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Sociology: People


Maddie Breeze

Maddie Breeze
Maddie Breeze
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Social justice, DIY organization & cultural activism, participatory action resarch, gender, Ambivalence, Seriousness & Absurdity, Education, qualitative research, Community, Feminist Research, Intersectionality, Neoliberalism, Bureaucracy, Sociology of Organisations

Current Work

The PhD was awarded in viva February 2014, I continue to work on temporary teaching and research appointments as detailed below.

Thesis Abstract

Just a Big Sexy Joke? Getting Taken Seriously in Women's Roller Derby

Roller derby is an emergent women’s sport; self-organized on a not-for-profit, do-it-yourself model it initially developed outside existing sports institutions and remains un-professionalized. Roller derby thus occupies an ambivalent position of gendered alterity in relation to a broader cultural field of sport, where women’s struggles for sporting legitimacy are well rehearsed in the literature. Existing research interprets roller derby as a unique context, particularly conductive to re-configurations of both gender and sport. Despite such uniqueness, research participants increasingly claim roller derby’s similarity to other sports practices, become concerned with its recognition as a ‘real, legitimate sport’ and orientate their practice towards getting taken seriously.

         I develop an ‘insider’ ethnographic account from analysis of five years of participant observation with one roller derby league of approximately 100 members, including 26 in-depth interviews and a collaborative film-making project. The thesis responds to a broad question, ‘how is getting taken seriously negotiated in practice?’ and analyses shifts in participants’ gendered self-representations, the bureaucratization of a 'by the skaters, for the skaters' organizational ethos, and the institution of competition. As participants work to diminish distinctions between roller derby and ‘sport’, they enact a set of related distinctions between; what the league used to be like and what it became; who roller derby is and is not by and for; and practices that are and are not conductive to serious recognition. As participants’ definitions of roller derby move away from ‘a sport for women who don’t like sport’ towards ‘a sport for people who really, really like sport’ a second over-arching question arises; in seeking serious recognition did the league eventually become what it once defined itself in opposition to? Concentrating on moments when participants’ claims for serious recognition refuse and rework the gendered terms of such intelligibility, I argue that sociological analyses of seriousness itself are crucial to understanding such fateful dilemmas. Enactments of non-/seriousness enable skaters to create new organizational and representational praxis, identities, meanings and relations, as they negotiate the possibilities and limits of working together to make something relatively new. Non-/seriousness is how participants move between roller derby, sport and gender as inevitable, singular, certain and beyond their influence and yet malleable, contingent, multiple, ambivalent and created in their own actions. Four interludes, between chapters, reflect on non-/seriousness in ‘insider’ research. The interludes interrupt and expand upon the thesis’ central analytical contentions; that analysing non-/seriousness both enhances and unsettles our understanding of familiar sociological preoccupations with gender, organization and the middle-ground of agency between dichotomies of voluntarism and determinism.

I recently discussed my research on Episode 7 of the University's 'Big Idea' podcast available to listen and download here.


(forthcoming) ‘Sport for women who don’t like sport’? Roller Derby and Sporting Legitimacy’, [invited submission to special issue of Cultural Studies on ‘Gender and Subculture’, accepted]

(2013) ‘Analysing “Seriousness” in Roller Derby: Speaking Critically with the Serious Leisure Perspective’, Sociological Research Online 18(4)

(2013) with Downes, J. and Griffin, N. ‘Researching DIY Cultures: Towards a situated ethical practice'Graduate Journal of Social Science 10(2): 100-124.

(2010) “There’s No Balls in Derby: Roller Derby as a Unique, Gendered Sports Context”, The International Journal of Sport and Society  1(3): 121-133.

(2009) “Analyzing young women’s experiences of hidden gendered power in heterosexual relationships”, in Edinburgh Sociology Working Papers No. 33.

Research Posts

September 2014 - November 2014 : Post-doctoral Research Fellow for 'TRANSRIGHTS Gender citizenship and sexual rights in Europe: Transgender lives from a transnational perspective”

April 2014 - June 2014 : Research Assistant for 'Young People and their Future Selves'. With Dr Emma Davidson, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships and Dr Lisa Whittaker, Columba 1400

Young People and their Future Selves is a comprehensive pilot study, using innovative methods, from which an application to the ESRC ‘Transformative Research’ Scheme is being developed. Funded by the College of Humanities and Social Science Investment Fund, the study investigates the ways disadvantaged young people deal with social challenges and the role of formal interventions in supporting them. The pilot explores the ethics and potential of video-diary methods in research with vulnerable young people.

October 2012 - June 2014 : Interviewer/Research Assistant for ‘Heat in the City’, Institute of Governance, University of Edinburgh.

Heat in the City is a multi-disciplinary research project focusing on the social conditions, public health effects and potential contributions of community heat networks and energy saving improvements to new and existing buildings. I was employed for the first and second rounds of structured interviews with residents of Wyndford; a large social housing estate located in Glasgow’s Maryhill area, before and after Cube Housing Association and SSE/Scottish Hydro installed a ‘low carbon’ District Heating Scheme throughout the estate.

2010 : Research Assistant to H. Gorringe and M. Rosie. University of Edinburgh. Protest & Policing.



2010-2011 Guest Lecturer for Contemporary Feminist Debates [honours & postgraduate] School of Social & Political Science, University of Edinburgh.

2012 Associate Lecturer & Co-Convenor 'Gender in Society' [honours], Sociology University of the West of Scotland.

2012 Guest Lecturer for ‘Sociology of Sport’ [honours] Moray House School of Education

2012 Guest Lecturer for ‘Sport, Media & Society’ [honours] Moray House School of Education

2013 Lecturer for 'LEAPS' Summer School in Sociology & Criminology, University of Edinburgh

2013 Guest Lecturer for 'WOMS 101: Study of Women' Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science, San Jose State University

2014 Guest Lecturer for 'Sport in Social Context', Moray House School of Education

2014 Guest Lecturer for 'Youth Culture, Media & Society', School of Social & Political Science, University of Edinburgh


2014 Postgraduate Assistant, for Gender, Marginality and Social Change, [honours] UoE School of Social & Political Science

2014 Tutor for Social & Political Enquiry [year 2] UoE School of Social & Political Science

2011, 2013 Facilitator for Research Skills: Data Collection [MSc/PhD] UoE School of Social & Political Science

2010-2011, 2013 Tutor for Designing and Doing Social Research [honours] UoE School of Social & Political Science

2011  Postgraduate Assistant, for Contemporary Feminist Debates [MSc/PhD] UoE School of Social & Political Science

2010-2011 Tutor for Sociology 1A, Sociology 1B [first year undergraduate] UoE School of Social & Political Science



2011 Sue Grant Service Award for co-organising Researching Feminist Futures a two-day graduate conference critically exploring feminist research practice.

2010 Joint recipient [with the Researching Feminist Futures Organising Team] of University of Edinburgh Development Trust Small Projects Grant

2009-2013 ESRC 1+3 Quota Award

2008 Collin Bell Prize


Selected Conference Papers


2010 “No Balls in Derby: Roller Derby as a Unique Sports Context”, paper presentation at the International Conference of Sport at Society University of British Columbia,Vancouver, Canada.

2010 “Researching Roller Derby: Capturing Physicality and Operationalising Gender”, paper presentation at The Sixth Meeting of the Transnational Working Group for the Study of Gender and Sport, University of Bath, UK.

2011 “Zines as Academic Spaces”, Joint planning, facilitation and deployment of a participatory workshop at A Carnival of Feminist Cultural Activism University of York, Department of Women’s Studies, with; Hilary Cornish; Aoife McKenna; Catherine-Rose Stocks-Rankin; Kathleen Ward; Joanna Wiseman; and Hannah Zagel.

2011 “Zines as Emancipatory Teaching Tools: A Workshop on Collective Art, Authorship and Education” Feminism and Teaching Symposium, University of Nottingham, UK. With Aoife McKenna, Catherine-Rose Stocks-Rankin, Kathleen Ward, Joanna Wiseman, Hannah Zagel

2012 “Becoming-Legitimate: Roller Derby, Gender and Skater-Produced Media”, paper presentations at Gender, Sport, Media University of York, UK.

2012 “Getting Taken Seriously: Roller Derby, Gender and Sporting Legitimacy” paper presentation at International Sociology of Sport Association: World Congress of Sociology of Sport Glasgow Caledonian University, UK.

2012 "Roller Derby, Coaching & Sporting Seriousness: Becoming Intelligible in terms of 'Real' Sport" paper presentation at Leisure Studies Association Conference: Living, Leisure, Learning, Education in Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors University of Edinburgh, UK. 

2013 'Being taken Seriously, Absurdity and Strategies for Social Change in Roller Derby', paper presentation at British Sociological Association Annual Conference: Engaging Sociology, London UK. 

2013 'Critique, Inclusion & Negation: Roller Derby 'Real' Sport and Hybrid Strategies for Social Change', paper presentation at Feminist & Women's Studies Association Conference, Nottingham, UK.

2013 ‘Transformations in Strategies for Gender Change in Women’s Roller Derby’ paper presentation at Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change Annual Conference: In/vulnerabilities and Social Change SOAS, London UK.

2013 ‘‘A Big Sexy Joke’: Roller Derby, Ambivalence, Seriousness & Social Change’, paper presentation at European Sociological Association Annual Conference: Crisis, Critique & Change Turin, Italy.