Identities, Subjectivities and Inequalities research theme

Research theme within Social Science Research Group (SSRG).


The Identities, Subjectivities, and Inequalities research theme is a collective of researchers who focus on exploring the ways in which identities, subjectivities, and inequalities are produced.

Members focus on exploring how individuals make sense of their selves and the worlds they inhabit as well as on wider social practices and discourses.

Theme members are informed by a diverse range of academic disciplines including anthropology, cultural studies, education, politics, social psychology, social work, and sociology.

Areas of expertise

Members of the theme undertake research in a number of areas which include:

  • Gender
  • Sexualities
  • Disability studies
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Social class
  • Popular culture
  • Social movements
  • Migration
  • Nationalism
  • Politics
  • Feminist studies and feminist theories
  • Femininities and masculinities
  • Queer studies
  • Appearance, embodiment, and theories of the body
  • Relationships, intimacy, and family studies
  • Reproduction and having/not having children
  • Children and childhood studies
  • Youth and young people
  • Education and student identities
  • Qualitative methods

Recent and ongoing research projects

Recent and ongoing research projects which members of the theme are involved with include:

Constructions of emigration in UK daytime TV shows

Dr Sam Parker is exploring the ways in which migration from the UK to Australia and New Zealand is constructed as unproblematic in the TV show Wanted Down Under.

Constructions of wealth inequality and the super-rich in reality television

Dr Philippa Carr is working on a research project exploring how extreme wealth is legitimised in entertainment documentaries. 

Disability rights and robotics: Co-producing futures 2019-2020

This project brought together a team of 25 co-researchers from UWE Bristol, Fairfield Farm College and Wiltshire Centre of Independent Living.

The research question for the project was: How can robotic technologies support disability rights?

Key messages:

  • Disability rights - Co-production is working together to invest in developing the framework for understanding disability rights. Robotics engineers want to know preferred terms. Invest in careful preparation for working together. 
  • Driving robotics design – “Co-design is essential – without it, it is pointless!” We want to be involved in the design of inclusive, non-stigmatising robotic technology before a prototype is developed. As many different people as possible need to be involved so robots are friendly and exciting!
  • Equal access - We want to be able to use robotic technology in the future like everyone else; in schools, colleges, art galleries, for meetings. 
  • Communication - We want robots to be ready to understand a wide range of ways we communicate as well as learning our preferences – it is frustrating if demonstrations are not accessible. 
  • Privacy – it's is an entitlement and it’s enshrined in law.
  • Feelings - Systems engineers want to know how people are feeling, emotion, circumstances and need dialogue – purpose links to feelings. If robots are frightening, it will be off-putting, and watch out for potential to manipulate emotions and deceive.

ImaYDiT (“I Made It”): Imagining young disabled people’s transitions in a time of major societal change

Dr Tillie Curran is involved with this large extended project funded by Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) (£69,696.00). The project aims to engage with disabled young people and their parents, guardians and national service provided in order to explore the transition from childhood to adulthood and independent lives for disabled young people within a rapidly changing society. Find out more about the ImaYDiT ("I Made It") project.

Inclusive campus #SpeakUp anti-sexual violence social norms campaign

This inter-disciplinary academic project is funded by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (£50,000 Catalyst Funding) and comprises two projects:

Project 1Bystander initiative evaluation and development

  • Methods: Evaluate Bystander through pre/post questionnaires to 86 students followed by focus groups with 15 students.
  • Aim: Produce modified Bystander initiative training programme materials and academic papers.

Project 2Bystander social norms campaign

  • Methods: Work collaboratively with staff and students to embed the outputs from Project 1 evaluation into a university social norms campaign. 
  • Aim: Develop pro-social norms refined from Project 1 evaluation and ensure these are embedded in the University's #SpeakUp marketing campaign launched in September 2018. The pro-social norms would be evident in the elements of the campaign including an animated film, posters and webpages.

Project contacts: Dr Helen Bovill (Principal Investigator), Dr Richard Waller (Co-Investigator), and Professor Kieran McCartan (Co-Investigator). The project team also comprises Ana Miguel Lazaro (Project Lead, Student Inclusivity); Suzanne Carrie; Dr Thomas Smith; Rachel Colley; Justine ThaysenAlyssa Willis, UWE Bristol Student Union VP for Societies & Communication; UWE Bristol Student Union VP for Community & Welfare; and external experts Lisa Benjamin, Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS); Rueben Chatterjee, Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI); and Charlotte Gage (Bristol Zero Tolerance).

Intersecting identities: LGBTQ+ speakers of Welsh

Dr Sam Parker is working in collaboration with Dr Jonathan Morris in the School of Welsh at Cardiff University on this project that seeks to provide an in-depth exploration of how the identities of LGBTQ+ and Welsh speaker intersect.

LGBTQ+ people in motorsport

Dr Nikki Hayfield is currently working with a student to explore the experiences of those who are LGBTQ+ and working in motorsport settings with the support of Motorsport UK and Racing Pride.

Lesbian/Queer masculinities UK research

Dr Finn Mackay has been conducting research exploring lesbian and queer masculinities within the context of a society where increasing numbers of people (many from younger generations) are choosing to use terms other than lesbian to describe their gender and sexual identities. Learn more about the Lesbian/Queer Masculinities UK research project.

Let Toys Be Toys

Dr Finn Mackay leads the Let Toys Be Toys campaign which advises on the constraints that gender stereotypes can place on children. The materials include posters and booklets which offer ideas and tips for parents, relatives, and educators on how to encourage young people to enjoy all sorts of toys and activities, and how to raise children without relying on gender stereotypes.

Media and public perceptions of boat crossings in the English Channel

Dr Sam Parker analysed media reporting of the so-called “Channel migrant crisis” and also looked at public perceptions of the crossings using a story-completion method.

Nurture commodified: A political economy of the breastmilk industry

Dr Michal Nahman is working with Dr Susan Newman (College of Business and Law, UWE Bristol) on this project exploring the breastmilk industry.

Pansexuality and panromance

Dr Nikki Hayfield has been researching pansexual and panromantic people's experiences and understandings of their identities, with support from Karolína Křížová (Research Assistant funded by a BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme).

Qualitative Network

The Qualitative Network is for researchers across UWE Bristol (staff and doctoral students). The group aims to provide opportunities for members to network and collaborate, share good practice for teaching and research using qualitative methods and promote qualitative research. To find out more and join the network, please contact Dr Philippa Carr (

Refugee and asylum seekers' experiences of integration in Wales

Dr Sam Parker looked at the ways in which refugees and asylum seekers in Wales constructed their experiences of integration in Wales. It also looked at the ways in which policies relating to asylum seekers are discursively constructed.

ReproMigrants: A study of cross-border reproduction

Dr Michal Nahman is currently working on an ethnographic study of migrant women providing eggs for the multibillion-pound IVF industry.

Romantic relationships in a time of 'cold intimacies'

This project brought together a team of 25 co-researchers from UWE Bristol, Fairfield Farm College and Wiltshire Centre of Independent Living.

The research question for the project was: How can robotic technologies support disability rights?

Dr Julia Carter is currently working on this project with Lorena Arocha from the University of Hull, focusing on bringing together research on intimacy framed through the lens of Eva Illouz’s work on ‘cold intimacies’. We held our first conference at Canterbury Christ Church University in 2017 and our first edited collection has been published by Palgrave.

Story completion as a qualitative method

Dr Victoria Clarke and Dr Nikki Hayfield are members of and co-founded the Story Completion Research Group to develop and promote the use of story completion as a qualitative method. They have given numerous presentations and workshops at national and international conferences, published a special issue of the journal Qualitative Research in Psychology, written several 'how to' chapters and papers on story completion methodology, as well as publishing numerous empirical papers using story completion on topics including body hair, menopause, infidelity, and sexuality and appearance.

Supporting good practice in thematic analysis

Dr Victoria Clarke with her colleague at the University of Auckland (New Zealand), Professor Virginia Braun, have developed a widely used approach to thematic analysis now known as reflexive thematic analysis. They have published extensively on this method including their best-selling and award-winning book and companion website Thematic analysis: A practical guide. With theme member, Dr Nikki Hayfield, and Dr Gareth Terry at the Auckland University of Technology, they have published several 'how to' chapters. Nikki and Gareth have published their own book on reflexive thematic analysis, Essentials of thematic analysis, in the American Psychological Association Essentials of Qualitative Methods book series.

Understandings and experiences of peri/menopause

Dr Nikki Hayfield is currently working on projects that explore the ways that peri/menopause is understood and experienced.

Weddings and inequalities

Dr Julia Carter is working on a research project exploring the raced, classed and gendered nature of modern weddings in Britain. View a recent publication from this research.

Contact the theme leaders

For further information about this theme, please contact Dr Phlilippa Carr ( and Dr Julia Carter (

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