Our research interests are varied, and range from embodied practices and physical activity, to feminism and gender in sport. 

James's theoretical and empirical research focuses on the carnal realities of the sporting body. In particular, he is interested in how the living, breathing, sentient body is central in people’s experiences of injury, disability, pain, illness and identity (re)construction.  Recent work has also explored the ‘cyborg’ body and the body modification practices that people engage in amongst contemporary tyrannies of body perfectionism.  Methodologically, James is interested in interpretive and inter-disciplinary forms of qualitative inquiry including sensual and visual ethnography, life history, narrative analysis and psychoanalytic method that explores the messiness and complexity of corporeality.  He has recently reflected on ways in which the ‘able’ body may be reflexively situated researching with (dis)abled athletes.

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Amy is currently undertaking doctoral research specifically focusing on the embodied experiences of women within fitness cultures. 

Methodologically, she is employing a feminist phenomenological framework, with the inclusion of visual and sensual ethnographic exploration, semi-structured interviewing, whilst also incorporating a critical self-reflexive / self-embodied approach within her research.

It is hoped with the utilisation of these methods, corporeal and 'fleshy' aspects will be illuminated with regards to how she and other women, make sense of the world through their living, breathing and sensing bodies. 

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Supervised by Professor Mike Weed and Dr Ian Wellard, John’s PhD examines the influence of family relationships upon physical activity using a life histories approach, with a particular focus upon well-being. Although drawing predominantly upon sociology, his research is also informed by some of the inter-relationships between well-being, family relationships, and being more and less active as reported in social psychology and happiness economics. John has also conducted research into the historical and ideological development of exercise as a healthy practice.

Conference presentations:

Day, J. (2014). Research issues in the sociology of physical activity, health and well-being in the context of ‘families’. Poster presentation at Psychology, Sociology and Politics Conference for PhD Students and Early Career Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University. 3 rd Prize. 

Laura’s research interests to date have mainly been concerned with how people perceive and understand gender within sport and physical activity.  Laura’s PhD adopts a Foucauldian lens and an ethnographic approach in order to investigate gender within the context of children that play korfball.  Ultimately, it aims to discover whether gender equality or gender neutrality can be achieved within this non-mainstream sport which maintains ‘gender equality’ as a main characteristic of the game.  As well as presenting at a number of conferences on the historical development of korfball, the relationship between the media and korfball, and gender neutrality in korfball, current research articles in press include a focus on the embodied aspects of junior korfball, as well as the gender perceptions of children that play korfball.  Future work will involve utilising a Foucauldian lens to investigate other areas of sporting participation and physical activity; and Laura would also be keen to utilise the methods of interviews, focus groups and participant observation that she has gained experience of through her PhD and other sports related research, to develop gender research in a broader scope of topics.  

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Angela’s research interests place the corporeal body as central to examination. She is particularly concerned with the relationship between the body and identity in dance and how social worlds shape human bodies. Her PhD was a longitudinal, ethnographic and empirical study of the social world of ballet and the embodiment of young ballet dancers. She applied Pierre Bourdieu’s critique of the perpetuating social order and theoretical concepts of field, habitus and capital.

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Ian’s main research interests relate to embodied practices, physical activity, gender and sport. Much of this research has been generated through ethnographic studies, which draw upon qualitative and reflexive approaches to the ways in which embodied identities are constructed and negotiated. He is currently working on two books, both for Routledge. The first is, Whose body is it anyway? - achieving wellbeing though sport and physical activity, which is a critical look at the ‘healthy’ body within the context of sport. The other, Gym Bodies: exploring fitness cultures is being co-written with James Brighton and Amy Clark. His latest book, Researching Embodied Sport: exploring movement cultures was published in 2015 and previous books include Sport, Fun and Enjoyment (2013), Sport, Masculinities and the Body (2009) and Rethinking Gender and Youth Sport (2007), all for Routledge. Ian has continued to publish articles relating to his research in international journals.

More info about his books can be found at:

Embodied research project

Ian is conducting an auto-ethnographic research project that explores the embodied experiences of taking part in a period of intensive strength and conditioning training. The intention is to aim towards making qualifying times for the next CrossFit Games in the UK (in his age group). Ian will chart his progress through a journal of his experiences and one aspect of this is an online blog where he will post regular thoughts about his progress.

The blog can be found at: 

Recent publications

Wellard, I. (2016) Gendered Performances in Sport: an embodied approach. Palgrave Communications (in press).

Wellard, I. and Secker, M. (2015) ‘Visions’ for children’s health and wellbeing: exploring the complex and arbitrary processes of putting theory into practice. Sport, Education and Society. ISSN 1357-3322.

Gubby, L. and Wellard, I. (2015) Sporting equality and gender neutrality in korfball. Sport in Society. ISSN 1743-0437. (published online Nov 2015)

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Adesola is an independent artist and part time Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University. Her PhD, Body, Dance and Environment: an exploration of embodiment and identity , was conducted at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her work takes a soma-centred/embodied approach to understanding the lived experience where embodiment is seen as an approach (a way to engage) rather than a theory (something to define). It centres upon the way people understand and experience their bodies and incorporates dance as a somatic language that can communicate corporeal ideas. Adesola uses choreography as a methodology for exploring ideas while remaining aware that the moving body is contextulised differently across societies and cultures. She actively engages with methodologies that challenge dualist structures (such as notions of subject/object, mind/body, time/space) by working within a Pragmatist paradigm following John Dewey and informed by indigenous worldviews. A methodological approach of narrative inquiry and ethnography is applied in order to acknowledge the paradox or tensions around ‘capturing’ embodied experience, particularly in text. This research methodology, therefore, attempts to mediate the communication of corporeal and perceived ‘realities’ between respondent, researcher and reader. In doing so, it allows her to analyse and present findings in traditional academic presentations such as papers, as well as offer more embodied reports, such as through installation or performance.

Adesola’s research mission is to shed light on and listen to the narratives of people whose bodily experiences are often constructed as outside the ‘mainstream’ (with the notion that there is value and knowledge in diversity).  Part of this research mission is to further develop methodologies that acknowledge the multidimensional nature of the human experience and establish research as a method of giving back to or sharing with her community rather than something that is set apart from the ‘everyday’.

Jennifer's research explores the intersections between law/jurisprudence and the sociology of health, physical activity, sport, medicine and the body. She specifically examines legal and medical reasoning—i.e. how legal and medical experts construct and shape knowledge in their associated domains and how these knowledges are interpreted to make judicial, medical, and broader governmental decisions, particularly regarding policies and laws on health and medical related issues. Her research also works to understand how legal and medical constructs shape the corporeal experiences of those engaging with law and medicine. She is currently working on her forthcoming book ‘Law, Immunization and the Right to Die’ with Routledge and is commencing a new study on legal constructions of consent to harm that involves analysis of sport law cases. 

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Last edited: 24/04/2019 16:36:00