Kirsty Primrose

PhD Student


Working Title of Phd: ‘’Exploring the experiences of children affected by maternal imprisonment in Scotland’’

Year commenced PhD study: 2011 (Full time)

Funding Source:  ESRC

PhD Supervisors:  Prof . Gill McIvor and Dr Sarah Wilson


The aim of my thesis is to explore children’s experiences of maternal imprisonment in Scotland. There is very little information about the experiences of the children of prisoners .There has been limited research in Scotland, and very little from the perspectives of the child themselves. A consequence of increasing female imprisonment is that incrementally more children are being affected by maternal imprisonment. This is why it is of particular importance to look at children’s experiences; because despite not being imprisoned themselves, more of them are experiencing prison, despite best efforts to develop alternatives to female imprisonment. By interviewing children directly it will also fill the gap in the research already conducted, which has been, for the most part, extrapolated from the point of view of the mothers and other caregivers rather than the perspective of the children and allowing them to have a voice.  In doing so qualitative methodological approaches (one-to-one interviews) and Visual tools (Talking Mats and Photography) have been selected to engage child participants (between the ages of 5-18) for this research. It will address the limited knowledge about the consequences for children affected by maternal imprisonment and it will provide an insight into an area on which there is little literature in Scotland. This all sounds great; however in reality this has been very difficult due to difficulties surrounding participant recruitment, access and ethics. This will be the main focus of this short paper, reflecting on research with children affected by maternal imprisonment in Scotland.

Keywords:  Maternal Imprisonment, children’s experiences, Scotland and participatory and visual methods



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