Charlie E. Sutton

Research Associate

Charlie Sutton 2

Contact Details: 107-111 Princess Road East, North Campus. Email:

Current Projects:

  • Adolescent Vaping Careers: A Qualitative Study of the Usage Trajectories of 14-18-year old E-cigarette users in England (Cancer Research, UK).
  • The Price of Bogus Self-Employment: Analysing the Impact of the Individualisation of Risks on Working Lives (British Academy).
  • Scoping Review: Adolescent Mental Health and Social Media Use

Previous Role:

Graduate Teaching Assistant (Quantitative & Qualitative Research Methods, Victims & Offenders, Society in Transformation)


My desire to make a difference in life led me towards teaching and, more recently, social research. My experiences in employment and in my research have helped me to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges people face in life. This has, inevitably, influenced the direction of my research interests, which focus on issues relating to people's life-course.

After I became a part-time lecturer in an FE College, as I could see how education could transform students’ lives and how life-course stages influenced their engagement with education. I also became interested in how government policy impacts on lives, based on my students’ experiences, but also from some of the more difficult cases I dealt with in my employment as a Casework Manager, for a Member of Parliament. The impact of the government changes to educational policy in FE, alongside a passion to be involved in research, led me to enrol onto a Master’s degree at Leicester. This influenced me to continue my involvement in social science research through PhD study, and through my employment in research roles.

Research Interests:

My research interests mainly centre around issues affecting people’s lives at different ages. I am also keen to take an interdisciplinary and mixed methods approach to research, where this is appropriate.

In my current role, as a Research Associate on the Adolescent Vaping project, I am using a combination of interviews and smartphone messages to understand experiences with e-cigarettes amongst young people aged 14-18. In my other Research Associate role, with the Bogus Self-Employment project, I have been analysing patterns of self-employment using national survey data. These findings have helped us to target participants from specific age groups and industries that seem to be more effected by bogus self-employment. Our discussions with these self-employed participants, in a series of focus groups and interviews, have revealed the challenges and the benefits of being self-employed at different stages in the life-course.

I am also very interested in how people's age influences their choices and experiences in life. My longitudinal research for my PhD also followed a life-course theme considering if Age Matters in Higher Education. By examining the views and experiences of different aged undergraduate students I was able to see how motivations, adaptations and challenges differed during the three years of their studies. I have also stayed in touch with the qualitative participants, to understand how they have adapted to the labour market, since completing their studies. As mental health emerged as an age related issue in this research, this prompted me to become involved with the Adolescent Mental Health project. I produced a scoping review of literature for this project, focusing on links between social media use and mental health issues.

I also conducted interviews and analysed large-scale secondary data for my Master's research: What is Old? Changing perceptions of Aging. I also produced a systematic literature review, for QAA, concerning Access to HE Students’ Labour Market Experiences, on behalf of a small team of academics from the University of Leicester, University of Southampton and the University of East London.

I hope to pursue research in the future which looks at the variation in students’ mental health, and I would also like to consider the preoccupation with age and stages within compulsory education, in the UK.


Sutton. C. E, (2019) Mature Students and Social Isolation: Feeling Excluded or Choosing to be Alone? in Boeren. E & James. N (eds) 'Being an Adult Learner in Austere Times’ London Palgrave. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-97208-4

Other Activities:

I enjoy being involved in community group projects and events. I am passionate about the benefits of living in a strong community, so I work hard, alongside others, to try to develop the facilities in my local area. I was instrumental in plans and activities that helped to prevent the closure of our local primary school, through my role as parent governor and trustee of the PTA group. I am Chairman, and a founder member, of my local heritage group and have worked with other members to produce historical interpretation boards across the former mine in the locality. I have also led in the collection of aural histories from older people who have lived in the locality, so that we can document the social history for future generations. I am also a Governor at my local secondary school where I have specific responsibility for supporting Teaching and Learning and the Sixth Form.

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School of Media, Communication and Sociology

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University of Leicester
Bankfield House
132 New Walk
United Kingdom

University of Leicester
107-111 Princess Road East
United Kingdom

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