff Cooper and Professor Ruth Rettie examining the changing relationship between classical and contemporary social theory and sociological objects. I received funding from Kingston University for two methodologically innovative projects: ‘Learning Place’s (with Lorraine Locke and Dr Heidi Seetzen) and ‘Faith in Action’ (with Dr Sylvie Collins-Mayo). I have expertise in NVivo, a qualitative data analysis software tool and regularly contribute to the Sociology Dept Day Course programme
Find me on campus Room: 17 AD 03
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to debates about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) housing later in life by placing these in a theoretical context: social capital theory (SCT). Design/methodology/approach – After a discussion of SCT, emanating from the works of Robert Putnam and Pierre Bourdieu, the paper draws on existing studies of LGBT housing later in life, identifying key concerns that are identified by this body of literature. Findings – The paper then applies SCT to the themes drawn from the LGBT housing later in life literature to illustrate the usefulness of putting these in such a theoretical context. Originality/value – Hence, overall, the paper fills an important gap in how the authors think about LGBT housing later in life; as something that is framed by issues of social networks and connections and the benefits, or otherwise, that accrue from them.
The concept of social capital is widely used in the social sciences and has, to an extent, been applied to the lives and social networks of older lesbian, gay and bisexual (hereafter LGB) adults. Developing existing research, this paper argues that while not without its problems, the concept of social capital enriches our understanding of these networks, whilst simultaneously deconstructing the negative stereotypes surrounding homosexuality in later life. However, little attention has been paid to the social factors that mediate access and participation in lesbian and gay communities and the implications of this on the quality and experience of later life. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in the United Kingdom, this paper illustrates how biography, gender and socio-economic status are significant mediators in the development and maintenance of social capital by older LGB adults. It concludes with a set of recommendations aimed at improving the social capital of older LGB adults, together with the importance of ‘queering’ the concept itself.
This article reflects on the experience of undertaking a knowledge exchange project with a local government authority to improve services for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) adults. It frames this project in terms of local government equality work, existing research and initiatives concerning older LGBT people and the coming of austerity. The project methodology is detailed, including discussion of the generation and measurement of impact. Some critical issues that arose during the project are considered, including suggestions that these may have been related to economic austerity. The article concludes that although knowledge exchange work with older LGBT people faces challenges in such times, future research and initiatives are warranted.
This article seeks to extend work in the growing sociology of adulthood. It considers the debate that young people in the UK and other advanced industrial societies now face challenges to their adulthood; in particular, that they experience problems of social recognition. Using membership categorisation analysis (MCA) the article then illustrates how members of a sample of 23 young people who had taken a gap year, a break in their educational careers taken between leaving school/college and university, use talk about changes in their relationships with their parents during this period of their lives to accomplish an adult identity in their current context. The article considers the ramifications of these findings and the consequences for studying adulthood more generally. © The Author(s) 2012.
A Gap Year is a break in an educational career, principally taken between leaving school and beginning university. Previous research on the Gap Year has suggested it is a form of social class positioning or forum for undertaking transitions in identity during young adulthood. This paper extends this research into the context of higher education itself. The paper illustrates, by a detailed analysis of interview data, that significant identity work is undertaken by young people in their accounts of their Gap Year. It demonstrates that this identity work, involving talk of confidence, maturity and/or independence, is related to two forms of distinction: a life course distinction and a social distinction. The paper discusses the significance of this identity work for our understandings of the Gap Year, its place in young people's transitions to adulthood and for future research.
This article explores how theories of diversity and intersectionality can improve our understandings of the lives of older lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults. In so doing, it argues that theories of diversity help us to understand both the structural constraints and the advantages that may arise from being an older LGB adult. However, these theories are unable to fully account for differences that may exist within this social group. In order to address this omission, we argue that we need to move beyond a focus on diversity per se, to incorporate the multiplicity of identities suggested by intersectionality theory. We conclude by assessing the implications of this debate for policy and research. Throughout the article we draw on existing research as well as our own empirical studies with older LGB adults.
This paper introduces and outlines a methodology that may be unfamiliar to some qualitative researchers: Membership Categorisation Analysis (MCA). The first section of the paper explains the basic principles of MCA and why it is a valid method for exploring the power of categorisations in texts and talk. Additionally, it explains why MCA differs from other forms of qualitative data analysis. The second section begins with a discussion of why researchers might or might not use Computer‐Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS) Software. Subsequently, a detailed description of how MCA was applied to qualitative data using the CAQDAS software package NVivo is outlined. To provide examples, this paper draws on a project that used MCA to analyse the interview accounts of 25 young people who had taken a Gap Year between leaving school and beginning university. The paper concludes that qualitative researchers should consider using MCA and that CAQDAS is a useful tool to aid its application.
The relationship between ageing and sexuality is contentious; older people are frequently represented as either being sexually inactive or not having a sexual identity. Aside from the issue of ageism, such a representation also occludes the lives of those who have been defined by their sexuality: people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Until recently, the lives of this group of older people had received little serious study (Cronin 2004, Heaphy 2007). This is despite the finding that they comprise an estimated 1 in 15 of the users of one of the UK’s largest charities for older people (Age Concern 2002). Research has now begun to develop across different regions of the UK (see for example Communities Scotland 2005, Davies, et al. 2006, Heaphy and Yip 2006, Stonewall Cymru and Triangle Wales 2006) demonstrating that despite similarities with older heterosexuals, older lesbian, gay and bisexual adults do have specific needs and issues, some of which will be discussed in this chapter. However, much of this literature represents ‘older lesbian, gay and bisexual’ as a largely stable, fixed, taken-for-granted identification. This appears to be at odds with other perspectives within the humanities and social sciences that contend that identities are unstable, multiple and produced contextually. In this chapter we consider this tension and its implications for methodology. Overall, we argue that developing and using methodologies to examine how older lesbian, gay and bisexual identities are produced or accomplished is important if we are to continue developing thinking that moves away from essentialism and avoids reinforcing existing heteronormative understandings of older age. The first section of the chapter begins by discussing the representation of older lesbian, gay and bisexual identities that emerges in previous research; a category of people who are similar yet different from older heterosexuals. In the second section we trouble, or queer, this identification, considering insights from queer theory, the post-structuralist feminism of Judith Butler, together with the sociological perspectives of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. We then outline how we are developing a methodology in our own research that adopts these insights and that uses both membership categorisation analysis and narrative analysis, although for reasons of brevity we focus our discussion in this chapter on our use of the former. We outline and give examples of this wor
This chapter, drawing on empirical research, examines the experiences of giving and receiving care among older lesbian, gay and bisexual (hereafter LGB) adults. Traditionally, researchers and policy makers tended to assume that all older people experienced later life in a similar way. This can be characterised as the „normal model of ageing‟. However, there has been a growing awareness that this is not the case and that individual and social diversity, for example gender, economic status and ethnicity, may result in older people experiencing later life in very different ways. While this awareness is to be welcomed, little attention has been paid to sexual diversity in later life. Although older LGB adults will have much in common with older heterosexual adults, the way in which sexuality is organised in society means that this group may experience later life differently from their heterosexual counterparts. Existing research documents both the disadvantages faced by older LGB adults, while simultaneously dispelling the myth of a lonely old age due to familial and societal rejection. For example, Robinson (1998) indicates that the health care needs of older LGB adults are framed in accordance with stereotypical representations and understandings of their sexuality, while MetLife (2006) and Kurdeck (2005) suggest that care giving and receiving amongst the older LGB population differs from the general population in relation to both gender and care practices. Research which highlights the care needs and practices amongst older LGB adults is to be welcomed; nevertheless we want to explore some of the difficulties and problems that may arise when the identities of care giver and care receiver are applied to older LGB adults. In order to do this we will be using the concept of heteronormativity, which can help us to think about the relationship between sexuality and society. Many people consider their sexuality to be a private matter, however we only need to think about the laws, rules, norms and values that surround sexuality in society to realise that, far from being a private matter, sexuality is socially organised and regulated. One way of understanding this is through the concept of heteronormativity, which refers to the organisation of society around the belief that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality, and the consequent belief that it is only right that society is organised for the benefit of the majority heterosexual population. In this sense h
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