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Dr Victoria Robinson

Reader in Sociology / Director of the Centre for Gender Research
(BA, Cert.Ed., MA, PhD)

Director of Learning and Teaching

Photo of Victoria Robinson

Room: Elmfield, B06f | Telephone: 0114 222 6477 (external), 26477 (internal)

Academic Profile

I first started teaching in higher education in the Institute For Lifelong Learning, at the University of Sheffield, where I established one of the first undergraduate degrees in Women´s Studies in the UK, in the 1980´s. I then went to the University of Manchester, and for 3 years from 1999 I was Director of the Women´s Studies Centre in the department of Sociology. I later moved to the University of Newcastle, where I was Lecturer in Sociology. I returned to Sheffield in 2004, where I became Senior Research Fellow in the department of Sociological Studies, and where I am now a Reader in Sociology and Director of the Centre for Gender Research.

My PhD (University of Manchester) was centrally concerned with the living out of everyday heterosexualities and masculinities, and these two areas help inform my current research interests.


My empirical and theoretical research is chiefly in the areas of: sexualities, especially heterosexualities; men and masculinities and gender/feminist theory, particularly debates around Gender/Women´s Studies and gender theory in the academy. An additional research interest is in extreme sports. Running through these concerns are the unifying strands of the life course, well being and social inclusion and identity.

Major research projects

  • Heterosexualities. An interdisciplinary, two year ESRC funded project (£85K), with Jenny Hockey, University of Sheffield and Angela Meah: `A Cross-Generational Investigation of the Making of Heterosexual Relationships´, investigated continuities and changes in the institution of heterosexuality across the twentieth century, through interviews with 3 generation families in East Yorkshire. The project has provided much needed empirical evidence which has generated new theorising of heterosexuality, intimacy and the emotions, spatial aspects of sexuality and ageing and the life course. It was the first major grounded study of its kind in the UK. A joint authored book was published based on this project Mundane Heterosexualities (2007, Palgrave).
  • Masculinities. Central to this strand of research is my empirical and theoretical work on `sporting masculinities´, which was published in a sole authored monograph; A Different Kind of Hard: Everyday Masculinities, Identity and Rock Climbing (2008, Berg) and a book in the first international extreme sport series by Greenwood Publishers: Rock Climbing: The Ultimate Guide (2013). Key sociological concerns in this context are: sporting masculinities, the fluidity of gendered identities, gender relations, the body, risk, intimacy, emotions and the life course. A feminist theorising of the sociology of the everyday and the extraordinary is central to my research interests here. As well, an ESRC funded (£164K) 3-year research project, with Jenny Hockey: Masculinities in Transition: Identity, Home and Workplace investigated the changing masculinities and identities in public and private spheres across the life course. (See the published volume V. Robinson and J. Hockey, 2011, Masculinities in Transition, Palgrave).
  • Identity Transitions and Footwear. A three year ESRC funded project, with Emeritus Prof. Jenny Hockey, finished in 2013 (£384K): ‘If the Shoe Fits, Footwear, Identification and Transition’ had identity transitions as its primary focus. Shoes provided a vehicle for exploring the living out of identities across the life course and on an everyday basis. The research informed theoretical work on identity by offering both a methodology and a body of findings that demonstrate the importance of a focus on embodiment and material culture to the processual nature of identification. In particular, its work on gender, femininity and masculinity and on ageing, embodiment and dress, as well as the health implications of footwear were explored in a number of published or forthcoming (2014) journal articles, either singly or jointly authored with the course team. These include the Journal of Material Culture, Sociological Research Online, the Nordic Journal of Masculinity Studies, European Journal of Women’s Studies and Sociological Review.

To hear me talking about my ESRC funded research on footwear, identity and transition on Radio 4 'Thinking Aloud', please follow this link:

Other research areas

  • Developments in Gender and Women´s Studies in the Academy. I have become established in these areas in Britain, Europe and the USA, through publications which include my co-edited text with Prof. Diane Richardson, University of Newcastle; Introducing Gender and Women´s Studies: Feminist Theory and Practice (2008, 3rd Edition, Palgrave/New York University Press), and a number of journal articles and book chapters. The book has been cited in the Penguin Dictionary of Sociology as one of two key texts in the field of gender, is the leading gender textbook in the UK and is also one of the best selling British textbooks in the field in the USA. The new 4th edition (forthcoming, 2014) has a distinct University of Sheffield identity, with contributions from colleagues in Sociological Studies. I am co-founder and Director of the cross-faculty Centre for Gender Research. I am also co series editor of Palgrave’s international book series; Genders and Sexualities in the Social Sciences.

Future research plans

I have recently been awarded a £25K grant under the University’s Knowledge Exchange scheme to extend the ESRC research on footwear, and its practical application, via the development of a tool kit for podiatrists concerned with the health and well being of their patients.

I currently have two other applications under review, one with the British Academy; a new study about men of different ages and their use of Viagra, and a major ERC (1.75 million euros) comparative European study of masculinity and sexuality across the life-course and Viagra consumption, both of which involve Dr. Sharron Hinchliff in Nursing and Midwifery, as well as colleagues at the universities of Turin, Piedmonte and Rome.

In addition, with colleagues in the Arts and Humanities Faculty, I recently held a public engagement activity on the ‘Museum of the Outdoors’ which was funded by both faculties. This initiative will culminate in a bid to the Connected Communities strand of the AHRC and involves research on social inclusion and access/use of outdoor space and activities by local communities.

I am also UK lead on a multi disciplinary research group at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, comprising of the world’s foremost European and North American scholars in the field of masculinity. I have external funding as visiting Professor to develop this initiative, and will enable the first such group in the field to develop research links across countries, but also to refashion the field of masculinity studies, and shape its long term institutional and research future on a global scale.

Funded Research Projects
Date Sponsor Details
2010-2013 ESRC 'If the Shoe Fits: Footwear, Identification and Transition' (with Jenny Hockey)
2004-2007 ESRC Masculinities in Transition: Identity, Home and Workplace is investigating changing masculinities and identities in public and private spheres across the life course (with Jenny Hockey)
2001-2002 ESRC A Cross-Generational Investigation of the Making of Heterosexual Relationships (with Jenny Hockey, University of Sheffield and Angela Meah)

Departmental administrative positions

  • 2013/2014:
    • Post Graduate Research Convenor
    • DTC Pathways Lead for Sociology
    • Mentoring Task and Finish Group Leader
  • 2014/2015: Director of Learning and Teaching


Currently, my teaching and supervision of students takes place at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. My teaching approach is primarily grounded in feminist pedagogic practices which means that I am mindful of the possibilities and problems inherent in students drawing on their personal experiences to understand theoretical ideas and concepts. I am also aware of potential power relations in the classroom, for example, between students themselves and between the tutor and student. The idea of difference is also crucial here, for instance, in relation to the different gender, class, race/ethnicity, age and sexuality backgrounds of students and tutor, and how they inform and impact on the teaching/learning experience.

Having started off my university teaching career in adult and continuing education, I have been fundamentally inspired by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who has been concerned with the importance of achieving a dialogue in the classroom, and with the nature of educating the oppressed. Therefore, I strive for an interactive dialogue in my classroom, rather than the tutor as (necessarily) being the ‘font of all knowledge’. I also stress the importance of students taking responsibility for their own learning process both individually, and in group work, with the aim of them becoming independent and critical learners. Much of my teaching is research led, and I specifically utilise my own research on sexualities, masculinities, extreme sports and feminist theory in this endeavour.

Presently, I convene the following undergraduate modules:

  • Level 3-SCS3014- Men, Masculinities and Gender Relations
  • Level 1- SCS1005-Gender, Sexuality and Society

and the post graduate modules:

  • SCS6038 Doing Gendered Research

I also supervise undergraduate dissertations and extended essays.

See our Undergraduate degree and MA taught degree web pages .

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing doctoral studies in the areas of masculinities, heterosexualities and gender/women´s studies in the academy, including in a European context, the sociology of extreme sports, and the sociology of fashion and footwear.

To find out more about our PhD programmes, go to:

Studying for a PhD in Sociology

Publications since 2005

(2013) Rock Climbing: The Ultimate Guide, (Greenwood Guides to Extreme Sports) Connecticut, Greenwood Press. pp.165

(2013) ‘Ongoing Methodological Problematics: Masculinities and Male Rock Climbers’, in B. Pini and B. Peace (eds) Men, Masculinities and Methodologies, London, Palgrave, pp. 129-141

(2013) ‘Extreme Leisure: The Case of Extreme Sporting Activities’, in T. Blackshaw (ed.) Routledge International Handbook of Leisure Studies, London, Routledge, pp. 506-20

(2013) ‘Worn Shoes: Identity, Memory and Footwear’ (with J. Hockey, R. Dilley and A. Sherlock) Sociological Research Online, vol. 18,

(2013) ‘Perspectives on Gender Studies in Europe’ (with R. Ferrero Camoletto et al.): AG About Gender: International Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 2, No.4

(2011) with A. Meah and J. Hockey 'I'M A SEX KITTEN, AREN'T I...' Relocating Agency and Pleasure in Older Women's Narratives about Sex. Australian Feminist Studies, 26(67), 57-71. doi:10.1080/08164649.2010.546328

(2011) with A. Hall and J. Hockey ‘ Masculinities, Sexualities and the Limits of Subversion: Being a Man in Hairdressing’, Journal of Men and Masculinities, vol. 14, no. 1, 31-50.

(2011) with J. Hockey, Masculinities in Transition, London, Palgrave Macmillan (J).

(2009) with J. Hockey and A. Hall ‘Chronologising Adulthood/Configuring Masculinity’, in J. Burnett (ed.) Contemporary Adulthood: Calendars, Cartographies, and Constructions, Milton Keynes, The Open University Press (J).(2009) with Hall, A. and Hockey, J. ‘The Life Course Anticipated: Gender and Chronologisation Among Young People’, Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 12, no. 2, 227-241 (J).

(2008) Everyday Masculinities and Extreme Sport: Male Identity and Rock Climbing Oxford: Berg, pp. 183.

(2008) with D. Richardson (eds.) Introducing Gender and Women’s Studies (3rd edition, fully revised and re-written), London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.291. (J).

(2008) with A. Meah and J. Hockey, ‘What’s Sex Got to do With It? A Family Based Investigation of Growing up Heterosexual During the Twentieth Century’, The Sociological Review, vol. 56, no. 3, 454-473 (J).

(2008) ‘Extreme sports: Gendered risk and adventure’, in J. Hearn and V. Burr (eds.) Sex, Violence and the Body: the Erotics of Wounding, London, Palgrave Macmillan.

(2008) ‘Masculinity Theory and Feminism: Future Directions’, in D. Richardson and V. Robinson (eds.) Introducing Gender and Women’s Studies: Feminist Theory and Practice, 3rd edition, London, Palgrave Macmillan, and New York: New York University Press, pp.55-70.

(2007) with A. Hall and J. Hockey, ‘Occupational Cultures and the Embodiment of Masculinity: Hairdressing, Estate Agency and Fire-fighting’, Gender, Work and Organization, vol. 14, no. 6, 534-551 (J).

(2007) with J. Hockey and A. Meah, Mundane Heterosexualities: From Theory to Practice, London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.206 (J).

(2007) Special edition of Sheffield Online Papers in Social Research, ‘Masculinities and The Extreme Sport of Rock Climbing’, August, No. 10.

(2007) with J. Hockey and A. Meah, ‘Representing “Sex” in the Research Process’, International Journal of Social Research Methods, vol. 10 no. 3: 181-194 (J).

(2006) ‘Internal and External Shifts and Constraints on Women’s Studies and Gender Studies: Implications for the “Canon’”’, in M. Bidwell-Steiner and K.S Wozonig (eds.) A Canon of Our Own? Kanonkritik und Kanonbildung in den Gender Studies, Vienna: Studienverlag, pp.217-27.

A full list of publications can be downloaded by clicking the link on the right of this page.