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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school



PhD Sociology                                                                    2019, The University of      Edinburgh

MRes  in Creative Practices. (Merit).                         2013, The Glasgow School of Art

B.A. (Hons) Art & Design (First Class).                       2012, University of Stirling
BA Art & Design (Distinction)                                        2011, Forth Valley College


"Volunteering as a balancing act: Who's got time for that?"

This thesis explores the temporal dimensions of women’s voluntary involvement in civic activities. How and why people find or make the time to volunteer within their busy lives is a puzzle given that volunteering is not always easy. It is not just about finding/having time, it is also about synchronising with others and fitting into a group when needed, and how this might be dovetailed with other commitments in the life of a volunteer.

The thesis presents an account that allows for agency through negotiation within the constraints of everyday demands. It argues that individuals cannot freely choose how to use their time, that it is always a question of negotiation with others – partners, children, employers, organisers, bureaucracies and so on.

This study adds distinctive conceptual contributions to the field of community and volunteering studies by using the work of Norbert Elias to understand how women negotiate the various networks in their lives. Data from three case studies of women’s volunteering are analysed using Elias’s concept of the ‘we-I balance’ to explore the motivations behind time for ‘community’ commitments being carved out of busy schedules. The three case studies offer distinctive sites for examining ideas around volunteering and civic participation and the making of community – and the challenges and negotiations involved in this.

Through ethnographic fieldwork, including interviews, informal conversations and poetry workshops, the study identifies volunteers as people who skilfully negotiate their time with the organisation, with significant others in their lives, with themselves, and with technology in order to facilitate their volunteering. In the process, it presents findings about how time is experienced, managed and appropriately paced, and the processes by which the agendas of collectivities and of individuals come to be compatible in the ‘we-I balance’.

Funding Awards

ESRC: PhD Studentship.(3+years):                                                                                                                                               2014 –

This funding is for 3+year PhD studentship linked to the Connected Communities ‘Imagine’ consortium. This research project is part of the Imagine Programme – a global project that aims to connect communities through research in the hopes for building better futures. Work package 4, of which my project is a part, is situated within the democratic context of civic engagement. The project title from which my research is now developing was ‘Making Time in the Community: Community time and the identification of individuals with communities’.

Awards & Prizes:

SPIE Award. Special Commendation: Glasgow School of Art & SPIE.                2013. This prize was awarded for work that “broke down barriers and reached right into the heart of the community. The creativity behind the research and the way the findings were presented was really was exceptional” (Tom Brady: SPIE 2013).

Thomas Alexander Dunn Prize 2012.Overall Top Final Year Student, Dept.  of Communication, Media & Culture. University of Stirling.                                    


Crow, G. & Laidlaw, M (2019) Norbert Elias’s extended theory of community: From established/outsider relations to the gendered we–I balance. The Sociological Review. 67: 3 pp.568-84

Teaching & Lectures

Jan 2019- Senior Tutor:                                                                                                                 School of Social & Political Science,                                                                                     University of Edinburgh

March 2019 'Innovative Research Methods' Guest Lecturer, School of Social & Political Science                                                                                                                       University of Edinburgh

Jan 2017 - Present: Class Tutor
School of Social & Political Science
University of Edinburgh

March 2017 'Poetry & pantomime as documents of  research'                                             'The Documents of Life' (PG)                                                                                                                 School of Social & Political Science,                                                                                          University of Edinburgh

March 2017 'Collaboration & Participation within Community Research'
Guest Lecturer
Forth Valley College

Jan. 2016 'Using poetry in community engagement and Research'.
Forth Valley College
Dept: Creative Industries
Class: Contextual Studies

 Sept. 2015. University of Stirling. Guest Speaker. Institutional Partnerships and Higher Education. Induction Day for new undergraduates.   

November, 2012. Anniesland College, Glasgow. Guest Lecturer: ‘Practice based research’       

International Presentations

2017, January. “Women organising: Beyond the Scottish Referendum”. Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
2017, January. “Women: Community Politics and Civic Engagement”, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina, USA
2017, January. “Imagine: What is Civic Engagement?”.  Step by Step, Charleston, WV, USA
2017, January, “The Poetics of women and community engagement: Who’s got time for that?” Marshall University, Huntington, WV. USA
2017, January, Imagine: Doing Research Differently - Creative, and Collaborative Research Methods” Marshall University, Huntington, WV. USA
2017, January, “The Poetics of women and community engagement: Who’s got time for that?” Women’s Studies Centre, Marshall University. Huntington, VW, USA

Conference Papers and presentations

2016 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference: Early Researchers Session
"Am I Everyone? Norbert Elias’s I-We balance and the process of coming to belong within community volunteering"
Sept, 2016


BSA, Annual Conference. The Poetics of women and civic engagement: Who's (not) got time for that? (working title)
April, 2016

Imagine  'Empowering Communities and Making Change Happen' Policy Seminar'  "Using Creative Arts-based Methods in Community Research"                     March 2016,                                                                                                                                             NCVO, London.                                                                                                                                                A policy seminar organised by the Imagine research project with the Department for Communities and Local Government and National Council for Voluntary Organisations, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Imagine: 3rd Annual ConferenceDoing research together across communities and universities’ Presenting       ‘Collaboration within a Ph.D’ . Huddersfield University, Sep. 2015     

Social Research Association, ‘Creative research methods in the social sciences’ Conference. British Library, London.
'Interrupting the Silence: Using poetry as a research method in a study of  sexual street harassment of young women in Forth Valley region of Scotland':    London                                                                                                                                          May 2015

iJADE Annual Conference. ‘Poetry as a Research Tool’:  University of Chester. UK. Nov 2013


Work Referenced

Research paper ‘Street Harassment & Online Storytelling: An Interruption of Silence’ (2013), referenced by Glasgow, and Central Scotland, Rape Crisis centers within their funding applications.

Arts Based Community Development

May 2016: Unveiling of Community Art Wall
Project Leader: Community event, celebrating the unveiling of the community artwall.

Oct 2015 - May 2016. DRAW (Denny & Dunipace Residents Art Wall): Project Leader & Lead artist with community led art-wall project, promoting benefits of the creative arts in building community, and social cohesion. Funded by FALK renewables, and Foundation Scotland.

Feb - May 2015. Denny Charrette Project. Presenting as lead artist, 'Memories & Future Imaginings of Denny', a community development art project. Funded by Scottish Government and Falkirk Council.

Media Engagements

January 2017. Live on air interveiw with community radio station WTSQ 88.1FM                                                                                                                                              723 Kanawha BLVD East
Suite 803
Charleston, WV 25301, USA

January, 2017 - Charleston visitor imagines better communities across boundaries”        Interview, with Douglas Imbrogno, The Charleston Gazette,                                   Charleston, WV, USA                             

Nov, 2015. Falkirk Herald newspaper, Interviewed as lead artist of community engaged art project, 'DRAW - Denny & Dunipace Residents Art Wall', and discussing benefits of the creative arts in building community, and social cohesion.


Sep. 2013 BBC Radio Scotland.    Interview with BBC Radio Scotland’s   ‘Culture Studio’, discussing arts based research practice, my research  project ‘Street Harassment & Online Storytelling: An Interruption of  Silence’    


Sep 2012. Forth Valley College, Stirling: Invited guest speaker: Official opening of  FVC,     Stirling Campus with the Rt. Hon Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister of Scotland.


Exhibitions and Shows:

Edinburgh Students Art Festival, Gayfield Creative Spaces. Edinburgh                2015

Creative Stirling ‘Pecha Kucha’.                                                                                                    2014

Graduate Degree Show. The Lighthouse. Glasgow                                                          2013

Pedestal. South Block/All That is Solid. Glasgow                                                            2012

OWWO. Summerhall, Edinburgh                                                                                             2011

EQUILIBRIUM, MacRobert Center. Stirling                                                                           2011

FVC Degree & Diploma Show, Falkirk                                                                                    2011

FVC Degree & Diploma Show, Falkirk                                                                                    2007

FVC Degree & Diploma Show, Falkirk                                                                                   2006

Links (Creative Stirling Talk)