Professor Natasha Mauthner

Professor Natasha Mauthner
BA, MA, PhD (Cantab.)

Personal Chair

Professor Natasha Mauthner
Professor Natasha Mauthner

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 273419
The University of Aberdeen University of Aberdeen Business School, Edward Wright Building (Room S6), Aberdeen AB24 3QY, Scotland, United Kingdom


I joined the Business School as a Senior Lecturer in 2003 having previously held research posts at the University of Aberdeen’s Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research (1998-2003) and Health Services Research Unit (1995-1996), and the University of Edinburgh’s Research Unit in Health and Behavioural Change (1996-1998). I was promoted to Reader in 2007, and a Personal Chair in Social Science Philosophy and Method in 2013. In 2013 I became an Associate Director of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, a consortium centre based at the University of Edinburgh. I have been the School's Director of Research since 2012. I was elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2017.

Born to Anglo-Austrian parents, I was educated in French schools in Europe, Canada and South America. I hold an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences from the University of Cambridge (awarded 1989), in which I studied biology, history and philosophy of science, and experimental psychology. I moved into the Social and Political Sciences Faculty at the University of Cambridge for my PhD (awarded 1994), funded by a Medical Research Council studentship and under the supervision of Professor Martin Richards. My doctoral thesis explored women's experiences of motherhood and was published as The Darkest Days of my Life: Stories of Postpartum Depression (Harvard University Press, 2002). In 1994 I took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education to work with Professor Carol Gilligan and funded by scholarships from the Fulbright Commission, the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, and the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation. 


Research Interests

My research seeks to articulate a posthumanist philosophy, methodology, ethics and politics of social science drawing on feminist philosophy of science, feminist science studies, science and technology studies, new materialist philosophies, and poststructuralism. There are three main elements to this project. First I am exploring the implications of newly emerging philosophies of science for the social sciences. I am particularly interested in the metaphysics developed by physicist and feminist philosopher, Karen Barad, for how it foregrounds the invisible technoscientific practices, apparatuses and infrastructures that underpin, and are indispensable to, the creation of knowledge and being. Second, I am developing methodological ways of working with/in this new metaphysics. These involve challenging the assumed neutrality of mundane technoscientific methods; articulating their inherently philosophical, moral and political nature and effects; and finding ways of conceptualizing and enacting these methods in ethically and politically accountable and responsible ways. Third, I work through these questions in the context of specific case studies: data collection and analysis methods in the social sciences; divisions of labour within research teams; research ethics guidelines and protocols; and mental health diagnostic tools and screening devices. A major focus of my current work is conducting a genealogy of data sharing practices, apparatuses and infrastructures in the social sciences. 

Other and previous research interests include: the philosophy and methodology of qualitative inquiry including feminist research; work and family life, and its intersections with issues around gender, mental health, and technology; women’s experiences of motherhood and postnatal depression; health and mental health care policy and practice; work and family life in the oil and gas industry and in rural communities; children’s understandings of parental work; and quality of life among older people living in rural areas. 

Funding sources for my research have included the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the European Union, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Society for Research Into Higher Education, the Carnegie Trust, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Universities Insight Institute.

Current Research

Data sharing and research governance

For the past two decades I have researched the institutionalization and professionalization of data sharing as a normative practice in the social sciences in the UK. My focus has been on the philosophical and moral understanding of social science that underpins data sharing policies, practices, digital infrastructures, ethics and governance frameworks, and legislation. My current research examines the ways in which data sharing has come to be figured as a means of realizing open science; the underlying scientific rationale for this figuration; and its roots within a classical understanding of science and scientific practice. 

In March 2017 I co-organised an international symposium with Zoran Slavnic at Linkoping University, Sweden, on Re-visioning the Regulation of Data Sharing in the Social Sciences. The event was funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond). See:

My work in this area informed the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' report, The Culture of Scientific Research in the UK (2014), on the ethical consequences of the culture of scientific research. See: 



New materialist method/ologies

New materialist philosophies are increasingly influencing social science disciplines and fields. This project investigates the implications of these philosophies for the conduct of social scientific research. It explores how we might conceptualise and enact performative research practices in the social sciences, including philosophical, methodological and ethical practices. 

With my colleague Dr Beth Lord from the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy I recently organised a two-day workshop on New Materialisms and Politics bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from the University of Aberdeen, Utrecht University, and the University of Exeter. See:

My publications in this area include:

Mauthner, N. S. (forthcoming) A posthumanist performative ethics of mattering: New materialisms and the ethical practice of inquiry. In: Ron Ibopfen and Martin Tolich (eds) SAGE Handbook of Ethics in Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

Mauthner, N. S. (2016) Un/re-making method: Knowing/enacting posthumanist performative social research methods through ‘diffractive genealogies’ and ‘metaphysical practices’. In: Victoria Pitts-Taylor (ed) Mattering: Feminism, Science and Materialism. New York: New York University Press.

Mauthner, N. S. (2016) The Listening Guide feminist method of narrative analysis: Towards a posthumanist performative (re)configuration. In: Jo Woodiwiss, Kate Smith and Kelly Lockwood (eds) Feminist narrative research: Opportunities and challenges. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mauthner, N. S. (2015) ‘The past was never simply there to begin with and the future is not simply what will unfold’: A posthumanist performative approach to qualitative longitudinal research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18:3, 321-336.

Digital Epiphanies

Digital Epiphanies is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

This project explores societal aspects of the digital economy through an investigation of how digital devices and applications are incorporated and embedded in the fabric of everyday work and family life. The study examines the role these digital technologies play in reconfiguring the very nature of work, family, and the boundary between these. It highlights how these sociotechnological practices make possible new ways of working or being a family while eroding other work-family practices.

The project is a collaboration between Professor Natasha Mauthner (University of Aberdeen), Dr Anna Cox (University College London), Dr Chris Preist (Bristol University) and Dr Rosie Robison (Anglia Ruskin University), and emerged out of an EPSRC sandpit and Creativity Greenhouse ‘Achieving work-life balance in a digitally dependent world’.

My research on emerging technologies has been picked up by World Economic Forum ( and

Digital families across the lifecourse

This programme of events explores the increasing presence of digital technologies within family life and how these technologies are transforming the very nature of childhood, family, care and work. The programme will address a range of issues, including:

    • the different experiences of rural and urban families;
    • the role of digital communication in the lives of trans-national families;
    • the impact of digital technologies on cross generational relationships within families;
    • the contributions that digital technologies can have in maintaining and developing social networks across the lifecourse;
    • the effect of digital technologies on education, work/life balance, lifelong learning and wellbeing;
    • the social and economic inequalities that arise from different access to, and adoption and use of, technologies across the lifecourse
    • the differential experiences of ‘digital natives’ vs ‘digital immigrants’

This programme will consider these issues within a broader political and social context, to focus our understandings of the impact of domestic technologies on family life and to create a vision for research, policy and practice in Scotland in 2016 and beyond. 

The programme is funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute ( and is a collaboration between the University of Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Stirling and Parenting Across Scotland.

For further details on the events: 

Resources from the 3 seminars are available here:

Exploring the impact of digital technologies on families: ESRC Festival of Social Science 2016

This event will launch the Digital Families Research Network. The network brings together academics, practitioners and policy makers to discuss the changes that new technologies have brought to personal and family lives. The network is also a vehicle to facilitate new collaborations between academics working in this area, and between academics and other sectors. 

For further details:

Rhythms of everyday life: Temporal and spatial performativities of public spaces

This project uses visual methods – including time-lapse film – to explore the rhythms of everyday life in an urban space in the city of Aberdeen, and how these practices both unfold through, and constitute, specific times and spaces. It contributes to a broader programme of work on the mutual entanglements of technologies and social worlds across different sites. The study is in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aberdeen Business School, the Department of Film and Visual Culture, and the University of Oulu’s Urban Life Lab. It is funded by grants from the Caledonian Research Foundation/Royal Society of Edinburgh, the University of Oulu, and the University of Aberdeen Principal’s Interdisciplinary Fund.

The Bowl: A Day in the Life of Union Terrace Gardens:



Teaching Responsibilities

MS3553 Research Methods for Business

MS4540 Honours Dissertation

BU5583 Research Practice

BU5577 Human Resource Management

Postgraduate Taught Induction Programme: Critical Reading; Working with Theory; Academic Writing Skills

Further Info

External Responsibilities

  • Associate Director, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (

Admin Responsibilities

  • Deputy Head of School - Research (2016-)
  • REF2020 Co-Lead for UoA 19 Business and Management (2015-)
  • Director of Research, Business School (2012-)
  • Chair, Business School Research Committee (2012-)
  • Member, Business School Strategy Committee (2012-)


  • Member, College of Arts and Social Sciences Research Committee (2012-)


  • Member, University of Aberdeen Ethics and Research Governance Committee (2011-)


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