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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Ashlee Christoffersen

Ashlee Christoffersen
Ashlee Christoffersen
Social Policy School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Intersectionality, Equality policy, Race/ethnicity, gender, Sexuality, Practice, Third sector, feminism, reflexivity

PhD Title

The politics of intersectional practice

My thesis was submitted on 14 April 2020. I passed my viva, without corrections, on 29 June 2020. 

Research interests

My PhD draws on my practitioner background to explore how equality third sector organisations, which have been predominantly focused around single issues/identities, are conceptualising and operationalising the politically transformative frame of ‘intersectionality’: the understanding that structures of inequality are mutually constituting and thus cannot be addressed separately. It responds to gaps in research on intersectionality’s operationalisation in practice in the UK, and uniquely explores how policy makers and practitioners themselves understand intersectionality. My fieldwork was conducted with three networks of equality organisations (racial justice, feminist, disability rights, LGBTI rights, refugee organisations, etc.) in cities in England and Scotland, through case studies employing interviews, focus groups, observation/participant observation and documentary analysis. I explore and compare the development and use of intersectionality: what it means, how these meanings are used in practice, and how this relates to equality policy; and theorise approaches to operationalisation of intersectionality based on results, with reference to intersectionality theory and research.

I develop a typology of five competing concepts of intersectionality circulating in UK third sector equality organising, each with different implications for intersectionally marginalised groups and intersectional justice. I argue that in the current context, operationalising intersectionality is fundamentally about i. representation and ii. coalition and solidarity, and conflicts around each are driven by these competing concepts of intersectionality; in other words, competing concepts are at the heart of conflicts around who does intersectionality, and how.  


Professor Richard Freeman (Social policy) 

Professor Nasar Meer (Sociology)

Professor Akwugo Emejulu (Sociology, University of Warwick) 


SPS Outstanding Thesis Award 2020

SGSSS Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition 2020 (Shortlist)

Jo Campling Memorial Prize 2018

ESRC Doctoral studentship 2016-19

Professional background  

I have held research and practitioner roles at: Equality Challenge Unit; centred; Trades Union Congress; Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy, Health Research and Methods Training Facility (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada). 


2019 Graduate Visiting Research Studentship, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria, Canada 

2007 MA Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK

2006 BA Political Science and Women's Studies, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Journal articles

Christoffersen, A (2020) Barriers to operationalising intersectionality in third sector community development practice: Power, austerity and in/equality. Community Development Journal Special issue Intersecting inequalities and prospects for Community Development.

Christoffersen, A (2019) Researching Intersectionality: Ethical Issues, Ethics and Social Welfare, DOI: 10.1080/17496535.2018.1541230 Jo Campling Essay Prize, Postgraduate Winner, 2018

Hankivsky, O, de Merich, D, Christoffersen, A (2019) Equalities ‘Devolved’: Experiences in Mainstreaming across the UK devolved powers post-Equality Act 2010. British Politics, special issue role of gender in British politics.

Hankivsky, O and Christoffersen, A (2011) Gender mainstreaming in the United Kingdom: Current issues and future challenges British Politics 6, 1: 30-51.

Hankivsky, O and Christoffersen, A (2008) Intersectionality and the determinants of health: a Canadian perspective Critical Public Health 18, 3: 271-283.

Book chapters

Christoffersen, A (2019) Are we all `baskets of characteristics?' Intersectional slippages and the displacement of race in English and Scottish equality policy. In 

Christoffersen, A (2017) Intersectionality. In Freeman, R., McHardy, F., and Murphy D. (Eds.), Working for Equality:Policy, politics, people. Glasgow: CCWB Press, p.25-8. 

Book reviews

Christoffersen, A. (2019), Inequalities in the UK: New discourses, evolutions and actions Edited by David Fée and Anémone Kober‐Smith Bingley: Emerald Publishing. ISBN: 9781787144804; £66.99 (Hbk.). Soc Policy Admin. doi:10.1111/spol.12544

Blog posts 

Race, Intersectionality and Covid-19. (2020, 15 May). Discover Society. 

Brexit’s consequences for marginalised women (2020, 8 March). The UK in a Changing Europe.  

Other publications 

(2018) Data protection and anonymity considerations for equality research and data. London: Advance HE. 

(2018) Research Insight: Migrant female academics in higher education. London: Advance HE. 

(2018) Intersectional approaches to equality and diversity in higher education. London: Equality Challenge Unit.

(2017) Intersectional approaches to equality research and data. London: Equality Challenge Unit.

(2016) Equality in colleges in Scotland: statistical report 2016. London: Equality Challenge Unit.

(2015) GENDER-NET analysis report: award schemes, gender equality and structural change. London: Equality Challenge Unit.

(2015) Equality in colleges in Scotland: statistical report 2015. London: Equality Challenge Unit.

(with Behrens, A) (2014) Intersectionality literature review. London: centred. Also appears in HEAR Network (2014) Intersections Research Project. London: London Voluntary Service Council.

(2014) The London lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer voluntary and community sector Almanac 3rd Edition. London: centred.

(Ed.) (2012) The London lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voluntary and community sector Almanac 2nd Edition. London: Kairos in Soho.

(with Standing, J) (2011) LGBT sector Supplement 1 The Equality Act 2010: What difference does it make? London: Race on the Agenda. 

(2011) The London lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voluntary and community sector Almanac 1st Edition. London: Kairos in Soho.



'Education and intersectional inequalities' Education Policy (postgraduate) & Educational Politics and Policy (honours) (2019/20 & 2020/21)

'Health inequalities: Life course and intersectional perspectives' Social Inequality and the Life Course (honours) (2018/19)


Research design (postgraduate, 2019/20)

Evaluation research methods (postgraduate, 2019/20)

The politics of the welfare state (undergraduate, 2018/19 & 2019/20 (Senior tutor)) 

Understanding gender in the contemporary world (undergraduate, 2018/19-2020/21)

Analysing qualitative data (postgraduate, 2017/18)


Equality research consultant 

2018/19 Development work on increasing teaching on race and ethnicity at the University 

Knowledge exchange 

Lead organiser, Equality and intersectionality conference (2019) (with Leah McCabe, Cat Wayland and the Equality Network) 


Research Fellow, Center for Intersectional Justice

International Research Affiliate, Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy, Simon Fraser University