Research interests

My research interests cover a number of areas. I have a particular interest in bringing together sociological ideas and concepts, and seeing how they can be applied within policy and practise. In turn I am also interested in how these concepts and ideas are transformed through such an application. One of my key interests is in the area of agency and structure, and how policy both shapes, and is shaped by, agentic practise in everyday life.

Much of my working life has been spent working with young people and my interest in them as a group has continued into my studies. I am particularly interested in the recent increased focus on 'youth' as a key age for policy intervention, and the discourses in which these debates are framed. My recent research has focused on these debates in both the realms of health policy (primarily HIV/AIDS) and youth participation within policy making.

This in turn has fed into an interest in policy processes, and how policy is constructed.  Discussions around what constitutes evidence, and how we understand and evaluate 'impact' are all things which I am continuing to explore through my PhD research.

My research is predominantly qualitative and I have interest in exploring multiple qualitative methods, understanding the different insights and understandings different methods offer. My research has predominantly been with vulnerable people, or in the global south, and as a result I have developed an interest in how we understand research ethics in these contexts. I have also recently begun to explore the role of emotions with in research.

My PhD

Despite years of interventions many young people continue to get infected with the HIV. In fact, given the number of programmes being implemented it is surprising exactly how little we actually know about what can lead to behaviour change in young people. Acknowledging the increased interest in the role of young people in development, and having spent a number of years working in this area, I wanted to to take a step back to reflect on what was being done, why it was being done like that, and with what impact in terms of young people's real lives.

My PhD uses a number of different qualitative methods to explore young people's engagement in these HIV/AIDS interventions with a focus on the rural Eastern Cape, South Africa. Using a mixture of repeat dependent interviews and participant observation over the course of 10 months I gained an in-depth understanding of how young people makes sense of HIV, and the programmes aimed at addressing the virus, in their own lives. My research explores the impact that both the virus, and these programmes, are having on their own understandings of their sexuality, relationships and identity. I am particularly interested in how young people exercise their agency to challenge, transform or reproduce the narratives which are attributed to them.

I am seeking to bring this together with a policy analysis which examines how these lived realities relate to the wider policy process. In particular I am looking at understandings of evidence relate to young people's narratives and the possible implications for policy making as well as how we understand young people more widely.

I am being supervised by:

Dr Hakan Seckinelgin

Dr Ernestina Coast

The view from my host home in one of my field sites

The view from my host home in one of my field sites