Photo of Rachel Thomson

Rachel Thomson
Professor of Childhood & Youth Studies (Social Work and Social Care)
T: +44 (0)1273 876689


Transitions and the lifecourse; young people's sexual cultures, qualitative longitudinal methods, digital childhood.

Her research interests fall into the following areas:

Youthful sexualities:  young people’s sexual health and well-being, sex education, sexual cultures and the relationship between public representations and and private experience. Longstanding collaboration with Brook, the young people’s sexual health provider, involving research consultancy and co-funded PhD studentships and knowledge exchange exploring young people’s understandings of sexual pleasure (Ester McGeeney) and sexual consent (Whittington). Currently revisiting a landmark study of young people's sexualities conducted in 1988.

Biographies and transition: landmark empirical studies on young people’s transitions to adulthood (Inventing Adulthood) and transitions to new parenthood (Making Modern Mothers). Theoretical work on biography and social change including ‘critical moments’ and the ‘remaking' of inequality. Pioneering role in mapping and developing ‘temporal’ methods including qualitative longitudinal, intergenerational and revisiting research designs (see Researching Social Change, Sage 2009).

Digital Childhoods: the impact of the shift from analog to digital cultures on the meanings and practices of childhood. How digital cultures infuse everyday lives and the development of new mediated socialities that include parenting, play and education. Thomson, Berriman & Bragg (2018) Everyday childhoods in a digital age: time, technology and documentation (Bloomsbury)

Archives: the creation of accessible archives documenting everyday lives and thinking about how archives themsleves become part of a new everyday.