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Gender and Sexualities

The Sex, Gender, Identity, Power and Risk programme is an interdisciplinary group from sociology, psychology and criminology. Projects and research interests cover a diverse range of topics which relate to issues around the programme key themes. An example of questions considered by this group includes:


  • What is the nature and extent of sexual practices?
  • What sexual acts defined as crimes, and why?
  • How is sexuality expressed in bodily practices such as dress, language and practices?

  • How does a person’s gender inform practice?
  • How are different genders responded to and dealt with in the criminal justice system?
  • What is the nature and extent of gender inequalities?

  • How identity is constructed, reconstructed and negotiated?
  • How identity is expressed and managed?
  • How can having different/divergent identities can lead to inequalities and disadvantage?

  • How is power operationalized, negotiated and managed.
  • How is power responded to explicitly or implicitly?
  • What is the nature and extent of power?
  • Who holds power and why, and what impacts can this have for vulnerable sections of society.

  • What risks are considered to be most pressing and why?
  • What are risks and who is at risk?
  • What are the impacts of risky behaviour?
For further details please contact the Programme Leaders:

Current Projects

‘Masculinities and Experiences of the Body after Bladder Cancer’

Dr Peter Branney

This project will involve conducting a synthesis of qualitative research about experiences of the body after surgery for bladder cancer. This is part of a systematic research review that I am conducting with Dr Maxine Woolhouse and Prof Kerry Chamberlain (Massey Uni, New Zealand).
This research will be of particular interest to National Health Service and Charitable agencies in the practice planning of support and after care of men who have received surgery for bladder cancer.

‘“Be a man and accept your breasts”: A discursive exploration of men’s online accounts of gynecomastia acceptance’

Dr Katy Day and Dr Paula Singleton

The study analyses the discourses drawn upon in online talk between men living with ‘excessive’ breast tissue (“gynecomastia”). Whereas previous research (Singleton, 2012) has explored the experiences of men opting for the surgical removal of such breast tissue, the current study focuses on the joint discursive constructions of men who are attempting to accept and in some cases embrace their gynecomastia. It is anticipated that the study will make a valuable contribution to research on masculinities, health and embodiment and be of use to health professionals and individuals living with gynecomastia.

Sex in Prison

Dr Sarah Kingston and Dr James Woodall

This project seeks to explore the nature, extent and responses to dealing with sexual activities that take place in prison settings. The developing study will seek to interview ex-prisoners and retired prison staff in the first instance, due to ethical and research constraints, to draw upon their experiences and knowledge of who engages in sexual activities in prison (whether between inmates or staff), how and where these activities take place and how prisons are dealing with and responding to sexual relations within prison settings. The research  will be of use to stakeholders across the criminal justice and probation system.

The Police, Sex Work and Section 14 of The Policing and Crime Act 2009

Dr Sarah Kingston and Professor Terry Thomas

Using the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this study sought to determine how all 43 police forces across England and Wales were using Section 14 of The Policing and Crime Act 2009. Section 14, amended the Sexual Offences Act 2003 by adding a new Section 53A. The new section makes it an offence in England and Wales to pay for the services of a prostitute who has been coerced into providing sexual services; the section was implemented from 1 April 2010. After nearly four years’ experience of s14 research the research revealed that the section is hardly ever used by the police. This raises questions about either the need for this law and/or the inherent difficulties the police have in identifying women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation. The findings of this study are published in The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice (2014): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hojo.12060/abstract

‘Cultures and Migration’

Dr Anna Pechurina

In a broad outline, my research interests lie in the area of interdisciplinary sociological research, and run through the following key fields: material culture and home studies; diasporas, migration, and cultural identity; Russian identity and culture. The primary focus of my current research is a monograph based on my PhD study. The manuscript is contracted to Palgrave Macmillan has the working title ‘Material Cultures, Migrations, and Identity’ and an anticipated completion date of May 2014. Other current projects include an exploration of post-Soviet international migration and a study of post-Socialist gendered identities in the media.

The innovative nature of the methodological approach offered in the monograph (Home Interviews and Visual Research) will be of interest for those who teach and study qualitative methods and also for those who use qualitative methods in their research practice, especially in the context of transnational migration. The monograph can be recommended as a teaching material on the following modules: ‘Qualitative Methods in Sociology’, ‘Sociology of Culture and Migration’, ‘Sociology of Material Culture’, ‘Visual Sociology’.

The illustrated monograph seeks to provide an overview of ethnographic research methods used to study material cultures, including qualitative interviews at home, sensory methods and visual research focusing on several case studies which derive from my doctoral thesis. The discussion is framed around three themes: homemaking and decorating practices; food and cooking practices; clothing and dressing practices. Each field relates to a different dimension of the concept of home and involves specific sets of meanings that help migrants create a sense of being at home and belonging to an imagined community.

‘Quantified self, self-tracking and gender’

Dr Chris Till

A significant uptake in the use of 'body tracking' practices and devices in recent years are having considerable impacts on how people experience and understand their relationship towards their health, self, others and technologies. Gendered differences with regard to style and level of engagement have been identified which have potential public health implications as well as for notions of health and identity.

The research will be of use to quantified-self groups (such as weight watchers and self-tracking exercise networks) and health and sports sector professionals.

‘Young women negotiating classed femininities’

Dr Maxine Woolhouse, Dr Bridgette Rickett and Dr Katy Day

As part of my doctoral research I conducted a number of focus groups with teenage girls around the themes of food, eating and femininities. I am now undertaking further analysis which will explore the intersection between class and gender in relation to food and eating. The research will be of use to health and social care professionals engaged with eating ‘problems’.

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