My research focuses on embodiment and age. Over the last decade I have been engaged in a series of research projects exploring the role of dress in the constitution of age. The first of these, funded by ESRC, looked at women and dress, and was published as Fashion and Age: Dress, the Body and Later Life (Bloomsbury). The second, undertaken with Dr Christina Buse and funded by ESRC, explored the role of dress in supporting the embodied personhood of people with dementia. The third, funded by Leverhulme Trust, extends the analysis to older men. All three studies are concerned with the ways in which dress and age intersect, and the role of the concrete materiality of clothing in the expression of social identities.
My work is part of the growing interest in the cultural constitution of later years, exemplified in the rise of cultural gerontology. With Wendy Martin I edited The Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology published in 2015.
My earlier work addressed issues of health and social care. I have argued for the recognition of carework as a form of bodywork, and have written about The Body in Health and Social Care (Palgrave).
I joined the teaching department at Kent in 1996. Previously I had been in the Social Policy department of the University of Hull. My earlier social policy career was in two research units: Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of York, and Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at University of Kent.
My first degree was in History from the University of Durham followed by MSc and PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics.
Room CW NE 214
Cornwallis North East
University of Kent
Kent CT2 7NF
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
My research focuses on embodiment and age. Over the last decade, I have been engaged in a series of research projects exploring the role of dress in the constitution of age. The first of these, funded by ESRC, looked at women and dress, and was published as Fashion and Age: Dress, the Body and Later Life (Bloomsbury). The second, undertaken with Dr Christina Buse and also funded by ESRC, explored the role of dress in supporting the embodied personhood of people with dementia. The third, funded by Leverhulme Trust, extends the analysis to older men. All three studies are concerned with the ways in which dress and age intersect, and the role of the concrete materiality of clothing in the expression of social identities.
For a fuller account see the Clothing & Age website.
I am co-convenor with Dr Wendy Martin of the British Sociological Association Ageing, Body and Society Study Group. The group has an active programme of seminars and day conferences with international speakers.
The body in social care
I have a particular interest in the body in social care and in 2000 published an analysis of the provision of personal care: Bathing, the Body and Community Care, Routledge. This was based on an ESRC-funded study of personal care that looked at provision from the viewpoint of both providers (careworkers and recipients), older and disabled people.
I have written on informal or family based care, particular in relation to the presence or otherwise of support for carers and its effectiveness: Carers Perceived: Policy and Practice in Informal Care, Open University. (PDF) I have also engaged in comparative work on this subject.
Food and diets
I have a long term interest in the sociology of food. I have written on the history and ideology of the vegetarianism in Britain in the nineteenth end twentieth centuries. I have recently contributed to an historical analysis of Modern Asceticism that encompasses food practices. I interested in obesity and eating disorders, the control of the body and food, and food and older people.
I have undertaken research on a range of subjects including:
- Study of bathing and personal care for older people, ESRC-funded, Bathing – the Body and Community Care, Routledge, 2000
- Support for informal carers, funded by the Department of Health and undertaken at Social Policy Research Unit, University of York. Twigg, J and Atkin, K. Carers Perceived, Open University Press 1994
- International comparisons in relation to informal care, OECD funded.
- Evaluation of domiciliary care for older people, Department of Health funded, PSSRU, University of Kent
- Vegetarianism in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a study in the structure of an ideology
My interests cross the borders of sociology and social policy and I am keen to supervise students in the areas of my past and current research, as well as in fields where I have a reading and research interest but am not currently doing research. These include:
- Clothing and dress
- The body in health and social care
- Ageing and the body
- Cultural theories of ageing
- Social care and older people
- Home care and residential services
- Carework and the care workforce
- Spatial and temporal analysis of social and health care
- Cultures of bathing
I would be particularly interested in supervising studies on the following:
- Older men and clothing
- Aesthetic labour at work: age discrimination, and the management of appearance through clothing at work for 50+
- Role of institutional dress in relation to long stay faculties in the past for both older and disabled people, a historical study
- Ethnographic study of the role of clothing within long term care facilities
- Ethnographic study of food in care institutions
- Work on design of clothing for older people
- Hairdressing and appearance in relation to older women
- Clothing and death
If you have a proposal in these areas and you are interested in studying at the University of Kent, please email me to discuss further.
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I teach a variety of subjects across the school. My specialist areas include: The Social Politics of Food and Social Care. I also teach on postgraduate courses and act
as a PhD supervisor.
- Joint convener of BSA Study Group Ageing, Body and Society.
- Editorial board member of Journal of Social Policy.
- Editorial board member of Ageing & Society.
- Editorial board member of Journal of Aging Studies.
- Editorial board member of International Journal of Ageing and Later Life.
My work and interests
A lecture where I speak on fashion and age
(a Think Kent video)