Dr Rachael Dobson

Position: Senior Lecturer
School: School Of Social And Behavioural Sciences
Email: R.Dobson@kingston.ac.uk
Extension: 62338
Location: Room PR MB 3023, Main Building, Penrhyn Road


A central theme of my research is welfare practices and ‘interventions’. I use practitioner actions as my starting point to draw substantive connections between power and agency, welfare institutions, social policy, the state, and governance regimes. In focusing my study on the policy/action interface I understand the state as relationally constituted by and through affective, embodied and enacted practices.

Much of my research takes place in social policy and welfare institutions that are concerned to change, challenge, manage and contain the users of services, who are constructed as both vulnerable and transgressive.

This work has taken place in a broader political and policy context of increasingly disciplining and therapeutic responses to welfare users, and systemic shifts to the structure and organization of welfare provision in western contexts. My research is interested to unpick these developments as they relate to processes of neo-liberalisation.

My research is interdisciplinary. It sits at the intersections of critical social policy, sociology and criminology, and draws on feminist, critical race, psycho-social and poststructural theories. I have completed empirical studies in both England and Australia in order to develop a transnational analysis of practices and interventions in western contexts.

I have been involved in a number of different empirical projects over the past eight years, which connect and contribute in different ways to the development of my research agenda. I have carried out research into welfare practices, practitioners and institutions in different fields: social housing; homelessness; prison; and asylum seeker and refugee support.

Finally, I am an editorial collective member for Critical Social Policy (http://csp.sagepub.com/), a highly ranked, international peer reviewed journal that provides an international forum for advocacy, analysis and debate on social policy issues from feminist, anti-racist and radical perspectives.

Summary of research interests:

- The study of welfare practices (techniques, interventions, interactions, encounters)

- Analysing the relationship between therapeutic care and disciplining control in social policy and welfare practice

- Understanding policy and practice ideas about what constitutes ‘support’ in social policy and welfare practice

- Linking theoretical ideas about the relationally constituted welfare state to conceptual ideas about policy process and practice interventions

- Homelessness and global models of intervention with ‘vulnerable’ people

- Critical social policy pedagogies and scholarship; doing anti-oppressive practice in teaching and research, with a commitment to racial and social justice.

- Qualitative methodologies and ‘insider’ research.

Educational and professional qualifications

2006-2010 PhD Sociology and Social Policy, ‘Discipline and Support in housing and homelessness practices’ , University of Leeds
2005-2006 MA Social Research Methods , University of Leeds
2000-2003 BA Social Policy and Politics , University of Leeds

Professional experience (post-1990)

2010-2013 Lecturer in Social Policy and Sociology, University of Leeds
2010-2011 Consultant and Tutor, Chartered Institute of Housing
2005-2010 Teaching Assistant and Guest Lecturer, University of Leeds
2003-2008 Housing Adviser and Manager, Leeds City Council


I contribute to three undergraduate courses in the Department of Criminology and Sociology: Inequalities and Public Policy; Foundations in Criminology; and Applied Criminology. I also supervise third year dissertation projects.

All modules connect to my research interests in critical social policy, social regulation and the state, and practice ontologies.

While I work with criminological ideas, my commitment to anti-oppressive practice and progressive research-led teaching also critiques those approaches through continued reference to contemporary global and lived experience, social context, social relations and identity, and through interactional and relational approaches to the construction of ‘problem people’.

Research supervision

I welcome supervision in areas that connect to my profile:

- Housing and homelessness;

- Welfare institutions and practitioners;

- Policy and practice responses to vulnerability and transgression;

- Policy process, welfare governance and the state;

- The regulatory state, social control, power and relationality.

- Local Government and the commissioning state.

Research areas

Criminology and Sociology


2012, Higher Education Funding Council for England: Higher Education Innovation Fund (PI), Networking Funding (Psychotherapeutic practitioners)
Result: £185.00
2012, Higher Education Funding Council for England: Higher Education Innovation Fund (PI) Impact workshop with Department for Work and P{ensions and Communities and Local Government policy-makers
Result: £499.65
2012, Worldwide Universities Network, University of Sydney: Research Mobility Grant (Co-I) 'Faith-Based Organisations’ Responses to Refugees and Asylum Seekers'
Result: £95,599
2011, National Institute for Health Research: Programme Development Grant (Co-I, 0.1) 'Pain Management in Prison'
Result: $9002.00
2011, Worldwide Universities Network, University of Leeds: Early Career Internationalisation Visit (PI), Visiting scholar at the University of Sydney, School of Sociology and Social Policy
Result: £2700.00
2010, Refugee Council: Project grant (Co-I), 'Evaluation of a WrapAround (support) Service'
Result: £5000
2010, University of Leeds: School of Health Care Review (PI), 'Researching the ‘Care-Security’ Dilemma in the Criminal Justice System'
Result: £2723
2009, Economic Social Research Council: International Networking and Collaboration (PI), Visiting scholar at the University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre
Result: £3000
2005, Economic Social Research Council: 1+3 Doctoral Funding, ‘Discipline and Support in Housing and Homelessness Practice’
Result: £38,100

International connections

I have held three visiting scholarships to Australian institutions: University of Sydney (2010; 2011); and University of New South Wales (2009). During visits I have developed research connections and projects (see 'Funding' and 'Professional Activity').
2012, Worldwide Universities Network, University of Sydney, Research Mobility Grant (Co-I) 'Faith-Based Organisations’ Responses to Refugees and Asylum Seekers'
2011, Worldwide Universities Network, University of Leeds, Early Career Internationalisation Visit (PI), Visiting scholar at the University of Sydney, School of Sociology and Social Policy
2009, Economic Social Research Council, International Networking and Collaboration (PI), Visiting scholar at the University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre

Professional activity

My experiences of working in welfare practice (see 'professional experience') informs my research and it means that I am consistently engaged with 'impact'. I have worked with practitioners in a range of different institutional sites: social housing; homelessness; prisons; asylum seeker and refugee support; unemployment; and health and psychotherapy.

My research with practitioners supports my interest in transnational experiences of, and responses to, vulnerability and transgression in western contexts. My connections to practice also support knowledge and theory building on the culturally situated and therapeutic nature of welfare practice.

This research agenda has been supported through research and practice connections with Australian organisations and scholars. I have had the opportunity to learn from and work with homelessness agencies like UnitingCare, Sydney, and with Dr Catherine Robinson, senior lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at University Technology Sydney.

Research outputs

Number of items: 6.


Dobson, Rachael (2015) Power, agency, relationality and welfare practice. Journal of Social Policy, 44(4), pp. 687-705. ISSN (print) 0047-2794

Walsh, Elizabeth, Butt, Christine, Freshwater, Dawn, Dobson, Rachael, Wright, Nat, Cahill, Jane, Briggs, Michelle and Alldred, David (2014) Managing pain in prison: staff perspectives. International Journal of Prisoner Health, 10(3), pp. 198-208. ISSN (print) 1744-9200

Dobson, Rachael (2011) Conditionality and homelessness services; 'practice realities' in a drop-in centre. Social Policy and Society, 10(4), pp. 547-557. ISSN (print) 1474-7464

Dobson, Rachael and McNeill, Jenny (2011) Review article: Homelessness and housing support services: rationales and policies under New Labour. Social Policy and Society, 10(04), pp. 581-589. ISSN (print) 1474-7464

Dobson, Rachael (2009) 'Insiderness', 'involvement' and emotions: impacts for methods, 'knowledge' and social research. People, Place & Policy Online, 3(3), pp. 183-195. ISSN (online) 1753-8041

Book Section

Dobson, Rachael (2017) Supporting people, regulation, welfare practice and emotions. In: Jupp, Eleanor , Pykett, Jessica and Smith, Fiona M., (eds.) Emotional states : sites and spaces of affective governance. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. ISBN 9781472454058

This list was generated on Fri May 26 04:39:54 2017 BST.