• Room 02.017 - 3 College Park East

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

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


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

My research focuses on roles and social emotions, particularly motherhood, shame and anxiety. I examine the normative, interactive and emotional quality of role interpretation, and am developing a monograph on Emotions and Social Roles: A Critical Theory. My previous book, The Demands of Motherhood: Agents, Roles and Recognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), returns to neglected sociological questions concerning the connections between agency and normative complexity, through the neo-pragmatist interpretation it offers of the recognition dynamics shaping this deeply contested and emotionally fraught role.

Abortion and Nation: The Politics of Reproduction in Contemporary Ireland (Ashgate 2005, Routledge 2016), analysed the significance and changing character of a gendered politics of national identity over three decades of intense moral conflict. 

I have also published papers on different expectations of parents and friends in the context of divorce; the social politics of breastfeeding, abortion and sex education; and the significance of maternal situations as sites of civility, sectarianism and social change in Belfast's divided inner city. 

I am interested in supervising PhD theses taking a critical theory perspective on social role interpretations.




Sociological Imagination (Level 1)

Norms and Social Change (Level 3 option)

Researching Emotions in Social Life (Masters)


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Research Output

Non-sectarian Mothering in Belfast: the emotional quality of normative change

Smyth, L., 10 Nov 2014, The ‘Irish’ Family. Connolly, L. (ed.). London: Routlege, p. 106-124 19 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

The Demands of Motherhood: Agents, Roles and Recognition

Smyth, L., 2012, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 178 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • The Social Politics of Breastfeeding: Norms, Situations and Policy Implications

    Smyth, L., 15 Jun 2012, In : Ethics and Social Welfare. 6, 2, p. 182-194 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Book Review Symposium: Kate Boyer, Spaces and Politics of Motherhood

    Smyth, L., 06 Nov 2019, In : Sociology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


    San Diego State University

    Lisa Smyth (Visitor)
    09 Nov 200930 Jun 2010

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesResearch and Teaching at External Organisation

    International Feminist Journal of Politics (Journal)

    Lisa Smyth (Peer reviewer)
    Feb 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Panel Discussion of 'The Kids are All Right', in QFT Series 'Real to Reel: Film and Social Life'

    Lisa Smyth (Chair), Jonathan G Heaney (Organiser), Catherine McNamee (Contributor), Danielle Mackle (Contributor)
    16 Jan 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar

    Qualitative Sociology (Journal)

    Lisa Smyth (Peer reviewer)
    Mar 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    International Breastfeeding Journal (Journal)

    Lisa Smyth (Peer reviewer)
    Jan 2019Feb 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Press / Media

    Robot is the latest incentive to ensure abortion in Northern Ireland

    Lisa Smyth


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Ireland abortion referendum: How much has country changed?

    Lisa Smyth


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment


    "A different kind of girl" : young women's experiences of growing up and "coming out" in Northern Ireland

    Author: Neill, G., Jul 2016

    Supervisor: Smyth, L. (Supervisor) & Schubotz, D. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy