Dr Hazel R Wright

Senior Lecturer, Deputy to Director of Educational Doctorate

Course Leader for Early Childhood Professional Studies

Co-convenor of the Narrative inquiry Forum

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education

Department:School of Education & Social Care

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Social Work and Social Policy

Hazel is a social scientist researching, writing and teaching across a broad spectrum relating to people, their social interactions, their learning potential, and their relationships with the natural world.

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Dr Wright is an interdisciplinary researcher working mainly in education, sociology, social psychology and the humanities. After graduating in geography, she spent some time doing research in Latin America, and then worked in publishing for many years, in marketing, production and as a managing editor, honing her project management and writing skills. She worked with pre-school children and taught in community, adult and further education before returning to academia as a University lecturer.

Hazel is an active researcher, who can use mixed methods but currently prefers to work within the qualitative paradigm. She specialises in narrative inquiry and biographical approaches but also uses observational methods in her work.

Research interests

  • People’s lives and the way they tell their life stories
  • Childhood, children and children’s education
  • Families, relationships, communities and society
  • Adult education, particularly women’s education and professional development
  • Student experience
  • Human development and the Capability Approach
  • Inclusive education, particularly gender issues
  • Human interaction with the natural world and sustainable practice
  • Historical perspectives on contemporary themes

Hazel’s research interests focus around people, their hopes and fears, their understandings and emotions, and their interactions with each other and the world around them. She embraces diversity and difference and believes it is essential to contextualise data. Research data are sociocultural phenomena and analysis is more meaningful when the writer constructs a sense of time and place so that patterns, links and contrasts can be clearly seen. She is interested in education for its own sake rather than as an instrumental tool so focuses on its role in enhancing human potential rather than its efficacy in narrowly meeting policy objectives, a liberal view that concerns itself with ‘the life we lead’ rather than what we might be able to do in the future in keeping with Sen’s Capability Approach.

Areas of research supervision

  • Extended mothering: maternal influences in daughters’ higher education (Linda Cooper) (completed)
  • Young people and their identities: the case of dyslexia and transition to secondary education (Eleni-Panagiota Lithari) (completed)
  • 'What's the use of stories that aren't even true?' (Rushdie. 1990:27) An examination of the impact of creating stories as a reflective practice strategy in teacher education (Janet Dyson)
  • Teachers as readers: readers as teachers (Alison Feist)
  • What are the lived experiences of people from a low or no literacy background? Learning and functioning in a dominant language? (Monica Mascarenhas)
  • A phenomenological exploration of adult, asynchronous distance learning (Sally Goldspink)
  • The effect of kinaesthetic teaching upon children’s story writing (Douglas Mothershaw)
  • Jack-of-all-trades or master of one? Shedding new light on MRI practitioner education using a mixed methods approach (Catherine Westbrook)
  • Foundation degree programmes for health: perspectives of leaders of course development across the UK (Mary Northrop)
  • The case of inclusion and progress (Susan Kitchin)
  • How does the head teacher's value system influence the ethos of the Church of England voluntary controlled primary school? (Gillian Holmes)


Hazel has experience of teaching across all levels of post-compulsory education from 1 (Foundation) to 8 (Doctoral study). She has also worked in the pre-school sector and in adult education. She particularly enjoys teaching inclusive practice, sociology and history of childhood, early years traditions, and qualitative research methods.


  • PhD in Sociology and Humanities, Anglia Ruskin University
  • MA in Education, Open University
  • PGCE in Post-compulsory Education, Anglia Polytechnic University
  • BA (Hons) in Geography, University of Leeds
  • Professional qualifications in Pre-school Education, C&G, PLA and Cache
  • Estimating and Print qualifications, British Printing Industries Federation

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Editorial Board, Education Action Research Journal
  • Reviewer, Gender and Education
  • Reviewer, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood
  • Reviewer, Kaleidoscope
  • Book Reviewer, Womens’ Studies International Forum

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

EU bids currently in development.

Selected recent publications


Wright, H.R. (2015) The Child in Society. London: Sage.

Wright, H.R. (2011) Women Studying Childcare: Integrating Lives Through Adult Education. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.

Book chapters

Wright, H.R. (2012) From Parent to Practitioner: Alternative pathways to professionalism in the United Kingdom. In T. Papatheodorou and J. Moyles, Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Early Childhood. London: Sage.

Wright, H.R. (2012) What Do Women Really Really Want? A case study of mature women training to work in childcare. In J. Ostrouch-Kaminska, C. Fontanini  & S. Gaynard, Considering Gender in Adult Education and Academia: (In)visible Act. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Naukowe DSW

Peer reviewed articles

Wright, H.R., Emre, C.S. and Luff, P. (2015) Early Childhood Play with Reclaimed Resources: Potential benefits for young children. Journal of Educational sciences (University of Marmara) (forthcoming).

Wright, H.R. (2014) Education and Community Cohesion: How training in childcare adds benefit. Journal Plus Education, 11 (2) (Online, December 2014), pp. 223-243.

Wright, H.R. (2013) From Individual Choice to Social Good. Higher Education Skills and Work-based Learning, UALL Conference Special Issue, 3(2), pp.141-148

Wright, H.R. (2013) Choosing to Compromise: Women studying childcare in an English Further Education College. Gender and Education, 25(2), pp.206-219.

Wright, H.R. (2013) In Search of Stability: Women studying childcare. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 37(1), pp.89-108.

Wright, H.R. (2012) Childcare, Children and Capability. Cambridge Journal of Education (Special Issue on capability approach), 42(3), September, pp.409-424.

Wright, H.R. (2011) Using Biographical Approaches to Explore Student Views on Learning and Teaching. In M. McLean & A. Abbas (eds), Biographical methods (themed collection on teaching through biography). ELiSS: Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences, 3(3), Summer 2011.

Wright, H.R. and Ashwin, P. (2011) Questioning the Relations Between Biography, Theory and Power in Biographical Teaching Methods: A dialogue. In M. McLean & A. Abbas (eds), Biographical methods (themed collection on teaching through biography). ELiSS: Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences, 3(3), Summer 2011.

Recent presentations and conferences

Wright, H.R., Emre, C.S. and Luff, P. (2014) Early childhood play with reclaimed resources: potential benefits for young children. Paper presented to Erasmus Intensive Program Project; Play, Toys and Culture, Institute of Educational Sciences, Marmara University, Istanbul, 26-27 September.

Wright, H.R. (2014) Sustainable learning: Early Years workers reflect on the benefits of vocational training. Paper presented to BERA Annual Conference, Institute of Education, London, 23-25 September.

Wright, H.R. (2014) Linking the Capability Approach to English childcare staff. Paper presented to HDCA Conference, University of Ioannina and the Bielefeld Center, Athens, 2-5 September.

Wright, H.R. (2014) The Child as pawn. Paper presented to British Sociological Association, University of Leeds, 23-25 April.

Wright, H.R. (2014) An investigation of adult learning using biographical interviews. Invited presentation to staff, University of Aarhus, Denmark, 24-28 March.

Wright, H.R. (2014) Reading the subtext: Before, beside and beyond the biographic narrative. Paper presented to ESREA Life History and Biographical Research Network conference, Otto-von-Güericke University, Magdeburg, 6-9 March.

Wright, H.R. (2013) Developing Sen’s Capability Approach in an English educational setting. Paper presented to BERA Annual Conference, University of Sussex, Brighton, 3-5 September.

Wright, H.R. (2013) Who cares? Findings from a study of women training to work in childcare. Paper presented to Children and Childhoods Conference, University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, 8 July.

Wright, H.R. (2013) Families and Communities: The wellspring of social capital. Paper presented to British Sociological Association Conference, Engaging Sociology. Grand Connaught Rooms, London, 3-5 April.

Wright, H.R. (2013) Remembering our lives or learning to tell the truth? The researcher role in recall. Paper presented to ESREA Life History and Biographical Research Network conference, University of Canterbury at Christchurch, 28 February - 3 March.

Wright, H.R. (2013) Gender in the Early Years. Paper presented to BECERA 3rd conference, Researching Children’s Lives, MAC, Birmingham, 20-21 February.

Wright, H.R. (2012) Women using adult education to integrate their lives. Paper presented to British Educational Research Association, University of Manchester, 4-6 September.

Wright, H.R. (2012) Developing the capability for well-being. Paper presented to SCUTREA 42nd conference, Adult Education and Well-Being, University of Leicester 3-5 July.

Wright, H.R. (2012) ‘Recall’ methodology: Exposing the interaction in co-constructed data. Paper presented to British Sociological Association, University of Leeds, 11-13 April.

Wright, H.R. (2012) From individual choice to social good. Paper presented to UALL Conference, Higher education for the social good? The place of lifelong learning, Clare College, Cambridge, 19-20 March 2012.

Wright, H.R. (2012) Merging motives: Childcare and childcare work. Paper presented to BECERA 2nd conference, Evidencing Practice through Professional Inquiry, MAC, Birmingham, 15-16 February 2012.

Wright, H. R. (2011) The downside of internationalisation: When universal policy damages localised practice. Paper presented to SCUTREA 41st conference, Creating and Sustaining International Connections: Exploring the Learning Opportunities for Studying Creative Understandings about Teaching and Research for Equity and Access, University of Lancaster, 5-7 July 2011.

Wright, H. R. (2011) Using education to integrate lives. Paper presented to BSA 60th anniversary conference, London, LSE, 6-8 April.

Wright, H. R. (2011) Enclaves, empowerment and education. Paper presented to ESREA Life History and Biography Network conference, Human agency and biographical transformations – adult education and life paths, University of Geneva, 3-6 March.

Wright, H. R. (2010) ‘Recall’ methodology: The merits of using an emergent biographical approach to interview childcare workers. Paper presented to the 20th annual EECERA conference, University of Birmingham, 6-8 September.

Wright, H. R. (2010) A sector in transition: Changing expectations for the early years’ workforce. Paper presented to the 40th annual SCUTREA conference, University of Warwick, Coventry, Tuesday 6 to Thursday 8 July.

Wright, H.R. (2010) From Parent to Practitioner: Alternative pathways to professionalism in the United Kingdom. Paper presented to Early Childhood, Curriculum, Policy & Pedagogy conference, Anglia Ruskin University, 25-27 March.

Media experience

Publishing experience: books, journals and printed matter

Creating advertising and publicity materials, posters and leaflets