Category Archives: Social Work and Social Policy

Guest Post from Roger Cotterrell

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

Roger CotterrellRoger Cotterrell, Professor of Legal Theory at Queen Mary, University of London, UK, provides today’s guest blog. He is the author of Law, Culture and Society: Legal Ideas in the Mirror of Social Theory — an Editor’s Choice title in our Law list. The following post includes background information about the book and his research motivations, thoughts, and experiences that helped shape the volume’s success and contribution to the field.


Law culture and societyLaw, Culture and Society originated in a series of essays written over an eight year period. But it was intended as far more than just a collection of linked papers. I saw all of the studies that contributed to it as part of a single, tightly integrated project, even if one with several branches. I wanted to show through this book what I had come to see as a necessary new perspective on the study of law in society. Since I had long been interested in legal theory and committed to studying law from a sociological perspective, the book was a kind of first summation of what I had gradually worked out as the most productive way to apply this sociological outlook in a theoretically consistent way in interpreting legal ideas. So, it was subtitled ‘legal ideas in the mirror of social theory’. As in much of my work, a guiding motivation was to show the relevance of sociological insights for juristic, doctrinal studies of law – the kinds of studies with which lawyers and law students are most familiar.

Looking back now, a decade after the book’s original publication, I can see two factors as especially important in determining the form that Law, Culture and Society took. The first was that in the years leading up to its publication I had become increasingly interested in comparative legal studies – an area of legal scholarship that throughout its development has been more open than most to making alliances with the social sciences. The strong links I had developed with comparative lawyers encouraged me to consider more carefully how sociological perspectives could aid them, and to ask how the whole enterprise of comparative law could acquire more solid theoretical foundations by drawing on ideas from social theory. So, the book was written partly to address students of comparative law.

It seemed obvious that comparative legal studies would become more important in a globalising world. Pressures to harmonise law across national boundaries were becoming more intense. But at the same time ‘local’ cultures – often reflecting particular traditions, values and allegiances – clearly sought to resist some of these harmonising pressures and called on law to express their distinctiveness. There seemed to be a dual movement focused on law: it must seek the efficiency of similarity produced through harmonisation but it must also appreciate cultural difference. As a consequence, ‘culture’ would have to become a very important focus of attention for legal scholars.

Sociology and anthropology had already developed many ideas about the nature of culture that deserved attention. However, when I came to examine carefully the ideas about ‘legal culture’ that were current in socio-legal studies I felt they lacked rigour. So an important part of my project, reflected in Law, Culture and Society, was to find a way of thinking about culture that could be conceptually defensible, consistent and systematic, and practically relevant for legal analysis as well as for social scientific inquiries about law.

A second main factor also shaped the book’s form. I had come to feel that the old agenda of socio-legal studies – to study the interaction between ‘law’ and ‘society’ – was becoming exhausted. Socio-legal scholars had tended to treat ‘society’ as referring to national societies and ‘law’ as the law of nation states. But social research showed that social and economic relationships were increasingly transnational and international, and law in practice was less and less confined to national law. Law, Culture and Society introduces and develops the idea of communal networks that can cross nation state boundaries, and it suggests that different kinds of communal relationship typically pose different legal problems and present different regulatory needs. Equally, the diversity of communal networks within national societies is a matter of great juristic relevance. So, the book tries to displace the old fixation with national societies as law’s sole concern in favour of a much more open view of communal networks – national, intra-national and transnational.

I had not been thinking of culture when I first wrote about communal networks. However, I came to think that culture could be best understood in terms of them. It could be seen as the bonds that allow these various networks to exist. So, the book’s approach was intended to suggest new agendas for social study of law. I used it to reconsider the possibilities for ‘transplanting’ law from one cultural environment to another, as well as the nature of authority in comparative law, and the multifaceted character of culture as a concern for law. More broadly, I claimed that the law-and-community approach could help to clarify one of the most basic foci of legal analysis – the idea of responsibility.

Since the book appeared I have further developed its approach, which has also been used by other scholars working in diverse fields. Today we can at least see clearly that social studies of law are becoming ever more important and that their character is changing as law becomes more transnational and international, and as networks of socio-economic relations become ever more varied, diverse and intricate within and across national boundaries. Socio-legal researchers and socially-aware lawyers surely have plenty of work to do and I hope that Law, Culture and Society can still prove helpful.

Roger Cotterrell

June 22nd 2015


Examination Copies of this title are available on a 60 day trial basis for lecturers considering course adoption. To request a copy of a book, fill out the online inspection/examination form.

Violence Against Women – an ongoing problem

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Senior Commissioning Editor

On the 25th of June of this year the BBC reported that there had been a record number of prosecutions for violence against women and girls. The CPS report showed that there had been 107,000 prosecutions for rape, domestic violence and ‘honour’ crimes in the year to April 2015. This figure is an increase of 18% on the previous year.

These figures demonstrate the on-going issue on violence again women in all its forms. Here at Ashgate we are proud to have published a number of recent books on the subject written by some of the leading scholars, policy-makers and activists working in this area, all with the aim of eradicating this problem once and for all.

Books Published:

Moving in the shadowsMoving in the Shadows: Violence in the Lives of Minority Women and Children (2013) Edited by Yasmin Rehman, freelance consultant, Liz Kelly, London Metropolitan University, and Hannana Siddiqui, Southall Black Sisters.

Honour based violenceHonour-Based Violence: Experiences and Counter-Strategies in Iraqi Kurdistan and the UK Kurdish Diaspora (2015) Authored by Nazand Begikhani, University of Bristol, Aisha K. Gill, University of Roehampton, and Gill Hague, University of Bristol.

Young peoples understanding of mens violence against womenYoung People’s Understandings of Men’s Violence Against Women (2015) Authored by Nancy Lombard, Glasgow Caledonian University.


Forced marriage and honour killings in BritainForced Marriage and ‘Honour’ Killings in Britain: Private Lives, Community Crimes and Public Policy Perspectives (August 2015) Authored by Christina Julios, Birkbeck, University of London and The Open University.

Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective (Forthcoming November 2015) Authored by Hilary Burrage.

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Online versions of our printed catalogues are available to browse. Please follow the links below to your subject(s) of interest.

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Don’t forget, ALL orders on our website receive 10% discount.

Choice Outstanding Academic Title awards for 2014

Posted by Emily Ferro, Marketing Coordinator

Ashgate is thrilled to announce that Choice has honored three Ashgate books by naming them Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014. The recognized titles are Decolonizing Social Work; Ageing, Ritual and Social Change: Comparing the secular and religious in Eastern and Western Europe; and The Ashgate Research Companion to the Thirty Years’ War. Books recognized by Choice display ‘excellence in presentation and scholarship’ and provide content of significance in their field of study. Out of the thousands of titles reviewed by Choice in 2014, only 10% were celebrated as Outstanding Academic Titles.

Decolonizing social workDecolonizing Social Work by Mel Gray, John Coates, Michael Yellow Bird, and Tiani Hetherington features articles written by Indigenous and non-Indigenous social work scholars examining local cultures, beliefs, values, and practices as central to decolonization. Choice notes that the volume is “a sturdy reminder of the vast social justice work still to do in the world.” Through careful amalgamation of the work of the essayists, Gray, Coates, Yellow Bird, and Hetherington interrogate trends, issues, and debates in Indigenous social work theory, practice methods, and education models. Choice compliments the book’s readability and its glossary, and highly recommends it to all academics, libraries, and practitioners.

Ageing ritual and social changeAgeing, Ritual and Social Change by Peter Coleman, Daniela Koleva, and Joanna Bornat explores European changes in religious and secular beliefs and practices related to life passages. “The editors and contributors deserve appreciation for undertaking this challenging comparative project,” writes Choice, calling the collection “A significant multidisciplinary contribution to the literature on aging, religion/ritual, comparative oral history, and social change.” Drawing on fascinating oral histories of older people’s memories in both Eastern and Western Europe, this book presents illuminating views on peoples’ quests for existential meaning in later life. Choice highly recommends Ageing, Ritual and Social Change for upper-division undergraduates and up.

Ashgate research companion to the thirty years warThe final book named an Outstanding Academic Title of 2014 is The Ashgate Research Companion to the Thirty Years’ War by Olaf Asbach and Peter Schröder. A comprehensive and authoritative overview of research on one of the most destructive conflicts in European history, Choice notes that this book “will serve for some time as an essential starting point for research on the origins, conduct, and legacies of the wars and the peace.” By combining the work of key international scholars, this research companion explores the complexities of the conflict using an innovative comparative approach. Choice deems this book “Essential,” recommending it to all upper-division undergraduates and up.

Congratulations to all of the honorees.

For a listing of all of our recent prizewinners, visit  

Announcing a new social policy series from Ashgate: Social Welfare Around the World

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Commissioning Editor

Our new Social Welfare Around the World series (edited by Bent Greve, Roskilde University) aims to publish high quality research monographs and edited books, focusing on development, change in provision and/or delivery of welfare – with a primary focus on developed welfare states. The books will provide overviews of themes such as pensions, social services, unemployment or housing, as well as in-depth analysis of change and impact on a micro level. The impact and influence of supranational institutions on welfare state developments will also be studied as will the methodologies used to analyse the on-going transformations of welfare states.  Publications can be diverse in approach; however the provision of new data and interpretation hereof is of central importance.

For further information about submitting a proposal please contact either the series editor Bent Greve ( or commissioning editor Claire Jarvis (

About the Series Editor: Bent Greve is Professor of Welfare State Analysis at the Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Denmark and editor and author of (amongst others): Innovation in Social Services: The Public-Private Mix in Service Provision, Fiscal Policy and Employment (Ashgate 2014); Welfare and the Welfare State: Present and Future (Routledge, 2014); Historical Dictionary of the Welfare State (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014); Evidence and Evaluation in Social Policy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014); The Routledge Handbook of the Welfare State (Routledge 2013); and The Future of the Welfare State (Ashgate, 2006).

Helen Chatterjee and the Museums on Prescription research project

Posted by Helen Moore, Marketing Manager

Museums Health and WellbeingDr Helen Chatterjee, author of Museums, Health and Well-Being, was interviewed on the BBC news for a feature on loneliness yesterday talking about ‘Museums on Prescription’ a three year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Helen Chatterjee is leading a team of researchers to explore the value and role of museums in social prescribing.

Social prescribing links patients in primary care with local sources of support within the community which can improve their health and wellbeing. ‘Museums on Prescription’ is the first of its kind internationally and will research the development and efficacy of a novel referral scheme.

The project will connect socially isolated, vulnerable and lonely older people, referred through the NHS, Local Authority Adult Social Care services and charities, to partner museums in Central London and Kent.

The research project is a collaboration between over 15 organisations including The British Museum, Sir John Soanes Museum, UCL Museums & Collections, Camden Council, and Kent and Medway NHS Partnership Trust.

Other organisations involved include Age UK Camden, Arts Council England (ACE), the New Economics Foundation (Nef Consulting) and the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

The scheme will complement existing social prescription services including ‘arts on prescription’ and ‘books on prescription’ and will work in partnership with organisations such as the RSPH, ACE and local branches of Age UK to roll out ‘museums on prescription’ nationwide.

Since 2006, researchers at UCL have been pioneering research into the role of museums in health and wellbeing. A series of research projects, funded by the AHRC and amounting to over £1million, have helped to establish UCL as the leading centre for research in this area.

Professor Paul M. Camic, Professor of Psychology & Public Health and Research Director, Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, is the project’s Co-Investigator and Dr Linda Thomson, UCL, is the Lead Postdoctoral Research Associate for the project. Dr Theo Stickley, Associate Professor of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, is the project’s External Advisor.


Helen Chatterjee awarded AHRC Grant

New AHRC grant will fund ‘Museums on Prescription’ research

BBC News link

A Life in Education and Architecture – Mary Beaumont (Crowley) Medd

burke_series 1324 cover.QXD:a life in educationCatherine Burke’s book on the architect Mary Beaumont (Crowley) Medd was reviewed by Harriet Harriss earlier this year in the Times Higher Ed

Burke, a historian of education, shows mastery of her subject here and delivers it through a light, accessible style… Burke’s book offers everything from an education and practice manifesto to a compelling romance. The narrative overlays within the text capture valuable insights into the infrastructure of key design projects, including clients, creative collaborators and educators working towards a common enterprise.

You can read Catherine Burke’s full introduction to the book on the Ashgate website, but to whet your appetite, here is an edited extract:

The architect Mary Beaumont Crowley (1907–2005), was one of a number of individuals who, in the twentieth century, devoted their professional lives in pursuit of a form of education for children and young people that would be best described as child centered in its values, principles, practices and essential humanity. During her professional career, she advised on the educational principles that should underpin the design of many buildings later listed as of historical and architectural significance, and her methods of detailed observation and evaluation of the work of children and teachers in schools earned her a reputation among educationalists in England as the key player behind the changes in the design of schools achieved during the second half of the twentieth century.

This book is addressed to educators and architects who are interested in the perennial question – what makes a good school? Mary was one of a generation of architects who designed schools for the public sector in the post war years during the largest and most extended British school building programme of the twentieth century.

The impetus behind this book was a hunch and a question about relationships in educational history. Returning by train from visiting a nursery in Nottingham one Friday in June 2005, I read about the life of Mary (Crowley) Medd in her obituary, jointly authored for The Guardian by architectural historians, Andrew Saint and Lynne Walker. I read for the first time about Mary, acknowledged as a driving force for change among a team of predominantly male architects in the Ministry of Education where she made contacts with the best teachers, learned what they were trying to do and watched children in and out of classes … and by bringing this direct and – far rarer among architects – systematic observation of habits and needs to bear on designing schools, she acquired unique authority in primary school planning.

The hunch I had, and thereafter tried to follow, was that Mary as a female architect was able to establish a special and unique form of empathy with the predominantly female teaching force in primary schools at the time. I wondered whether as a woman, she was advantaged in acquiring a special understanding of the relationships that underpinned pedagogy and its development. In so doing, I began to question whether it was this special understanding that had fostered in post-war England the emergence of a new and rich knowledge about key relationships between pedagogy and the material context of schools.

As in much historical research, one’s initial notions become challenged in the process of seeking out the evidence and exploring the wider context. However it soon became clear that there were indeed significant relationships that shaped Mary’s life and practice that fundamentally influenced her approach to the design of schools for young children. Uncovering the nature of these relationships became the substance of this book and particularly how they found expression through Mary’s endeavours to further innovative educational practice within public schooling in post-war England and Wales.

Since her death in 2005, Mary’s papers, consisting of a substantial archive of diaries, photographic albums, letters, plans and publications, have been deposited in the Newsam Archive at the Institute of Education, University of London. These complement an existing archive of materials related to the activities of the Architect and Buildings Branch of the Ministry of Education (later DES). Mary’s personal papers contain materials relating to her infancy and childhood, family life and school days at several schools including Bedales; study in Switzerland; experiences as a student at the Architectural Association from 1927–1932; travel in Europe, including influential visits to Scandinavia; work on housing during the 1930s; wartime planning at the Hertfordshire Education Department; travel during the immediate post-war period; marriage and professional work with David Medd including substantial international engagement; and consultancy work both at home and abroad in retirement.

These documents, of a life well lived, have shaped the narrative of this book. The archive has also shaped the research journey I have taken over the years since Mary Crowley’s death. Questions raised by reading diary entries and travel journals and browsing plans prompted meetings and conversations with her husband David Medd. I met David on several occasions and talked for hours about Mary’s personality and career in the house at Harmer Green, Welwyn North that she and he had designed together in the early 1950s. Surrounded by the garden she had loved and nurtured, the piano she played so well over many decades, the furniture designed by David and the lampshades by Alvar Aalto, I tried to understand the extraordinary impact of this modest character who was, according to those who knew her best, so frustratingly self-effacing yet exceedingly driven.

David took a great interest in my efforts to understand Mary’s contribution to the design of schools in the twentieth century and in addition to the meetings, wrote me scores of letters, each one handwritten and densely filled with notes of detail that enriched the research. But David told me, ‘you want to get in a bit more – you want to give the impression you’ve done more than reading!’ From these conversations and letters the international scope of Mary’s influence and influences became more apparent and so, taking David’s suggestion seriously, part of my efforts to understand Mary eventually included visiting some of the places that were of especial importance in her life and career. To understand as fully as possible some of the references Mary made in her diaries, I journeyed to these places and tried to see through her eyes and sense through the images she made in pen and ink, the past as she experienced it. Following in Mary’s footsteps, I tried to estimate to what extent it is true that ‘in different places we are different people’.

Architectural history need not be just about buildings or architects but can also be about relationships, values and how these inform the process of architectural practice. Therefore, the book is structured around different aspects of the relationship between education and architecture that shaped Mary’s life and legacy. It explores the significance and impact of a rich and long life whose earliest years were spent at a time of great change in the worlds of education and architecture, when the teaching profession was becoming established and when pupils were coming to be viewed in new ways that suggested the need to make arrangements for a completely new concept of a school.

Alongside a new view of the developing child in an appropriate environment there was at the same time emerging a new modernist architecture with an emphasis on function and social value. Each chapter in this book is organized around the available documentation that reveals the significant places, architecture, art and friendships that featured during Mary’s long life, the projects she engaged with and the individuals and communities of educators, artists and designers with whom she was associated.

In the twenty-first century, when planned renewal of school building stock is high on government agendas across the world, this life that brought together education and architecture so successfully is highly relevant. The examples discussed consider the legacy that connects Mary Crowley’s life with contemporary concerns of educators and architects who are challenged with the responsibility of designing schools for a rapidly changing world.

Of course there are many more avenues that this account could have taken. The many years of dedicated consultancy work across the world in Mary’s later years have not been covered in any detail but there is a summary of the substantial contribution Mary made across the world during these years. Nor have I considered the many musical, dramatic and artistic interests she pursued with her husband. These gaps will be filled by others who might be inspired to take up one or more of the roads left unexplored here. The emphasis has been on redressing the balance between the large and noisy histories of architects who have designed schools with this account that argues for the importance of telling the quiet stories in nurturing children and designing for education.

About the Author: Dr Catherine Burke is an historian and senior lecturer in education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. She has researched Mary Medd’s life and travels since the architect’s death in 2005, while at the same time engaging with architects designing schools today to bring about a better understanding of the history of the subject. Other related publications include The School I’d Like (2003) and School (2008) both with Ian Grosvenor.

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