Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Young people’s social, political and civic participation Young women’s feminism and feminist activism Feminist and human rights activism and social movements Women, girls and feminism

  • 1 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile


Grainne is a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Criminology, Politics and Sociology. She is a member of the Centre for Citizenship, Conflict, Identity and Diversity and an affiliate of the Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research. She researches feminism, activism and social movements, and young people’s social, political and civic participation.

Grainne has just completed a European Commission, Horizon 2020 project entitled Partispace: Spaces and styles of participation. Formal, non-formal and informal possibilities of young people’s participation in European cities ( This study, which ran from 2015 to 2018, explored young people’s political and social participation in the public sphere - in formal, non-formal and informal settings - and took place in eight cities across Europe. Grainne is leading/ co-leading the following research projects:

  • Empowering girls and young women through Project 1325 (funded by WomenCentre/ Big Lottery fund)
  • How social movements move: a local case study of female post-secondary students' understanding and uptake of #MeToo (funded by the University of Calgary)
  • Creating a living chater of youth rights: Greater Manchester (funded by the Office of the Mayor of Greater Manchester)
  • Occupying hostile environments: creating feminist spaces (funded by University of Huddersfield)
  • Migration and lived experience: displaced young people living in Europe (funded by University of Huddersfield)

Gráinne is the Research Lead for RAPAR, a human rights organisation based in Manchester, UK, working with displaced people, Co-Convenor of the British Sociological Association's Gender and Feminism Study Group, and on twitter: @grainnemcmahon.

Grainne completed a DPhil at the University of Oxford (Christ Church) (2009), an MSc at Queen’s University, Belfast (1999), and a BSc (Hons) at the University of Ulster (1998).

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Young people’s social, political and civic participation
  • Young women’s feminism and feminist activism
  • Feminist and human rights activism and social movements
  • Women, girls and feminism  

Research Degree Supervision

Click Here to see all postgraduate research opportunities with Dr Grainne McMahon

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Oxford

… → 2009

Master, Queen's University Belfast

… → 1999

Bachelor, University of Ulster

… → 1998

External positions

Co-Convener, BSA Gender Study and Feminism Group, The British Sociological Association

Nov 2018 → …

Research Lead, Refugee and Asylum Participatory Action Research

Oct 2017 → …

Research Expertise and Interests

  • youth participation
  • youth activism
  • feminism
  • feminist activism
  • social movements
  • human rights activism
  • political participation
  • political activism
  • youth culture
  • democracy

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Research Output

  • 1 h-Index
  • 2 Commissioned report
  • 2 Article
  • 1 Chapter
  • 1 Special issue

Participation biographies: meaning-making, identity-work and the self

McMahon, G., Liljeholm Hansson, S., von Schwanenflügel, L., Lütgens, J. & Ilardo, M., 10 Jul 2019, Young People and the Struggle for Participation: Contested Practices, Power and Pedagogies in Public Spaces. Walther, A., Batsleer, J., Loncle, P. & Pohl, A. (eds.). 1 ed. Abingdon: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, p. 161-175 15 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Participation Biographies: Routes and relevancies of young people’s participation

    Schwanenflügel, L. V., Lütgens, J., McMahon, G. & Liljeholm Hansson, S., 26 Jun 2019, In : Discourse. Journal of Childhood and Adolescence Research. 14, 4, p. 431-445 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Recognition, inclusion and democracy: learning from action research with young people

    Percy-Smith, B., McMahon, G. & Thomas, N., 27 May 2019, In : Educational Action Research. 27, 3, p. 347-361 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

  • 1 Citation (Scopus)

    Biographies of young people's participation in eight European Cities

    Cuconato, M., McMahon, G., Becquet, V., Ilardo, M., Liljeholm Hansson, S., Lutgens, J., von Schwanenflügel, L., Demozzi, S. & Maunaye, E., 3 May 2018, 76 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

    Open Access

    Starting to Stop: Young Offenders' Desistance from Crime

    McMahon, G. & Jump, D., 1 Apr 2018, In : Youth Justice. 18, 1, p. 3-17 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)


    • 9 Oral presentation
    • 3 Invited talk
    • 2 Organising a conference, workshop, ...
    • 1 Participating in a conference, workshop, ...

    PROMISE: final conference

    Grainne McMahon (Panelist)
    8 Apr 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipating in a conference, workshop, ...

    Young People's Participation Biographies

    Grainne McMahon (Speaker)
    18 Apr 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    Be(com)ing Feminist: Young Women's Feminist Journeys and Political Activism

    Grainne McMahon (Speaker)
    10 Apr 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    Formal, Non-Formal and Informal Possibilities of Young People's Participation in European Cities

    Grainne McMahon (Invited speaker), Alexandre Pais (Invited speaker)
    7 Mar 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Press / Media