The mafia, childhood inequality and intimate citizenship explored in lectures

  • Date

    Thu 16 Feb 23

The next University of Essex Professorial Inaugural Lecture series takes place on Wednesday 22 February with three newly appointed professors discussing their world-leading research.

The event is open to the public and will be held at Essex Business School at 6.15 pm on Wednesday 22 February. It will feature a leading economist from the Institute for Social and Economic Research and two leading academics from the Department of Sociology, who will share insights into their areas of research.

Professor Birgitta Rabe is Professor of Economics at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, and is interested in applied research in education, family and labour economics. Her lecture will address childhood inequality.

Professor Róisín Ryan-Flood is Director of the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship at the University of Essex. Her lecture will focus on intimate citizenship in the Twenty-First Century.

Professor Anna Sergi is Professor of Criminology in the Department of Sociology. Her lecture will address the myths and grim realities surrounding the mafia across the globe.

Head of the Department of Sociology, Professor Pamela Cox said: “I am so pleased that we will be able to celebrate with Birgitta, Roisin and Anna together with our local community. Their lectures exemplify the world-class research and impact coming out of the Faculty of Social Sciences.”

For more information on the series and previous lectures, and to book a place use this booking link.

Speakers at the event

Professor Birgitta Rabe

'Childhood inequality'

Professor Rabe said: “Gaps in the outcomes of children from different socio-economic backgrounds emerge very early in life, and they widen in the course of the school years. Many policies and interventions aim at removing or reducing the lasting shadow of family background on children’s life chances. In this talk I will draw on the findings of several of my research projects that investigate how children fare under such policies, with topics ranging from Ofsted inspections to sibling relationships and free meals provided in schools. I will discuss how interventions affect children’s educational and bodyweight outcomes, and crucially how this differs by socio-economic background. Greater equality can sometimes come at the cost of leaving some groups worse off, and some helpful interventions can end up worsening childhood inequalities.”

Birgitta Rabe is a Professor of Economics at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. She received her PhD in Economics at the Free University Berlin in 1999 and worked at the Social Science Centre Berlin and taught at the Ruhr University Bochum before joining Essex. Birgitta has held grants from the Nuffield Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council and is a Co-investigator of the ESRC Centre for Micro-Social Change. During the Covid-19 pandemic she led two rapid response projects investigating the impact of the pandemic on educational inequalities and on family wellbeing. Her research focuses on children’s human capital development, the role of parental and public investments into children and how these investments interact. Currently she is focusing on interventions such as free school meals, weight report cards for children, private tutoring and school exclusions and asks how they impact parents’ and children’s behaviours and ultimately child outcomes, and how this differs by family background.

Professor Róisín Ryan-Flood

'Intimate Citizenship in the Twenty First Century'

Professor Ryan-Flood said: “Recent decades have witnessed dramatic transformations in intimacy, rights and equality. From the introduction of gay marriage to the review of donor conception regulations, intimate life possibilities have proliferated. This can also present new challenges and complexities as we attempt to understand the implications of social change for how we construct intimate lives in the contemporary world. This lecture will outline theories of gender, sexuality and social change and share recent research that explores these topics.”

Professor Ryan-Flood is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC) at the University of Essex. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, citizenship, kinship, migration and digital intimacy. She also has a longstanding interest in feminist epistemology and methodology. Her research takes an intersectional feminist approach.

Her book Lesbian Motherhood: Gender, Families and Sexual Citizenship was published by Palgrave in 2009. She is co-editor of Silence and Secrecy in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections (Routledge, 2010) and Transnationalising Reproduction: Third Party Conception in a Globalised World (Routledge, 2018). She has edited several journal special issues on topics such as sexuality and social theory; visual culture; and feminist epistemology.

Since 2012, Professor Ryan-Flood has been co-editor of the journal Sexualities: Studies in Culture and Society.

Professor Anna Sergi

'Chasing the mafia: how to research a myth'

Professor Sergi said: “Italian mafias are still often accompanied by morbid fascination by media and in popular culture. Mafiosi are often (wrongly) considered as smart, savvy men whose decision-making, when engaging in organised crime is rational and precise. My research ’chasing’ the ’ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia across continents - from Australia to America and back into Europe - shows not only that narratives around mafias need to be challenged but that another, more grounded research approach, is needed to comprehend the ‘banality’ and normality of such groups and their crimes.”

Professor Sergi is Professor of Criminology in the Department of Sociology. Her research specialism is in organised crime studies and comparative criminal justice and she is Visiting Professor at the University of Pisa and at the Australian National University. She has published extensively in journals in criminology on topics related to Italian mafias both in Italy and abroad as well as on policing strategies against organised crime across states. She has authored seven books.

Prior to her doctorate, Professor Sergi completed a degree in Law at the University of Bologna, majoring in International and European Criminal Procedure, followed by a Master of Law in Criminal Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice at Kings College London.

She then worked in the private sector for one year, in the Forensics and Anti-Money Laundering Department of Price Waterhouse Cooper in Milan, and as Staigiare Paralegal in the Italian Desk and Litigation Department for Withers LLP in London.

For more information about the event series and to book a free place, follow this link.