Dr Julie Parsons

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2016-17

Dr Julie Parsons

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2016-17

ISRF Julie Parsons

Julie has a first in Sociology from the University of the West of England (1994), an MSc in Sociology from the University of Bristol (1996) and a PhD (Sociology) from Plymouth University (2014). She has worked as a sociologist at Plymouth University since 1996, in a range of roles including Programme Manager for the MSc in Social Research (2010-14), Deputy Director for the Centre for Methodological Innovations (2013-16), Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning (2014-15) and as a Sociology of Health and Illness Foundation Mildred Blaxter research fellow (2015-16).

Her research interests centre on social divisions and participatory approaches to research that give ‘voice’ to participants. To date this has been articulated through research that explores the intersectionalities of gender with class in the field of everyday foodways, narratives of weight loss surgery, photo-elicitation amongst users of a homeless centre and commensality (eating together around a table) as a tool for health, well-being, social inclusion and community resilience at a rural land-based prisoner resettlement scheme (RS).

Julie’s ISRF research fellowship will enable her to conduct a Photographic e-Narrative (PeN) pilot project with current and former prisoners (referred to as trainees) at a local RS. In order to foster a sense of social inclusion, the trainees will take photographs and develop narratives around these in order to engage with the wider community of supporters via a closed blog. The project aims are twofold, to work as a personal development tool for trainees, whilst fostering dialogue between trainees and supporters in order to challenge social exclusion.

Developing capitals through a Photographic e-Narrative (PeN) project at a prisoner/ex-offender resettlement scheme (RS)

In the interests of developing an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to the theory and practice of desistance, I aim to pilot a Photographic electronic Narrative (PeN) project with prisoners and ex-offenders (referred to as trainees) currently working at a rural land-based resettlement scheme (RS). The focus is on the interrelationship between forms of human, social and cultural capital in furthering pro-social aspirations and expectations. PeN is an innovative ‘photo-dialogue’ approach that draws on participatory action research (PAR) and a modified ‘photovoice’ technique. There are two inter-related aims of the PeN project, firstly to enable trainees to create a visual, self-reflexive narrative of their desistance (or resistance) journey and secondly to engage the wider community with this journey. The RS has 1000+ registered supporters, including a variety of volunteers and visitors who engage on a regular basis. The PeN will therefore work on two levels, firstly as a creative personal development tool, with trainees instructed in the use of digital cameras and basic photographic editing software. Secondly, photographs chosen by the trainees and discussed with the researcher will be uploaded onto a blog site for supporters, staff, volunteers and stakeholders. It is hoped that a meaningful dialogue will evolve across the blog and create references for supporters when they visit. There will be an exhibition of photographs at the annual supporters’ event in September 2017 and a PeN album produced for trainees on graduation, with the potential for contributions to continue beyond graduation from the RS. The PeN project incorporates, human, social and cultural capital models of desistance amongst a group with low literacy skills and encourages dialogue with the wider community. The project will be evaluated through focus groups and exit interviews with trainees and online questionnaires to supporters. A detailed ethnographic field journal will be kept throughout the study.

Research Outcomes

  • Parsons, J. M. (2018). Virtual social media spaces, a relational arena for ‘bearing witness’ to desistance, Papers from the British Criminological Conference 2018.
  • Parsons, J. M., & Hocking, S. (2018). The Lived Experience of ‘Carrots’ and’Risks’: Voices from within the Criminal Justice System. ISRF Bulletin XV1, pp32-38
  • Parsons, J.M. (2019). Virtual desistance dialogues; an opportunity for building bridges and as resettlement ritual. European Society of Criminology Conference, 19th Annual Conference, ConverGENT roads, bridges and new pathways in criminology, 18th-21st September, Ghent, Belgium
  • Parsons, J.M. (2018). Reconciling past and past present lives, whilst imagining ‘non-criminalised’ future selves. Narratives of reflection from prisoners working at a resettlement scheme, BSA Auto/Biography Winter Conference, Friends Meeting House, London, Friday 7th December
  • Parsons, J.M. (2018). “At least it’s not bread and water”: Beyond resistance and disruption, ambivalence and generativity in prisoners’ narrative reflections on the lived experience of everyday foodways in a UK prison. FOOD IN PRISON, International and multidisciplinary, perspectives, 21-22 September, Brussels, Belgium
  • Parsons, J.M. (2018). Family narratives, inside-out, the lived experience of family life from prison, BSA Auto/Biography Summer Conference, Wolfson College, Oxford, 19-21st July
  • Parsons, J.M. (2018). Visualising desistance dialogues through social media platforms and the benefits of imagined social capital for ‘offenders’ working at a resettlement scheme (RS), British Society of Criminology Conference 2018, Birmingham City University, 3-6th July.
  • Parsons, J.M. and Hocking, S. (2018). The lived experience of ‘carrots’ and ‘risks’: Voices from Within the Criminal Justice System, ISRF Workshop, Law, Social Organisation and Social Control, All Souls College, Oxford, 15th June.
  • Parsons, J.M. (2018). Examining the benefits of social capital for ‘offender’ health and wellbeing at a resettlement scheme (RS), Institute of Health & Community (IHC) Seminar, University of Plymouth, June 13th.
  • Parsons, J.M. (2018). The Photographic electronic Narrative (PeN) project, creating a social space for the disembodied articulation of ‘imagined social capital’ for ‘offenders’ working at a resettlement scheme (RS), BSA Annual Conference, Theme: Identity, Community and Social Solidarity, Northumbria University, 10/12th April.
  • Parsons J.M. and Hocking, S. (2018). The PeN project at LandWorks: enabling dialogue and connecting the community with those looking to re/integrate after punishment (poster presentation), Effective Community Engagement, Devonport Guildhall, Monday 22nd January
  • Parsons, J.M. (2017). “Interacting with women has probably helped as well”, on ‘doing’ gender in the field, BSA Auto/Biography Summer Conference, Dartington Hall, Devon, 19th – 21st July
  • Parsons, J.M. (2017). The PeN project as a tool for generating dialogue between offenders and the wider community, British Society of Criminology Conference, Forging Social Justice: Local Challenges, Global Complexities, Sheffield Hallam University – 4-7th July

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at lars.cornelissen@isrf.org.