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    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

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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)


Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Lisa Smyth is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 46 Similar Profiles
abortion Social Sciences
motherhood Social Sciences
politics Social Sciences
Ireland Social Sciences
Social Role Social Sciences
national identity Social Sciences
anxiety Social Sciences
promotion Social Sciences

Research Output 1998 2019

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

nation state
national identity

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

Activities 2005 2019

San Diego State University

Lisa Smyth (Visitor)
09 Nov 200930 Jun 2010

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

Qualitative Sociology (Journal)

Lisa Smyth (Peer reviewer)
Mar 2019

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

British Sociological Association Study Group on Emotions (External organisation)

Lisa Smyth (Advisor)
Aug 2019 → …

Activity: Membership typesMembership of external research organisation

International Feminist Journal of Politics (Journal)

Lisa Smyth (Peer reviewer)
Feb 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., 2016

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

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy