My name is Eleanor Lutman-White and I am a PhD student at CLL. I have been studying for my PhD part-time since 2012 and I am hoping to submit soon! My PhD considers how the tensions and debates regarding contemporary child protection policies and systems are negotiated interactionally in practice contexts and in situations where social workers give accounts of their work with families. I’m interested in how issues such as poverty, parents’ responsibilities and the role of the state are navigated when cases are described.
I began studying for my PhD after a 10-year career as a researcher in Higher Education and I have two young children (one of whom was born during my PhD!) which means I share similarities with the students that choose to study at CLL and don’t feel out of place here. I have an extremely supportive supervisor at CLL who understands the challenges of studying with two young children. For example, when my children are ill, I get nothing done! Whilst a PhD is a big commitment over a long period of time, the great benefit is that it is flexible enough to fit around my family commitments with support from my family and some paid childcare.
There are a number of things I have enjoyed throughout my PhD. Firstly, I have enjoyed the moments when things come together and start to make sense after period of muddling along in the dark. I have also enjoyed having conversations with people from within and from outside of my discipline where connections between their research and interests and mine become apparent. It’s exciting when an aspect of your research resonates with someone else’s from a completely different area. Warwick is great from this perspective as it provides lots of opportunities for you to get together with others to discuss your research. I have also benefitted from Warwick’s extensive range of training courses that support you during your research and provide opportunities to learn new skills.
I have gained a huge sense of personal satisfaction from doing a PhD. Although I am not quite there yet, I am immensely proud of having created something from nothing. I have managed to stay motivated over time (and it is a considerable period of time since I first started!) by focusing on the end goal and how amazing it will feel when I am finished. However, sometimes this feels too overwhelming and during these times I just focus on putting one foot in front of another, writing one sentence after another and one paragraph after another as these little things will eventually add up to a whole thesis.
After finishing my PhD I hope to find a research post in a University, but might need to have a tiny bit of a rest first!
The advice I would give a potential PhD student who wasn’t 100% sure is that they should only do a PhD on a topic that they are passionate about because this passion will keep them motivated during the difficult times. Secondly, you cannot underestimate the value of having an amazing supervisor; talk to current PhD students and see who they would recommend.