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Sociology: People


Lauren Wilks

Lauren Wilks
Dr Lauren Wilks
4.13 Chrystal Macmillan Building George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Work, labour, gender, mobility, inequality, family and personal relationships, gender-based violence, ethnography, qualitative research, feminist research


Lauren Wilks is a feminist ethnographer and social researcher with interests in work/labour, gender, mobility, and inequality. She has a background in history and sociology, and she received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh in 2019. She is currently an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. 

Lauren previously worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Edinburgh, as well as in a range of research and policy roles outside of academia, including most recently at the Scottish Government. Additionally, in 2013, Lauren was a Student Fellow at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, publishing her writing in The GuardianThe Huffington Post, and other news/media outlets. 


Lauren’s ESRC-funded PhD drew on 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork to explore the everyday lives and experiences of commuting domestic workers in Kolkata; and, as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, she is working to consolidate, share, and expand her research, looking more broadly at the changing organisation of paid domestic work in India.

Lauren is passionate about working with others for knowledge exchange and impact. Alongside publishing articles and book chapters from her PhD, she is collaborating with Anchita Ghatak from Parichiti (a women’s organisation that works for the rights of women domestic workers in Kolkata), Dr Supurna Banerjee from the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK), and Samia Singh, an independent illustrator and graphic designer, to create an illustrated short story exploring some of the issues domestic workers face.

For updates on Lauren’s work, follow her on Twitter: @wilksls

Projects and affiliations

Lauren is a member of the Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives project led by Dr Radhika Govinda at the University of Edinburgh, as well as the global Research Network for Domestic Workers’ Rights (RN-DWR). She is also an Associate Researcher at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) at the University of Edinburgh; and, in January 2020, she was a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (IDSK).


Lauren is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has tutored and lectured on various UG and PG courses (Sociology, South Asian Studies, Development Studies) at the University of Edinburgh. She has also worked on a student-led journal project, supporting UG students to create an online, peer-reviewed, open access journal, helped establish a new peer support scheme for Master’s students (both SSPS, University of Edinburgh), and worked with colleagues to design and facilitate ‘taster’ Sociology workshops as part of the Sutton Trust Summer School and the Kickstart Summer Programme – two widening participation initiatives at the University of Edinburgh.

Selected publications

Academic publications:

Forthcoming 2020. L. Wilks. ‘“Soft” topics and “soft” teachers: Some reflections on teaching (gender and feminism) at a UK university’ in Doing feminisms in the academy: Identity, institutional pedagogy and critical classrooms in India and the UK, edited by R. Govinda, F. Mackay, K. Menon, & R. Sen. New Delhi: Zubaan.

Forthcoming 2020. L. Wilks. ‘Gender and domestic work in India’ in Handbook on Gender in Asia, edited by S. Huang & K. N. Ruwanpura. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Forthcoming 2020. L. Wilks. ‘Contestation and constraint: commuting domestic workers and their employers in contemporary Kolkata,’ South Asian History and Culture (Special Issue).

2018. N. Mirza & L. Wilks. ‘Reframing agency in abusive contexts: beyond “free choice” and “open resistance,”’ Journal of Gender-Based Violence, 2 (1): 41-56 (corrigendum stating authorship correction published June 2020; Volume 4, Number 2, page 295).

2017. L. Wilks. Book review: S. Sen and N. Sengupta, 2016. Domestic days: Women, work, and politics in contemporary Kolkata (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), Contemporary South Asia, 25 (1): 110-111.

2016. L. Wilks. Book review: S. P. Shah, 2014. Street corner secrets: Sex, work, and migration in the city of Mumbai (Durham: Duke University Press), Sociology, 50 (4): 825-829.

2011. L. Wilks. 'Missionary medicine & the "separatist tradition": an analysis of the missionary encounter with leprosy in late nineteenth-century India', Social Scientist, 39 (5-6): 48-66.

Media publications:

2015. J. Dey & L. Wilks. ‘The Indian elite has a toilet problem it doesn’t want to see,’ The Wire, 2 December. 

2015. L. Wilks. ‘India’s domestic workers need a break,’ The Guardian, 10 June.

2014. L. Wilks, for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. ‘World Cup 2014: Is Brazil’s sex industry crackdown a threat to human rights?’ The Guardian, 14 February.

2013. L. Wilks, for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. ‘Brothel raids endanger Rio’s sex workers,’ The Huffington Post, 4 December.