Professor Ellie Lee

Professor of Family and Parenting Research,
Director, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies
+44 (0)1227 827526
Professor Ellie Lee


Professor Ellie Lee joined the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) as a member of staff in 2004, having researched her PhD thesis in the late 1990s as a student in the Centre for Women’s Studies in the school. From 2000 to 2004, she was a lecturer at Southampton University and then a research fellow there working on a study about teenage pregnancy and abortion. 

In 2010, with colleagues from the University of Kent, Professor Lee set up the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies as a research network concerned with the way “parenting” has been constructed as a social problem in Britain and in many other countries and she frequently discusses her research in the media.

Research interests

Professor Lee’s PhD thesis considered the development and effects of the claim made by those who oppose legal abortion that many women suffer from a “post abortion syndrome” after they terminate a pregnancy. After completing her PhD, she carried out a comparative analysis of the abortion issue in the US and Britain, investigated what has been termed ‘the syndrome society’, and considered the ways in which the emotional effects of birth and the early stages of parenthood have been ‘medicalised’. She became influenced by social constructionist sociology, in particular by what has been termed ‘contextual constructionism’, and persuaded by the insights this approach offers for understanding social problems and the development of policy. The outcome of this work and thinking was published in 2003 as 'Abortion, Motherhood and Mental Health: Medicalizing Reproduction in the U.S. and Britain'. 

Professor Lee's longest standing research area is abortion policy and provision. Over the past decade she has led research projects funded by organisations, including the Economic and Social Research Council, on feeding babies, ‘no drinking’ advice for pregnant women, welfare of the child assessments in IVF clinics, and ‘neuroparenting’ policies.  

Professor Lee's current research explores why everyday issues, for example, how mothers feed their babies, turn into major preoccupations for policy makers and become heated topics of wider public debate. The work she does draws on constructionist theories of social problems and sociological concepts such as 'risk consciousness' and 'medicalisation' to analyse the evolution of family policy and health policy.   


Professor Lee teaches social policy modules concerned with the family, parenting culture and reproductive health at undergraduate and postgraduate level.


Contact Professor Lee if you are interested in researching any aspect of social or policy developments related to reproductive health, motherhood or parenting.


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