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Professor Rosie Cox

Professor of Geography

BA (Hons) Geography
MA Geography
PhD Geography


  • Rosie Cox is a Professor of Geography. She joined Birkbeck in 2003 and before that was at Coventry University.
  • She is currently on research leave having finished a term as Assistant Dean for the Department of Geography and Assistant Dean for Research in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy.
  • She was a founding member of the Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality group (BiGS) and is an active member of the Birkbeck Institute of Social Research.

Research Interests

  • My research interests include:
    • Paid domestic labour and care work in private homes
    • The home (particularly housework, DIY and practices of home making)
    • Gendered migration
    • Alternative food networks

Research Listings

  • Au pairing after the au pair scheme - This two year ESRC funded project (May 2012-2014) examined the lives of au pairs and hosts families in the light of legislative changes in the UK.  These changes – the ending of the au pair visa and the expansion of migration from EU countries in the wake of EU enlargement –  created a new context for au pairing and new living and working conditions for au pairs. Most importantly the abolition of the au pair visa has also brought to an end the role UK Government has in defining and regulating the au pair role including the remuneration and living conditions that are appropriate. Au pairs are no longer safeguarded by Home Office guidelines, but neither are they protected by employment law. They have no right to a minimum wage, nor do they have defined maximum working hours or a right to holidays.
  • The project collected and analysed quantitative data to provide the first overview of the nature and extent of au pairing in the UK, including outlining working conditions. Then, through in-depth interviews with au pairs, the project explored au pairing within the lifecourse and subjective experience of au pairs. The lack of definition of the au pair role creates a liminal position for au pairs and this experience needs to be understood. Following that interviews with host families provided data on how families understand au pairing to fit with their identity as parents and their ideas of good parenting and how these ideals shape the relationship between host and au pair. Interviews with key informants from government and specialist have also been carried out to locate au pairing within the wider context of migration and the treatment of low-waged migrant workers.
  • ‘Hire A Hubby’ and DIY in New Zealand - During this project I have been looking at the commoditisation of traditionally masculine tasks in the home, such as DIY and gardening.  Through interviews with homeowners and franchise owners from the firm ‘Hire A Hubby’ the project has examined when households do these tasks themselves, when they pay for others and when they rely on unpaid help from family and friends.  I have developed an analysis of the place that home repairs and improvements play in relationships between family members (particularly fathers and children) and within culturally valued forms of masculine identity.  In New Zealand the valuing of DIY abilities is tied to a particular version of colonial history and material forms.
  • Reconnecting Producers, Consumers and Food - Between 2003 and 2008 I was involved in an AHRC/ESRC funded project examining relationships between producers and consumers in ‘Alternative Food Networks’ (AFN).


  • I teach the following modules:
    • Gender, Space and Time
    • Theorising Social Research
    • Gender and Society


  • Books
    • Cox, R and Busch, N (2018) As An Equal? Au Pairing in the Twenty-First Century, Zed Books
    • Cox, R (Ed) (2015) Au Pairs' Lives in Global Context: Sisters or Servants? London, Palgrave.
    • Cox R., George R., Horne R. H., Nagle R., Pisani E., Ralph, B. and Smith, V. (2011) Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life, London, Profile Books
    • Kneafsey M, Cox, R, Holloway H, Dowler E, Venn L and Tuomainen H (2008) Reconnecting Consumers, Producers and Food: Exploring Alternatives, Oxford, Berg
    • Campkin, B and Cox, R (Eds) (2007) Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination. London, I.B. Tauris
    • Cox, R. (2006) The Servant Problem: Paid Domestic Work in a Global Economy.  London, I.B. Tauris
  • Journal Articles
    • Cox, R and Busch N (2016) ‘This is the life I want’: Au pairs perceptions of life in a global city.  Nordic Journal of Migration Research 6(4) 234-242 DOI 10.1515/njmr-2016-0029
    • Cox, R (2016) What are homes made of? Building materials, DIY and the homeyness of homes.  Home Cultures.13(1) 63-82 DOI 0.1080/17406315.2016.1122966
    • Cox, R (2016) Materials, skills and gender identities: men, women and home improvement practices in New Zealand.  Gender Place and Culture 23(4) 572-588 DOI10.1080/0966369X.2015.1034248
    • Cox, R (2013) House/work: Home as a space of work and consumption. Geography Compass 7 (12) 821-831
    • Cox, R (2013) Gendered spaces of commoditised care, Social & Cultural Geography, 14(5) 491-499
    • Cox, R (2012) The complications of ‘Hiring a Hubby’: Gender relations and the commoditization of home maintenance in New Zealand, Social and Cultural Geography
    • Cox R (2011) Competitive mothering and delegated care: Class relationships in nanny and au pair employment, Studies in the Maternal 3(2)
    • Cox, R. (2010) Some problems and possibilities of caring, Ethics Place and Environment 13(2) pp1-18
    • Cox, R. (2010) Hired hubbies and mobile mums: gendered skills in domestic service, Renewal 18(1-2) pp51-58
    • Dowler, E., Kneafey, K., Cox, R., Holloway, L., (2009) ‘Doing food differently’: Reconnecting biological and social relationships through care for food.  Sociological Review 57(2) pp200-221
    • Cox, R., Holloway, L., Venn, L., Dowler, E., Ricketts Hein, J., Kneafsey, M and Tuomainen, H (2008) ‘Common ground? Motivations for participation in a Community Supported Agriculture scheme.’  Local Environment 13(3) pp203-218
    • Cox, R (2007) ‘The au pair body: sex object, sister or student?’ European Journal of Women’s Studies 14(3) 281-296.
    • Holloway, L., Kneafsey, M., Venn, L., Cox, R., Dowler, E., Tuomainen, H. (2007) 'Possible food economies: a methodological framework for exploring food production-consumption relationships' Sociologia Ruralis
    • Cox, R (2006) Teaching the global city: Developing a Foundation Degree on contemporary London Literary London 4(2)
    • Holloway, L, Cox, R, Venn, L, Kneafsey, M, Dowler, E and Tuomainen, H (2006) ‘Managing sustainable farmed landscape through ‘alternative food networks’ a case study from Italy.  Geographical Journal 172(3) 219-229.
    • Venn, L, Kneafsey, M, Holloway, L, Cox, R, Dowler, E and Tuomainen, H (2006) ‘Researching European ‘alternative’ food networks: some methodological considerations.  Area 38 (3) 248-258.
    • Cox, R. and Narula, R. (2003) Playing happy families: Rules and relationships in au pair employing households in London, UK.  Gender, Place and Culture 10 (4): 333-344.
    • Kneafsey, M. and Cox, R (2002) Food, gender and Irishness: how Irish women in Coventry make home.  Irish Geography 35(1) 6-15.
    • Cox, R. and Watt, P. (2002) Globalisation, polarisation and the informal sector: the case of paid domestic workers in London.  Area 34(1) 39-47.
    • Cox, R. (2000) Exploring the growth of paid domestic labour: a case study of London. Geography 85(3) 241-251.
    • Cox, R. (1997) Invisible labour: perceptions of paid domestic work in London.  Journal of Occupational Science Australia 4(2) 62-68.
    • Cox, R (1996) Moral and ethical issues in PhD research: a suggestion for a practical solution.  Praxis 32: 4-7.
  • Chapters in edited books
    • Cox, R (2015) Introduction in Cox, R. (Ed) Au Pairs’ Lives in Global Context: Sisters or Servants? London, Palgrave pp1-18.
    • Cox, R (2015) Conclusion: When is a worker not a worker? Tackling the conclusions in au pairing.  In Cox, R (ed) Au Pairs’ Lives in Global Context: Sisters or Servants? London, Palgrave pp235-249.
    • Cox, R and Busch, N (2015) ‘Trabajadoras domésticas latinoamericanas en Londres’ in Durin, S; De la O Martinez, M. E and Bastos, S (eds) Trabajadoras en la Sombra: Dimensiones Del Empleo Doméstico Latinoamericano CIESAS y la EGAP/Tec de Monterrey, Mexico
    • Cox, R (2014) ‘From our own back yard?  Understanding UK au pair policy as colonial legacy and neo-colonial dream’ in Haskins, V. And Lowrie, C (Eds) Colonization and Domestic Work, New York, Routledge, pp256-272.
    • Cox, R (2014) Working on masculinity at home, in Hopkins, P and Gorman-Murray, A (eds) Masculinities and Place, Aldershot, Ashgate.
    • Cox, R., Kneafsey, M., Holloway, L., Dowler, E., and Venn, L. (2013) ‘Greater than the sum of the parts?  Unpacking ethics of care within a Community Supported Agriculture scheme,’ in Goodman, M. and Sage, C. (Eds) Food Transgressions: Making Sense of Contemporary Food Politics, Aldershot, Ashgate.
    • Cox, R (2012) ‘Turning to food: Geography, food production/consumption and the cultural turn’, in Roseneil, S and Frosh, S (Eds) Social Research After the Cultural Turn, Palgrave.
    • Cox, R (2012) Invisible au pairs: Gendered work and migration regimes, in Sollund, R (Ed) Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights, Advances in Ecopolitics Volume 10, Bingley, Emerald Group Publishing pp33-52
    • Cox, R., Holloway, L., Venn, L., Kneafsey, M., and Dowler, E. (2011) ‘Adopting a sheep in Abuzzo: Agritourism and the preservation of transhumance agriculture in central Italy.  In Momsen, J. and Torres, R. (Eds) Tourism and Agriculture, Taylor and Francis pp151-162
    • Dowler, E., Kneafey, K., Cox, R., Holloway, L., (2010) ‘Doing food differently’: Reconnecting biological and social relationships through care for food.  Charles, N and Carter, R (Eds) Nature, Society and Environmental Crisis Sociological Review Monograph, Wiley-Blackwell, pp200-221
    • Cox, R (2010) ‘Home’ in Wharf, B. (Ed) Encyclopaedia of Geography, Thousand Oaks, Sage pp1439-1440.
    • Cox, R., Jackson, S., Khatwa, M., Kiwan, D. (2010) Living London: Women negotiating identities in a post-colonial city’ in Wetherell, M. (ed) Identity in the 21st Century: New Trends in Changing Times Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan
    • Cox, R, Kneafsey, M., Holloway, L., Dowler, E. Venn, L. (2010) Are you alternative? Motivations for participation in ’alternative’ food schemes In Fuller, D., Jonas, A. and Lee, R (eds) Alternative Economic and Political Spaces: Interrogating Alterity, Oxford, Ashgate Publishing
    • Cox, R, Kneafsey, M, Venn, L, Holloway, L, Dowler, E and Tuomainen (2008) Constructing Sustainability through Reconnection – the case of ‘alternative’ food networks in Robinson, G (ed) Sustainable Rural Environments, Ashgate pp67-82.
    • Holloway, L., Venn, L., Cox, R., Kneafsey, M., Dowler, E., Tuomainen, H. (2007) Dirty vegetables: connecting consumers to the growing of their food In Campkin, B and Cox, R (eds) Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination, London I.B. Tauris pp178-188
    • Holloway, L., Kneafsey, M., Venn, L. Cox, R. Dowler, E. and Tuomainen, H. (2007) Possible food economies: food production-consumption arrangements and the meaning of ‘alternative’ in Maye, D., Holloway, L. and Kneafsey, M. (eds) Alternative Food Geographies, Elsevier.
    • Cox, R (1999) The role of ethnicity in shaping the domestic employment sector in Britain.  In Momsen, J.D. (ed.) Gender, Migration and Domestic Work, London, Routledge pp 134-147.

Contact details

+ 44 (0)20 3073 8447
Twitter: @RosieCox007
Personal Website