School of Social and Political Science

Irene Rafanell

Job Title

Honorary Fellow

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Honorary Research Fellow (2005-2008)

Educational background

  • BA Social Anthropology (Barcelona, Spain);
  • MSc Gender Studies (Edinburgh);
  • PhD Social Sciences (Edinburgh)


'Durkheim and the performative model: Reconfiguring social objectivity' in Geoff Cooper, Andrew King, Ruth Rettie (eds), Sociological Objects: the reconfiguration of social theory, Ashgate (forthcoming).

(With Hugo Gorringe), “The Embodiment of Caste: Oppression, Protest and Change”, Sociology, 41 (1)

The Social Genesis of Individual Practices: An Individualistic versus a Collectivist Account Edinburgh Working Papers in Sociology. No 22. September 2002.


"Durkheim, 'social facts' and the performative model: reconfiguring social objectivity and the formation of collective behaviour" Sociology after Durkheim. University of Surrey. June 2006

"Gendering bodies: status groups, mutual sanctioning and collective 'alignment'" New Researchers Conference. 25 October 2005. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships. Edinburgh

"The objective nature of social life according to performative models". Invited talk for the workshop: What's the Matter with Judith Butler? An Interdisciplinary Engagement. Politics subject area. School of Social and Political Studies. The University of Edinburgh.

"Embodying Sociology: The significance of the body for a sociological inquiry on inequality". (Gorringe, Haddow, Rafanell, Tulle, Yuill) Presented at The British Sociological Association Annual Conference. March 2005. University of York.

"Who is afraid of Judith Butler? Social structures as a discursive construction and the objectivism of the performative" The British Sociological Association Annual Conference. March 2004. University of York.

"The Embodiment of Protest: caste oppression and change". Paper jointly developed with H. Gorringe. Presented at The British Sociological Association Annual Conference. March 2004. University of York.

"Social construction of the self: two views" Paper posted in the Social Theory Stream web site: Key Concepts in Social Theory. In Ageing Societies, New Sociology 6th ESA-Conference, September 2003, Murcia.

"From the 'deistic' versus 'continuous' views of macro-phenomena to a micro-analysis of group belonging and isolation." Social Science Beyond Bourdieu Conference. University of East London, Dockland Campus, June 1 2003.

Belonging and isolation: exploring social sanctioning" In Social Futures: Desire, Excess and Waste The British Sociological Association Annual Conference University of York. April 2003.

"Subjective Experience: A Collectivist versus an Individualistic Account" In The Interpellation Of Experience Crossroads In Cultural Studies Fourth International Conference. June/July 2002, Tampere (Finland)

Research interests

Research interests

  • Sociology of the Body
  • Social Theory
  • Philosophy of Social Sciences
  • Sociology of Knowledge
  • Feminist Theory
  • Gender Studies (with emphasis on Post-structuralist theory and Sociology of Sexuality)

Summary of past and current research

Recent work in the social sciences has highlighted embodied forms of social life. This work has thrown into relief two major oppositions: the opposition of nature and society and the opposition of structure and individual. My thesis considers the contribution that recent social constructionist accounts of the body can make to productively re-conceptualize these oppositions. In order to do so, it focuses on the analysis of sex/gender identity and critically compares two constructionist views: Bourdieu's work on the habitus, and Barnes' and Bloor's work on The Performative Theory of Social Institutions

My current research concerns contemporary constructionist debates about the body, individual identity and collective behaviour. It extends the central argument of my PhD: that critical attention to social constructionist accounts of the body usefully highlight the step-by-step creation of social realities in and through interaction. I thus focus on presenting an alternative framework for the constitutive power of individuals' interactions, with particular emphasis on sanctioning mechanisms. I draw upon the theoretical insights of social constructionist accounts of knowledge and constructionist accounts of the body in order to reveal the hitherto under-acknowledged constitutive power of social sanctioning. A crucial aspect of my current research is to interrogate this hypothesis by drawing on substantial empirical data of my PhD to reveal the underlying mechanisms of constitution of collective patterns of behaviour among young individuals. I aim to highlight the contextual and contingent nature of individual activity and structural constraints, facilitating a fuller understanding of the interplay between macro and micro-phenomena in the constitution of collective behaviour as 'status' groups. My new position at Paisley University will allow me to further my research in the area of youth, health and family relationships and link it with the research carried out at CRFR.

Since graduating with a PhD in 2004, Irene Rafanell has continued to develop a range of teaching and research links within the Department of Sociology, the Science Studies Unit and the Center for Families and Relationships. She is working on joint papers with Hugo Gorringe (Sociology) and Gill Haddow (Innogen), as part of a sub group on the Sociology of the Body, as well as writing up publications from her PhD and giving conference papers. She is currently working on a book based on her PhD research.

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