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Families and Social Capital Research Group

Drawing from a range of inter-disciplinary subjects to develop policy and practice understandings of today's society

The group is situated within LSBU's Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, a research centre of international standing. Since its creation in 2002 the group has built up a strong national and international reputation and profile. The group received the largest single award by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to a post-1992 university and has continued to attract substantial external funding from the ESRC and a range of other organisations. The group draws from a wide range of disciplines and inter-disciplinary subjects to develop policy and practice understandings of the society we live in.

Research interests

The group takes a critical approach to investigating the relationship between family change and community connections in different circumstances and localities. They prioritise engagement with users across a range of statutory and voluntary agencies and key research themes look at:

  • families and intimacy
  • citizenship; 'Belonging'
  • class, gender, 'race'/ethnicity, sexuality 'intersectionality'
  • place and space
  • education and employment
  • urban planning and regeneration
  • qualitative and longitudinal methods of enquiry

Research quality

Three quarters of our research into Social Work and Social Policy was awarded a top quality rating of 3* for 'environment' - "conducive to producing research of internationally excellent quality, in terms of its vitality and sustainability" - Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

Families and Social Capital Group staff

A number of academic staff take part in the group's activities. Search our People Finder for the Families and Social Capital Research Group.

The Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research runs a Visiting Scholars Scheme and welcomes International scholars each year.

Current high impact research

Below are examples of some of the group's current high profile research. Further examples of the group's research can be found by searching our Story Finder.

Brain Science and Early Intervention

This research project is funded by The Faraday Institute and is conducted in collaboration with Southampton University. It investigates how accounts of the formative impact of early experience on brain development are informing politics, key social policy legislation and early intervention initiatives. It's also looking at the consequences for everyday practice among health care providers and early years educators.

The research involves reviewing key documents that have shaped political and policy engagement with neuroscience in relation to early years childrearing. The team has carried out interviews with a range of interested parties. These include influential public figures who are interested in the application of neuroscience as an evidence base in child and family intervention policy and practice, as well as health care providers and early years practitioners.

Creating the 'Mix-d Museum': developing an online archive to share knowledge on the history of 'mixed race' Britain

This AHRC-funded project seeks to develop a research network exploring the translation of knowledge on minority ethnic history in Britain, specifically that relating to mixed race people, couples and families, using creative and innovative digital methods. Questions will be addressed and explored practically and creatively through a small research project: 'Creating the 'Mix-d Museum' an online timeline of racial mixing and mixedness in 20th century Britain in a British Academy-funded project.

Find out more about the Mix-d Museum.

Timescapes: Changing relationships and identities across the life course

This unique study is the first large scale qualitative longitudinal piece of research funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and covers the life course from cradle to grave. The ESRC supports quantitative longitudinal studies it describes as world class and it's envisaged they will feed into policy and practice at all levels and into higher education substantively, methodologically and practically in providing training in using the data produced. Timescapes has high public visibility including links with BBC Memoryshare, a website which collects memories from the UK population.

Mixed Britannia

In a British Academy Small Grants funded project 'The Era of Moral Condemnation: Mixed Race People in Britain, 1920-1950', LSBU's Dr Chamion Caballero and Dr Peter Aspinall from the University of Kent are exploring the intersection between perceptions of racial mixedness and mixing by official forces with those of people, couples and families from mixed racial backgrounds themselves.

Read more about Mixed Britannia and the work of Dr Chamion Caballero.

Challenging ideas about disaffection: maximising policy and practice impact

This Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project builds on and develops the findings from a previous ESRC funded study which explored the experiences, personal identifications and meanings drawn on by pupils at risk of school exclusion.

The project's aim is to produce targeted policy and practice resources in collaboration with Kids Company (a charity supporting challenged and challenging children and young people) their service users and other specialist practitioners.

Two core products will be produced as an outcome of a co-ordinated programme of knowledge exchange. Firstly, a policy directed 'Manifesto for Learning' and a practitioner directed 'Reflexive Toolkit' that prompts and facilitates critical, reflexive awareness among teachers and other professionals working with pupils at risk of school exclusion. Project partners are Kid's Company and St Mary's school in Croydon.

Leading the project is Dr Yvonne Robinson.

Making space for queer identifying religious youth

This Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)funded project explores young LGBT people's understanding, uses, and experiences of religion. It's a case-study exploration of religion and sexuality in young people's lives and adopts an intersectional framework that asks how religious identity interplays with other forms and contexts of identity, specifically those related to sexual identity. It does this through a detailed investigation of the experiences, choices and identities of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people involved in the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in the UK.

It contributes to the knowledge of scholars across the social sciences whose work examines both contemporary theories of religion and sexuality. Three peer-reviewed articles are planned and the edited volume Queering Religion, Religious Queers (Routledge, 2014) will be launched. Results of the research will also be publicised to a range of non-academic users and voluntary organisations through articles in the gay and lesbian press (Diva, Out North-East), and community newsletters (Mesmac, MCC). Find out more about Making space for queer-identifying religious youth.

Contact for the project is Dr Ria Snowdown.

Access for BAME Elders in Lewisham and Southwark – research and evaluation

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund and in partnership with Age Concern Lewisham and Southwark, the project aims to enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Elders in the London Boroughs of Lewisham and Southwark by improving access to mainstream and culturally specific services.

The project has three parts:

Person-centred planning
Using person centred planning tools, a trained volunteer will be 'paired' with an older person to work together to create and implement a person-centred plan.
This qualitative investigation studies the issues affecting the ageing and wellbeing of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) elders in these boroughs and factors that impact on their access and uptake of person-centred planning. Life-history interviews use completed person-centred plans to assist in exploring the social, economic and psychological issues of ageing for BAME elders; intersected identities and place and space on processes of healthy living and ageing well.
The evaluation will monitor the project process and proposed outcomes, and a wider social impact will be the projects' role in building networks and partnerships in the wider community, with statutory and voluntary agencies to access more BAME elders.

Forthcoming events

The group hosts an ESRC Seminar Series entitled Critical Diversities@the Intersection: Policies, Practices, Perspectives to stimulate discussion and critical thinking around the construction, debates and enduring divisions in 'diversity' as a concept, practice and policy requirement in fostering different 'publics'. The overall aim is underpinned by four main objectives. Find out more in our What's on section.

Research Degree opportunities

As an Mphil/PhD student in the Families and Social Capital group you will work in a wide range of disciplines and inter-disciplinary subjects; and follow the course either full-time, part-time or by distance learning. In addition to excellent supervision from an individually appointed, internationally respected academic committee, you will participate in MSc-level research methods and discipline-specific modules, as well as training days designed specifically for our Institute of Social Science Research (ISSR) PhD community. Read more about the ISSR.

The wide range of research activities in the School of Law and Social Sciences, together with the mix of academic staff, post-doctoral research fellows and visiting professors, allows us to offer a stimulating and diverse postgraduate environment. Read more about Research Degrees at LSBU.


Families and Social Capital Research Group
London South Bank University
103 Borough Road
Tel: 020 7815 5705/5875
Fax: 020 7815 5799
Email: Prof Val Gillies at or Dr Tracey Reynolds: