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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a sociologist of international development and wellbeing. My research explores the tensions between local experience and global policy narratives, with a particular emphasis on culture and social identities. I enjoy working at the interface of theory and practice and challenging disciplinary boundaries.

In 2016-17 I hold a British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship to work on relational wellbeing. In this short video I talk about my research linked to my paper on relational wellbeing, published in Policy and Politics, 2017. This builds on my ESRC/DFID grant in India and Zambia, Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways, 2010-14.

My edited Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy (2015, Palgrave Macmillan) challenges conventional psychological perspectives on happiness and subjective wellbeing with a more socially grounded approach. Highlighting the politics of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, case studies across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the UK explore wellbeing in relation to health, children and youth, migration, economics, religion, family, landmines, national surveys, and indigenous identities.

My edited Wellbeing and Quality of Life Assessment. A Practical Guide(2014, Practical Action ) shares ideas and experience from practitioners in international NGOs on integrating wellbeing in their programmes.

My first book, Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and Class in Bangladesh (Zed Books, 1992) was a village-based ethnographic study, which questioned conventional development understandings of women and gender relations in Bangladesh. This attention to the politics of development discourse, particularly with respect to the representation of social identities and relationships, has been a continuing theme throughout my work on gender, masculinities, race, agency, child rights, NGOs and civil society, participation, marriage, the family and religion. Geographically my main focus has continued to be South Asia, especially Bangladesh, although my recent research has enabled me to strengthen my comparative experience, through the study in Zambia.

Research interests

  • Culture and Wellbeing
  • Gender and Child Rights
  • Religion and Race
Latest publications


Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

Arguing with a crocodile book cover

Arguing with the Crocodile: Gender and Class in Bangladesh, Zed Books, 1992

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Sarah White is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Zambia Social Sciences
India Social Sciences
Bangladesh Social Sciences
happiness Social Sciences
well-being Social Sciences
empowerment Social Sciences
modernity Earth & Environmental Sciences
religion Earth & Environmental Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2007 2021

Wellbeing Achieved from Earthen Residence

White, S.

The British Academy


Project: Research council

Relational Wellbeing

White, S.

The British Academy


Project: Research council

Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways

White, S.



Project: Research council

statistical test
research policy
rural community

Research Output 2002 2019

Therapeutic Culture and Relational Wellbeing

White, S. & Jha, S., 2019, (Accepted/In press) Handbook of Global Therapeutic Cultures. Nehring, D., Madsen, O., Cabanas, E., Mills, C. & Kerrigan, D. (eds.). Routledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Moralities of Wellbeing

White, S., Jul 2018, Bath: Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath, p. 1-17, 17 p. (Bath Papers in International Development and Wellbeing; no. 58).

Research output: Working paper

Open Access
2 Citations (Scopus)

Towards an Interdisciplinary Approach to Wellbeing: Life Histories and Self-Determination Theory in Rural Zambia

White, S. & Jha, S., 30 Sep 2018, In : Social Science and Medicine. 212, p. 153-160 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Personal Autonomy
Mental Competency
6 Downloads (Pure)

Economics, Relationality and The Good Life in Chiawa, Zambia

White, S. C., 15 Aug 2017, Good Life Beyond Growth: New Perspectives. Rosa, H. & Henning, C. (eds.). London, U. K.: Routledge, p. 229-239 11 p. (Routledge Studies in Ecological Economics).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Open Access


Living with landmines: mine action, development and wellbeing in post-conflict societies – a case study in Cambodia

Author: Davies, G., 18 Aug 2015

Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor) & Hart, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Negotiating the powers: everyday religion in Ghanaian society

Author: Graveling, L., 1 Mar 2008

Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor) & Devine, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Physical activity, noncommunicable disease, and wellbeing in urban South Africa

Author: Brangan, E., 12 Dec 2012

Supervisor: Copestake, J. (Supervisor) & White, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Searching for a better life: young people living in slum communities in Bangkok

Author: Mahony, S., 1 Apr 2010

Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Seeing the Social: Understanding why children are out of school in rural Ethiopia

Author: Grieve, T., 20 Jun 2016

Supervisor: White, S. (Supervisor) & Wikeley, F. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD