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Last updated 23rd March 2023


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). 

Grainne is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the Division of Social Sciences, and a core member of the Just Futures research centre. She researches feminism and feminist activism, anti-racism and human rights activism, social movements, and young people’s social, political, cultural, and civic participation.

Grainne was a lead researcher on the 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 ( Partispace, 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:

  • Building Networks of Resilience project, funded by the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, a collaboration between RAPAR, Migrant Voice and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium
  • COME:ON (Culture – Occupation – Mobility – Europe : Operational Network!), funded by the European Union's Erasmus+ European Youth Together programme
  • OUYE (Opening Universities for Youth in Europe), funded by the European Union's Erasmus+ European Youth Together programme
  • Occupying hostile environments: creating feminist spaces, funded by University of Huddersfield
  • Making Spaces: exploring feminist responses and survival strategies in the Covid-19 pandemic, funded by University of Huddersfield
  • 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 charter of youth rights: Greater Manchester, funded by the Office of the Mayor of Greater Manchester
  • Migration and lived experience: displaced young people living in Europe (funded by University of Huddersfield)

Recently completed projects:

  • Empowering girls and young women through Project 1325 (funded by WomenCentre/ Big Lottery fund)
  • Partispace: Spaces and styles of participation. Formal, non-formal and informal possibilities of young people’s participation in European cities, funded by the European Commission, Horizon 2020 fund

Grainne has recently co-edited a collection that emerged from the Partispace European H2020 project and features contributions from UK and international colleagues involved in the project. The book was published my Emerald late 2022: McMahon, Rowley and Batsleer (2002): Reshaping Youth Participation. Manchester in a European Gaze. UK: Emerald

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

External Positions

  • Co-founder and Co-convenor, Feminist Spaces
  • Research Lead/ Trustee, Refugee and Asylum Participatory Action Research (RAPAR, Manchester)
  • Member and Co-convenor, Social Scientists against the Hostile Environment (SSAHE)
  • Convenor, Gender and Feminism Study Group, British Sociological Association

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research Expertise and Interests

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


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