Dr Sarah Wilson

Senior Lecturer

Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology Colin Bell Building, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Dr Sarah Wilson

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About me

About me

I am currently developing work on representations of sociological research, including through interviews with artists. Please see my article in The Sociological Review: 'Haunting and the knowing and showing of sociological research' http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0038026118769843 I am PI for a British Academy Funded project exploring young people (Armenian- born or refugees)'s intentions to stay in Armenia and am also part of a team evaluating the work of the Life Changes Trust.

My research has combined theoretical interests in the sociology of families, relationships and personal life with developing sensory (visual and audial) and artistic qualitative research methods (Young People Creating Belonging: sights, sounds and sights ESRC RES-061-25-0501). This project explored how looked after young people create (non) belonging (whether positive, negative or ambivalent) in new placements. Analysis and data produced during this project (including participants' photos, drawings, music and a video on the difficulties of 'transition' from successful care arrangements to isolating, ill-repaired flats) may be found at: http://www.researchunbound.org.uk/young-people-creating-belonging This work has led to developing interests in the use of arts-based methods with marginalised young people and in the ethical and affective communication and representation of research findings. Much of my other research work has focused on parental substance misuse, while my PhD (2003, University of Edinburgh) explored the HIV-positive mothers' experience of managing everyday living. I am an active member of the International Sociological Associations RC57 Visual Studies group.

I am Deputy Dean for Leaning and Teaching, RPG Tutor for PhD students in the Child Welfare and Protection group and am the current Sociology Pathway lead for the Scottish ESRC Doctoral Training Programme. I have been involved in the University’s policy around Preventing and Tacking Sexual Violence and Misconduct. I am a member of the Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies at the University of Stirling and an affiliate director of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR). I am also a qualified non-practising solicitor (England and Wales) with experience of criminal, family, social assistance and medical law. 

I very much enjoy teaching and developing engaging teaching methods around dialogue and 'doing'. I coordinated the first year SPC912 Social Problems module for 10 years, and currently convene an honours module on the Sociology of Childhood (SOC9SE) and the fourth year Dissertation and Honours Seminar modules (SPC9CH). I also teach on the first year Sociology and Social Policy module: Social Differentiation (SPC911) as well as providing postgraduate training in visual methods.  I am writing a new module on 'Intersectionalities and Post-colonial Thought. I am currently supervising PhD work on:

ESRC Open Collaborative PhD studentship entitled ‘Collaborative Art and Transformation: an exploration of the National Galleries of Scotland outreach programme for disadvantaged young people’ (Rosie Priest); Notions of Empowerment and Transformation associated with the Life Changes Trust's Work with Young People with Care Experience (Talitha Brown); The Use of Visual Methods in Teaching (Matthew Sowerby); Community Effects of Drugs in Greece and Scotland (Andriana Manta); The Use of Contempt of Court to Enforce Child Contact Orders in Scotland (Sharon McAllister). 

Previous PhDs supervised: Children's experience of maternal imprisonment (Kirsty Primrose); Opioid Substitution Programmes in Indonesian Prisons (Rita Komalasari); An ethnographic comparison of young children's experience of competition in the school environments (Germany and a Tibetan school in India) (Carla Cribari Assali); Perceptions of Risk of Harm and Social Capital in Young People’s Lives (Jennifer Pringle), and Swampy territory: The role of the palliative care social worker in safeguarding children of adults who are receiving specialist palliative care (Carole Comben).

Research (6)

Sociology of childhood and relationships Sociology of health and illness, particularly substance use and chronic illness in family contexts Representations of research Qualitative visual, audial and artistic methods and secondary analysis Communication and representation of research findings Biographical narratives


Should I stay or should I go: sense of belonging and intentions to stay among young, newcomers to Armenia
PI: Dr Sarah Wilson
Funded by: The British Academy

Creating better lives? An Evaluation of the Life Changes Trust
PI: Professor Louise McCabe
Funded by: Life Changes Trust

'Vulnerable' families in a time of pandemic
PI: Professor Jane Callaghan
Funded by: Chief Scientist Office

Process Evaluation of Alcohol Brief Interventions in wider settings (Young People and Social Work)
Funded by: NHS Health Scotland

Young People Creating Belonging: Spaces, Sounds and Sights
PI: Dr Sarah Wilson
Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council

The Family Life Project: A qualitative longitudinal study of children's experiences of family life in the context of parental drug use
PI: Dr Sarah Wilson
Funded by: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Outputs (25)



Stead M, Parkes T, Nicoll A, Wilson S, Burgess C, Eadie D, Fitzgerald N, McKell J, Reid G, Jepson R, McAteer J & Bauld L (2017) Delivery of alcohol brief interventions in community-based youth work settings: exploring feasibility and acceptability in a qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 17 (1), Art. No.: 357. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4256-1

Book Chapter

Wilson S (2015) Belonging in difficult family circumstances: Emotions, intimacies and consumption. In: Casey E & Taylor Y (eds.) Intimacies, critical consumption and diverse economies. Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 126-144. http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/Intimacies-Critical-Consumption-and-Diverse-Economies/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137429070

Book Chapter

Wilson S (2015) Young People's Emotional and Sensory Experiences of 'Getting By' in Challenging Circumstances. In: Blazek M & Kraftl P (eds.) Children's Emotions in Policy and Practice: Mapping and Making Spaces of Childhood. Studies in Childhood and Youth. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 52-67. http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/childrens-emotions-in-policy-and-practice-matej-blazek/?isb=9781137415592


Wilson S (2014) 'Sad to say but my whole life is on that computer': reflecting on emotions, intimacies and consumption in difficult circumstances and how to make sure these issues are reflected in policy discourse. Families, Relationships and Societies, 3 (1), pp. 149-152. https://doi.org/10.1332/204674313X13814984759010

Meeting Abstract

Parkes T, Stead M, Eadie D, Nicoll A, McKell J, Bauld L, Wilson S, Burgess C, Reid G, McAteer J & Jepson R (2013) Alcohol brief interventions in youth and social work settings in Scotland. International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol and Other Drugs (INEBRIA) Meeting 2013, Rome, Italy, 18/09/2013 - 20/09/2013. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, 8 (Supplement 1), p. A52. http://ascpjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1940-0640-8-S1-A52; https://doi.org/10.1186/1940-0640-8-S1-A52

Book Chapter

Wilson S (2013) Thinking about sociological work on personal and family life in the light of research on young people's experience of parental substance misuse. In: Ribbens MJ, Hooper C & Gillies V (eds.) Family Troubles?: Exploring changes and challenges in the family lives of children and young people. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 163-172. http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447304432