Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Dr Shona Hunter

RCUK Academic Fellow

I joined the School in 2006 on a five year Research Councils UK Fellowship. My work is strongly interdisciplinary so although my disciplinary 'home' is social policy, I've worked in Women's Studies, Cultural Studies, Sociology and Management.

Reflecting my commitment to critical and politicised approaches to social policy, I am the articles editor for the journal Critical Social Policy and run the World Universities Network White Spaces Collaboration with colleagues from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and UK. The network has a membership from 23 countries across 5 continents, an active postgraduate arm and a growing practitioner arm.

Research Interests

The core question driving my work is: why do racism, sexism and other unequal social relations persist, despite a myriad of policies designed to combat these inequalities? In thinking through these issues, I explore the discursive and material bodily and emotional intersections of ethnicity, gender - including white masculinities - and profession. As part of my thinking around these issues I have been developing a different way of conceptualising social policy governance, its policy practices and processes and its role in challenging the reproduction and challenge of unequal social relations. I call this the ‘relational politics’ of governance. I write about this in my forthcoming book to be published by Routledge: Power, Politics and the Emotions: Impossible Governance?

I have worked on a range of funded research projects ESRC, DFES Standards Unit Integrating Diversity Project with Sara Ahmed (Goldsmiths) and Elaine Swan (University of Technology, Sydney) (PIs). I am currently PI (Co-I Melissa Steyn, Witwatersrand South Africa) for the British Academy funded ‘Challenging institutional whiteness in postcolonial contexts’. This project builds on the WUN White Spaces work to establish an institutional, research, teaching and knowledge transfer partnership with Wits and other South African institutions. The aim is to explore the potential application of Critical Whiteness Studies to an understanding of the differentiated intersecting power dynamics constitutive of contemporary institutions as part of the broader postcolonial transnational and relational networks constitutive of global power and inequalities. It represents an extension to my earlier work on governance and relational politics.

I am also an active member of the UK Psychosocial Studies Network, sitting on its steering committee since it was established in 2007. I am also a member of the related BSA Sociology, Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial study group.


I teach across a number of areas including critical approaches to policy analysis, qualitative methods, including feminist and postcolonial approaches to social research, race and ethnicity and white ethnicities in particular. I convene the second year module Emotions, Power and Contemporary Society and the third year module Governing Cultures Identities and Emotions, both of which draw on my current research and writing. When working at Lancaster and Birmingham Universities I co-ordinated and taught on a range of post qualifying health and social care programmes to professionals and senior leaders across a range of public and private sector organisations. I also teach overseas regularly, most recently at Rhodes University’s prestigious School of Journalism in South Africa and the Department of English and Philosophical Studies at the University of Mannheim in Germany.

I am International Coordinator for the School, overseeing all aspects of our international activities, developing strategic partnerships and collaboration, encouraging and developing international teaching, research and impact mobility. As part of this role I am the School’s Study Abroad Coordinator.

PhD Supervision

Current students are working in the areas of migration and gendered identities, the social construction of mental health within the British Born Chinese communities and Muslim identification in the context of the ‘war on terror’, emotionality, national and ethnic and postcolonial belongings and the rise of the English Defence League, Roma migrants to the UK and France, and Gypsy traveller exclusion. As well as supervising traditional doctorates I enjoy co-supervising qualitative projects on the Dclin Psychology in Health Sciences. Current students are working on the negotiation of professional and social identities within a range of therapeutic contexts I am happy to supervise PhD students in the following areas.

  • Critical approaches to policy analysis including feminist, postcolonial, queer, psychosocial
  • Critical Race and Whiteness Studies
  • Emotion, subjectivity and affect within governance and policy making processes in public services, but also beyond
  • Policy making and active citizenship/activism
  • The development of equalities (and diversity) policies
  • Professional identities in health social care and education, in particular as these intersect with other social identities
  • The interface between research and policy making

Key Publications


  • Hunter S, Power, Politics and the Emotions: Impossible Governance?, Glass House Social Justice Series (London: Routledge, 2015)

Journal articles

  • Hunter S, ‘Being called to by the Rivers of Birminam: The relational choreography of white looking’, Critical Arts, 29 (2015), 43-57
    DOI: 10.1080/02560046.2015.1102250

  • Hunter SDJ, ‘Ordering Differentiation: Reconfiguring Governance as Relational Politics’, Journal of Psychosocial Studies, ed. by Frost L, 6.1 (2012)

  • Hunter S, ‘What a White Shame: Race, Gender, and White Shame in the Relational Economy of Primary Health Care Organizations in England’, SOC POLIT, 17.4 (2010), 450-476
    DOI: 10.1093/sp/jxq015

  • Hunter S, ‘Living documents: A feminist psychosocial approach to the relational politics of policy documentation’, CRIT SOC POLICY, 28.4 (2008), 506-528
    DOI: 10.1177/0261018308095300

  • Hunter S, ‘Working for Equality and Diversity in Adult and Community Learning: leadership, representation and racialised 'outsiders within’, Policy Futures in Education, 4.2 (2006), 114-127
    DOI: 10.2304/pfie.2006.4.2.114

  • Hunter S, ‘negotiating professional and social voices in research principles and practice’, Journal of Social Work Practice, 19.2 (2005), 149-162
    DOI: 10.1080/02650530500144709, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/1473/

  • Hunter S, ‘A Critical Analysis of Approaches to the Concept of Social Identity in Social Policy’, Critical Social Policy, 23.3 (2003), 322-344
    DOI: 10.1177/02610183030233002, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/1472/


  • Hunter S, ‘Subversive attachments? Gendered, raced and professional realignments in the 'new' NHS’, in Subversive Citizens: power, agency and resistance among public service users and workers, ed. by Barnes M and Prior D (Bristol: Policy Press, 2009)

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