Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Professor Sarah C. White

Sarah White

Professor of international development and wellbeing

3 East 3.12
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 5298

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

Relational Wellbeing: Re-centring the Politics of Happiness, Policy and the Self

Professor White talks about her research, published in Policy & Politics, on why all the interest and talk of our wellbeing may reflect an anxiety that all may somehow not be well...


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


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