Charlotte Faircloth began her Mildred Blaxter fellowship in July 2010 at the University of Kent, after completing her doctorate at Cambridge. She finished it slightly early, in May 2011, upon being awarded a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship. She is now Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Social Sciences at Roehampton University.
What was the focus of your work?
My application was titled “‘Militant lactivism’? Infant care and maternal identity”. The primary objective of the fellowship was the publication of work relating to my doctoral research, based on ethnographic fieldwork with ‘attachment’ parents in London and Paris. During the fellowship, I:
- submitted and eventually published four articles in social science journals, in addition to co-editing a special issue of the journal Sociological Research Online
- submitted and eventually published my monograph, Militant Lactivism? Infant Care and Maternal Identity with Berghahn Books
- disseminated my research by attending and organising seminars and conferences for a wide range of users, including academics, parents, policy makers and journalists
- wrote funding proposals for future research exploring the relationship between parenting practices and gender equality (individually and with others)
What did the Mildred Blaxter fellowship offer you that you would not otherwise have been able to do?
It was an absolute privilege to be awarded the fellowship, which gave me a huge amount of freedom to pursue research and publication plans, without the need to support oneself through short-term teaching contracts, typical to the immediate post-PhD period.
The fellowship had a very important impact on my development as a professional academic, enabling me to consolidate the disciplinary knowledge I gained in my doctorate, whilst also giving me the opportunity to explore the related areas in gender studies, social policy and health studies. It certainly enhanced the ‘research products’ I was able to produce, and meant that I was able to ensure they were communicated and engaged with by a wide range of users. The opportunity to develop funding proposals and build on skills such as policy-communication was also invaluable to my future career. All of these elements helped me gain greater standing within British academia and set the foundations for a career in teaching, research and academic practice.
What are you doing now?
After completing a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Kent (which had also been my home for the Mildred Blaxter Fellowship) I entered the job market and was appointed to a Senior Lectureship in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Roehampton, in London. I have no doubt that my publication record was a large part of the reason I was able to ‘jump’ the Lectureship grade and be appointed as a Senior Lecturer. Similarly, having had an interdisciplinary background (in anthropology, sociology of health and illness, and social policy) made me a good candidate for working in a department which teaches across a range of disciplines.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for a Mildred Blaxter fellowship?
Do! It’s a wonderful opportunity. I think the best advice though is to have a very clear plan for your research and publications. Ideally, for example, have a book contract lined up, or a range of articles that are already in progress that you want to submit to specific journals. Similarly, it’s good to give an idea of the exact events you want to attend or funding bodies you plan to apply to (and to what schemes/ with what projects).
- Faircloth, C. and Lee, E. (eds) (2010) Special section on Changing parenting culture. Sociological Research Online 15(4).
- Faircloth, C. and Lee, E. (2010). Introduction. Sociological Research Online 15(4).
- Faircloth, C. (2010). What science says is best: Parenting practices, scientific authority and maternal identity. Sociological Research Online 15(4).
- Faircloth, C. (2010). ‘If they want to risk the health and well-being of their child, that’s up to them’: Long-term breastfeeding, risk and maternal identity. Heath, Risk & Society 12(4): 357-367
- Faircloth, C. (2011). It feels right in my heart: Affect as accountability in narratives of attachment. Sociological Review 59(2): 283-302. (Shortlisted for The Sociological Review Prize for outstanding scholarship 2011)
- Faircloth, C. (2013). Militant Lactivism? Attachment Parenting and Intensive Motherhood in the UK and France. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books.