Jennifer Bullen MA 2006, Ph D 2010

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Eamonn Carrabine writes:

I would like to say a few words as Jen’s death touched many of us…she was a familiar figure around the department, having begun to study here in 2005 taking the MA in Sociological Research and then going on to complete her PhD in 2010…She also worked as a GTA in the department, and was much liked by her fellow teachers and students. In addition to this, she also worked closely with Jackie Turton as a researcher interviewing inmates at Bullwood Hall prison about their life stories. These interviews were filmed and then edited to be used in training for prison staff. She also worked with Dick Hobbs as a researcher on one of his projects looking at the Champions League. This breadth of experience is unusual for a PhD student, but I think gives a sense of how much faith we had in her abilities. I have many memories of Jen, but I want to share two.

The first is when I first met her. This was just after she had been awarded the ESRC funding to come and study here. The project was meant to be on I think, a social history of female football fans, but it was clear she was not really interested in that topic and instead she wanted to change focus and concentrate on the then new phenomenon of WAGs. Footballers Wives and Girlfriends. So from the beginning I knew she was someone who had a very strong view about what they wanted to do in their research, and who was determined to achieve all that she set out to do. And for me that quickly became one of her defining features, a very determined mind set mixed with a quiet enthusiasm for whatever task was at hand.

The second memory is when I was at home one early evening, several years later, and Radio 5 was on in the background as I was making the dinner. I heard one of the presenters saying they were now going to go live to the British Sociological Association conference, where they were going to interview someone who was researching WAGs. The interviewer was Pete Allen, and for those of you who know the station, know he can be difficult,  and I knew he was going to be highly sceptical of academics doing research on this kind of thing. But, I have to say I was absolutely blown away by how well Jen handled the interview, giving measured, thoughtful and calm answers to what were pretty hostile questions. It was a very impressive and assured performance, giving listeners some much needed sociological insight into how the media themselves represent WAGs.

It was one of those moments when I felt that Jen was the kind of student that the Department should feel very proud to have given an intellectual home to for over five years…and I think for much of that time she was very happy here, making some very close friends along the way and I think this tree will be one way in which her memory will live on in Essex.

Eamonn Carrabine

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