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Dr Esther Muddiman

Dr Esther Muddiman

Lecturer, Education

School of Social Sciences

Email
muddimanek@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44(0) 29 2087 0985
Campuses
Glamorgan Building
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

I’m a lecturer in Sociology of Education with a particular interest in youth activism, inergenerational justice, sustainability and civic engagement.

My work explores why and how some people get involved in collective or ‘publicly minded’ activities – things like volunteering, political campaigning, labour organisation or environmental activism. My PhD research explored university students’ constructions of civic responsibility, and more recently I’ve written a book about how experiences in the family home can equip people to engage with political or community action – including chapters on family arguments, dinnertime etiquette and female caring roles. I’m informed by intersectional feminist ethics of care, and by relational and practice theories.

At the moment, I’m investigating how Children’s Rights are understood and enacted in different countries around the world, paying attention to ‘voice’, participation, inclusivity and stratification. I’m particularly interested in the idea of intergenerational justice and in youth campaigns for climate.

Biography

Before I became a lecturer I spent six years as a post-doctoral researcher at Cardiff University. I joined WISERD in 2016 to work on a project exploring the role of family in peoples’ accounts of civic engagement – focussing on the values and behaviours that get shared between different generations. I then spent some time working on the Civil Society and Social Change book series before beginning an ESRC funded project on the civic expansion of children's rights.

Prior to joining WISERD I worked at CUREMeDE where my primary focus was a longitudinal mixed methods evaluation of a generalist postgraduate medical education training programme. In this role I explored the rising importance of medical generalism and how it may trouble existing categories of professional identity.

I initially moved to Cardiff from the west midlands in 2005 to pursue a degree in grahic design, but decided to change path after having a very interesting discussion in the pub with a friend from school who was studying social sciences. I studied for my BScEcon degree in Sociology at Cardiff University and continued in the School of Social Sciences to complete an ESRC funded MSc in Social Research Methods, and PhD focussing on the educational experiences and civic values of university students in Britain and Singapore.

Academic positions

  • 2016- present: Research Associate at WISERD
  • 2014-2016: Research Associate at CUREMeDE
  • 2010-2014: PhD Candidate, Cardiff University
  • 2010-2014: Graduate Tutor, Cardiff University

Speaking engagements

  • Muddiman E, Taylor C, Power S, and Moles K. (2017) The Role of the Family in Civil Society. WISERD Civil Society Seminar, Cardiff University
  • Muddiman E. (2017) Keeping it in the family? The role of intergenerational relations in shaping youth social action. WISERD Lunchtime Seminar, Cardiff University.
  • Muddiman E, Pearce S, Fox S, Evans D. 2017 Minding the Gap: Young People, Brexit and the Generational Divide. Workshop presented at Hay Festival. June 2017.
  • Muddiman, E. 2017. Politics, intergenerational conflict and family relationships. WISERD Annual Conference. Bangor. July 2017.
  • Muddiman E. and Moles K. (2016) How do civic values get passed between different generations within families? Childhood and Youth Group. Cardiff University.
  • Muddiman E. (2016) University students’ accounts of personal success and civic responsibility: a comparative study. WISERD Lunchtime Seminar, Cardiff University.

Publications

2022

2020

2019

2018

2016

2015

Teaching

I primarily teach on the following modules:

  • Sociology of Education (year two undergraduate)
  • Radical Education (year three undergraduate)
  • Principles and Practices in Research Design (postgraduate)

My research interests span the sociology of education and civil society, and include:

  • Youth activism and intergenerational justice
  • Family and civic engagement
  • Higher education and civil society
  • Children's Rights
  • Food and sustainability
  • Social theory, critical theory, critical pedagogy
  • Creative methods

Youth activism, intergenerational justice and family influences on civic engagement

My work explores why and how some people get involved in collective or ‘publicly minded’ activities – things like volunteering, political campaigning, labour organisation or environmental activism. Young people, in particular, are often identified in the media as leading campaigns for climate action, but what can this tell us about intergenerational relationships and ideas about justice and collective responsibility? My PhD research explored university students’ constructions of civic responsibility, and more recently I’ve written a book about how experiences in the family home can equip people to engage with political or community action – including chapters on family arguments, dinnertime etiquette and female caring roles. I am informed by intersectional feminist ethics of care, and by relational and practice theories.

During my time at WISERD I worked closely with series editors to deliver the Civil Society and Social Change book series published by Policy Press. In 2017 was delighted to present a workshop on Young People and Brexit at the Hay Festival with colleagues, exploring perceptions of a ‘generational divide’ and familial influences on young peoples’ political engagement in relation to education and engagement with different medias. A more recent workshop exploring family arguments through an intergenerational lens was cancelled due to COVID-19. I have also worked with partners at EYST to explore youth ethnic minority experiences of Brexit.

Children's rights

I currently lead on an ESRC funded project in WISERD as part of the Civil Society Research Centre that investigates the articulation of Children’s Rights in different countries around the world, paying attention to ‘voice’, participation, inclusivity and stratification. I have also contributed to the development and distribution of the WISERD Education Multi-Cohort Study and have written blogs on the role of children in climate activism , and on how children and young people have been influenced by COVID-19.

Higher education and civil society

In both my research and my teaching, I am informed by a humanist understanding of the role of education in fostering human flourishing and emancipation, informed by human capabilities theory and critical pedagogy. My PhD research explored the extent to which universities are seen to foster (or stifle) skills and values beneficial to civil society, against a backdrop of massification and an intensified focus on graduate employability. My international comparative case study provides insights into the motivations and perspectives of students studying Business and Sociology in Britain and Singapore. More recently I have focussed on the experiences of those working in the HE sector and have written about the increasing use of casualised labour in UK academia.

Food and sustainability

In my research on civic engagement within the family, the role of food and mealtimes emerged as a central part of both family life, and a key lens through which to understand the moral and environmental undertones of what we choose to eat. I am particularly interested in the recent popularity or mainstreaming of vegan or plant-based diets and how the way that we talk about different food practices are infused with ideas about class, moral virtues, wellness, environmental responsibility and sub-cultural significance. I successfully bid for SPARKing impact funding for a workshop exploring ethical and environmental food futures in Wales. The event brought together different stakeholders to explore the key challenges to implementing fair and sustainable food provision.

Social theory, critical theory and critical pedagogy

I enjoy engaging with various theoretical literature from classical social theory and critical theory to more contemporary theorisations of society that recognise the intersecting forms of discriminiation and inequality. I have a particular interest in broadly humanist, feminist and ecological approaches to understanding the social world, and in both my writing and my teaching I am alive to efforts to decolonise university curricula and to recognise and valorise the intellectual contributions of 'non-traditional' scholars.

Creative methods

I enjoy experimenting with different methods and have three particular areas of interest:

  • Family Tree Mapping: With help from undergraduate research placement students I developed a way of mapping out family trees with interview participants and marking the different values and behaviours that get shared between different members as a vehicle for in depth discussions about identity, belonging and family practices. This method has potential for other projects exploring the themes of intergenerational justice and the (lack of) resilience of particular ideas or behaviours over time.
  • Participant Marginalia: Analysis of participant marginalia is not well-developed in the social sciences, but a handful of studies demonstrate the importance of listening when participants ‘speak back’ and suggest that paying attention to this type of data can help to further our understanding of participant identities and the power dynamics embedded in the research process.
  • Q Methodology: I have used Q methodology to explore individual subjectivities in relation to professional identities in a previous research post. Whilst under-used in the social sciences it has the potential to enhance the collection of sensitive data in areas such as social desirability, acquiescence, extreme response style and attitudes towards controversial issues. I have delivered workshops on Q methodology to a range of postgraduate researchers and medical practitioners both in Cardiff and at a partner institution in Taiwan.

Supervision

I supervise a number of undergraduate and masters-level sociology and sociology of education dissertations, and I currently supervise the following PhD and PD students: