The Centre for Research and Families and Relationships International Conference, Edinburgh, June 22nd – 24th 2020

The concept of ‘intersectionality’ can be traced to the activism of black feminists in the USA confronting the challenges of two exceptionally powerful and prevalent systems of oppression: race and gender.  For our sixth international conference, we aim to create space for scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines to come together to discuss the implications and opportunities offered by the concept of intersectionality to the study of intimate relationships and families in global contexts.

Patricia Hill Collins will set the scene for our conference: Professor Collins is a key author and activist who has written extensively about the ways in which families and personal relationships are implicated in intersecting systems of oppression, both as aspects of the problem and as sites of resistance and transformation.

Papers are invited to address any aspect of the ways in which intimate relationships (including, but not restricted to, families, friendships, parent-child relationships, sibling or kin relationships, couples, sexual relationships) are implicated in fighting against or colluding with systems of oppression, injustice or inequality.  This might, for example, include how families or friendship groups form gendered and racially mixed or segregated communities of practice whose cultures may transmit either racism, or racial literacy and feminist informed anti-racist activism. Contributions could inquire into the use of intersectionality in diverse global contexts – enrolled in different ways, with diverse effects, in responding to, for instance, sexual health and reproductive rights.

Although we take it for granted that gender, race and class are fundamental inequalities in multiple contexts, participants may foreground inequalities in other domains such as religion, sexuality, ablebodiedness, age or life stages such as childhood and older age, nationality, and ethnicity.  Also, given the increasing threat of climate change, we welcome contributions that focus on the ways in which intersectionality, families and relationships impinge on concern for or neglect of environmental issues, including the implications of global warming for future generations and distant strangers.

A full Call for Papers has been announced and our deadline for submissions will be 31st August.   Click the link to submit your abstract.

Dr Mary Mitchell has undertaken research in collaboration with Children 1st and the Centre for Research on Family and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh asking about the contribution that FGC makes to longer- term outcomes for children at risk of being accommodated in Scotland and for their families. Her research in particular has identified the importance of giving outcomes identified by children and family members equal value to those identified for families by professionals.

The launch of this exciting new research about the impact of Family Group Conferencing (FGC) took place at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 20th September 2018, hosted by Daniel Johnson MSP.     Click to download the briefing.



CRFR PhD graduate, Dr Mary Mitchell is returning to the University of Edinburgh, taking up a lectureship in social work.  She passed her PhD in Social Policy in January 2018, on Reimagining Family group Conferencing ‘Outcome’ and also won the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science 2018 Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition.

A new briefing, highlighting recent publications and resources relating to GBV work in Scotland has been compiled by  Scottish GBV Research Network (of practitioners and researchers)  and the University of Glasgow GBV Research Forum . Download the briefing here.

Congratulations to Patricio Cuevas-Parra who has successfully defended his PhD thesis ‘Exploring child-led research:Case studies from Bangladesh, Lebanon and Jordan’. His research critically explores how the process and outcomes of children and young people’s participation in their own child-led research contributes, positively or negatively, to decision-making processes in the context of international development programmes. Patricio drew on the intensive specialist training of the MSc in Childhood Studies, including how to ethically and meaningfully engage children and young people in research.Patricio has been based in Social Policy at the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, supported by CRFR.


Congratulations to CRFR PhD Graduate Dr Mary Mitchell and CRFR Associate PhD student Arianne Critchley who have achieved success in the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science 2018 Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition.

Mary was announced as the winner for her work Reimagining Family Group Conferencing ‘Outcomes’

Ariane was one of the runners up for her work Quickening Steps: An Ethnography of Pre-birth Child Protection

Read more here

Projects involving two of our researchers feature as Case Studies in a new report from Children in Scotland on ‘The Impact of Children and Young People’s Participation on Policy Making’.

The report was commissioned by the Scottish Government to explore the impact of children and young people’s participation on national and local policy making in Scotland.

Dr Claire Houghton supported young people to lead a consultation event to inform the Equally Safe delivery plan.

Dr Christina McMellon supports young people through the Young Edinburgh Action project.


CRFR Associate Director Lorraine van Blerk is one of the research team on ‘Growing up on the Streets’, an innovative participatory research project following the lives of young people as they live and grow up on the streets of three African cities. It aims to bridge the gap between legislation and political attitudes, and street children’s realities.

Working with teams in the three countries, the project created a network of over 200 street children and youth, 18 of whom acted as research assistants, gathering information on the lives of their peers. With over 3,000 interviews and focus groups, it forms the largest ever database of the lives of young street people.

The team has produced an interactive web app, a story map of life growing up on the streets in Accra, which was funded by prize money received winning the University of Dundee’s Stephen Fry Award for Public Engagement Project of the Year 2017.

Take a look at:

Through the City of Edinburgh’s Council Young Edinburgh Action (YEA) group, CRFR researcher Christina McMellon works to facilitate young people’s participation in partnership working and decision-making in order to improve services for young people and make the changes they would like to see. At a day’s event attended by young people across Edinburgh, it was clear they felt strongly that gender stereotypes need to be challenged, especially when children are very young.  Working alongside illustrator Nick Dodd, and after receiving sponsorship from WhiteWater Publishing Ltd, the group of 13-18 year-olds decided to write a book to challenge these stereotypes in a fun and engaging way.

The end result is ‘Alex & Charlie’, a story about Alex’s first day at school, making friends, sharing and adventures with a gentle theme of challenging gender stereotypes weaved all the way through.

The book will be available together with a teachers’ pack to support children’s learning.

If you would like to know more about this project please email Christina McMellon

Congratulations go to CRFR Associate Researcher Amy Chandler. Her book ‘Self‐Injury, Medicine & Society’ is joint winner of the 2017 BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize.

Amy’s book shows that in order to understand self-injury, it is necessary to engage with widely circulating narratives about the nature of bodies, including that they are separate from, yet containers of ’emotion’. Using a sociological approach, the book examines what self-injury is, how it functions, and why someone might engage in it.

For more details click here.

Thursday 9 April 2019  – 1pm to 3pm
LG11, David Hume Tower,  Edinburgh  EH8 9JX

Sonia Livingstone
London School of Economics and Political Science

Parents have to imagine several decades into the future, for their children will grow up in a world not yet known, to do jobs not yet invented. How do they think about this, and plan for this, in the present? For the “Parenting for a Digital Future” project I and my colleagues have conducted in-depth research with some 70 families. We find that, through their construction of parenting philosophies which vest effort and values in ordinary tasks, enacting an everyday calculus of what is worth doing and what is problematic, parents are finding ways to navigate the uncertain path between the present and the future. Our fieldwork also reveals a considerable diversity in parenting practices and imaginaries, rendering alternative lifestyles ‘ordinary’ while the supposedly typical proves relatively elusive, perhaps itself part of the imaginary of parenting. The project is framed within theories of late modernity and the risk society as a way of critically examining how, on the one hand, parents are increasingly burdened yet isolated, tasked with moral responsibility not only for their child but for the future of society as it rests upon today’s children, and, on the other hand, how the digital is positioned – by governments and commerce as well as by parents, teachers and children themselves – as a vital (though not sole) route to a better future.

Sonia Livingstone DPhil (Oxon), FBA, FBPS, FAcSS, FRSA, OBE is a professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She researches media audiences, especially children’s and young people’s risks and opportunities, media literacy, and rights in the digital environment, and is author of 20 books including “The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age.”.

She currently directs the projects “Children’s Data and Privacy Online,” “Parenting for a Digital Future” and “Global Kids Online” (with UNICEF). Since founding the33 country EU Kids Online research network, Sonia has advised the UK government, European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe, OECD and UNICEF, among others, on children’s internet risks, safety, media literacy and rights in digital environments. She blogs at See

To reserve a place click here


An informal seminar is being held on Wednesday 27 February 2019 in the Seminar Room at CRFR, 23 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh  EH8 9LN at 12.30pm to 1.30pm

For more information and to reserve a place click below


Both of the seminars below are fully booked

Two forthcoming Centre for Research on Families and Relationships seminars on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and resilience. Both seminars are FREE to attend and open to all. 

We especially welcome those working outside academia to join us. 

ACEs, resilience and the early years – Ariane Critchley and Dr Lynn McNair

Monday 25th February 2019, 12.30-2pm
Room 3.3 Lister Learning & Teaching Centre, 5 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh  EH8 9SU

The early years and early intervention are a cornerstone of Scottish policy, with investment being a key route to preventing problems later in life and improving Scotland’s social problems. The growing interest in ACEs and resilience-led interventions have provided an opportunity to re-focus on the importance of early experiences on later outcomes. In this seminar we will discuss how ACE aware practice is shaping early years and childcare settings, and what this means for children, families and professional learning.  Ariane Critchley, will examine the ways child protection social work with unborn babies and their expectant mothers has been informed by current discourses around ACES, opening up the difficult conversation about why and how the state should intervene to prevent harm. Dr Lynn McNair was Head of Cowgate Under Fives Centre in Edinburgh and is now a Senior Teaching Fellow at Moray House School of Education.  Lynn will talk about the ways discourse on ACEs and resilience is shaping early childhood practice, and in particular its relationship to, and impact on, Froebalian principles.


Adverse Childhood Experiences? Gendered dimensions and feminist perspectives – Professor Jane Callaghan

Tuesday 12th March 2019, 12.30pm-2pm
Room LG.09, David Hume Tower, Edinburgh  

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) model promotes a cumulative model of developmental trauma that suggests that the more ACES a child experiences, the more likely they are to experience negative health, mental health and educational outcomes.  In this seminar, Professor Jane Callaghan will explore the value inherent in this model (particularly in terms of popularising an understanding of the potential impact of trauma on children’s lives), but also consider its limitations, as a model that is individualist, and overly dependent on a neurodevelopmental account. In particular, the seminar will highlight the gendered assumptions and implications of the model, exploring ACES through an intersectional feminist lens. 

If you would like to attend either seminar please email  to register. 

For more information about the event and speakers, click here


Monday 3 December 2018

Ongoing Legacies International Research Network (OLIRN) and Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) are holding a conference on Monday 3 December 2018.  

The OLIRN research network interrogates contemporary and future approaches to the ongoing impact of social injustice and inequalities associated with four research fields and their intersections – gender, sexuality, ethnicity, indigeneity

Click for draft programme

To reserve a free place on the above event, please click here.

Dr Zhang Chun is visiting from Shenzhen city of Guangdong (Canton) Province, one of the most dynamic cities in the Southeast China near Hong Kong. She works at Normal College, Shenzhen University, and has been a Senior lecturer in the Preschool Education Department for  over 13 years.

Her current and recent research interests include: young children’s policy (how the government policy protects the children’s right and impacts on children’s education; comparing the early childhood education policy between Scotland and China); preschool children’s play and play environment (she is especially  interested in the forest kindergartens); and transitions from early childhood education and elementary education.

Should you have similar interests to Zhang Chun, please do get in touch with her directly at

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