Dr Lisa Smyth

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

Dr Lisa Smyth

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

Dr Smyth's research focuses on roles and social anxiety. She examinea the normative, interactive and emotional quality of role interpretation, and is developing a monograph on Roles, Conflict and Anxiety.

Her previous book, The Demands of Motherhood: Agents, Roles and Recognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), examined agency and normative complexity. She has also published on the gendered national politics underpinning the abortion conflict in Ireland; the social politics of breastfeeding; sex education; and the significance of motherhood in social change in Belfast.

Research Interests

Open to PhD applications in the field of

  • Critical theory analysis of social roles, in contexts such as gender, family life and young people
  • Studies of the emotional quality of social politics, including abortion, breastfeeding, and motherhood
  • Interactionist analyses of emotions, roles and social change.

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Public outreach & key achievements

  • BBC Radio 4, Thinking Allowed: Maternal Situations: Sectarianism and Civility in a Divided City
  • My work has led to new ways of thinking about agency/structure tensions in everyday social life, through a
    focus on normative complexity, interpretation and social esteem.

Research students

PhD Title Narratives of persistent poverty: The case of lone mothers in Northern Ireland
Name Bronagh Boyle
Country Northern Ireland
PhD Title  Gender and Career Progression in India’s IT Sector: Experiences and Perceptions of Women Employees
Name Gerard Gallagher
Country India


Alumni: Where are they now

PhD Title 'A different kind of girl': young women's experiences of growing up and 'coming out' in Northern Ireland.
Name Gail Neil
Year of Study 2013 - 2017
Country  Northern Ireland 
Current Position Lecturer in the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences at Ulster University
PhD Title Abortion and Northern Ireland 1921-2002
Name  Mark Benson
Year of Study 2013 - 2017
Country Northern Ireland
Current Position AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Research Fellow, School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast
PhD Title Early Motherhood and the Transition to Adulthood: Discourses of Youth and the Struggle for Authority
Name Jennifer McIlwaine
Year of Study 2008 - 2013
Country Northern Ireland
Current Position Corporate Services Officer, Controlled Schools Support Council



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