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Dr Fiona Spotswood


I am a senior lecturer in management (marketing) with a particular interest in consumer research and social change. My areas of research expertise are twofold. Firstly, I explore consumption, particularly using practice theory. I am interested in how we are locked into patterns of consumption, whether that relates to technology, materialistic consumption or unsustainable consumption from an environmental perspective. I am particularly interested in how people change their practices.

The second stream of my research is social change. I have edited a book entitled 'Beyond Behaviour Change' and lead a seminar series (funded by the ESRC) with the same title. This research explores different cross-cutting issues in behaviour change, such as the role of marketing in creating and solving society's wicked problems. Within this stream I am particularly interested in social change programmes promoting physical activity, with an interest in their theoretical underpinnings. Within the lens of critical social marketing, I am interested in bringing insights from social practice theoretical research into the 'health' behaviour change space and in informing social marketing practice and scholarship.

I would welcome applications from potential PhD candidates wishing to explore areas which fit within my areas of interest and expertise. I have experience supervising students to completion across different faculties and using different methodologies. I am particularly interested in expressions of interest from students looking to explore existing conventions around behaviour change from a practice theoretical perspective. I have an expertise in ethnographic and qualitative methods but am open to suggestions of mixed methods from students who have seriously considered methodological rigor and fit. If you are interested in having a conversation about a possible PhD project please get in touch.

Current PhD supervisions:

  1. Eethnographic study of 'fast fashion' consumers. A study of consumer identity and behaviour.
  2. Mixed method exploration of the role of corporate business in the promotion of positive body image.


In collaboration with a colleague at Exeter University I am also looking for a strong PhD candidate to come forward to work on a proposal and application to the ESRC SW Doctoral Training College on the following topic:

We are looking to work with an excellent student to apply for ESRC SW Doctoral College funding for the following project:

Physical activity and the growth of the family

Physical activity is a key part of a healthy life, although it is well-established that large proportions of the population are less physically active than current public health guidelines recommend. New parents are a group who are known to experience a significant reduction in their physical activity participation after the birth of a baby.

The addition of a new baby to a family represents a time of great change. Adapting to becoming a first time parent may mean changes to sleep patterns, caring responsibilities, social groups and activities, financial responsibilities and working patterns, which will all influence the everyday routines of daily life. As such, while it is well established that being physically active can benefit physical, mental and social health (all of which may be challenged at this time), physical activity levels amongst parents during this period of family growth may be low. However, the nature of the changes in physical activity at a time of family growth and is not well understood.  

This PhD project will take a multimethod approach to provide the first detailed understanding of how and why physical activity changes around the growth of the family. The project will combine elements of systematic evidence reviewing, the use of objective measures (accelerometers) and novel data processing methods for mapping daily and weekly patterns of physical activity within new and growing families. It will also apply a novel theoretical stance (social practice theory) to understand the changes to family routines, and changes in physically active practices.

We are looking to work with an excellent student to apply for funding for the above project. The funding scheme is competitive but provides an outstanding opportunity for a capable research student to undertake world class research training and to undertake cutting edge social science research with a team of interdisciplinary supervisors.

If you are interested in undertaking a PhD in this novel and exciting field (based in Bristol), or if you would like further information please contact Dr Fiona Spotswood (Bristol – or Dr Richard Pulsford (Exeter – ) for an informal conversation. More information on the ESRC SW Doctoral Training programme requirements and admissions procedures is available here






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Department of Management