Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Emeritus Professor Bren Neale

Professor of Life Course and Family Research

I was awarded a doctorate from the University of Leeds in 1985 for an ethnographic study of couples undergoing the transition to marriage, and have since specialised in policy-related research on the dynamics of family life, childhood and intergenerational relationships.

As Director of the ESRC Timescapes Initiative, I have contributed to advances in Qualitative Longitudinal (QL) research methods across academia, government and the voluntary sector. I set up an infrastructure for the archiving and secondary analysis of QL datasets (The Timescapes Archive) which has received ESRC funding through to 2014 (ESRC Changing Landscapes, with Kahryn Hughes). My empirical research under Timescapes focused on the changing lives of young people.

In 2010 I set up the Following Young Fathers study, which I co-direct with Carmen Lau Clayton (ESRC 2012-15). I am a founding editorial board member of a new international journal: Families, Relationships and Societies (Policy Press. 2012- ). In 2010, I was elected as a member of the Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of my work in developing Timescapes.


I have delivered numerous invited keynotes, seminar presentations, master classes and workshops on QL methodology throughout the UK and internationally (Maynooth, Germany, Lisbon, Amsterdam and Lithuania)

I teach on the MA in Social Research and contribute to an ongoing Training programme on Qualitative Longitudinal Methods organised in the School of Sociology and Social Policy.


PhD Supervision

I supervise seven doctoral students (three  successfully completed, four ongoing), and provide mentoring for early career researchers at the University of Leeds, and internationally from Germany, Poland and Wisconsin USA.

Key Publications

Journal articles

  • Davies L, Neale B, ‘Supporting young fathers: the promise, potential and perils of statutory service provision’, Families, Relationships and Societies, 4.2 (2015), 331-338
    DOI: 10.1332/204674315X14351554435189, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/86591/

  • Neale BA, ‘Adding Time into the Mix: Stakeholder ethics in qualitative longitudinal research’, Methodological Innovations Oline, ed. by Wiles R and Boddy J, Special Issue on Research Ethics in Challenging Circumstances (2013)
    DOI: 10.4256/mio.2013.009

  • Neale B, Henwood K, Holland J, ‘Researching lives through time: An introduction to the timescapes approach’, Qualitative Research, 12.1 (2012), 4-15
    DOI: 10.1177/1468794111426229

  • Neale BA, Bishop E, ‘The Timescapes Archive: A stakeholder approach to archiving Qualitative Longitudinal data’, Qualitative Research, 12.1 (2012), 53-65


  • ‘Qualitative Longitudinal Research’, in Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work, ed. by Becker S, Bryman A and Ferguson H (Bristol: Policy Press, 2012), 271-258

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