Dr Julie Parsons

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2016-17

Dr Julie Parsons

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2016-17

Julie Parsons ISRF

Julie Parsons is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Plymouth. Her book Gender, Class and Food, Families, Bodies and Health (Palgrave MacMillan 2015), was shortlisted for the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (FSHI) book prize in 2016. She was programme lead for the M.Sc. in Social Research from 2010– 2014 and programme lead for the B.Sc. (Hons) in Sociology (2017-2021). She is convener of the British Sociological Association (BSA) Food Study Group and a member of the BSA Auto/Biography Study Group Committee. She is lead for the Methodological Innovations Study Group in the Institute of Health at the University of Plymouth.

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. (2020) Making time for food when ‘doing time’; how enhanced status prisoners counter the indignity of prison foodways, Special Issue of Appetite on Prison Foodhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2019.104507
  • Parsons, J.M. (2019) Narrative re-scripting: Reconciling past and present lives, Auto/Biography Review 2018, (editor) Sparkes, A.C. British Sociological Association Auto/Biography Study Group, Russell Press, Nottingham, pp111-128
  • Parsons J.M. (2018) Commensality as a theatre for witnessing change for criminalised individuals working at a resettlement scheme, European Journal of Probation, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 182-198 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2066220318819239
  • Parsons, J.M. (2018) Virtual social media spaces, a relational arena for ‘bearing witness’ to desistance, Papers from the British Criminological Conference 2018, Vol 18http://www.britsoccrim.org/papers-from-the-british-criminology-conference-2018/
  • Parsons, J. M., & Hocking, S. (2018) The Lived experience of Carrots and Risks, voices from within the criminal justice system, ISRF Bulletin XVI, pp32-38, https://issuu.com/isrf/docs/isrf_bulletin_issue_xvi


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 [email protected].