After graduating from my undergraduate Masters at the University of Edinburgh and Institut d’Etudes Politiques Grenoble (Sciences Po) with a First in 2005 I became a journalist, initially as a Hugo Young Intern at the Guardian and then on the BBC News Scholarship. I worked in London, Cardiff and Glasgow as a reporter and producer before moving into policy work as a researcher with the RSA in London. From there I became Policy, Research and Media Manager for Community Matters, the national representative body for community charities. After four years as a policy practitioner I have come back to Edinburgh to research my doctoral thesis as a Principal’s Career Development Scholar, and I have a particular interest in practice-based models of learning and in bringing together practitioners and academic researchers. I am also an Associate Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre.
My doctoral thesis looks at the role played by emotion in making policy and how that affects policy’s symbolic cultural power. Policy making is usually framed in terms of rational choice, yet considerable work is done by participants to control emotion or mobilise it. Taking an ethnographic approach my project aims to better understand what is meant by policy participants by “emotion” and “emotional” behaviour or thinking and how that in practice is part of the process of making policy. I am trying to examine the importance of interpersonal and relational factors to the policy making process, particularly as way of containing and expressing thoughts and behaviours associated with coping with the changes policy making can bring to individuals, groups and societies which are not usually formally acknowledged. My work draws upon a range of disciplines and literatures, including ethnographies of other cultures’ decision making and administrative processes and their symbolic cultural meaning, such as Vincent Turner’s classic work on rituals.