I joined Keele University as Professor of Social and Health Psychology and Head of School in October 2020. Prior to that I was a Professor of Psychology at University of Bradford since 2016 and in that period served as Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer and Head of Psychology. I have a BSc and PhD from Loughborough University, as well as a PGCE from the University of Leicester. I have held lectureships at Coventry University, the University of Derby, Loughborough University, University of Huddersfield and most recently Bradford before joining Keele. I have also previously been a Visiting Professor in Social & Health Psychology at the University of Derby.
I am committed to a vision of psychology as a broad and diverse discipline and has strong links with the British Psychological Society (BPS), having been a previous Chair of Social Psychology section, committee member of Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMiP) section, Deputy-Chair of the BPS Research Board, a Trustee (2015-2017) and Past Chair of the Psychology of Women and Equalities Section (POWES). In terms of international links, I am the Secretary of the International Society for Critical Health Psychology (ISCHP) and one of the founding members of the European Association for Qualitative Research in Psychology (EQUiP). I am a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
- British Psychological Society, Past Chair of Psychology of Women & Equalities Section, Previous Social Psychology Chair, Deputy-Chair of BPS Research Board, Ethics Committee & Trustee.
- Secretary of ISCHP: International Society for Critical Health Psychology (ISCHP) and previous International Representative.
- Founding member and International Committee of Association of European Researchers in Psychology (EQUiP)
Research and scholarship
I am a critical social/health psychologist and has research interests around gender, parenting, health and identities. Whilst coming from a psychological perspective, this research is highly interdisciplinary and I work with, and across, the social, health and life sciences.
For the past few years my research work has focused on issues around health, gender and identity and I have applied this focus to issues around wellbeing in parenting and gendered identities. Using a combination of qualitative methodologies (including thematic analysis, Critical Discursive Psychology, Discourse Analysis) and data collection methods (media representations, documentary analysis, interviews & focus groups, naturalistic ‘real world’ settings), and from a broadly critical psychological approach, my research focuses in on a number of key but over-lapping areas.
Parenting Experiences & Identities: Mothers, Fathers and Carers
I have considered discursive and experiential accounts of motherhood, fatherhood and social constructions of ‘good parenting’. I am particularly interested in the advice that is given to new parents. My research work is a mix of individual projects and collaborations with others. I have considered maternal identities in a range of different experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood, including birth stories, timing of pregnancy and infant feeding experiences.
I am particularly interested in gendered binaries of caring when decisions are made as to ‘who cares?’ I have considered this with regards to stay-at-home-dads, that is, fathers who have taken on the primary caregiving role for their children using a combination of media analysis and unstructured interviews.
Infant feeding decisions remain one of the contentious aspects of early parenting. My stream of research work has focused in on a number of different aspects of infant feeding. I have focused on the ways in which advice is given in pregnancy and early parenting with regards methods of infant feeding. These have used a discursive lens and focused in on media representations of infant feeding, advice to expectant and new parents and the ‘teaching’ of infant feeding. My examination of these areas is located within a wider backdrop of structural influences on infant feeding decisions and I have inputted some of this work with local councils and relevant stakeholders. I was a core member of an ESRC Seminar Series on ‘Social experiences of breastfeeding: building bridges between research and policy’ that culminated in an edited collection https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/social-experiences-of-breastfeeding where I contributed a chapter on locating infant feeding decisions in contemporary parenting ideologies.
Social Media, Relationships and Gender
I have been developing a stream of research into social media for some time now. Part of this work is in collaboration with colleagues researching social media usage in families where I work with colleagues as part of the Networking Families research group on a series of work around families, relationships and social media.
A second stream of work in social media relates to gendered identities and practices, particularly with regards to gender and ‘hate talk’. This began with a special issue of Feminism & Psychology (https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/fap/28/1) that considered social media’s place as both a space to offer support and solidarity to women whilst also blaming and victimising through ‘hate talk’, for example. This work continues to develop in particular considering the ways in which gender is operationalised in ‘hate talk’.
- Module Team Member PSY-40036 MSc Qualitative Research Methods
- Module Team Member PSY-40079 Advanced Study in Health Inequalities
Postgraduate Research Supervision
I have been involved in postgraduate supervision since the beginning of my career in the areas of psychology and critical social science. I supervise in the areas social psychology, health psychology, social work and social policy, health sciences using a variety of qualitative methodologies (discourse analysis, critical discursive psychology, thematic analysis, IPA, constructionist grounded theory).
I have a number of PhD completions around the areas of critical health psychology, reproduction and parenting, gender and identities. I am also an experienced PhD examiner and have examined work at an international level.
I am open to new supervisions in the areas of reproduction and parenting, including infant feeding (including breastfeeding, weaning, alternative feeding methods), contemporary parenting cultures, maternal and paternal identities, and gendered identities. Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss any of these areas further.
I am also currently involved in the following supervisions at doctoral level:
- Amirah Akhtar, “Postnatal depression in the South Asian community”, University of Bradford.
- Lisa Milne, “Exploring mothers’ and infants’ subjective experiences of their relationship”, University of Bradford.
- Simran Bassra, “British born South Asian Women in Bradford: Diasporic and Gender Identities”, University of Bradford.
- Megan Hermolle, “Rape Stereotype Acceptance in the General Population of England and Wales”, Keele University.
I am the current Editor in Chief of Health Psychology Open https://journals.sagepub.com/home/hpo
I currently sit on the Editorial Boards of Feminism and Psychology and the Journal of Health Psychology, having previously also sat on the board of Psychology and Health.