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Vicky Cattell, BSc London School of Economics; MSc (Distinction) London; PGCE (Distinction) London; PhD (Middlesex)
Honorary Senior Lecturer

Previous posts: Research Division of the House of Commons Library; Goldsmiths College, University of London, Dept. of Politics and Social Policy; Middlesex University, School of Sociology and Social Policy; University College London, Dept. of Epidemiology and Public Health.

Recent invited presentations include: (2005) 'Social capital, social networks and health and well being: social processes and policy issues', invited presentation (first speaker) to Social Capital and Public Health Policies Workshop, Ottawa, organized by the Public Health Board of Canada; (2005) Social networks, social capital and well being: studies of East London neighbourhoods' to a seminar organised by Ottawa University; (2004) 'The neighbourhood, social networks and well being', to the Royal Society of Medicine Local environment, housing and mental health group AGM.

 Current teaching includes PhD supervision; PhD examining; supervising fourth year SSM students' dissertations; PBLs. Recent guest lectures include: (i) (2005) 'Child and family poverty', and (ii) (2005) 'Social exclusion and social networks, health and policy issues' on the Social Exclusion module of the Regeneration and Housing Masters Programme (Middlesex University; (iii) (2005) 'Health promotion and the wider social and policy context' on the Health Promotion module of the MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and (iv) (2004) 'Neighbourhood influences on social exclusion: implications for health' on the undergraduate course module 'Geographies of Health' , Geography Department, QM,

Previous teaching has included teaching (as module leader/lecturer, or as tutor) modules on (i) Poverty and Social Policy; (ii) Delivery of Welfare (Goldsmiths College, University of London, Visiting lecturer); (iii) Politics and Social Policy; (iv) Themes and Perspectives in Social Science; (v) Models of Social Policy; (vi) Society, History and Environment (Middlesex University).

 Research interests

·          Poverty, poor neighbourhoods and well being

·          Social networks, social capital and communities

·          Inequalities in health and well being

·          Public spaces and social relations


The main focus of my research has centred on the role of social networks in relationships between poverty, poor neighbourhoods and well being. Dimensions include:

·          diverse stands of influence on well being

·          conditions which make for a vibrant and inclusive community life

·          influences on different kinds social of ties, and their relationship to health, well being and quality of life

·          the heuristic value of social capital theory for exploring social processes

·          implications of public spaces for social relations and well being

·          neighbourhood-relevant policies.


I have sought to explore ways in which complex social processes can be better understood through the lens of social networks and social capital, and by incorporating a sociological focus on both structure and agency. I have illustrated ways in which social networks mediate and moderate the harsh circumstances of people's lives and their lived experience of health and well being. Doctoral work for example used a community studies approach to compare poor neighbourhoods and explore the lives and well being of residents. It looked at influences on social network characteristics and developed network typologies reflecting both structural and cultural aspects of experience. Social networks embracing a mix of ties- strong and weak, dense and loose, homogeneous and heterogeneous (or what are sometimes referred to as bonding, bridging and linking ties) were highlighted as particularly advantageous for coping with adversity, for well being, and for quality of life. 1;2


In subsequent studies, for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Health Development Agency, I have looked further at influences on the genesis and maintenance of social networks and of social capital across age groups, generations and neighbourhoods. The work has demonstrated for example, that the local arena and its resources continue to be central to the lives and well being of many residents in poor areas, that regeneration interventions and activities can strengthen communities within neighbourhoods but also exacerbate divisions,3 that participation can have negative as well as positive health effects, and that health protecting social capital can accumulate or dissipate across the lives of both individuals and their communities4. Patterns of social ties, the social inclusion of individuals and integration and cohesion of diverse neighbourhoods have implications for health and well being, but are also key policy and social concerns in themselves. I have looked at 'social capital' in the work of Putnam, Coleman and Jacobs, explored influences on its key sources - stability, integra tion, solidarity and tolerance - and proposed that the neighbourhood's potential for supporting integrative and inclusive social ties, for fostering tolerance and 'thin trust' is contingent on certain conditions. These include opportunities for casual interaction and weak ties.5 Work in progress is exploring policy implications.


1. Cattell, 2001; 2.Cattell, 2003; 3. Cattell. and Evans 1999; 4. Cattell and Herring 2002; 5. Cattell, 2004.


Current Research

As Principal Investigator

·          A Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded study on 'Public Spaces and Social Relations in East London'. (Cattell, V., Dines, N., Curtis, S., and Gesler, W.).


As Collaborator

·          A Welsh Assembly Government funded project to identify 'Determinants of Health Indicators for Coronary Heart Disease and Mental Health' (with Stephen Stansfeld;

·         An ESRC funded study on 'Sources of Resilience to Adverse Social Environments' (with Stephen Stansfeld, Sarah Curtis, Jenny Head and Anne-Marie Tupuola).


Public Spaces and Social Relations in East London

This qualitative study is taking one aspect of the urban environment- public spaces- and exploring the potential for (i) social integration and cohesion, and (ii) health and well being. The research is located in Newham, East London, and is being conducted by Nicholas Dines. The study is one of 6 linked Joseph Rowntree Foundation projects which form par t of a research programme on 'Public Spaces: Enhancing Livablity? The programme ties in with the Governments's 'cleaner, safer and greener' agenda but focuses on understanding more about which spaces people use and value, and how people interact in these spaces. The programme is examining how far public spaces are shared places and what the implications may be for neighbourhoods and for those involved in their planning and management.


The purpose of 'Public spaces and social relations in East London' is to gain a better understanding of some of the ways in which aspects of urban space (broadly defined) can strengthen and benefit diverse urban neighbourhoods. One strand concerns the potential contribution of public spaces for developing community cohesion and integration, or, conversely, for tension or division, another is the potential for influencing well being, both directly, and as mediated by social relations. A particular feature of the study is the focus on social interaction in urban public spaces, including casual interaction. We are interested in opportunities afforded by public space as sites of interaction and negotiation, but we are also concerned with the nature and the quality of social interactions and their meaning for individuals. The report on the study will be published by the Foundation in Spring 2006.

 Sources of Resilience to adverse social environments

This collaborative study is part of the Capability and Resilience Network, involving six Universities, led by Mel Bartley at UCL and funded by the ESRC. The QM study is looking closely at processes involved in overcoming disadvantage, and has both quantitative and qualitative dimensions. The qualitative component of the work, led by myself, will focus on processes of resilience across generations and within families and communities. It will, for example, explore relationships between parents' access to social capital, and the educational, emotional health, and life chances of adolescents. The research is being conducted by Anne Marie Tupuola.



Books, book chapters and reports:

Cattell, V. (2003) 'Social networks as mediators between the harsh circumstances of people's lives and their lived experience of health and wellbeing,' in C. Phillipson, G. Allan & D. Morgan (eds.) Social Networks and Social Exclusion: sociological and policy perspectives, Ashgate, London, pp. 142-161.

Cattell, V. and Herring. R.(2002) 'Social capital, generations and health in East London' in C. Swann and A. Morgan (eds.) Social Capital for Health: insights from qualitative research, Health Development Agency, London. pp 61-85. ISBN 1-84279-082-X

Cattell, V. and Evans, M. (1999) Neighbourhood Images in East London: social capital and social networks on two East London estates, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York. 61 p. ISBN 1 902633 32 6.

Cattell, V.(1997) London's Other River: people, employment and poverty in the Lea Valley, Social Policy Research Centre, Middlesex University, London. 89p. ISBN 1 85924 1301.

Book proposal under review: Cattell, V. Poverty, Community and Health: social networks in urban neighbourhoods

Journal papers (refereed):

Cattell, V. (2004),' "Having a laugh and mucking in together": using social capital to explore dynamics between structure and agency in the context of declining and regenerated neighbourhoods', Sociology; 38: 5, 939-957.

Stansfeld, S.A., Head, J., Cattell, V., Wardle, J., Fuhrer, R. (2004) Partner's employment status and depressive symptoms in women, Trends in Evidence based Neuropsychiatry; May-June, 31-36.

Stansfeld SA, Head J, Fuhrer R, Wardle J, Cattell V. (2003) 'Social inequalities in depressive symptoms and physical functioning in the Whitehall II study: exploring a common cause explanation', Jnl. Epidemiology & Community Health; 57:5, 361-367.

Cattell, V. and Herring, R. (2002) 'Social capital and well being: generations in an East London neighbourhood', Journal of Mental Health Promotion; 1:3, 8-19.

Cattell, V. (2001) 'Poor people, poor places, and poor health: the mediating role of social networks and social capital', Social Science and Medicine; 52, 1501-1516.

Evans, M. and Cattell, V.(2000) 'Place images, social cohesion and area regeneration in East London', Rising East ; 4:1, 9-39.

Departmental working papers:

Cattell, V.(1995) Community, equality and health: positive communities for positive health and well being?, School of Sociology and Social Policy, Middlesex University. Occasional paper. 26p. ISBN 1 85924 078 X.

Reports published by Government Departments and NGOs:

Duke, K., MacGregor, S., Sharp, K., Yiasmi, H., Smith, L,. Cattell,V, et al, (1997) Tackling Drugs Locally: the implementation of Drug Action Teams in England, Cabinet Office, HMSO, London. 106p. ISBN 0 11 430146-8.

MacGregor, S., O'Gorman, A., Catttell, V. et. al. (1993) Vulnerable Services for Vulnerable People: the impact of the transition of Community Care on the drugs and alcohol residential sector in England, Scoda/Alcohol Concern, London. 60p.

MacGregor, S., O'Gorman, A., Cattell, V. et al (1993) Who Cares Now? the impact of Community Care on independent sector providers of residential services for alcohol and drug misusers in England, Goldsmiths College, Universtity of London/ Department of Health, London. 87p.

Book reviews:

Cattell, V. (2002) Book Review: Poverty, Inequality and Health: an international perspective, by David Leon and Gill Walt (Eds.) Social Science and Medicine, November .


Conference contributions:

Cattell, V (2005) 'Social capital, social networks and health and well being: social processes and policy issues', invited presentation (first speaker) to Social Capital and Public Health Policies Workshop, Ottawa, 30th March 2005, organized by the Public Health Board of Canada.

Cattell, V. (2004) 'The neighbourhood, social networks and well being', invited presentation to the Royal Society of Medicine Local environment, housing and mental health group AGM on 11th May.

Cattell, V., and Herring, R. (2002) 'Social capital, generations, and health in East London' invited presentation to a conference organised the Health Development Agency Social Action for Health and Well Being London, June.

Cattell, V. (1999) 'Poor people, poor places, and poor health: the mediating role of social networks'. Paper presented to the conference Researching for Health: Challenges and Controversies, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, September

Cattell, V. (1995) 'Community, equality and health'. Presented to the Annual Conference of the British Sociological Association, Contested Cities, Leicester University, April.


Funding gained

·          Cattell,V. Curtis, S.E., and Gesler, W. To conduct a study on 'Public Spaces and Social Relations in East London'. Joseph Rowntree Foundation (18 months, from June 2004). £64,896.

·          Stansfeld, S., Bhuie, K., Rasul, F., Cattell, C., Clark, C. To conduct a systematic li terature review on: 'Identification of Determinants of Health Indicators for Coronary Heart Disease and Mental Health'. Welsh Assembly Government (14 months, from May 2004).

·          Cattell, V. To explore the links between social capital, health and age group. The Health Development Agency (2000-2001, 16 months) £63,500.

·          Cattell, V and MacGregor,S. To explore perceptions of neighbourhood in regeneration areas. Joseph Rowntree Foundation (1997-1998), 18 months) £64,000.

·          Cattell, V. A full time ESRC award for doctoral research (R00429334066).



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