Group members

Tim Fowler - Group lead

Lecturer in Political Theory, Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

Tim’s PhD dealt with the issue of with parental rights, and particularly whether parents have rights to send their children to religious schools. My work concerns the ethics of intergenerational relations, including the rights of parents, children’s place in democracy and the obligations of current generations to future generations.

Esther Dermott

Reader in Sociology, Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

Esther’s research is on families, parenting, intimacy, poverty, inequality and gender. She has a longstanding research interest in fatherhood examining the culture and conduct of fatherhood in the UK drawing on qualitative and quantitative methods. Recent work in this area includes a British Academy funded project on post-separation fathering  and a special issue on contemporary fatherhood for Families, Relationships and Societies. More broadly she is interested how best to understand contemporary parenting culture and measure ‘good’ parenting.  Her most recent published work has focused on: the policy discourse on parenting and poverty; quantitative analysis of the relationships between parenting practices, poverty and education; and comparative analysis of parenting policies in Japan and the UK. She is currently analysing the relationship between family form, parenting and poverty using the ESRC Poverty and Social Exclusion study and is undertaking comparative research on good parenting between Japan and the UK.

Emma Hitchings

Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol Law School.

Emma's main research interests lie in the field of family law and in particular, financial provision on divorce. Currently, Emma is involved with a funded research project with Joanna Miles (Cambridge University) to undertake empirical research into final settlements in financial remedy cases following the research gaps identified in the Final Report of the Family Justice Review. The first report from this project focused on the 'how, when and why' of settlement and was published in November 2013. The next phase of the project, due to be progressed in 2015, will examine the content of settlements reached.

Her other recent empirical work in the financial remedy field has included a project investigating family solicitors' responses to the impact of leading ancillary relief jurisprudence in the 'everyday case' and two empirical research projects into how practitioners advise clients where a marital (or civil partnership) property agreement was required (funded by the Law Commission). 

Most recently Emma has been involved with a research project investigating litigants in person in private family law cases as part of a Consortium (led by Professor Liz Trinder – Exeter) and funded by the Ministry of Justice. The group carried out a study to develop the existing evidence base on the range of self-represented persons in private cases, their behavioural drivers and their impact on the court system. The research report was published by the Ministry of Justice in November 2014.

Judith Masson

Professor of Socio-legal Studies, University of Bristol Law School.

Judith’s work is in child law, particularly empirical studies on the intersection of law and social work in child protection, child care and adoption, using mixed methods including analysis of court files and other legal records, observations of professional encounters, meetings and court hearings and interviews. This work is supported by contextual analysis of law and policy in England and Wales and a range of other jurisdictions, using more traditional legal methods. Her current work focuses on reform to child protection proceedings, the impact of these reforms on legal process, decision making and outcomes for children. Earlier work has examined step-parent adoption; representation of children in child protection proceedings: Out of Hearing (1999); partnership with parents of looked after children Lost and Found (1999); and emergency child protection intervention: Protecting Powers (2007); care: Care Profiling Study (2008): legal representation of parents in care proceedings: Pearce et al, Just following Instructions? (2011); and the operation and impact of the pre-proceedings process for care proceedings: Partnership by law? (2013) She has been a specialist adviser for Parliamentary Committees and a member of the Judicial Studies Board. From 2004-2011 she was the academic member of the Family Justice Council.

Maud Perrier

Lecturer in Sociology, Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

Maud has written about feminist theory and pedagogy, emotions and contemporary families and uses psychosocial and arts based methodologies such as collective biography.  Maud’s doctoral research examined the timing of motherhood and the classed politics of mothering which has been published in Sociology, Sociological Review and an edited collection entitle Is Parenting a Class Issue? and she has also written about the representation of mothers in the media in an edited collection Mediated Moms: Mothers in Popular Culture. In 2014 she was awarded a World Universities Network mobility fellowship to the University of Western Australia to undertake research on the affective politics of women’s relationships in the Academy. She is starting a new project in collaboration with the Single Parents Action Network in Easton and the arts collective MakingLearning about the use of craft in parenting and feminist education entitled ‘Making Mothers: a Critical Making Toolkit for engaging Young Mothers and Parenting Practitioners’.

Dr Jo Staines

Senior Lecturer, School for Policy Studies

Jon Symonds

Senior Associate Teacher, School for Policy Studies.

Jon has recently completed his PhD which investigated how fathers and other partners were recruited to parenting services. By analysing recordings of initial telephone calls between parenting practitioners and parents referred for parenting support, he identified more and less successful interactional practices that were employed to involve fathers. As well as his own experiences as a father and of being fathered, he also draws on his professional background as a child and family social worker with experience of setting up a parenting service and working with parents to improve the welfare of their children. His research interests include fatherhood, parenting, Conversation Analysis and the application of research findings to inform and improve professional practice.

Debbie Watson

Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies, School for Policy Studies.

Debbie’s interests are primarily in children's wellbeing and identities in diverse contexts and forms and the interactions between family wellbeing and childhood experiences- particularly for children growing up in impoverished and challenging contexts. She is interested in support provided for children and families and the policy discourses that surround welfare provisions for children and families and how these challenge critical feminist perspectives on, particularly the role of mothers and the experiences of motherhood, as they stigmatise and isolate some families in society- such as the poorest, young and single parents.

Dinithi Wijedasa

Research Associate in the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies, School for Policy Studies.

Dinithi has been involved in numerous research studies, which include looking at pathways to permanence in the care system for minority ethnic children; educational support services provided by independent foster care providers; an evaluation of a new model for providing adoption services; adoption and the inter-agency fee; the reunification of looked after children with their parents; transition to adulthood for adopted young people; and adoption disruption in England and Wales.  Dinithi is currently working on an ESRC funded study to establish the number and the characteristics of kinship families in the UK through analyses of 2011 Census microdata.

Junko Yamashita

Lecturer in Contemporary Japanese Society, Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

Junko’s research expertise can be mapped around the intersection of social policy, sociology and gender studies. She is concerned with using comparative analysis of East Asian and European welfare states. Her current research explores the interaction of care policy, the evaluation of care work, the division of care labour market and gender. Recent publications and research funding has included comparative analysis of parenting in family policies in Japan and the UK and analysis of family-centred care regimes in East Asia. She also has a long-term interest in civil society, particularly the roles and functions of non-profit organisations (NPOs) and people participating in their activities.

Gozde Burger, PhD candidate, SPS

Jessica Roy, PhD candidate, SPS

Ebba Vobora, PhD candidate, SPAIS

Edit this page