Dr Norman Gabriel

Senior Lecturer
Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Dr Norman Gabriel



I have just recently joined the Department as Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies. Growing up in Glasgow my late father, Henry Gabriel, a playwright, novelist and essayist inspired me to read some of the great psychoanalysts (Freud, Reich, Fromm) and some of the lesser well-known ones who were keen to apply psychoanalytic theories to understand society, such as Theodor Reik (1888-1969) and George Frankl (1921-2004). He was psychoanalyzed by Karl Abenheim who studied under both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. R. D. Laing was also a student of Abenheim. My research interests are in relational sociology, relational psychoanalysis and the sociology of childhood. I have developed and applied the sociological work of Norbert Elias to the multi-disciplinary field of early childhood studies, focusing on the development of children’s social and emotional well-being in society, writing a distinctive book in this area, The Sociology of Early Childhood Studies – Critical Perspectives, published by Sage in 2017. In the Society of Individuals (2010) and On The Civilising Process (2012) Elias carried out one of the earliest interdisciplinary studies of the 20th century, trying to overcome the old paradigm which studied the ‘individual’ (psychology) and the ‘social’ (sociology) separately, divorced from the generational and historically specific conditions in which they evolved. He used innovative concepts that can help to explain the development of socio-psychological processes in society, emphasising the strong, affective ties that link people with one another across generations in different societies.

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Integrating Relational Psychoanalysis with Relational Sociology

How can the work of Wilfred Bion and Donald Winnicott be combined and enriched with the relational sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias to understand and explain long-term socio-psychological processes in society?

Key words: Relational Sociology
Open to supervise

Crossing the narrow bridge: the socio-emotional development of young children.

In the early twenty first century, the parent–child relationship has lost some of its hierarchical character: although young children have greater autonomy in their relationships with adults, both adults and young children are now expected to exercise a higher degree of self-restraint. An important long-term, unintended consequence of this process is that young children and parents live within families in highly interdependent relationships, where there are increasing pressures to control and regulate one’s emotions and behaviour.

Key words: Developmental Psychology, Socio-emotional processes
Open to supervise

Comparisons in the national habitus of different childhoods.

The concept of national habitus can be used as an important theoretical tool for developing a comparative sociology of childhood. The national habitus refers to the internalisation of wider structures and processes manifested through the routines and taken-for-granted actions within a particular set of institutional relationships.

Key words: Habitus
Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Processes of learning, unlearning and re-learning

Global Interdependencies, What’s new in the human society of individuals? The political and academic relevance of Norbert Elias’s work today, Brussels, Belgium, 12/2018

You are Young and Life is Long: Understanding Young Children’s Experience of Time

XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology, Toronto, Canada, 7/2018

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Perspectives in Child Development (PA141)

  • Developmental Trauma, Autism and ADHD (PA233)


Journal articles (3)

Gabriel, N., (2017). Growing Up in Society - A Historical Social Psychology of Childhood. Historical Social Research. 42 (4), 207-226

Gabriel, N., (2016). Learning to mock – Challenging the teaching establishment. Research in Comparative and International Education. 11 (4), 369-379

Gabriel, N., (2014). Growing up beside you. History of the Human Sciences. 27 (3), 116-135

Books (2)

Gabriel, N., (2017). The Sociology of Early Childhood Critical Perspectives. SAGE. 1473934222. 9781473934221

Gabriel, N. and Mennell, S., (2011). Norbert Elias and Figurational Research Processual Thinking in Sociology



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