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Nikki Rutter

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology
Fellow of the Durham Research Methods Centre


Nikki is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and works across the department in Criminology, Sociology and Social Work. She is a registered social worker and co-ordinates placements across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. (Reg: SW130161).

Nikki completed her ESRC funded doctoral research in 2022 whereby she developed a substantive theory of primary-aged child-to-parent violence; using a classical Grounded Theory approach to integrate the perspectives of parents, practitioners, and children themselves. In this work a key focus was that non-intentional forms of harm, such as those instigated by pre-adolescent or neurodivergent children, should be understood through the lens of 'need' and referred to as explosive and harmful impulses.

Research Area

Nikki's research interests include participatory approaches to child and family experiences, expressions, and responses to harm. She is particularly interested in how symbolic representations of 'good mothering' and 'good childhoods' create contexts conducive to family harm, and how this can be challenged.

Most of Nikki's recent work explores research and practice which aims to conceptualise and frame 'child-to-parent violence', and where it may sit on the existing frameworks of child development, domestic abuse, and child safeguarding.


Research Groups
  • Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse
  • Centre for Social Justice and Community Action
  • Criminal Justice, Social Harms and Inequalities

Nikki has 16 years experience working and volunteering for various women and children's organisations and embeds this experience in her teaching. Her teaching focuses upon critical pedagogy and reflective practice, she is passionate about supporting students to apply their academic (predominantly sociological) knowledge to 'real world' settings. 

Convenor: Practice Education Stage 1- SOCI30220

Convenor: Social Work Practice 1 - SOCI42150

Convenor: Community Placement - SOCI3511

Research interests

  • How symbolic and structural expectations of 'good' children, childhoods, and mothering creates contexts conducive to family harm.
  • Child-parent violence
  • Neurodivergence
  • Parent-carer well-being
  • Innovative, feminist, and/or emancipatory research methodologies


Conference Paper

Journal Article


Supervision students