Julia Brannen

Julia Brannen
University College London | UCL · Thomas Coram Research Unit

B.A(Econ), MSc, PhD

About

197
Publications
45,658
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5,489
Citations
Citations since 2017
52 Research Items
2145 Citations
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Introduction
Julia Brannen has been a social science researcher for more than 40 years, most of this at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University College London. Her research and writing cover methodological matters including biographical and narrative approaches, mixed and multiple methods, and comparative research. Recent fields of research include intergenerational relations, and families and food in low-income households in the UK Portugal and Norway.
Additional affiliations
March 2014 - present
University College London
Position
  • Professor (Full)
March 2014 - present
University of Bergen
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (197)
Chapter
How to do research in an international interdisciplinary project
Article
Full-text available
For nearly 50 years, the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU) has been integral to the IOE (Institute of Education), UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society (University College London, UK). This article is written from the perspectives of four researchers who have served in the TCRU’s formative years and over its lifetime. It chronicles the TCRU’s hist...
Book
This book provides fascinating insights into the factors that influence why people enter and leave care work, their motivations, understandings and experiences of their work and intersection of it with their family lives.
Article
This book takes a life course perspective, analysing and comparing the biographies of mothers and fathers in seven European countries in context.
Article
Becoming a parent, especially for the first time, marks a major turning point in most people's lives. In this book we explore and examine conditions related to young working parents’ decisions and experiences in the transition to the life course phase where they become mothers and fathers, and also the contexts and conditions under which they manag...
Article
The chapters in this book have each contributed to a wider understanding of the transitions to and the experiences of parenthood across different European countries. The analysis of biographical cases was carried out taking account of a multilayered set of conditions: the nation state both over time and in the present; national institutions such as...
Article
Introduction Having looked at how and why people entered childcare work and the identities they forged, in this chapter we turn to how care workers currently understand their work and what it means to care for vulnerable children and young people. Drawing largely upon the case studies, we consider the goals they aim to achieve with their work and t...
Article
Introduction In this chapter, we consider questions concerning who stays and who leaves childcare work and why. We also examine movement between different types of work with vulnerable children, since this has particular relevance for government policies to encourage greater flexibility and transferability across the childcare workforce (see Chapte...
Article
Main conclusions from the study The study sought to examine four particular groups of childcare workers. The four groups have in common that they care for some of the most disadvantaged children in society. The children's situations are on a continuum of disadvantage and include children of different ages (young children to young adults) with diffe...
Article
Introduction Making sense of people's lives and the stories they tell is a complex task. As described in Chapter Two, in the case studies we teased out the ‘biographical facts’ of care workers’ lives and the contexts in which their lives were lived from the interpretations they provided as interview informants. Both the accounts of interviewees and...
Article
Introduction In this chapter we take up the story of care workers’ careers from the point at which they first entered childcare, the focus of Chapter Four. We take the term ‘career’ to mean an individual's progression in paid work over the lifecourse and how it interacts with their other careers, for example the career of parenthood (Elder, 1978)....
Article
Introduction Negotiating an ethic of care cannot be witnessed directly but may be glimpsed in people's life histories and life stories and the ways in which informants present themselves and their lives. This chapter starts at the beginning of our story of care workers’ lives and addresses the question: to which periods or moments in their lives do...
Article
Box A1: Contextual information about the organisations from which postal survey sample was drawn Authority A London local authority. Foster care: around a 100 foster carers with an older age profile. High proportion of single parents. Fees lower than independent sector. Residential care: no units. Family support: 23 based in nursery/centres, foster...
Article
“They should be a lot more honest [about the nature of the work]…. Because I think people tend to be put off because of the bad press that they get. And that tends to highlight like the bad things rather than the positive things.” (Debra Henry, a foster carer) This chapter sets out to document the everyday reality of working with vulnerable childre...
Article
This book provides fascinating insights into the factors that influence why people enter and leave care work, their motivations, understandings and experiences of their work and intersection of it with their family lives.
Article
Introduction This chapter describes the study's research questions, how its research design addressed these questions, the different phases of the study, the variety of different methods used and the characteristics of the childcare workers who participated. The study's research questions The main research questions addressed by the study are: • •...
Article
Introduction An important part of the jigsaw in understanding childcare workers’ lives remains, namely how as parents and family members childcare workers managed to combine their work and other care responsibilities – how they connected their public and private worlds, not only over time but also on a daily basis. For these workers, caring was an...
Article
The people who work with children are central to keeping them safe and helping them to get the most out of life. (HM Government, 2003, p 10) Introduction This book is about the work and family lives of people who provide care for ‘vulnerable’ children and young people. This includes children who are looked after by the state in either foster famili...
Article
Based upon cross-national case studies of public and private sector workplaces, Work, Families and Organisations in Transition illustrates how workplace practices and policies impact on employees' experiences of work-life balance in contemporary shifting contexts.
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Full-text available
This paper examines the orientations to the future of young people living in low-income families in the U.K. and Portugal following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the contexts in which they are socially reproduced. It is based on data from comparative research on families and food poverty, funded by the European Research Council. The study fo...
Article
Full-text available
In the context of successive global crises and rising household food insecurity in wealthy European countries there is renewed attention to the role of school meals as a welfare intervention. However, little is known about the extent to which school meals are a resource for low-income families living in different contexts. Drawing on a mixed method...
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A growing literature addresses undocumented migrants in different countries, with governmental exclusion from welfare and health services a common theme. However, little is known comparatively about the difference social context makes to the resources available to these migrants in different circumstances or how they manage and experience material...
Article
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Book
Food is fundamental to health and social participation, yet food poverty has increased in the global North. Adopting a realist ontology and taking a comparative case approach, Families and Food in Hard Times addresses the global problem of economic retrenchment and how those most affected are those with the least resources. Based on research carrie...
Chapter
Full-text available
The chapter examines life story and narrative approaches and their application in the study of family lives. It begins with a brief history of some key figures in biographical research followed by an examination of some of the distinctions between the two approaches. The second part of the chapter presents and discusses a case of a grandfather and...
Article
Full-text available
This paper focuses on two cohorts of Norwegian young men whose behaviour in childhood and adolescence caused serious concern to their parents, teachers, social workers and, in some cases, the police, Despite having been identified as ‘at risk’, they made transitions to positive adult masculine identities in two different historical contexts; the 19...
Book
From the vantage point of forty years in social research and the study of families, the author of this book offers an invaluable account of how research is conducted and ‘matters’ at particular times. The book has two main themes that are interwoven throughout the text. A central theme is how social research matters in relation to historical contex...
Chapter
Food poverty in the Global North is an urgent moral and social concern. In the UK, food banks have proliferated and the number of food parcels handed out to families has risen dramatically. In addition, welfare support has been increasingly withheld by successive UK governments as a tool for controlling immigration. Drawing on qualitative research...
Chapter
Introduction When people make significant compromises about food this is a central aspect of relative and absolute poverty, however those conditions are defined. Food is a basic human need. At one level, food provides the nutrients needed for growth and development. Inequitable access to healthy food plays a role in health inequalities. But the way...
Article
This book examines absolute poverty in Europe, which is at the moment fairly neglected in academic and policy discourse. It opens with conceptual and methodological considerations that prepare the ground for an application of the concept of absolute poverty in the context of affluent societies and analyses shortcomings of social statistics as well...
Article
Since the 1990s, international social science research has made a major contribution to the evidence base on changing family forms and household structures by collecting and processing data about family composition, dissolution and reconstitution, as well as household living, working and caring arrangements. Social scientists have exploited the ava...
Article
This paper contributes to scholarship concerned with media representations of poverty by exploring newspaper coverage of food poverty as experienced by UK children and families. Our content analysis of six contrasting print newspapers from 2006-15 finds that reporting of children's and families' food poverty begins in 2011, peaks in 2014 and is dom...
Article
The paper draws on findings from a study called ‘Families and Food in Hard Times’, which is examining food poverty among children and families in three European countries. In the UK, qualitative interviews were carried out with 45 11–15 year olds and their parents or carers. Young people's narratives reveal food poverty as a multi‐dimensional exper...
Chapter
This chapter provides a cross-national comparison of the school to work transition of working class men in the two countries. Based on biographical interviews with members of three generations in each family, it discusses working class men’s transitions set in the contexts of historical change and intergenerational relations. The theoretical framew...
Chapter
This chapter addresses research on the transition to adulthood in relation to wider family relationships and examines how this transition is shaped historically both by the family support available and the wider economic and political contexts of the period when young people make their transition. First, it sets the transition to adulthood in a con...
Article
Full-text available
Not enough is known in the UK about how economic phenomena and policy changes have impacted families’ ability to feed themselves. This article employs a novel way of identifying the types of UK families at risk of food poverty over time. Applying a relative deprivation approach, it asks what counts in the UK as a socially acceptable diet that meets...
Article
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The paper examines how in Britain the time fathers and couples spend in employment shifts in the first years of children’s lives, the conditions under which this happens and how fathers feel about and experience time with their families and time in paid work. In order to achieve these aims new longitudinal analysis of the UK Millennium Cohort Study...
Chapter
The focus of this book is on the study of change and continuity in families, issues that can be studied from many different perspectives, which in turn raise a variety of methodological challenges. Sometimes the emphasis of family life studies is at the microlevel: on the habitual and every day—the quotidian aspects of daily life. A particular chal...
Article
Full-text available
Working in groups is increasingly regarded as fruitful for the process of analyzing qualitative data. It has been reported to build research skills, make the analytic process visible, reduce inequalities and social distance particularly between researchers and participants, and broaden and intensify engagement with the material. This article contri...
Article
This paper will discuss the development of work-family research in the UK and cross-nationally, and the critical contribution of Suzan Lewis to this field. The first part of the paper focusses on the ways in which, in the context of the growth of dual earner lifestyles in Britain, Suzan's work made a key contribution. A central part of this story i...
Article
This paper compares the narratives of two men in midlife who migrated to the UK from Ireland and from the Caribbean as children, in the middle of the last century. We examine how success is narrated over the life course to show how migrants’ positioning of themselves differs from the ways in which they are positioned by outsiders, including in poli...
Book
With dual–working households now the norm, Food, Families and Work is the first comprehensive study to explore how families negotiate everyday food practices in the context of paid employment. As the working of hours of British parents are among the highest in Europe, the United Kingdom provides a key case study for investigating the relationship b...
Article
Full-text available
In the Irish context and internationally a good deal of attention has been paid to the performance of masculinity among school students. However with a small number of notable exceptions, relatively little attention has been paid to masculinities in academic organisations. Drawing on a qualitative study in one university, this article proposes a te...
Article
By using examples from food and domestic life in England during 1950, this paper examines the use of narrative archival sources as a methodological alternative to researching everyday food practices by traditional research methods, such as interviewing. Through the analysis of three diaries written for the Mass Observation Archive, and the everyday...
Chapter
The individual chapters, particularly those relating to the data analysis, are the core of this book and, we hope stand in their own right. In this final chapter, we do not attempt a grand synthesis, which we feel would be a false way to conclude, but rather make a number of summary comments and reflections which we hope will be of value particular...
Chapter
Feminist researchers have critically analysed the ways in which lifetime, full-time continuous employment and family breadwinning came to characterise paid work as a central source of masculine identity, status and power (Pringle, 1989; Cockburn, 1991; Heward, 1996). From an intergenerational perspective, this still holds true as time is organised...
Chapter
A key question in social science research is what counts as data? As Thomas and Znaniecki suggest in The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, researchers should strive for completeness. ‘We are safe in saying that personal life-records, as complete as possible, constitute the perfect types of sociological material’ (Thomas and Znaniecki, 1927: p....
Chapter
Our analysis in this study suggests that the ways in which migration is experienced over time challenges the categorical term of ‘migrant’ (Griffiths et al., 2013) and makes visible migration as a process rather than as only a status of destination. Kofman (2004) argues that migration is rarely about individual decision making but is life course an...
Chapter
The relationship of men to their children, in particular fathers with their sons, continues to be a matter of contemporary interest. However, other than through biographies and fiction, we know rather little about how ordinary father-son relationships develop in different times and social contexts and how each generation seeks to transmit its own s...
Chapter
Family generations increasingly coexist and overlap in time, that is, there is an increasing number of three and four generation families (Brannen et al., 2004) that are linked vertically by intergenerational transmission. They need to be understood as continuous contractual relationships that take place over time. However, it is usually only possi...
Chapter
A book about the relationships of three generations of fathers and sons across the life course and one that includes different waves of migrants has to address temporality. Inevitably, temporality frames intergenerational families and researchers in this area have to rely on memories and narratives about what happened in the past, both given from p...
Chapter
In this chapter, we examine perspectives on fatherhood from the vantage point of children, that is, the grandson generation aged between 5 and 17 (Brannen et al., 2012). Time in relation to family lives needs to be problematised as Daly suggests, The goal of developing a theory of family time… is therefore contingent on two key conceptual shifts. T...
Article
This piece discusses the concept of 'generation' and its several meanings. While it argues that generation is an important concept for putting lives in historical context, it needs to take account of social differences within and between generations. Looking at family generations, such differences become evident together with the processes through...
Article
Drawing on the findings of a qualitative study of 48 families with young children (aged 1.5–10 years), which investigated the influence of employment on children's diets, this article focuses on the place of childhood memories and intergenerational relations in the transmission of family food practices. The article highlights the temporal nature of...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we discuss the importance of taking an historical, intergenerational approach in sociological research. Lives need to be understood in the contexts of particular times and places. The backcloth to our discussion is the contemporary disruption of many young people's life course transitions from education to work in Europe, particularly...
Article
The article compares men's biographies and fatherhood across two generations among the Irish and the Polish, who represent different waves of migration to Britain, focusing on two chains of fathers and sons. It examines different aspects of transmission between fathers and sons and, in the context of migration, the part that generational experience...
Article
Full-text available
The study of the everyday is recognised as central to the understanding of identities, agency and social life. Yet, attempts to research everyday life often fail to capture the complexity of the mundane. This paper draws on findings from two studies: fatherhood across three generations and adult narratives of childhood language brokering to illumin...
Article
Based on a sample of British dual earner families with young children drawn from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, the paper examines their food practices, in particular the conditions under which families are able to eat together or not during the working week. The concept of synchronicity is drawn upon to shed light on whether meals and mea...
Article
Full-text available
This paper draws on data from an intergenerational study of fatherhood to consider how fatherhood has changed and how employment conditions and occupational status shape fatherhood, particularly their involvement with their children and, via an analysis of four cases, continuities and discontinuities are identified across the family generations. Th...
Article
Full-text available
Accessing research participants is often presented as unproblematic. However, the authors’ experiences of recruiting 30 chains of grandfathers, fathers and grandsons, spanning three different ethnic groups, Polish, Irish and white British, highlighted the realities of research practice. This article draws on a study of fathers across three generati...
Article
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The paper draws on the author's interview experiences and interrogates the conditions in which research interviews generate narratives and storytelling; interviews that do not invite storytelling and interviews where people were asked to give a life story. First, the paper considers the question as to what provokes storytelling. It suggests that pe...
Article
This article focuses on children's food in families and the power relations in which it is embedded. Drawing on paired interviews with parents and younger children in a qualitative sample (N = 47), and taking a case approach, the article analyses ways in which power and control are negotiated in parent-child relationships in relation to food. Types...
Article
This article argues that policy-related research needs to question the assumption that policy questions can be addressed through the use of research methods that examine the issues through one lens only. It proposes that mixed methods research designs work well when they exploit the potential to see different things, and recognize the limits and th...
Chapter
The chapter moves from the cross thematic approach of Chapter 6 to a case approach. It compares experiences of parents working in the same occupations within the same types of workplace across the different national contexts and examines the complex of resources (public policy, workplace practices, community and family resources) available to mothe...
Chapter
The chapter outlines the design of the Transitions study and the rationale for an embedded, multilayered case study design. It provides an overview of the methods with particular reference to methodological issues in cross-national case study research, with particular attention to issues of generalisation in qualitative cross-national studies. It d...
Book
This book takes a life course perspective, analysing and comparing the biographies of mothers and fathers in seven European countries in context. Based on an innovative, cross-national EU study, it examines the ways in which working parents negotiate the transition to parenthood and attempt to find a 'work-life balance'. Using in-depth qualitative...
Chapter
Introduction In the Transitions project we set out to examine how European men and women working in public and private sector workplaces negotiate motherhood and fatherhood and work–family boundaries in the context of different national welfare state regimes, family and employer support. We adopted a life course perspective, as described in Chapter...
Chapter
The wellbeing of working parents is generated by different mechanisms in different domains. At home it is the peace, patience and mutual understanding and support that bring about joy and a sense of fulfilment. In some cases the feeling of guilt for not having enough time for child and partner gives rise to discontent and unhappiness. At work it is...
Article
This book takes a gendered life course perspective, analysing and comparing the biographies of men and women employed in similar public and private sector organisations across seven European countries (Bulgaria, Norway, Portugal Sweden, The Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK) who become working parents. Based on an innovative multi-layered contextual...
Article
Drawing on a study of fatherhood across three generations, including those of Irish, white British and Polish origin, the paper applies a temporal perspective to how children and young people viewed and experienced fatherhood. Mirroring time approaches to the study of parenthood, it conceptualises time in relation to three dimensions. First, it loo...
Article
This note examines some research issues raised by studies of sensitive topics and the disclosure of highly personal and confidential information. The first part focuses on the research method of in-depth interviewing and covers some theoretical and methodological problems associated with the method, together with a discussion of some strategies ado...
Article
This article examines some methodological issues relating to an embedded case study design adopted in a comparative cross-national study of working parents covering three levels of social context: the macro level; the workplace level; and the individual level. It addresses issues of generalizability, in particular the importance of criteria for the...
Article
Full-text available
This article takes an intergenerational lens to the study of fathers. It draws on evidence from two economic and social research council-funded intergenerational studies of fathers, one of which focused on four-generation British families and the other which included new migrant (Polish) fathers. The article suggests both patterns of change and con...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter represents an innovative methodological addition to the mixed methods literature namely the ways in life course and biographical research can adopt mixed methods strategies. Edited in the US, the book's contributors are largely from the prestigious community of methodologists in the US. The Handbook is a second edition and this contrib...
Chapter
IntroductionOrganisation of the bookCurrent trends in nursing and health sciences researchImpetus towards a greater use of mixed methodsMixed methods terminologyConclusion References
Article
IntroductionConsiderations for data collectionData collection methodsInterviewsPractical issues in planning data collectionThe need for reflectivity in combining methodsConclusion References

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