Portrait of Professor Janet Fink Professor Janet Fink

j.fink@hud.ac.uk | 01484 478262


  Professor Janet Fink on ResearchGate  


Qualifications: PhD; MA; BA (Hons)

I joined the University of Huddersfield as Professor of Childhood and Personal Relationships in November 2014.

I began my academic career as a mature student at the University of Essex, where I gained my undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral degrees. Between 1996 and 1998, I was Senior Research Officer at the ESRC Qualitative Data Archival Resource Centre (Qualidata); a post funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to create a National Social Policy and Social Change Archive based at the University of Essex. I had responsibility there for archiving Peter Townsend’s life work, including his seminal studies on poverty, the family life of old people and long-stay institutional care for old people, as well as other ‘classic’ post war sociological studies. From 1999 to 2014, I worked as lecturer and senior lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University. During this period I led the development of various strands of the undergraduate and postgraduate social policy curriculum, and also held the roles of Associate Dean for Qualifications and Awards and Co-Director of the Families, Relationships and Communities Programme in the University’s Research Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance.

My research interests in childhood and personal relationships span the disciplinary boundaries of history, sociology and social policy and have been supported by the British Academy and the ESRC. Most recently I was Co-Principal Investigator on a two-year ESRC funded study, Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century (www.enduringlove.co.uk) and lead Co-Investigator on an ESRC Seminar Series, Visual Dialogues: New Agendas in Inequalities Research (www.visualdialogues.co.uk). These built on and complemented my historical research into the meanings of childhood and ‘troubled’ family relationships through the 20th century and the nature of their representation in feature films, documentaries and photography. They were also informed by my comparative work with Scandinavian colleagues, through which I examined the histories of family policy-making in British, Sweden and Danish welfare states and the gendered legacies and norms that continue to inform policy and practice into the 21st century.

Publications based on my historical research cover such issues as teenage girls’ sexuality, children in care, child abduction and child migration, while my research on contemporary Britain has focused on questions of childhood poverty and disadvantage and also the methodological and ethical challenges of such work. My most recent book is Couple Relationships in the 21st Century: Research, Policy and Practice, co-authored with Jacqui Gabb and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017.

Research and Scholarship

My research remains focused on childhood and personal relationships, in the recent past and the present day, and is overlaid with questions about research ethics and a commitment to public engagement in the research process. 

I continue to work with Professor Jacqui Gabb (The Open University) on qualitative data from the Enduring Love? study. We are currently examining how the history of emotions has shaped contemporary understandings of marriage and couple relationships. I am collaborating with Professor Helen Lomax (University of Huddersfield) on research concerned with the ethical dilemmas of working with children and young people using participatory visual research methods and also the methodological challenges of working with ‘found images’ in the media. Using data gathered as part of a project funded by the University of Huddersfield, titled Portraits of School Life, I am exploring the nature of children’s emotional interactions across their schools’ internal and external landscapes.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Gabb, J. and Fink, J. (2018) Couple Relationships in the 21st Century. Research, Policy, Practice . Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-319-59697-6


Fink, J. and Tinkler, P. (2017) ‘Teetering on the edge: portraits of innocence, risk and young female sexualities in 1950s’ and 1960s’ British cinemaWomen's history review , 26 (1), pp. 9-25. ISSN 0961-2025


Fink, J. and Lomax, H. (2016) ‘Sharing images, spoiling meanings? class, gender, and ethics in visual research with girlsGirlhood Studies , 9 (3), pp. 20-36. ISSN 1938-8209

Doolittle, M., Fink, J. and Holden, K. (2016) ‘Blood, Contract and Intimacy: History and Practice with Leonore DavidoffGender and History , 28 (2), pp. 288-298. ISSN 0953-5233

Fink, J (2016) ‘Interrogating visual narratives of child poverty’. In: Childcare policies and the issues of inequality, 3rd June 2016, University of Tampere, Finland

Fink, J (2016) ‘Disclosing, withholding and managing emotions in research encounters with ‘hard to reach’ couples’. In: Institute of Health and Wellbeing Lunchtime Seminar, 11th May 2016, University of Northampton

Fink, J (2016) ‘The emotional landscapes of school: Children’s journeys through time and space’. In: Innovative Research Methods with Children and Young People, 25th April 2016, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University


Gabb, J. and Fink, J. (2015) ‘Telling Moments and Everyday Experience: Mixed Methods Research on Couple Relationships and Everyday LivesSociology , 49 (5), pp. 970-987. ISSN 0038-0385

Fink, J (2015) ‘Tracing the diverse narratives of self in relationship research: insights from a multiple methods approach’. In: Constructing and Deconstructing Selfhood ESRC Wales DTC Workshops, 30th April 2015, Cardiff University

Gabb, J. and Fink, J. (2015) Couple Relationships in the 21st Century . Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. : Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137434425


Fink, J. and Lomax, H. (2014) ‘Challenging images? Dominant, residual and emergent meanings in on-line media representations of child povertyJournal for the study of British cultures , 21 (1), pp. 79-95.

Fink, J. and Gabb, J. (2014) ‘Configuring generations: cross-disciplinary perspectivesFamilies, Relationships and Societies , 3 (3), pp. 459-463. ISSN 2046-7435


Fink, J. and Gabb, J. (2013) ‘Enduring love? Couple relationships in the 21st centuryDiscover Society .

Fink, J (2013) ‘Representing family troubles through the 20th century’. In: Family troubles?. Bristol: Policy Press. pp. 35-44. ISBN 9781447304432


Fink, J (2012) ‘"They don't really care what happens to me": divorce, family life and children's emotional worlds in 1950s' British cinema’. In: Portrayals of Children in Popular Culture: Fleeting Images. New York: Lexington Books. pp. 153-169. ISBN 0739167480

Fink, J (2012) ‘Questions of innocence and guilt: child abduction and the representation of mothers in post-war British cinemaFamilies, Relationships and Societies , 1 (2), pp. 191-206. ISSN 2046-7435

Fink, J. and Lomax, H. (2012) ‘Inequalities, images and insights for policy and researchCritical Social Policy , 32 (1), pp. 3-10. ISSN 0261-0183

Fink, J (2012) ‘Walking the neighbourhood, seeing the small details of community life: Reflections from a photography walking tourCritical Social Policy , 32 (1), pp. 31-50. ISSN 0261-0183


Fink, J., de Jong, A. and Langan, M. (2011) ‘New challenges or different opportunities? Voluntary adoption agencies and the shifting terrain of childcare servicesVoluntary Sector Review , 2 (2), pp. 177-191. ISSN 2040-8056

Lomax, H., Fink, J., Singh, N. and High, C. (2011) ‘The politics of performance: methodological challenges of researching children’s experiences of childhood through the lens of participatory videoInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology , 14 (3), pp. 231-243. ISSN 1364-5579

Fink, J (2011) ‘For Better or for Worse? The Dilemmas of Unmarried Motherhood in Mid?Twentieth?Century Popular British Film and FictionWomen's History Review , 20 (1), pp. 145-160. ISSN 0961-2025


Lomax, H. and Fink, J. (2010) ‘Interpreting images of motherhood: the contexts and dynamics of collective viewingSociological Research Online , 15 (3). ISSN 1360-7804

Fink, J. and Lundqvist, A. (2010) Changing Relations of Welfare Family, Gender and Migration in Britain and Scandinavia . Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-7893-9

Fink, J. and Holden, K. (2010) ‘Paradoxes of gender and marital status in mid-twentieth century Britain and Scandinavia’. In: Changing Relations of Welfare. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 87-108. ISBN 9780754678939


Fink, J. and Lundqvist, A. (2009) Välfärd, genus och familj . : Liber. ISBN 978-9147088799

Fink, J. and Holden, K. (2009) ‘Familjeansvar bland ensamstående: paradoxer i 1900-talets brittiska socialpolitik’. In: Välfärd, genus och familj. : Liber. pp. 115-144. ISBN 978-91-47-08879-9


Fink, J (2008) ‘Inside a hall of mirrors: residential care and the shifting constructions of childhood in mid?twentieth?century BritainPaedagogica Historica , 44 (3), pp. 287-307. ISSN 0030-9230

Clarke, J. and Fink, J. (2008) ‘Unsettled attachments: national identity, citizenship and welfare’. In: Culture and Welfare State: Values and Social Policy in Comparative Perspective. : Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. pp. 225-244. ISBN 9781845423896


Fink, J (2007) ‘Children of empireCultural Studies , 21 (6), pp. 847-865. ISSN 0950-2386


Fink, J (2005) ‘Welfare, Poverty and Social Inequalities’. In: A Companion to Contemporary Britain 1939–2000. : Wiley. pp. 263-280. ISBN 9780631220404


Lewis, G. and Fink, J. (2004) ‘All that heaven allows: The worker citizen in the post war welfare state’. In: Citizenship: Personal Lives and Social Policy. : Policy Press. pp. 39-83. ISBN 9781861345219

Fink, J (2004) Care: Personal Lives and Social Policy . : Policy Press. ISBN 978-1861345196

Fink, J (2004) ‘Questions of care’. In: Care: Personal Lives and Social Policy. : Policy Press. pp. 1-42. ISBN 9781861345196

Fink, J (2004) ‘Care: meanings, identitites and morality’. In: Care: Personal Lives and Social Policy. : Policy Press. pp. 145-158. ISBN 9781861345196

Corti, L., Thompson, P. and Fink, J. (2004) ‘Preserving, Sharing and Reusing Data from Qualitative Research’. In: Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research. : Sage. pp. 288-300. ISBN 9780761948872


Fink, J (2002) ‘Private Lives, Public Issues. Moral Panics and 'the Family' in 20th-Century BritainJournal for the Study of British Cultures , 9 (2), pp. 135-148.

Fink, J (2002) ‘Europe's Cold Shoulder: Migration and Welfare in Fortress EuropeSoundings (21), pp. 119-132.


Fink, J (2001) ‘Silence, absence and elision in analyses of "the family" in European social policy’. In: Rethinking European Welfare: Transformations of Europe and Social Policy. : SAGE Publications Ltd. pp. 163-179. ISBN 9780761972785

Fink, J., Lewis, G. and Clarke, J. (2001) Rethinking European Welfare: Transformations of European Social Policy . : SAGE Publications Ltd. ISBN 9780761972785

Charlesworth, J. and Fink, J. (2001) ‘Historians and Social-Science Research Data: the Peter Townsend CollectionHistory Workshop Journal , 2001 (51), pp. 206-219. ISSN 1363-3554

Lewis, G., Fink, J. and Clarke, J. (2001) ‘Introduction: Transitionsa and trajectories in European welfare’. In: Rethinking European Welfare. : SAGE Publications Ltd. pp. 1-29. ISBN 9780761972792


Fink, J (2000) ‘Natural Mothers, Putative Fathers, and Innocent Children: The Definition and Regulation of Parental Relationships Outside Marriage, in England, 1945-1959Journal of Family History , 25 (2), pp. 178-195. ISSN 0363-1990


Fink, J. and Holden, K. (1999) ‘Pictures from the Margins of Marriage: Representations of Spinsters and Single Mothers in the mid-Victorian Novel, Inter-war Hollywood Melodrama and British Film of the 1950s and 1960sGender and History , 11 (2), pp. 233-255. ISSN 0953-5233


Davidoff, L., Doolittle, M., Fink, J. and Holden, K. (1998) The Family Story: Blood, Contract and Intimacy . : Longman. ISBN 978-0582303508




  • Sociology of Childhood and Family (Policy Press book series)  


  • British Educational Research Association’s (BERA) Special Interest Group, Children and Childhood
  • British Sociological Association’s (BSA) Visual Sociology Study Group

Guest editor - Themed Journal Issues:

  • Fink, J. and Gabb, J. (eds) (2014) Configuring generations: Cross-disciplinary perspectives, Families, Relationships and Societies (Open Space), 3 (3);
  • Fink, J. and Lomax, H. (eds) (2012) Images and inequalities: Implications for policy and research, Critical Social Policy, 32 (1)

Keynote lectures:

  • ‘Voicing the lives of children and young people’. Innovative Research Methods With Children and Young People, 25 April 2016, University Graduate College, University of Cardiff
  • ‘Tracing the diverse narratives of self in relationship research: Insights from a multiple methods approach’. Constructing and Deconstructing Selfhood, ESRC Wales DTC Workshops, 30 May 2015, University of Cardiff
  • 'Enduring Love? Everyday acts, feelings and experiences'. All Wales Sexual Health Network Annual Conference, 14 February 2014, Public Health Wales, Llandudno, Wales

Invited presentations:

  • ‘Reflections from the Silver Screen: Family lives and family problems in postwar British cinema’. The  Family in Visual Culture Seminar, 30 November 2016,  Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture, Royal Holloway, University of London
  •  ‘Couple relationships in contemporary Britain: Everyday practices of intimacy and love’. From Institution to Intimacy: International Symposium, 11-12 September 2015, University of Glasgow
  • ‘Couple relationships in the 21st century’: Family Studies Public Seminar, 25 September 2013, Department of Sociology, University of Lund, Sweden
  • ‘Show Homes: Representations of children’s lives in mid-20th century residential care’. ESRC Seminar Series: Home Space: Public and Private in New Welfare Settings, December 2012, The Open University

Invited workshops:

  • ‘Have “Generation Tagged” lost their privacy?’ A British and Irish Law Education and Technology seminar in conjunction with The Centre for Information Rights, University of Winchester and The Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 7 June 2017, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London.
  • ‘Participation in practice: ethics, analysis and voice in creative visual methods’. Visual Innovation: A Methods Workshop #Visual 16. BSA Postgraduate Forum and Visual Sociology Study Group, 22 November 2016, Staffs University.
  • ‘Capturing subjective experiences: Sociological perspectives and insights from mixed methods research’. Understanding Women's Work and Family Lives: Policy, Practice and Lessons from the Humanities and Social Sciences, 8 November 2016, The British Academy, London
  • ‘Disclosing, withholding and managing emotions in research with “hard to reach” couples’. Institute of Health, 11 May 2016, University of Northampton
  • ‘Analysing, generating and disseminating visual data’. Summer School on Doing and Communicating Qualitative Research, 13-17 July 2015, Kingston University


Peer review of articles: Children and Society; Families, Relationships and Societies; Social Policy and Society; Policy Studies; Women’s History Review; Journal of Contemporary British History; Journal of European Women’s Studies; Sociology

Peer review of book manuscripts/proposals: The Policy Press; Routledge; Oxford University Press; Polity

Book reviews: Sociology; History of Education; Gender and History; Women’s History Review; Oral History; The Journal of Family History; Work, Employment and Society; History of Education

International networks:

  • Member of HudCRES partnership with PERLA (Tampere Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research), University of Tampere, Finland
  • Lead British member of British/Nordic Research Network, Managing equality and diversity: The intersection of welfare and family lives in contemporary European societies (with Åsa Lundqvist, University of Lund and Birte Siim, University of Aalborg, Denmark). Funded by the Swedish Research Council


Research Degree Supervision

Areas for Research Supervision

  • Children and young people’s experiences of the formal and informal spaces of education, historically and in current times
  • Historical and contemporary studies of childhoods, particularly in the contexts of visual and popular cultures
  • Everyday lives and experiences of social inequality 
  • The potential and challenges of visual research methods for generating knowledge about the experiences of children and young people

Completed Postgraduate Research Supervision

  • Just a bunch of grapes?  Liminality and the experiences of adult visitors to NHS acute medical and surgical wards in England (PhD, 2017)
  • Graphic interrogation in psychosocial research: Deleuze AND comics AND middle-aged men (PhD, 2016)
  • The trials, tribulations and celebrations of young people’s same-sex partner relationships (PhD, 2015)
  • Creating hard-working, responsible parents: A New Labour structure of feeling? (PhD, 2012)
  • Active citizenship and parental choice: Producing citizen consumers (PhD, 2009)

Current Supervisions

  • Collaborative pedagogy in the Early Years: Valuing the relationships between parents, children and practitioners (EdD)
  • ESOL, maternity care and the needs of SAMM women (PhD)
  • Educating Mum and Dad: Examining parenting and parenting-pedagogy in 21st century Britain (PhD)
  • Online safety from the perspectives of younger children, parents and teachers (PhD)
  • Children’s views on learning to read using systematic synthetic phonics and their attitudes towards reading for pleasure (EdD)
  • Early years pedagogy, well-being and the child’s voice (PhD)

Enterprise Activities

Shorter Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP): Mapping the Future of the UK Childcare Sector (St Francis Children’s Society and The Open University) (2009 - 2010)

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Festival of Childhood (June 2017)
  • International Symposium - 21st Century Childhoods: Theories, Concepts and Contexts (June 2017)
  • International Symposium -  Engaging Children and Young People: Creative Methods and Research Ethics (June 2016)

Teaching and Professional Activities

  • EdD
  • BA Childhood Studies
  • BA Early Years