Professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender
My research focusses on women and gender and includes an interest in gender relations at work and at home and how women - through involvement in feminist social movements - can bring about social change. My most recent research has explored gendered political processes in the context of devolution and I am increasingly interested in human-animal relations, particularly how non-human animals become kin. My research falls into four main areas:
- gender divisions and the relation between paid and unpaid work;
- Families, households and kin relationships;
- Human-animal relations;
- Feminist social movements and social change – in particular the refuge movement and policy change relating to domestic violence.
A key theoretical concern is with the way gender relations are reproduced and/or challenged over time.
New research project
I am the P-I on a Leverhulme-funded project exploring how human-animal connectedness is shaped by training cultures. It is a three-year project entitled 'Shaping human-animal connectedness: Training cultures and the emergence of new forms of human-animal relations'. Working with me are Professor Mara Miele (Co-I, Cardiff) and Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder (Consultant, Edinburgh). The project will begin in January 2018.
I am carrying out three linked pieces of research exploring human-animal relations within the domestic sphere. The first is a small research project titled, 'Post-human families - an investigation of kinship across the species barrier', which is investigates the connections between human and other animals and the circumstances in which animals come to be regarded as kin. This interest developed from my earlier research on families and kinship where we found that people counted their pets as family members. This study was funded by the British Academy.
The second is linked to a Mass Observation directive that I commissioned which asked correspondents about their relationships with animals. My most recent publications relate to this directive. The third is an investigation of the PAT dog visits to the unversity where I am exploring students' experiences of their encounter with dogs in the university library and how we can conceptualise this encounter as work.
I have also been involved in MYPLACE, a European project (FP7-funded) exploring young people's civic and political engagement and in research exploring the relationship between gender and political processes in the context of devolution. This research was funded by the ESRC and I am writing a monograph based on it to be published by Policy Press.
I have carried out research on women in the paid workforce, exploring the way gender ideologies and trade union policies and practices shape gender divisions of labour, how women's experience of shiftwork affects gender relations at home, and how gender affects experiences of job insecurity. This last project was part of the ESRC’s Future of Work programme. My interests in families and households encompasses research on food practices within families and their relation to gender divisions of labour and research on various aspects of domestic violence ranging from refuge funding through the housing needs of women and children escaping domestic violence and their mental health needs to an audit of local domestic abuse services.
I have written five books –Women, Food and Families, (Manchester University Press, 1988), Gender divisions and social change (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993), Feminism, the state and social policy (Macmillan, 2000), Gender in Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2002) and Families in Transition (The Policy Press, 2008) - and co-edited five others - Practising Feminism (Routledge, 1996), Gender, ethnicity and political ideologies (Routledge, 1998), Gender and Social Justice in Wales (Cardiff University Press, 2010), Nature, Society and Environmental Crisis (Sociological Review Monograph, Wiley, 2010) and Humans and other animals: critical perspectives (Palgrave, 2011).
Current and recent PhD supervision
- A qualitative inquiry into the effects of domestic abuse upon the workplace
- Maternal benefits in New Labour’s childcare strategy? Care, choice and constraint in women’s lives
- Gender and change in the Dulais valley mining communities
- Work-family balance amongst women managers in S Africa
- Gendered work in the tourist industry in Nepal
- Gendered work in tomato production in Turkey
- Women managers' experiences of work in Western and Islamic banks in Turkey
- Women's political representation and quotas in Pakistan
- The links between animal and child abuse
- Therapeutic effects of companion animals on veterans
- Changing human-animal relations in China with special reference to 'pets'
- Doing gender in local government
- Women's publications in Ottoman Turkey
- Media representations of human-animal relations - audience responses to docu soaps
Selected Publications (books)
- Charles N, Davies C A and Harris C (2008) Families in Transition: Social Change, Family Formation and Kin Relationships, The Policy Press: Bristol
- Charles N: Gender in Modern Britain, Oxford University Press, 2002
- Charles N: Feminism, the state and social policy, Macmillan, 2000
- Charles N: Gender Divisions and Social Change, Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993
- Charles N and Kerr M: Women, Food and Families, Manchester University Press, 1988.