Jessica Langston

Department of Sociological Studies

PhD Student

Full contact details

Jessica Langston
Department of Sociological Studies
Elmfield Building
Northumberland Road
S10 2TU

My background is in social work, primarily with children and families, although I have a broader interest in whole family approaches. I joined the University of Sheffield in 2016 as a doctoral student, and have gone on to undertake research and teaching within the Department of Sociological Studies.

  • BA Social Work;
  • MA Social Research.
Research interests

Thesis title: 'Why good social workers do bad things: An institutional ethnography of social work with children and families.'

Funded by the ESRC I attended training at the University of Toronto to study institutional ethnography with Dorothy Smith. My thesis explores how the activities of social workers in a children and families department of a UK local authority are organised, to understand the contradictions and tensions in the social work role, specifically in relation to the work undertaken that results in care proceedings.

The use of an institutional ethnographic frame of enquiry enabled the study to explicate the vast web of ruling relations that organised and coordinated their activities across various locations and points in time and to situate the findings in relation to the underlying ideologies shaping the construction of “normal” childhood and “good” parenting.

I have previously completed an evaluation of a parenting programme, Mellow Dads, facilitated in an English prison for the first time. Invisible Fathers took a participatory approach to work with a group of peer researchers who had previously completed the programme within the community. The findings were presented in a prison, in partnership with the peer researchers, participants, and their children to members of the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and a range of local commissioners.

Research group


Teaching interests

I have taught at a number of institutions and have coordinated modules such as Law for Practice, Research Skills, and Critical Social Work Skills. My teaching interests extend to topics such as values and ethics, critical approaches to attachment theory, and study methods.


Langston, J (2016) Invisible Fathers; exploring an integrated approach to supporting fathers through the mellow dads parenting programme piloted in a UK prison. Journal of Integrated Care. 24(4). pp176-187.