Dr Harriet Clarke

Dr Harriet Clarke

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Senior Lecturer, Social Policy and Social Research

Contact details

Department of Social Policy and Social Work
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Harriet is a senior lecturer in the School of Social Policy and lectures in social research and social policy.  She provides support to postgraduate taught students on research ethics and supervises taught course dissertations and doctoral research.


  • PhD (Leicester)
  • BA (Sheffield)


Harriet joined the Department in September 2001 from the University of Leicester where she was a researcher in adult social care.  At the University of Birmingham she has contributed to social work, social policy and social research education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


  • Convenes College of Social Sciences MA Social Research modules, Social Research Methods 1 and Social Research Methods 2
  • Contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in social policy and social work

Postgraduate supervision

Harriet is Director of Doctoral Research in the School of Social Policy and supervises PhD students within the Department.  Themes within currently supervised work include:

  • Adult social care
  • Supporting paid carers
  • Whole family approaches in policy and practice


Whole Family Approaches in Policy and Practice

Harriet is particularly interested in the ways in which policy makers in Adults' services and Children's services seek to develop strategies and approaches which attempt to bridge 'the gap' which individuals and families can experience when seeking support.

Individual and Family Experiences of Disability

Much of Harriet's research is focused on lived experiences of disability and impairment (including mental distress) and on individual and family experiences of social care and health services. 

Research Funding Awards

Can Family Focused Approaches Contribute to the Reablement of People with Mental Health Problems? (NIHR School of Social Care Research, June 2011-September 2012) working with Jerry Tew (PI), IASS

Connected Health and Social Care Communities (Arts and Humanities Research Council, March-August 2011) working with Mervyn Conroy (PI), University of Cumbria and Lynne Wilson, INLOGOV, University of Birmingham

Supporting disabled parents and parents with additional needs: a family or fragmented approach| (PDF, opens in new window) (Commission for Social Care Inspection Special Study 2008) Lead consultant and external project manager, working with Nathan Hughes and Rosemary Littlechild, Department of Social Policy and Social Work.

Disability and Family Formation (Department for Work and Pensions / Office of Disability Issues, 2008) with Professor Stephen McKay, IASS

Disabled Parents, The Way Forward (ESRC Funded Seminar Series, 2006-2008)

Recent Research and Consultation

EU FP7 Framework: Understanding and Supporting Families with Complex Needs - International Research Exchange Programme, Marie Curie Actions, 2009-2013.

Community Care Inform: Disabled Parents and their Families, commissioned to develop web-based practitioner resource on research, practice guidance and legislation on disability and parenting, 2009.

Children in Need: Fun and Friendship for Disabled Children and Young People, research consultant and contributor, topic specialist on disability, 2008.

Cabinet Office: Whole Family Approaches Literature Review, expert contributor on family experiences of disability, 2007.

SPRU University of York: Review on Interventions to Support Parents who have Mental Health Problems (funded by SCIE), expert advisor on mental health and parenting in family context, 200

Other activities

  • Humanities and Social Sciences Ethical Review Committee member, University of Birmingham


Journal articles

Clarke, H. (2010) ‘Supporting parents to support family life: A central challenge for family minded policy’, Social Policy & Society, 9 (4), 567-577.

Clarke, H. and Hughes, N. (2010), ‘Introduction: Family minded policy and whole family practice – Developing a critical research framework’, Social Policy & Society, 9 (4), 527-531.

Kilkey, M. and Clarke, H. (2010) 'Disabled men and fathering: opportunities and constraints', Community, Work and Family 13 (4).

McKay, S. and Clarke, H. (2009) 'Disability and family forms: messages from the UK for understanding family poverty dynamics' in Sociologia e Politiche Sociali (invited, special edition: Poverty Dynamics Revisited: from Methods to Substance).

Book chapters

Clarke, H. (March 2009) 'Experiencing Disability' in C. Squire (ed) (2009) The Social Context of Birth|, Oxford: Radcliffe.

Papers published within conference proceedings

Clarke, H., Hughes, N. and Morris, K. (2008) 'Whole family approaches: responding to and engaging with complex social lives', in C. Canali, T. Vecchiato and J.K. Whittaker (eds.) Assessing the Evidence Base of Intervention for Vulnerable Children and their Families, Fondazione Emmanuela Zancan: Padova, Italy.

Reports and other publications

Clarke, H and McKay, S (2008) Exploring Disability and Family Formation: Reviewing the Evidence| (pdf; opens in new window), Analysing Patterns, London: DWP / ODI.

Morris, K, Hughes, N, Clarke, H, Tew, J et al (2008) Think Family: a literature review of Whole Family Approaches.  London: Cabinet Office.

Follow this link for further publications by Harriet Clarke (pdf; 70KB; opens in new window)