Dr Karen Cuthbert

Dr Karen Cuthbert


I joined the School in March 2018 where I am working on the ESRC-funded project Living Gender in Diverse Times with Professor Sally Hines, Dr Kim Allen, Dr Sharon Elley & Dr Joe Hall.

Previous to taking up my post at Leeds, I worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Strathclyde on a project exploring the experiences of queer religious young people. I also have 5+ years of experience as a tutor in Sociology and Qualitative Methods at the University of Glasgow, where I taught on both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

I completed my undergraduate, Masters and PhD degrees all at the University of Glasgow. My PhD was awarded in 2017. My thesis looked at gendered experiences and social constructions of asexuality and of sexual abstinence, and used these empirical ‘sites’ to contribute to broader theorisations of gender and sexuality’s inter-relationship.

I have published three peer-reviewed papers thus far, in the journals Sociology, Educational Review, and Sexualities. I am also currently working on a number papers from my PhD research. 

I am the co-convenor of the SexGen Northern Network seminar series, alongside colleagues at Huddersfield and Sheffield Hallam. 

Research interests

I am interested in forms of 'non' sexuality (for want of a better term) such as asexuality, sexual abstinence, and celibacy. My research explores the social experience of not having sex, and how societally we understand and respond to 'non' sexualities, but with a critical awareness of how this is shaped by power inequalities related to 'race', class, age, disability and (especially) gender. I explore this from a feminist perspective, situating all of the above in the structural context of hetero-patriarchy. 

As part of this, I am also interested in changes (and continuities) in gender. My PhD allowed me to explore how ideas about sexual acitivity, sexual desire, and agency are still central to constructions of masculinity and femininity (in different and unequal ways). My work on the Living Gender project follows on from this, as we explore the ways in which young people understand and engage with gender, and how gender might be (or might not be) changing. 

More broadly, I also have interests in sociological work on 'normativity'; feminist and queer theories; embodiment and phenomenology; critical masculinity studies; and sociologies of 'non' (identities and experiences of not doing or not being some thing). 

I am a qualitative researcher, with experience of using creative methods. I'm really interested in epistemological and ontological questions - what do we consider knowledge?  How do we know what we know? And how do we 'get at' that knowledge?

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Ph.D Sociology
  • MRes Sociology & Research Methods (Distinction)
  • MA (Hons) Anthropology & Sociology (First Class)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies