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Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Professor of Sociology and Intimacy
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Hist, Rel St, Soc, SP&C
  • Social Policy & Criminology
  • jacqui.gabb

Professional biography

I joined The Open University in 2004. I have worked as a Staff Tutor and lecturer in Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, and Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences (2014-2016). I am now Professor of Sociology and Intimacy.

Before joining the OU, I worked in the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies (University of Huddersfield), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies (University of Leeds) and the Department of Sociology and Gender Studies (University of Hull). I started academic life in the School of Media (University of Humberside). I have a PhD Women’s Studies/Sociology from the University of York (2002).

My research and innovative impact activities have been recognised by three prestigious awards: the BSA Philip Abrams Memorial prize (2009) for best sole-authored first book in Sociology, the Open University Engaging Research Award (2014), the Evelyn Gillian Research Impact Award (2016).

At The Open University, I lead the ‘Intimacies and the Private Sphere’ work stream in the Citizenship and Governance strategic research area, having previously been Co-director of the Families, Relationships and Communities Programme in the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance (CCIG).

Research interests

I am interested in exploring interdisciplinary approaches for researching and theorizing intimacy and personal relationships, working in the fields of Family and Sexuality Studies. I also have established interests in mixed methods and multiple qualitative methods research. I have completed RCUK-funded projects on couple relationships, lesbian parenthood, intimacy and sexuality in families, and post-divorce fatherhood. My recent ESRC-funded study on long-term couple relationships Enduring Love? (RES-063-23-3056) has received widespread critical acclaim, with findings being reported in the national and international media, and published in academic, self-help, relationship support and educational formats.  

Recent doctoral research student supervision includes:

Amy Dean (current), Young people and sex education

Tom Whitney (current), Same-sex couples in serodiscordant partnerships in the UK

Olga Plakhotnik (current), Queer kinship: sexual citizenship in Ukraine

I have previously supervised Charter studentships affiliated to the Enduring Love? research project:

Danni Pearson (2015), The trials, tribulations and celebrations of long-term, same-sex partner relationships

Thierry Chessum (2015), Graphic interrogation in psychosocial research: comics AND Deleuze AND middle-aged men

I welcome applications from new students in areas related to my research interests including studies on families, personal relationships, intimacy, emotions, sexuality and gender.

Teaching interests

My teaching time at The Open University is focused on the development and production of postgraduate curriculum, particularly research methods. I am currently working with colleagues on criminology curriculum, focusing on research ethics.

I was Module Team Chair (production) of Introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods (D849). I have been module team chair of Investigating the Psychological World (D821) and Investigating the Social World (D822), and a module team member of Research methods dissertation in social sciences (D845). I also contributed to the third level sociological module Making Social Worlds (DD308) - writing the chapter on 'Family Attachments' in one of the core texts.

Impact and engagement

The Enduring Love? study investigated how couples experience and understand their long-term relationships. Media coverage of the launch of study findings featured on national and international live and pre-corded television and radio, including: BBC World News, BBC Four News and CNN. There was extensive coverage in print and online media, including: the New York Post (USA), LA Times (USA), Le Point (France), The Age (Australia), South China Morning Post, Pink News, and all major UK newspapers. Findings also featured in discussion on many broadcast programmes including The Today Programme, Loose Women, and Woman’s Hour. Findings continue to inform debate on couple diversity and the ways that relationships endure over the life course.

In the policy arena, I have been invited to participate in all-party parliamentary briefings, receptions and consultation events. Research evidence has been presented to government departments (DfE, DWP and The Treasury) and parliamentary policy making groups (Centre for Social Justice and Labour Policy Review), enabling them to refine their understandings of family and relationship support.

Findings have been disseminated to frontline relationship support staff through conference and workshop presentations, and in collaboration with family systemic psychotherapists, the emotion map research method has been adapted for use in clinical practice as part of the clinical assessment toolkit.

In collaboration with Brook, we have ‘translated’ findings into online relationship information resources for young people and an eLearning teaching pack designed for teachers for use in schools as part of sex and relationship education (SRE). Launched at the House of Commons (13/09/16) these materials are designed to enable young people to learn about how relationships work and thus develop more realistic expectations that can be fulfilled.

Findings have also been published for a general readership in a self-help handbook The Secrets of Enduring Love (Penguin, Random House, 2016) and in a series of films The Art of Relationships. Academic publications include Couple Relationships in the 21st Century (Palgrave, 2015).

External collaborations

I was Co-editor (2010-2016) of Families, Relationships, Societies and now serve as an Editorial Management Board member on this international journal published by Policy Press. Other editorial roles include: Chair of the Editorial Board for the journal Sociological Research Online (2008-2011), Associate Editorial Board member for Sociology (2008-2010), and Editorial Assistant of Feminist Theory (1998-2001).

I have held executive positions in learned societies including Trustee for the British Sociological Association and co-convenor of the BSA Families and Relationships Study Group (2008-2011). I was an Executive Committee Member for the Feminist and Women's Studies Association (2007-2010), during which time I established the highly successful annual Palgrave Macmillan FWSA Book Prize.

I hold roles on several national funding bodies, including: invited member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) peer review college and review panel member for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities & Social Sciences (NOS-HS)

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Citizenship, Identifies and Governance (CCIG)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences
Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences

 

Externally funded projects

Enduring Love: The trials, tribulations and celebrations of long term partner relationships. (D-12-010-JF)

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Apr/201231/Mar/2015Relate
Enduring Love: The trials, tribulations and celebrations of long term partner relationships

Enduring Love? Understanding Long-term Adult Couple Relationships in Contemporary Britain. (D-10-021-JG)

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Sep/201111/Nov/2013ESRC Economic and Social Research Council
The aim of Enduring Love? is to understand more about the meanings and experiences of long term adult couple relationships by unpicking the conundrum of how couples enter and sustain enduring relationships in the context of rapid socio-cultural change. Our analytic focus is the intersections of gender and generation, and the experience of couples living with and without children in long term relationships. Using a rigorous combination of qualitative mixed methods we will interrogate what it means to be a couple and how individuals manage to sustain their relationship, producing an incisive account of couples’ everyday emotional–social worlds in contemporary society. In particular we aim to: • Understand the gendered meanings, practices and imaginations of quality in long-term relationships and the ways that women and men work to stay together. • Advance knowledge of how enduring relationships are lived and felt by couples at different points in the life course in the socio-cultural context of shifting discourses on love, ‘marriage’, intimacy and commitment. • Interrogate the experience of adult couples, living with/without children, and the impact of family policies and cultural narratives which privilege parenthood and childrearing as part of the life course. The study will identify and reframe debate around the connectors and enduring relationship qualities that hold people together so that policy can speak to the diverse experience and needs of couples in Britain today.

Publications

Measuring Relationship Quality in an International Study: Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Validity (2016)
Chonody, Jill M.; Gabb, Jacqui; Killian, Mike and Dunk-West, Priscilla
Research on Social Work Practice ((Early view))
Telling moments and everyday experience: multiple methods research on couple relationships and personal lives (2015-10)
Gabb, Jacqui and Fink, Janet
Sociology, 49(5) (pp. 970-987)
Reflections on the challenges of understanding racial, cultural and sexual differences in couple relationship research (2015-04)
Gabb, Jacqui and Singh, Reenee
Journal of Family Therapy, 37(2) (pp. 210-227)
The uses of emotion maps in research and clinical practice with families and couples: methodological innovation and critical inquiry (2015-03)
Gabb, Jacqui and Singh, Reenee
Family Process, 54(1) (pp. 185-197)
Embodying risk: managing father–child intimacy and the display of nudity in families (2013-08-09)
Gabb, Jacqui
Sociology, 47(4) (pp. 639-654)
Family lives and relational living: taking account of otherness (2011-11)
Gabb, Jacqui
Sociological Research Online, 16, Article 10(4)
Introduction to critical concepts: families, intimacies and personal relationships (2011-11)
Gabb, Jacqui and Silva, Elizabeth
Sociological Research Online, 16(4)
Home truths: ethical issues in family research (2010)
Gabb, Jacqui
Qualitative Research, 10(4) (pp. 461-478)
Researching family relationships: a qualitative mixed methods approach (2009)
Gabb, Jacqui
Methodological Innovations Online, 4(2) (pp. 37-52)
Locating lesbian parent families (2005-12)
Gabb, Jacqui
Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 12(4) (pp. 419-432)
Lesbian M/Otherhood: strategies of familial-linguistic management in lesbian parent families (2005-10-01)
Gabb, Jacqui
Sociology, 39(4) (pp. 585-603)
'I could eat my baby to bits'; passion and desire in lesbian mother-children love (2004-09)
Gabb, Jacqui
Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 11(3) (pp. 399-415)
Critical differentials: querying the incongruities within research on lesbian parent families (2004-05)
Gabb, Jacqui
Sexualities, 7(2) (pp. 167-182)
Sexuality education: how children of lesbian mothers 'learn' about sex/uality (2004-04)
Gabb, Jacqui
Sex Education, 4(1) (pp. 19-34)
Querying the discourses of love: an analysis of contemporary patterns of love and the stratification of intimacy within lesbian families (2001-08)
Gabb, Jacqui
European Journal of Women's Studies, 8(3) (pp. 313-328)
The Secrets of Enduring Love: How to Make Relationships Last (2016-02-04)
Barker, Meg-John and Gabb, Jacqui
ISBN : 978-1785040238 | Publisher : Vermilion | Published : London
Couple Relationships in the 21st Century (2015)
Gabb, Jacqui and Fink, Janet
Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life
ISBN : 978-1-137-43442-5 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : London
Researching Intimacy in Families (2008)
Gabb, Jacqui
Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life
ISBN : 978-0-230-52722-5 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke, UK
Qualitative Research: Methods and Methodology (2016)
Gabb, Jacqui
In: Goldberg, Abbie E. ed. The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies (pp. 895-900)
Publisher : Sage
Qualitative Research on LGBT-Parent Families (2012-10)
Gabb, Jacqui
In: Goldberg, Abbie and Allen, Katherine eds. LGBT-Parent Families: Innovations in Research and Implications for Practice
ISBN : 1461445558 | Publisher : Springer | Published : New York
The affect of methods (2012-05-09)
Gabb, Jacqui
In: Hines, Sally and Taylor, Yvette eds. Sexualities: Past Reflections, Future Directions (pp. 32-51)
ISBN : 9780230290099 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke
Troubling displays: the affect of gender, sexuality and class (2011-08)
Gabb, Jacqui
In: Dermott, Esther and Seymour, Julie eds. Displaying Families: a New Concept for the Sociology of Family Life. Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life (pp. 38-60)
ISBN : 978-0-230-24613-3 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke
Affective attachment in families (2008)
Gabb, Jacqui
In: Redman, Peter ed. Attachment: Sociology and social worlds (pp. 19-50)
ISBN : 9780719078125 | Publisher : Manchester University Press | Published : Manchester, UK