Skip to main content

Sociology: People


Emma Davidson

Emma Davidson
Dr Emma Davidson
Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow
Centre for Research on Families and Relationships 23 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
0131 651 1940
Research Interests
Youth participation, Children's Geographies, ethnography, Youth Justice, Antisocial Behaviour, Public libraries, civil society, child and youth studies, childrens rights, Nvivo, Qualitative Research Methods

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Monday 9-11 during termtime, or by appointment

Research activities

My broad research interests include youth transitions; youth work; public libraries and other 'third spaces'; literacy in the early years; families and relationships; community studies and civil society. Methodological interests are focused on qualitative research, specifically participatory research and collaborative ethnography, computerised qualitative data analysis and use of secondary qualitative data.

Public libraries, civil society and austerity

My current study, 'A new page? Libraries, austerity and the shifting boundaries of civil society', is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Working with libraries, and the neighbourhoods in which they are based, the project is exploring the everyday social worlds of public libraries and the challenges they face under austerity. 


The study is focusing on groups excluded, less able or disenfranchised from local processes of participation: young people, young parents and those experiencing homelessness.  The aim is to provoke a broader enquiry into civil society in the UK, and gain insight into the practices of local civic engagement under austerity.

Please visit and join the project website:  

Qualitative data analysis 

Other ongoing projects include ‘Working across qualitative longitudinal studies: a feasibility study looking at care and intimacy’. This study is part of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods programme of methodological research. It considers how feasible it is to conduct secondary analysis across existing data from several qualitative longitudinal studies. For more information or to write a blog for the research, see our project website:  

Young people, inequalities and participation 

My doctoral research, undertaken collaboratively with the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS), was an ethnographic study of young people living in a ‘disadvantaged’ neighbourhood in a Scottish city. The research illuminated the complex social processes through which ‘antisocial behaviour’ is constructed in young people’s everyday lives. Recent outputs from the research can be viewed here: 

Early years, literacy and attachment

Other recent projects include a two-year evaluation of Bookbug, the Scottish Government's book gifting programme, delivered in partnership with the Scottish Book Trust. The research report and executive summary is now available for download: 

Complex and multiple needs

I have worked extensively research on homelessness, multiple and complex needs and housing options througout my career, mostly recently completing an evaluation of a homeless crisis centre. I have also worked extensively with Indigo House ( in this field of research. Recent studies include:


Davidson, E. & Carlin, E. (2019) Steeling young people: resilience and youth policy in Scotland. Social Policy and Society. Coming soon. 

Edwards, R., Weller, S., Jamieson, L. and Davidson, E., (2019) Search strategies: Analytic searching across multiple data sets and with combined sources, in K. Hughes and A. Tarrant (eds) Advances in Qualitative Secondary Analysis, Sage, Ch.6. Coming soon.

Weller, S., Davidson, E., Edwards, R. and Jamieson, L. (2019) Analysing large volumes of complex qualitative data: Reflections from international experts, NCRM Working Paper. National Centre for Research Methods,

Davidson, E., Edwards, R. Jamieson, L. and Weller, S. (2019) Big data, qualitative style: a breadth-and-depth method for working with large amounts of secondary qualitative data, Quality & Quantity53(1), 363-376.Open access

Davidson, E. (2017). Saying It Like It Is? Power, Participation and Research Involving Young People. Social Inclusion, 5(3), 228-239. doi:

Davidson, E. & Whittaker, L. (2017) ‘How are you?: Young care leavers’ narratives of support’, edited by Ruth Rogers and Shane Blackman, The Marginalisation of Young People in the UK, Palgrave Press. 

Davidson, E. (2015), ‘Your space or mine? The role of public space in the lives of young people’, Briefing Paper: Centre for Research on Families and Relationship

Davidson, E. (2013) ‘Finding the ordinary in the antisocial: young people’s everyday experiences of antisocial behaviour’, Sociological Research Online, 18 (1) 5. 

Davidson, E. (2011) ‘Second best? Raising the status of telephone interviewing in families and relationships research’, Reflections on Researching Families and Relationships, London: Palgrave.  

Pawson, H. & Davidson, E (2008) ‘Radically divergent? Homelessness policy and practice in post-devolution Scotland’, European Journal of Housing Policy, Vol 1.

Pawson, H. and Davidson, E (2006) ‘Fit for Purpose? Official Measures of Homelessness in the Era of the Activist State’, Radical Statistics, No 93.

Consultancy and research

Davidson, E., McMellon, C., Airey, L., Berry, H. and Morton, S. (2018) 'Evaluating the impact of Bookbug Bags and Sessions in Scotland', Scottish Book Trust.

McMellon, C & Davidson, E. (2016) 'Evaluation of Move-on’s Peer Mentoring Service', Move-on

Evans, A. & Davidson, E. (2015) 'Multiple Exclusion Homelessness in Glasgow’, Glasgow Homelessness Network and The Oak Foundation.

Davidson, E. and McMellon, C. (2014) ‘Midlothian Family Resilience Project Evaluation’, Midlothian Council.

Elsley, S., Tisdall, K. & Davidson, E. (2013) ‘Children's experiences of, and views on, issues relating to the implementation of the UNCRC’, Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

Davidson, E. & Chen, E. (2012) ‘Alcohol, the street and young people: A toolkit for professionals working with and for young people on the street’, Edinburgh: Granton Youth Centre and The Junction Project.

Littlewood, M., Evans, E., Fitzpatrick, S., Davidson, E. & Sosenko, F. (2011) ‘Housing Options Study’, Glasgow: Glasgow Housing Association.

Davidson, E. (2010) Single Outcome Agreements for Scottish Local Government, 2009/10 - A  thematic Analysis, Children’s Voluntary Sector Policy Officers Network and Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland.

Bennet, C., Dockery, M., Ousta,  H. &  Davidson, E. (2009) Our Say: Young People's Awareness and Understanding of the Educational Maintenance Allowance in Scotland, Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland. 

Review of the Argyll and Bute Homelessness Strategy, Argyll and Bute Council (2009) - with Anna Evans Housing Consultancy.

The Impact of Housing Stock Transfers in Urban Britain, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2009) - with Hal Pawson, James Morgan, Robert Smith and Rebecca Edwards.

Evaluation of the establishment, operations and impact of 5 projects focused on families at risk of eviction for antisocial behaviour , Scottish Government (2009) - with Hal Pawson, Filip Sosenko, John Flint, Judy Nixon, Rionach Casey and Diana Sanderson.

Evaluation of the Implementation and Impact of Local Antisocial Behaviour Strategies at Neighbourhood Level in Selected Local Authorities, Scottish Executive (2007) - with John Flint, Hal Pawson and Judy Nixon.

Use of Antisocial Behaviour Orders in Scotland, Scottish Executive, (2007) - with Hal Pawson and DTZ Pieda.

Antisocial Behaviour: Understanding Registered Social Landlords Use of Powers, Housing Corporation (2007) - with Hal Pawson.

Tackling anti-social behaviour in Glasgow: An evaluation of policy and practice in the Glasgow Housing Association, Glasgow Housing Association (2007) - with John Flint and Rionach Casey.

Evaluation of Homelessness Prevention in Scotland, Scottish Executive (2007) - with Hal Pawson and Gina Netto.

Media and blogging

Davidson, E. & Carlin, E. (2018) Resilience - continuing the conversation, Centre for Research on Families and Relationship Blog. Dec 2017. 

Davidson, E. (2017) Evaluating the Bookbug programme in Scotland, Centre for Research on Families and Relationship Blog, Dec 2017.

Davidson, E. (2014) Children, young people and the everyday, Centre for Research on Families and Relationship Blog, July 2014.

Davidson, E. (2014) ‘Young people, poverty and the everyday’, Children in Scotland Magazine, Oct 2014.

Selected presentations and seminars

  • ‘Care Leavers’ narratives of their past, present, and future selves’, Napier University Seminar Series, February 2015. 
  • ‘Care Leavers’ narratives of their past, present, and future selves’, Glasgow University Seminar Series, 10th November 2015. 
  • ‘Care Leavers’ narratives of their past, present, and future selves’, CRFR Seminar Series, September 2015. 
  •  ‘Institutionalised identities: The experiences of young care leavers in Scotland’, 5th International Conference on Sociology and Social Work New Directions in Critical Sociology and  Social Work: Identity, Narratives and Praxis, University of Chester, 26 – 27 August 2015
  • How are you? Young People's Narratives on Support in Their Everyday Lives, ‘Societies in Transition: Progressive or Regression?: British Sociological Association International Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University 15-17 April 2015.
  • ‘My life? Re-conceptualising critical moments in the life of a care leaver’, Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risks: Journal of Youth Studies Conference, Copenhagen University, 30 March – 1 April 2015
  • ‘Young People and their Future Selves’, Where Now for Social Justice? The Marginalisation of Young People in the UK, Canterbury University, 12-13 June 2014. 
  • Disorder and the emancipatory possibilities of everyday life, Researching Children’s Everyday Lives: Socio-Cultural Contexts, 1-3 July 2014 (hosted special symposium) 
  • ‘Young People and their Future Selves’ Where Now for Social Justice? The Marginalisation of Young People in the UK (with Lisa Whittaker), Canterbury University, 12-13 June 2014. 
  • ‘The Antisocial Everyday: Putting the Ordinary into Understanding of Antisocial Behaviour’, Youth Studies Conference 2013: New Agendas on Young and Young Adulthood, 8-10 April 2013. 
  • ‘It’s just life, you see it aw the time’: Young people and their interactions with the everyday antisocial, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, New Researchers Conference, 29 October 2012.
  •  ‘Young people and their interactions with the everyday antisocial’, European Sociological Association Summer School, Lisbon, 23 July 2012.
  • Researching sensitive topics (with Fiona Morrison), Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth: Celebrating Childhood Diversity, 9-11 July 2012.
  • ‘I suppose it’s just life, you see it aw the time’: locating the everyday antisocial in young lives’, Edinburgh Police Research and Practice Group, 14 November 2011.
  • ‘Finding the ordinary in the antisocial’’, British Sociological Association Youth Study Group, Stuck in the Middle with Who, 4 November 2011.
  • ‘The everyday antisocial: children’s experiences of antisocial behaviour’, European Sociological Association, Social Relations in Turbulent Times, 7-10 September 2011.
  • 'Your space or mine? The role of space in the lives of young people', Horniman Museum Youth Conference, part of the Stories of the World Cultural Olympiad programme, 26-27 November 2010 (invited speaker)
  • ‘Controlling the unattached? Exploring the role of detached youth work in policing youth territories’ – Royal Geographical Society International Conference, Youth Geographies of In/civility panel, 1-3 September 2010.
  • ‘Antisocial behaviour and young people: their spaces, relationships and interactions with policy’, University of Edinburgh, Social Policy Seminar Series 2009.
  • ‘Serving whose interests? Involving Young People as Researchers’, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, New Researchers Conference, 2009.

Topics interested in supervising

I can act as a supervisor or in an informal mentoring role on projects concerning youth transitions, class and inequality; youth work; youth justice; public libraries; as well as students with interests in particular methodologies, including participatory research and collaborative ethnography, computerised qualitative data analysis and use of secondary qualitative data.

If you are interested in being supervised by Emma Davidson, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Sociology; MSc (R) Sociology