David Carless


Accepting PhD Students

Willing to speak to media


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


My research is interdisciplinary, spanning social science, health, performing arts, education, sport and physical activity. I draw on a range of qualitative methods, particularly narrative, ethnographic, autoethnographic and arts-based approaches. Often, I use storytelling, songwriting, filmmaking and live performance as approaches to analysis and communication which are both accessible and engaging for students and audiences outside academia. A range of my multimedia research collaborations are available online and my work has been published in more than one hundred journal articles, books and book chapters. It has also been shared through numerous presentations, performances and keynotes at interdisciplinary international conferences.

Current research activities

I am currently working on two distinct areas of research.  

First, I continue to collaborate on studies and evaluations into the area of physical activity, sport and mental health. This work explores the ways in which physical activity and sport can help some people who are experiencing mental health difficulties and also the ways that involvement in sport – particularly elite or professional sport – can jeopardise mental health. Research and evaluations in this area have been funded by UK Sport, Sport England, Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation, Bristol City Council and The Royal British Legion.

Second, I am actively involved in collaborative projects which develop and extend the utilisation of arts-based approaches to social research. These include filmmaking, live performance, storytelling, music, song and digital technologies. This work is driven by a democratic commitment to find ways to increase the accessibility and public engagement of social research. This work has been supported by the ESRC as well as several independent funding initiatives. 


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