Rachel Thwaites

Rachel Thwaites

Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy, HSMC
Park House
University of Birmingham
B15 2RT, United Kingdom

Rachel Thwaites is a Research Fellow working on the HSMC Emergency Admissions project, exploring elderly patients’ experiences of emergency admission to hospital, as well as the experiences of families, carers, and hospital staff, with the aim of improving that moment of care, reducing readmissions, and exploring whether other options than hospitalization might have been more effective in treating the patient and preventing emergency admission. Rachel has interests in qualitative methodologies, gender and other inequalities, the sociology of health and illness, identities, heterosexualities, and emotion work.


  • PhD in Women’s Studies, University of York (2013) 
  • MA in Women’s Studies (Social Research), University of York (2010)
  • MA in History and Gender Studies, University of Aberdeen (2009)


Before joining HSMC in 2014 Rachel was a doctoral student at the University of York where she completed her ESRC-funded thesis entitled ‘Women, Marriage, and Selfhood: How Names Impact upon Gendered Identity’ which explored the decisions British women make with their last name on marriage and how this impacts upon (gendered) identity. The thesis touched on identities, gender, inequalities, heterosexuality, love, emotion work, individualisation theses, tradition, and family and kinship.

Rachel has taught undergraduate and masters students on a range of courses within Sociology and Women’s Studies. These courses have covered a wide range of topics, including contemporary sociological and feminist theory, gender, race, class, cities, mobility, health and illness, the interconnections between sexuality, technology, and culture, and globalization.

Rachel has interests in qualitative and mixed methodologies.


Research Interests:

  • Sociology of health and illness
  • Identities
  • Gender
  • Emotion work
  • Heterosexualities
  • Family and kinship
  • The experiences of postgraduates who teach
  • The changing university
  • Individualisation theory
  • Vocabularies and accounting
  • The construction of traditions.

Other activities

Rachel has spoken on national and local radio, including BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, concerning international legislation on names and trends and patterns of women’s decision-making around names within the UK. She has spoken on these experiences at training sessions for doctoral students looking to work with the press.

Rachel became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2013.


Thwaites, R. (2014). Love Stories: Naming Decisions and Narrative in Contemporary Britain, in S. Petrella (ed.) Doing Gender, Doing Love: Interdisciplinary Voices. Oxford, Interdisciplinary Press: 193-217.

Thwaites, R. (2013). The Making of Selfhood: Naming Decisions on Marriage, Families, Relationships, and Societies. 2(3): 425 - 439.

Thwaites, R. (2012). Women, Marriage, and Selfhood – Why Change Names?, Graduate Journal of Social Science. 9(3). online.