Dr Norman Gabriel

Dr Norman Gabriel

Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Plymouth Institute of Education (Faculty of Arts & Humanities)


Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, teaching on the BA in ECS and the ECS pathway of the B.Ed programme. 

Teaching Early Childhood Studies modules on the International Master's Programme

Member of the Ethics Committee for the Faculty of Education (2006-2010) 

Member of the Research and Enterprise Committee for the Faculty of Education (2007-11) 

Research Co-ordinator for Early Childhood and Well-Being (2007-11) 

Co-ordinator with tutors in partner colleges in the South West Region, who teach on Foundation Degrees in Early Childhood Studies.


D.Phil - University of Sussex, 1998

Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing - Glasgow Caledonian University, 1986 

BA Social Sciences Honours 2:1 - University of the West of Scotland, 1983

Professional membership

British Sociological Association 

Teaching interests

Sociology of Early Childhood, Developmental Psychology

Staff serving as external examiners

BEd (Hons) Primary Programme, University of Aberdeen

Doctorate in Social Sciences, MSc in Training, Human Resources Management and Performance Management, Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester (2002-2010).

Research interests

My research interests are in the sociology of early childhood and the relation between sociology and developmental psychology. I have an international reputation in applying the sociological work of Norbert Elias, co-editing a multi-disciplinary, social science Monograph for Sociological Review with Professor Stephen Mennell, Norbert Elias and Figurational Research: Processual Thinking in Sociology (2011). I have recently edited with Professor Lars Bo Kaspersen a special issue for The History of the Human Sciences, Norbert Elias and Process Sociology - Across Disciplines (2014).

I am currently writing a book on the Sociology of Early Childhood, to be published by Sage in 2017.

I am currently supervising PhD students in the following areas:
1) Role play in pack away settings
2) 'Greenies, Growlers and Goffers - the development of the Royal Navy Habitus'


Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Caroline Leeson, The involvement of looked after children in making decisions about their present and future care needs, awarded December 2009 

Marie Lavelle, A Sociological Investigation of Sure Start Children's Centres: Understanding Parental Participation, awarded December 2011 

Göran Krantz, Students' experiences of dance – a hermeneutic phenomenological study, awarded January 2015

Grants & contracts

Director of Studies, ‘The Role of Children’s Centres in Addressing Issues of Inequality’, jointly funded PhD project over three years by Devon County Council and HEIFC - £50,000

Community Research Award (£9252) to work with the Lark Children’s Centre in Plymouth.

This project worked with the local community developing new and ongoing relationships with key stakeholders, such as Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Primary Care Trust.

Research groups

  • Early Childhood Studies
  • PhD in Education
  • Professional Theory and Practice

Key publications are highlighted

Kaspersen LB & Gabriel N 2008 'The importance of survival units for Norbert Elias's figurational perspective' Sociological Review 56, (3) 370-387
Gabriel NR & Mennell S 2011 Norbert Elias and Figurational Research: Processual Thinking in Sociology. Oxford Wiley-Blackwell
Gabriel NR & Mennell S 2011 'Handing over the torch: intergenerational processes in figurational sociology' in Gabriel N; Mennell S Norbert Elias and Figurational Research: Processual Thinking in Sociology Oxford Wiley-Blackwell 5-23
Gabriel NR 2011 'Norbert Elias and Developmental Psychology' in Gabriel N; Mennell S Norbert Elias and Figurational Research: Processual Thinking in Sociology Oxford Wiley-Blackwell 202-219
Gabriel NR 2010 'Adults' Concepts of Childhood' in Parker-Rees R; Leeson C Early Childhood Studies - An Introduction to the Study of Children's Worlds and Children's Lives Exeter Learning Matters 137-151
Gabriel NR 0 An evaluation of health related support services for nursery age children: the Lark Children's Centre. Lark Children's Centre

Other academic activities

Co-editor for Plymouth University Journal of Postgraduate Education Study, an electronic journal that encourages research and critical reflection on school knowledge, practice and policy.

Peer Reviewer for Human Figurations - Long term perspectives on the human condition

External PhD examiner: ‘Parenthood and Civilisation: An Analysis of Parenting Discourse Produced in Australia in the Inter-War Years, awarded 2009 at Murdoch University, Australia