Seminar Series

Department of Social Sciences Seminar Series 2020

All seminars are held on Wednesday afternoons between 3.30pm and 5pm in Creative Edge CE102/103. Queries can be addressed to the seminar programme co-ordinator, Tom Cockburn on tom.cockburn@edgehill.ac.uk.


The Health Needs of Adult Care Leavers in the UK

 Dr Jim Goddard, University of Bradford
Wednesday 5 February 2020
 3.30pm – 5pm
Creative Edge, CE102/103

Dr Jim Goddard

Dr Jim Goddard, University of Bradford

In the past two decades the health of looked after children and younger care leavers in the United Kingdom – both mental and physical – has become an increasing focus of academic and government attention. Such attention has attempted to address widely-recognised deficits in the past health care of looked after children. However, the health issues facing adult care leavers of all ages have received little attention. In legislative, policy and research terms, the well-being of adults brought up in care as children largely disappears after the age of 25. This lacuna exists despite increasing evidence of the lifelong health consequences of childhood experiences of abuse and neglect; always the most common reasons why children enter care.

More information

This presentation discusses some of the key findings of a major research project, the first of its kind, investigating the health needs of adults of all ages who grew up in care (mainly foster or residential care) as children. The project was conducted under the auspices of a national service user charity, The Care Leavers Association, to which all the author is connected. The charity was funded by the UK’s Department of Health to conduct this research between 2014 and 2017 and set about this project in a number of ways:
1. an online survey of adult care leavers of all ages, generating 418 returned questionnaires,
2. an online survey of relevant professionals working within the National Health Service (NHS), generating over 200 returns,
3. focus groups with professionals in the ten NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups who were partners in the research project,
4. focus groups with adult care leavers in Manchester, Birmingham and London.

Brief biography

Dr Jim Goddard is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Bradford and Head of Division for the Division of Sociology and Criminology. He is also the long-standing Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Care Leavers Association, a national user-led charity for adult care leavers of all ages. He has been active in the social policy and social work fields of looked after children, young care leavers and adult care leavers for almost three decades.


‘He only knew before, the ceiling above him’: the transformative role of local Babas (grannies) in the de-institutionalisation of disabled children in Bulgaria.

Lindey Cookson, University of Sunderland
Wednesday 19 February 2020
 3.30pm – 5pm
Creative Edge, CE102/103

Lindey Cookson

Lindey Cookson, University of Sunderland

The practice of placing children without parental care in large institutions has a long history as a global phenomenon. Since the 1940s a continuous stream of research has highlighted the harmful effects of institutional life on children’s health and development. Babies, young children, and children with impairments are recognised as being particularly vulnerable to this type of care. Whilst other European countries have developed alternative care based around models of caregiving within ‘the family’, Bulgaria and other Central Eastern European countries have a history of much higher rates of children living in large scale institutional care and have been slower to develop de-institutionalisation strategies.

More information

This presentation is based on the findings from PhD research using Goffman’s construction of the ‘total institution’ to explore the harmful impact of collective life for children with impairments in Bulgaria. It examines the extent to which local surrogate grannies (Babas) can serve as a protective factor for the children. Findings show that the emotional investment and responsive care from the Baba changes the child’s identity to a child who belongs to a Baba rather than the institution, leading to significant changes in other aspects of the child’s life and transforming their typical daily experiences of anonymity, isolation and loneliness in the ‘total institution’. The Babas also challenge the overly dominant medical model of disability in Bulgaria which has led to a stigmatised identity and the overuse of institutional care for children with impairments.

Brief biography

Lindey is a Principal Lecturer in Childhood Studies at the University of Sunderland. Lindey began her working life as a Nursery Nurse, moving into other roles including FE lecturing and Early Years workforce development after completing a degree in Social Policy. Since 2005, Lindey has worked in Higher Education leading and teaching on Childhood Studies and Early Years programmes. Lindey has also spent time volunteering in large scale institutions for children in Bulgaria. Read more at www.sunderland.ac.uk/about/staff/social-sciences/lindeycookson.


The Dyslexia Friendly University

 Professor Rod Nicholson, Edge Hill University
Wednesday 4 March 2020
 3.30pm – 5pm
Creative Edge, CE102/103

Further details to be announced shortly.


Marginalised Youth Perspectives and Positive Uncertainty in Addis Ababa and Kathmandu

 Vicky Johnson, University of Sussex
 Wednesday 18 March 2020
 3.30pm – 5pm
Creative Edge, CE102/103

Vicky Johnson

Vicky Johnson, University of Sussex

Youth Uncertainty Rights (YOUR) World Research places youth perspectives as central to understanding how uncertainty features in their complex and precarious lives. Uncertainty is the defining concept in this comparative research that examines the lives of young women, men and youth who are gender fluid or of the third gender, as they grow up in insecure and changing cultural and political contexts. This project does not necessarily see uncertainty as negative. The research utilises the following theories: Johnson’s (2015) Change-scape that places youth identities, inclusion and ideas as central, and Bauman’s (2001) theories of the balance between security of family and community and youth seeking autonomy in a ‘liquid’ world. The teams in Ethiopia and Nepal work with marginalised and street connected young people to explore how they negotiate and navigate uncertainty in attempting pathways out of poverty as they shape their rights. The sometimes fearful feelings of not knowing the outcome of pressures from family and peers to migrate both internally and abroad, may be countered with a sense of expectation and excitement, as many youth, including those connected to the streets of Addis and Kathmandu as well as rural residents, otherwise face a situation of almost certain poverty.


Three dimensions of child power

Clara Rübner Jørgensen, University of Birmingham
Wednesday 1 April 2020
 3.30pm – 5pm
Creative Edge, CE102/103

Clara Rübner Jørgensen

Clara Rübner Jørgensen, University of Birmingham

Changing conceptions of children and childhood have in the last three decades led to an increasing focus on children’s participation and their rights to have a voice in decisions of relevance to them. These changes have been manifested in policies, practices and within research, where participation and decision-making are often interpreted as leading to increased power for children. With a few exceptions, claims to increased child power, however, do not give much consideration to the complex and multi-dimensional character of power, described within the extensive theoretical power literature.

More information

In this presentation, I draw on one theoretical approach, Lukes’ (1974; 2005) three dimensions of power, to critically analyse and explore the link between children’s participation and power. I discuss three particular examples of children’s active involvement; school councils in the UK, working children’s unions in Latin America and the recent global climate strikes (Fridays for the future), to illustrate different dimensions of power, and the many levels upon which power may operate within the context of children’ participation. Within all three examples, I analyse children’s potentially diverse experiences and intergenerational dynamics, arguing for a horizontal and distributive approach to power, which considers the various power differentials between children and adults and between children themselves, as well as potential convergence of interests and cross-generational alliances.

Brief biography

Clara Rübner Jørgensen is a Research Fellow within the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs, at the School of Education, University of Birmingham. She is a social anthropologist of background and has done qualitative and ethnographic research in a range of educational settings including in the UK, Spain and Latin America, where she has explored issues of educational inequality, school policy, school drop-out, children and young people’s schooling experiences, inclusion and friendships. Her current work centres on the intersections between migration, ethnicity and special educational needs in a comparative educational context and the participation, power and empowerment of children and other stakeholders in education and health. She has published widely in the areas of health and education and is co-editor of the 2020 World Yearbook of Education: Schooling, Governance and inequalities.


Conservation, consumption and control: The production of energetic bodies

Heidi Bickis
Wednesday 29 April 2020
 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Creative Edge, CE102/103

I examine how ideals of bodily energy circulate across three socio-cultural sites in which well-being and energy management are the focus: the NHS’s Live Well website; recent ad campaigns for the energy drink Red Bull; and the well-being consultancy firm, The Energy Project. I argue that these ideals both rely on and contribute to a bio-cultural imaginary in which bodies can avoid the disorder and disarray of tiredness and fatigue. In this imaginary, bodily energy is endlessly reproducible, measurable, and manageable. Embedded within these ideals is a ‘biomorality’ (Cederström and Spicer, 2015) that sets up a normative standard of individual well-being. Thus, a good embodied subject is one whose energy is well-managed and, therefore, plentiful.

Brief biography

Heidi Bickis is a sociologist who has written on aesthetics, art and social theory. She is co-editor of Rewriting Lyotard (2014) and has published in Thesis Eleven and Space and Culture. She is currently working on two projects: a series of co-authored papers that develop the idea of an aesthetic sociology and a project concerning the social production of embodied energies.

Find out more about our Seminar Series in 2018/19 and 2019/20.