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UEL Psychology Seminar Series

Who Are We

UEL Psychology Seminar Series

Understanding women’s agency in highly coercive settings: gender, power and social change.

This paper explores the complexities of talking about women’s agency in extremely oppressive situations – and how confused and limited understandings of women’s agency undermine the effectiveness of policies and interventions supposedly designed to support them.

Drawing on international research into interventions to support women survivors of domestic violence it focuses on three key themes: (i) the problematic male-female and victim-agency binaries that obscure the complexity of agency-violence intersections, (ii) the poor fit between policy and interventions to support women in coercive settings and (iii) the neglect of the multiplicities of women’s agency, including the competing challenges they juggle alongside IPV, the often hidden strategies they use to manage violent relationships, and the temporality of agency.

It concludes by outlining a notion of ‘distributed agency’ as a multi-level, incremental and non-linear process distributed across time, space and social networks, and across a continuum of action ranging from survival to resistance. 



Professor Catherine Campbell is Head of Department of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics (UK), and Director of the Health, Community and Development Group.

Her work focuses on the psycho-social pathways between community mobilisation (from small scale community mobilisation to global social movements) and behaviours linked to health-enhancing lifestyles, health service access and adherence to medical advice and treatment – as well as wider social change.

Her interests have included HIV/AIDs, mental health and women’s health, which she has researched in many countries around the world.

Professor Campbell has been the recipient of both the British Psychological Society award for Distinguished Career Contribution to Social Psychology for her work on health inequalities, and the American Sociologists AIDS Network Career Contribution Award for her contribution to understandings of the social dynamics of HIV/AIDS.

In her 25 year career, she has co-authored over 180 academic publications and been co-grantholder on over £5m of research grants from funders including ESRC-DFID, the World Bank, Care International, the Wellcome Trust and the UK Health Development Agency.


Session Chair: Dr Poul Rohleder


All staff and students are welcome. There is no need to rsvp, but we expect that there will be a lot of interest in this talk so please do come early. 

Date:     11th May 2016

Time:     17:00 - 18:00       

Venue:  Arthur Edwards Building, Room 1.01, Stratford campus, University of East London, Water Lane, Stratford, London E15

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Arthur Edwards Building, Room 1.01, 

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