Dr Bethany Simmonds PhD in the Sociology of Ageing, Health and Physical Activity in Rural Spaces; PGCLTHE; BSc Sociology (hons)
Senior Lecturer in Sociology
Department of Geography and Earth Sciences
I am interested in supervising PhD students in the fields of sociology of ageing and/or health. Either exploring embodied ageing experiences in relation to intersecting identities (gender, ethnicity, 'dis'ability and rurality), or macro analyses of neoliberalised health and social care systems, feminist ethics of care, or necropolitical analyses of ageing/death in health and social care systems.
My doctoral research centred on the corporeal, emotional and social experience of ageing and physical activity in rural spaces. My post-doctoral research has developed my interests of ageing, well-being, health and social care. I developed this corpus of work into a monograph entitled: Ageing and the Crisis in Health and Social Care; which examines the impact of globalisation, neoliberalism, Austerity policies and ageism on health and social care systems in the UK, Sweden and Germany, published in November 2021 by Policy Press as part of their Global Challenges in Ageing Series.
The book begins with an examination of how broad structural and discursive trends, such as neoliberalism and globalisation, have influenced the financing and provision of health and social care for older people in countries located in the Global North, including Germany, Sweden, and the UK. It then goes onto discuss the impact that privatisation, ‘choice’ and competition has had on service provision, including how declining social protections have impacted upon employment practices. Three in-depth UK case studies (active ageing, pre-emergency care, and end of life care) provide insight into individual’s (both older people and health care workers) experiences of navigating the risky, fragmented and complex health and social care system. Then the subsequent contemporary challenges, such as COVID-19 (first, second and third waves), and government responses are discussed. Finally, the book ends by showcasing examples of innovative care solutions that have been trialled in the UK, and what broader cultural and political changes are necessary to provide a more sustainable and dignified health and social care system for older people.
Currently, I am developing some of the themes which emerged from my recent book, including moving towards a feminist ethics of care instead of necropolitical state decision-making of ageing/death in health and social care systems; the human rights of older people in the health and social care system; the intersections between disablism and ageism in the Covid-19 pandemic; and exploring the use of the concept of ‘precarity capitalism’ to galvanise intergenerational grievances around climate justice. In relation to internal and external collaborations, I have been appointed to the Centre for Excellence in Rural Health Research steering committee at the University of Aberystwyth, become an affiliated member of The Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) and a member of the Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CADR). Finally, I have been awarded a visiting fellowship at the Centre of Death and Society (CDAS) at the University of Bath.
My role as Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences is to lead and develop the new Sociology programme launched in 2019.
My research expertise is in the sociology of ageing and health. I am particularly interested in drawing together global, national, local and individual level analyses of ageing, health and social care. As well as exploring (embodied) experiences of ageism intersecting with 'dis'ability, gender, ethnicity and rural spaces, especially in health and social care settings. I joined the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University in September 2022, prior to this I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Portsmouth (2016-2022). Preceding this I was employed as a Research Associate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bristol where I researched topics including, falling and fracturing, delays to older people being discharged from hospital, and end of life interventions (2011-2016). From 2007 to 2010, I worked part-time as an Assistant Lecturer in Sports Sociology at the University of Chichester whilst completing my PhD in the sociology of ageing, physical activity and rurality at Southampton University. After completing my BSc in Sociology (hons) from the University of Bath in 2005, I was appointed to Research Assistant at the University of Plymouth, working on numerous projects for the Social Research and Regeneration Unit.