Dr Julie Parsons

Dr Julie Parsons

Associate Professor of Sociology

School of Law, Criminology and Government


Associate Professor in Sociology

Programme Lead BSc (Hons) Sociology

Convenor of the British Sociological Association (BSA) Food Studies Group

Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) Mid-Career Fellow (2016-17)

External Examiner (2016-2020): BA (Hons) Sociology, Single Honours and BA (Hons) Sociology, Joint Honours, University of Worcester, Worcester WR2 6AJ.

Sociology of Health and Illness Foundation Mildred Blaxter Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (2015-2016)

Associate Head of Teaching and Learning (AHTL) (2014-15)

Programme Lead MSc Social Research (2010-2014)




Academic Qualifications:
PhD Sociology (Plymouth) 2014
MSc Sociology (University of Bristol) 1996
BA (Hons) First Class Sociology (UWE) 1994

Teaching Qualifications:
Fellow of Higher Education Academy (HEA) (2014)
Accreditation as a teacher in Higher Education (SEDA) (2000)
PG Certificate in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education (1999)
UPSU SSTAR Awards 2014: Nominated as Outstanding Personal Tutor, Plymouth University

Professional membership

Member of the British Sociological Association (BSA)
Member of the European Sociological Association (ESA)
Member of the Association for Food and Society (ASFS)
Member of the British Society of Criminology (BSC)
Fellow of the Higher Education Acadamy (HEA)

Teaching interests

I teach in the areas of food, family, gender and health. Also, qualitative research methods, feminist approaches to research, research as a reflexive and reflective practice and Auto/Biography.

Staff serving as external examiners

External Examiner (2016-2020): BA (Hons) Sociology, Single Honours and BA (Hons) Sociology, Joint Honours, University of Worcester, Worcester WR2 6AJ.

Research interests

Doctoral research: ‘Ourfoodstories@e-mail.com', an auto/biographical study of relationships with food, incorporates feminist approaches to research, auto/biography, life history models, gender, class, food, health, family, maternal identities, emotion, culture and the body.

Other research

Member of an interdisciplinary research team funded by the Institute for Sustainable Solutions Research (ISSR) and lead by Dr Clare Pettinger (Public Health Dietician) on a small-scale exploratory study ‘Food as Lifestyle Motivator’ investigating the use of food as a lifestyle motivator to enhance wellbeing and life skills in marginalized individuals in a Plymouth Homeless Centre (May 2014-2015).

Pilot project for the Institute of Health & Community (IHC), exploring the lived experience of weight loss surgery (WLS) and the management of diabetes through weight management practices.

Grants & contracts

Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) Research Residential Group Award: Mapping the transformative potential of participatory styles of research with vulnerable, marginalised and/or hard to reach groups, 20-25th August 2017 - https://collaborations-in-research.org/

Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) Mid-Career Fellowship Award, (2016-17), project title: Developing social and cultural capital through Photographic e-Narratives (PeN) at an offender/ex-offender resettlement scheme - https://penprojectlandworks.org/

Sociology of Health and Illness Foundation (SHI) Mildred Blaxter Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award, (2015-16), project title: Commensality (eating together) as a tool for health, well-being, social inclusion and community resilience, at a rural land-based offender resettlement scheme.

Shortlisted for the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness book prize 2016 for Gender, Class and Food, Families, Bodies and Health (Palgrave MacMillan 2015) https://www.britsoc.co.uk/groups/medical-groups/medical-sociology-medsoc-study-group/prizes/foundation-for-the-sociology-of-health-and-illness-book-prize/m.

Winner of the International Award for Excellence for Volume 4 of Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, for the article “‘Good’ Food as Family Medicine: Problems of Dualist and Absolutist Approaches to ‘Healthy’ Family Foodways,” was selected for the award from among the ten highest-ranked papers emerging from the peer review process and according to the selection criteria outlined in the referee guidelines.

Parsons, J.M. (2019) Narrative re-scripting: Reconciling past and present lives, Auto/Biography review 2018, (editor) Andrew C. Sparkes, published by the British Sociological Association Auto/Biography Study Group, Russell Press, Nottingham, Chapter 8, pp 111-128

Parsons J.M. (2018) Commensality as a theatre for witnessing change for criminalised individuals working at a resettlement scheme, European Journal of Probation,Volume 10, Issue 3, pp182-198 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2066220318819239

Parsons, J.M. (2018) Virtual social media spaces, a relational arena for ‘bearing witness’ to desistance, Papers from the British Criminological Conference 2018, Vol 18, http://www.britsoccrim.org/papers-from-the-british-criminology-conference-2018/

Parsons, J (2018) Book Review: McLeod, K. Wellbeing Machine: How Health Emerges from the Assemblages of Everyday Life. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. 2017. 234 pp $39 (pbk) ISBN 978-1-61163-705, Sociology of Health & Illness, Vol 119, Iss 5, pp 1079-1090.

Parsons, J.M. and Hocking, S (2018) The Lived experience of Carrots and Risks, voices from within the criminal justice system, ISRF Bulletin XV1, pp32-38, https://issuu.com/isrf/docs/isrf_bulletin_issue_xvi

Parsons, J.M. (2017) Cooking with Offenders to improve health and wellbeing. Special issue of the British Food Journal on Cooking, Health and Evidence, Vol 119, Iss 5, pp 1079-1090.

Parsons, J.M. (2017) “I much prefer to feed other people than to feed myself.” The ’i-poem’ as a tool for highlighting ambivalence and dissonance within Auto/Biographical accounts of everyday foodways, in a Special Issue of The Journal of Psycho-Social Studies, Offering Food ↔ Receiving Food, Vol 10, Iss 2 (unpaginated) http://www.psychosocial-studies-association.org/volume-10-issue-2-october-2017/

Pettinger, C., Parsons, J.M., Withers, L., Daprano G., Cunningham, M, Whiteford, A., Ayers, R., Sutton, C., and Letherby, G. (2017), Engaging homeless individuals in dscussions about their food experiences to optimise wellbeing: a pilot study, Health Education Journal, Vol 76, Iss 5, pp 557-568.

Parsons, J.M. and Pettinger, C. (2017) ‘Liminal identities’ and power struggles, reflections on the regulation of everyday foodways at a homeless centre and the use of creative participatory research as a tool of empowerment and resistance, in Bleakley, A. Lynch, L. and Whelan, G. (eds) Risk and Regulation at the Interface of Medicine and the Arts, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp171-189.

Parsons, J.M. (2017) Book Review: Food and Femininity, by Cairns, K and Johnston, J. London: Bloomsbury, 2015, in The Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies Vol: 97(4), pp273-275.

Fok, J., Parsons, J. and Corrigan, O. (2016) Social and Cultural Aspects of Food Shopping, a pilot study of mum’s healthy and unhealthy food choices, Healthwatch Essex, http://www.healthwatchessex.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Social-and-Cultural-aspects-of-food-shopping-report.pdf.

Bos, E., Brown G., Parsons, J., Halliday, J. and Brady, G., (2016) Supporting Rehabilitation: A pilot study exploring the role of community and land based models, Coventry University, Centre for Business in Society (CBiS). http://www.coventry.ac.uk/Global/08%20New%20Research%20Section/CBiS/Supporting%20Rehabilitation%20report.pdf

Parsons, J.M. (2016) When convenience is inconvenient, ‘healthy’ family foodways and the persistent intersectionalities of gender and class, Journal of Gender Studies, Vol 25, Iss 4, pp382-397.

Parsons, J.M. (2016) The joy of food play - an exploration of the continued intersectionalities of gender and class in men’s auto/biographical accounts of everyday foodways. Special Issue on Food in Women, Gender and Research, Vol 24, no 3-4, pp 35-47.

Parsons, J.M. (2016) Book Review: A Fat Girl’s Manifesto, A thin book on living FAT in America, by Cyr V. Daniel. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Peter E. Randall, 2015., in Fat Studies Journal, volume 5(1) 2016.

Parsons, J.M. (2015) ‘Food Work’ in Michelini, A. (Eds) Food, Nutrition, Agriculture: The Challenge for the New Millennium, 2nd Edition, UK and IT.

Parsons, J.M. and Jarvie, R.J. (2015) 'Fat' editorial. M/C Journal, A Journal of Media and Culture, Vol.18, No:3. http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/1001.

Brown, G., Davidson, D., Harvey, J.,Letherby, G., and Parsons, J.M. (2015) HE(R)tales: reflections on some auto/biographical inter/multi-connections in academia, in Sparkes, C. (Ed) Auto/Biography Yearbook, Russell Press, Nottingham.

Parsons, J.M. (2015) Gender, Class and Food: families, bodies and health, Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke. http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/gender-class-and-food-julie-m-parsons/?K=9781137476401.

Parsons, J. M. (2015) "Good" Food as Family Medicine: Problems of Dualist and Absolutist Approaches to "Healthy" Family Foodways, Journal of Food Studies, Vol 4, Issue 2, pp 1-13. http://ijo.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.199/prod.94.

Parsons, J. (2014) "Cheese and Chips out of Styrofoam Containers": an Exploration of Taste and Cultural Symbols of Appropriate Family Foodways, M/C Journal, A Journal of Media and Culture vol.17, No. 1 - 'taste'. http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/766

Parsons, J. (2014) 'Ourfoodstories@email.com', An Auto/Biographical Study of relationships with Food, PhD thesis,

Parsons, J. (2011) What Constitutes ‘doing’ feminism? Reflecting upon the unpublished auto/biographical work of Peggy Barclay. In Auto/Biography Yearbook. Sparkes, C. (Ed). Russell Press, Nottingham.

Most Recent Conference Papers:

Parsons, J.M. (2018), Reconciling past and past present lives, whilst imagining ‘non-criminalised’ future selves. Narratives of reflection from prisoners working at a resettlement scheme, BSA Auto/Biography Winter Conference, Friends Meeting House, London, Friday 7th December 2019

Parsons, J.M. (2018) “At least it’s not bread and water”: Beyond resistance and disruption, ambivalence and generativity in prisoners’ narrative reflections on the lived experience of everyday foodways in a UK prison. FOOD IN PRISON, International and multidisciplinary, perspectives, 21-22 September 2018, Brussels (Belgium)

Parsons, J.M. (2018) Family narratives, inside-out, the lived experience of family life from prison, BSA Auto/Biography Summer Conference 2018, Wolfson College, Oxford, 19-21st July

Parsons, J.M. (2018) Visualising desistance dialogues through social media platforms and the benefits of imagined social capital for ‘offenders’ working at a resettlement scheme (RS), British Society of Criminology Conference 2018, Birmingham City University, 3-6th July

Parsons, J.M. (2018), Gendering ‘noshtalgia’: tastes of reflection, food memories and the temporal affects of sedimented personal histories on everyday foodways. Food and Embodied Identities in the Early Modern and Modern World c. 1500 - c. 2000, Room 5, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Site, West Road, Friday 29 June 2018

Parsons, J.M. and Hocking, S. (2018) The lived experience of ‘carrots’ and ‘risks’: Voices from Within the Criminal Justice System, ISRF Workshop, Law, Social Organisation and Social Control, All Souls College, Oxford, 15th June 2018

Parsons, J.M. (2018) Examining the benefits of social capital for ‘offender’ health and wellbeing at a resettlement scheme (RS), Institute of Health & Community (IHC) Seminar, June 13th, University of Plymouth

Parsons, J.M. (2018) The Photographic electronic Narrative (PeN) project, creating a social space for the disembodied articulation of ‘imagined social capital’ for ‘offenders’ working at a resettlement scheme (RS), BSA Annual Conference, Theme: Identity, Community and Social Solidarity, Northumbria University, 10/12th April

Parsons J.M. and Pettinger, C. (2018) Creative and collaborative approaches to research, Institute of Health and Community (IHC) Showcase event, Plymouth University, Wednesday 24th January 2018

Parsons J.M. and Hocking, S. (2018) The PeN project at LandWorks: enabling dialogue and connecting the community with those looking to re/integrate after punishment (poster presentation), Effective Community Engagement, Devonport Guildhall, Monday 22nd January 2018

Parsons, J.M. (2017) “Interacting with women has probably helped as well”, on ‘doing’ gender in the field, BSA Auto/Biography Summer Conference, Dartington Hall, 19th – 21st July 2017.

Parsons, J.M. (2017) The PeN project as a tool for generating dialogue between offenders and the wider community, British Society of Criminology Conference, Forging Social Justice: Local Challenges, Global Complexities, Sheffield Hallam University - 4-7th July 2017.

Parsons J.M. (2017) The transformative potential of commensality as an aid to social inclusion. BSA Food Study Group Conference: Food & Society 2017, What is food? And how should we study it? University of Westminster, 26-27th June 2017.

Adlam, J., Turner., K, Ali, G., Goodall, J., Parsons, J.M., Nott, S., Plumb, C., (2017), Offering Food <->Receiving Food, A Symposium, BSA Food Study Group Conference: Food & Society 2017, What is food? And how should we study it? University of Westminster, 26-27th June 2017.

Parsons, J.M. (2017) The PeN Project: Developing capitals through Photographic e-Narratives (PeN) at an offender resettlement scheme. Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) Workshop: Today’s Future, Challenges and Opportunities Across the Social Sciences, Het Scheepvaart Museum, Amsterdam 21st and 22nd June 2017.

Parsons, J.M. (2017) Mapping the transformative potential of participatory styles of research with vulnerable, marginalised and/or hard-to-reach groups, ISRF Workshop: Today’s Future, Challenges and Opportunities Across the Social Sciences, Het Scheepvaart Museum, Amsterdam 21st and 22nd June 2017.

Parsons, J.M. (2017) What choice Brexit? And the impact of neo-liberal discourses of responsible individualism on the aspirations of offenders working at a local resettlement scheme. Brexit Criminology: What are the implications for crime, justice and society, Institute for Social, Policy and Enterprise Research (iSPER), Plymouth University, April 5th 2017.

Parsons, J.M. and Hodge, S.J. (2017) “I don’t ever feel trapped in jail, my mind is free”, exploring ‘craft love’ and creativity; reimagining identities through photographic e-narratives, Beyond Words: Privileging the Unspoken in Arts and Communities in a Posthuman World, Institute of Health and Community, Plymouth University 14th - 15th March 2017.

Parsons, J.M. (2016) “Last time I was interviewed I was in custody…” Mediating potential ‘harms’, negotiating power relations and doing ‘normal’ whilst conducting research with trainees (prisoners released on temporary licence (ROTL) and men on community licence) at a resettlement scheme (RS). Auto/Biography Event on Researcher/Respondent Identities, Institute of Health and Community (IHC), Plymouth University, 7th September 2016.

Parsons, J.M. (2016) Reflections on the presentation of self during fieldwork at a rural prisoner resettlement scheme. BSA Auto/Biography Summer Residential Conference, Oxford, 2016.

Parsons, J.M. (2016) “Commensality” as a tool for social inclusion and community resilience at a rural, land-based project for current and former prisoners. Joint Annual Meetings and Conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS); the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS); and the Canadian Association for Food Studies Association (CAFS), “Scarborough Fare: Global Foodways and Local Foods in a Transnational City” The University of Toronto, Scarborough (UTSC), 2016.

Parsons, J.M. (2016) Connecting/re-connecting, offenders/ex-offenders with the wider community through commensality and everyday foodways. BSA Annual Conference, Aston University, 6-8th April 2016.

Parsons, J.M. (2015) Negotiating researcher/‘expert’ identities and building trust with those involved in commensal activities at an offender/ex-offender resettlement scheme. BSA Auto/Biography Christmas Conference, 12/2015.

Parsons, J. M. (2015) Another piece of cake: An auto/biographical assemblage, inhabiting the margins and balancing contradictions, lessons on becoming a reflexive researcher. BSA Auto/Biography Summer Conference, Dartington Hall, 16-18 July 2015.

Parsons, J.M. and Pettinger, C., (2015) ‘Liminal identities’, reflections on resistance and empowerment in researcher/respondent relations when utilising a creative participatory research approach. Medical Humanities Conference, Dartington Hall, UK, 23-25 June 2015.

Letherby, G. and Parsons, J. (2015) 'Dear researcher' Revisited: methodological reflections on data collection via e(mail), BSA Annual Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, 15-17th April 2015.

Parsons, J. (2014)"Good" Food as Family Medicine: Problems of Dualist and Absolutist Approaches to"Healthy" Family Foodways, Fourth International Conference on Food Studies, Monash University Prato Centre, Prato, Italy,20-21 October 2014.

Parsons, J., Pinkney, J., and Letherby, G. (2014) 'To feel healthier' and 'to be normal', multiple obesities and meanings of success, Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) as a weight loss tool. 46th BSA Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference, Aston University. 10th – 12th September 2014.

Parsons, J. and Letherby, G. (2014) "Reset to Normal": An Exploration of Narrative Accounts of Weight Loss Surgery (WLS)', 14th Annual Plymouth Symposium on Diabetes, Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome, Plymouth PG Medical Centre at Derriford Hospital, 22nd May 2014.

Parsons, J. (2014) 'Feeding Time and Time for Feeding, How Feeding the Family can be a Source of Cultural Capital for Mothers in the UK', BSA Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 23-25th April 2014.

Parsons, J., Pinkney, J., Letherby, G., (2014) 'Weight Loss Practices, including Weight Loss Surgery: Gendered negotiations of 'Failure' and 'Success', BSA Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 23-25th April 2014

Parsons, J. (2013) 'I was a Fat B... I went from Almost 110 kg to 79 kg, but People Were asking how the Treatment was going?' An Exploration of Gendered Responses to Dietary and Weight Management Practices. 45th BSA Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference, York University. 11th – 13th September 2013.

Parsons, J. (2013) ‘My Food Story’ or ‘ourfoodstories@e-mail.com, snapshots of the self and others within a shifting foodscape. 22nd Auto/Biography Conference, La Caixa Forum, Barcelona. 11th – 13th July 2013.

Parsons, J. (2013) ‘Until we shed the ingrained belief that thin is beautiful, I fear we are lost!’ - An exploration of the role of ‘fat’ talk and how the affective sedimentation of hetero-normative practices of femininity can contribute to weight based stigma. Weight and Stigma Conference, University of Birmingham. 16th May 2013.

Parsons, J. (2013) 'Longing' within the Heroic Middle Ground: Lipoliteracy and the Emotional Appetite for the Thin Ideal. BSA Annual Conference, Connaught Rooms, London. 3rd – 5th April 2013.

Other academic activities

Convenor British Sociological Association Food Studies Group (from December 2017)

Editor - Special Issue Media Culture Journal on 'fat'

Peer-reviewed articles for the following Journals:

Critical Dietetics
Critical Public Health
Fat Studies Journal
Food and Foodways, Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment
Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Journal of Gender Studies
M/C Journal (A Journal of Media and Culture) http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal
Medical Anthropology, Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Methodological Innovations Online
Sociological Research Online
Social Science and Medicine

Guest Editor for Special Issues of:

Methodological Innovations Online
M/C Journal: http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/information/authors#fat