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Professor of Sociology, University of Bristol

My research is on families, parenting, fathers, intimacy, poverty, inequality and gender.

My current research is developing a sociological account of 'good' parenting that is both conceptually robust and practically relevant. This partly developed out of interest in national and cross-national policy and popular discourse on parenting. I was awarded a University of Bristol research fellowship on the concept and measurement of parenting in 2013-2014, and in 2014 a JSPS International Fellowship at Kyoto University, Japan to undertake comparative research on good parenting. This fits with my overarching interest in the theorisation of family life and how best to understand parenting.

Previously, Displaying Families (edited with Julie Seymour) (Palgrave 2011) examined current themes in the theorisation of personal/ family life focusing on the significance of credibility and audience in family practices.

I have a longstanding interest in fatherhood. Intimate Fatherhood (Routledge, 2008) set out a new framework for thinking about men’s parenting. I have continued working in this area with a British Academy funded project on post-separation fathering Fragile Fathering: negotiating intimacy and risk in parenting practice (with Jacqui Gabb and Brid Feathersone) and most recently a special issue on contemporary fatherhood for Families, Relationships and Societies (2015) (edited with Tina Millar), a University of Bristol project entitled Conversations with Fathers (2016) (PI Jon Ives), and an edited book on fatherhood and methods (with Caroline Gattrell) to be published by Policy Press in 2017.

I have also been closely involved with exploring the relationship between familes, gender and poverty as a member of the Poverty and Social Exclusion 2012 team funded by a large ESRC grant ( Work in this area is ongoing including analysis of intra-household poverty (with Christina Pantazis). I am co-editing (with Gill Main, Leeds) the first volume of results of the PSE survey (Policy, Bristol 2017).

I am currently the Research Director for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law; associate editor of the journal Families, Relationships and Societies; and board member of the European Sociological Association Research Network on Families and Relationships (RN13).


  • –present
    Professor of Sociology, University of Bristol