Phillips, Catherine

Catherine Phillips
Start date:
October 2018
Research Topic:
The role of gender norms in children's understandings of coercion and control in relationships
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Emma Renold
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My research project aims to theorise a universal intervention for primary schools, which identifies and challenges the role of restrictive gender norms in coercive control, in order to promote healthy relationships and wellbeing.

I will be looking at the negative effect of gender norms and stereotyping on children and young people, along with the oppressive social and cultural constructs of masculinity and feminity, which form an intrinsic understanding of social class and relationships.

Primary aged children are experiencing coercion and control within their peer-to-peer relationships, which can significantly affect their wellbeing by normalising coercive behaviour based on recognised constructs of masculinity (Lombard, 2012). Children are also navigating verbal sexual harassment and sexual stereotypes on a daily basis, as well as conforming to pervasive gender norms and participating in coercive boyfriend-girlfriend cultures in schools (Renold, 2013).

Gender inequality is both a cause and consequence of all forms of violence against girls and women and a signficiant contributing factor to practices of coercive control. I will be working with students, specialist services and teachers in order to identify children’s language around gender and consent to develop a high-quality, evidence based programme that understands components of effective social change, promotes gender equity, ensures inclusivity and intersectionality and will work towards eradicating violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence in Wales.