Julie Parsons

Academic profile

Dr Julie Parsons

Associate Head of School for Criminology, Sociology, Anthropology
School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)

The Global Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Julie's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 02: SDG 2 - Zero HungerGoal 03: SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-beingGoal 04: SDG 4 - Quality EducationGoal 05: SDG 5 - Gender EqualityGoal 10: SDG 10 - Reduced InequalitiesGoal 12: SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

About Julie

I started work at the University of Plymouth as a Lecturer in the Sociology of Health and Illness on a fractional contract, teaching sociology on the BSc (hons) nursing and midwifery programmes, followed by all of the other allied health professional programmes. I went full time in 2010 when I also began a PhD entitled 'ourfoodstories@email.com'; An Auto/Biographical Study of Relationships with Food, which was completed in 2014. I became a Lecturer in Sociology in 2014, teaching on the BSc (hons) Sociology programmes. I was programme lead for the MSc in Social Research (2010-14) and for the BSc (hons) Sociology programme from 2017-2021. I am currently the Associate Head of School for the Social Sciences (Criminology, Anthropology & Sociology) for the School of Society and Culture.
Following my doctoral study I was lucky enough to be awarded a Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness (SHI) Mildred Blaxter Post-Doctoral Fellowshipto work with LandWorks(a resettlement and rehabilitation scheme for people in prison and those at risk of going to prison), exploring the benefits of eating together for those on placement and the wider community. I have subsequently worked on a number of funded research projects at LandWorks, including an Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) mid career fellowship in 2016, which enabled me to establish a website https://penprojectlandworks.org/. This is an ongoing project working with people on placement at LandWorks to co-create blog posts about their journeys into, and lived experience of, the criminal justice system in their own words.
Erwin James, editor of the Inside Time, the Newspaper for Prisoners and Detainees , has published a number of PeN project blogs in the newspaper, and has written:
‘The PeN project is a must view and read for anyone who wants not only to understand the thinking and experiences of those we imprison and their journeys of change - but also to be reminded of the potential reward to society when we give them encouragement, nurturing, hope and above all, the skills and confidence to live meaningful, contributing lives once they have served their sentences.’
My latest research funding is from the British Academy, exploring the lived experience of the pandemic for socio-economically disadvantaged and criminalised individuals.
I work as a volunteer cook at LandWorks, working one-to-one with people on placement there, preparing lunch for up to 18 people, including visitors who might be working within the criminal justice system, e.g. probation or prison officers, police etc., I supervise student placements at LandWorks and if you are a BSc (hons) Sociology student you will have the opportunity to visit the project as a volunteer or on a work placement. You can read about one of the student placements at LandWorks hereor watch a short film about another here.
I am a keen advocate of the benefits of volunteering, and as well as my involvement with LandWorks, I volunteered for Home-start,a charity that offers support, friendship and practical help to families at home where there is at least one child under 5, doing weekly visits to families (1995-2010), and now volunteer for the New Bridge Foundation,a charity that supports volunteers to befriend people in prison by exchanging letters and visiting. 
If you are interested in pursuing a PhD with me, please feel free to get in touch. I am currently supervising students exploring a range of interests, such as parenting a child with autism, non-binary gender identity narratives and prison officers as agents of rehabilitation. All three are adopting an auto/biographical or autoethnographic approach to their research. 


I have extensive experience teaching a wide range of themes in sociology and the sociology of health and illness. Currently, I am responsible for teaching social identities and inequalities, as well as food and foodways for students enrolled in the BSc (Hons) in Sociology. I generally contribute to teaching in the areas of food culture, family, gender, health, lived experience, prison food and desistance from crime. Also, qualitative and innovative research methods, Auto/Biography and autoethnography.