Samantha Punch studied at Leeds University for a BA in Ibero-American Studies and a PhD in Geography and Development Studies. Her doctoral research included two years’ ethnographic fieldwork in rural Bolivia where she investigated the ways in which children and young people negotiate their autonomy at home, school, work and play. Ten years later she conducted a follow-up study with the same children who participated in her PhD in order to explore their changing rural livelihoods, youth transitions and migration. In between she carried out research on young people’s problems in the UK; sustainable household livelihoods in China, Vietnam and India; children’s experiences of sibling relationships and birth order in central Scotland; and young people’s food practices in residential care homes.
As an international bridge player who represents Scotland, she is currently developing a new field of study: the Sociology of Bridge, which explores the social interactions and power dynamics of the card game. Other bridge projects which link to the University’s research theme on Living Well, include the benefits of playing and learning bridge across the lifecourse, the potential links between bridge and delayed onset of dementia, and gendered inequalities within the mind sport.
Samantha arrived at the University of Stirling as a postdoctoral researcher in 1997, then worked as a lecturer from 2002, becoming Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Social Sciences in 2013. She is currently Dean of Graduate Studies and Head of Stirling Graduate School, contributing to the building of a vibrant interdisciplinary postgraduate research community.