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Dr Rebecca Whiting

  • Overview



    My first career was in law, working in the area of commercial dispute resolution. This certainly alerted me to the complexity of issues within and between corporations and got me interested in all things organizational. Changing to an academic career has allowed me to develop this into research that begins to unpack some of the taken-for-granted aspects of the contemporary workplace.

    Employment History

    2013 – 2015: Research Associate, The Open University
    2011 - 2013: Researcher, Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London
    2004-2011: Senior Research Administrator, Department of Psychology, King’s College London
    2004-2008: Sessional Lecturer, Faculty of Continuing Education (Psychology), Birkbeck, University of London
    1988-2000: Solicitor (commercial dispute resolution)



    • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Higher Education Academy, 2016
    • PGCE in Higher Education (Merit), Birkbeck, University of London, 2016
    • PhD in Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, 2012
    • MSc Occupational Psychology (Distinction), Birkbeck, University of London, 2005
    • Graduate Diploma in Psychology (Distinction), University of Westminster, 2003
    • Extra Mural Certificate in Psychology (Distinction), Birkbeck, University of London, 2002
    • BA (Hons) Law, University of Cambridge, 1983

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Director and Admissions Tutor, Organizational Psychology MPhil/PhD Programme
    • Member, Birkbeck Academic Board
    • Member, School Research Committee
    • Member, School Estates Committee
    • Chair, Department PhD Committee
    • Member, Department Education Committee

    Professional memberships

    • European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS)

    • British Academy of Management (BAM)

    Honours and awards

    • Best Developmental Paper Award: Whiting, R and Evans, S. (2019) Constructing the contemporary theatre director in UK online media. In: British Academy of Management Conference, Cultural & Creative Industries stream, September 2019., British Academy of Management, December 2019
    • Nomination for SAGE Prize for Innovation/Excellence (Paper nominated: Whiting, R & Symon, G. (2020) Digi-Housekeeping: The invisible work of flexibility. Work, Employment and Society), SAGE, March 2021
    • Ronald Tress Prize, awarded annually for early career academics (Runner Up)., Birkbeck, University of London., December 2017
    • Nomination for the That’s Interesting! Award (paper nominated: Whiting, R and Pritchard, K. Weary women: The responsibility for gendered representations of retirement. Paper presented at the 35th EGOS Colloquium), European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS), March 2019
    • Best Developmental Paper Award: : Whiting, R, Roby, H, Chamakiotis, P and Symon, G (2014). The researcher within participant videos: The not so ‘absent’ presence. Paper presented at Research Methodology stream at British Academy of Management Conference, September 2014., British Academy of Management, March 2014
    • Best Developmental Paper award. Symon, G., Chamakiotis, P., Whiting, R. and Roby, H. (2014) Identity Work across Boundaries in a Digital World. Paper presented at Identity stream at British Academy of Management Conference, September 2014. , British Academy of Management, March 2014
    • Academic Excellence Award: Joint Best PhD Thesis, School of Business, Economics and Informatics, Birkbeck, University of London, December 2013
    • Best Developmental Paper Award: Pritchard, K and Whiting, R (2012). Tracking and trawling: Theorising ‘participants’ and ‘data’ in qualitative e-research., British Academy of Management, December 2012


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Qualitative methodologies including digital and visual methods
    • Social Constructionism
    • Diversity (in particular, age, gender and class)
    • Digital technologies
    • Invisible work
    • Research and business ethics

    Research overview

    My current research interests include the discursive construction of work identities (e.g. the older worker), concepts (e.g. work-life balance, age, class and gender), and the ways in which contemporary work is organized (e.g. the impact of digital technologies on how work-life boundaries are managed, how digital technologies contribute to 'invisible' work). I am also interested the ethical responsibilities of individuals and organizations in relation to research (e.g. the field of digital research ethics) and business (e.g. the area of gendered toy marketing).

    My research is grounded in qualitative methods, usually from a social constructionist perspective, and often includes the use of Web and visual data.

    I would welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students seeking to conduct qualitative doctoral research on these topics.

    My current research projects include:

    • The Gendered Toy Marketing (GTM) project is research funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme [ID SRG 1819\190342]. Children's toy and clothes marketing has become increasingly gendered as stereotyped gender roles and narratives are promoted by brands. ‘Boy toys’ encourage action, physicality and competition; ‘girl toys’ encourage socialising, domesticity and concern with appearance. Consumer-led campaigns and media debates are challenging this. The project is examining ethical arguments in GTM debates; the 'invisible' work which consumers, including parents, undertake in addressing and resisting GTM; and how gender is conceptualised in these debates and accounts.
    • Digital Clergy: Pursuing Meaningful Work in a Digital World (2019 – ongoing), with Prof Gillian Symon (PI), RHUL and Dr Rebecca Taylor, University of Southampton and supported by the Church of England. This project aims to investigate clergy perceptions of moving ministry online in the Covid-19 pandemic and of social media use in the Diocese of Oxford.  By social media we mean widely available and publicly accessible sites like Twitter and Facebook and any public blog sites.  Our purpose is not to evaluate how effectively clergy are using such technology, but rather to understand clergy perspectives on the utility of these communication methods and how they fit into clergy life and work, including during the Covid-19 pandemic.  We are interested in a wide range of views, not just from those who are experienced or comprehensive users.  Our research will be fed back to the Diocese and more widely in the Church of England to provide valuable insights on these changes within the Church.
    • The Diversity in Directing project project focuses on new and emerging theatre directors from backgrounds currently under-represented in UK theatre as a result of factors associated with socio-economic status, gender, finance and income, ethnicity, culture, geographical location, education, and/or disability. Theatre directing can be seen as part of the ‘gig’ economy in that much theatre directing work is undertaken on a short term and freelance basis. However, even though it is a role which has been around for a long time, it remains under-researched. Current reserch is supported by Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme (RTYDS) and is exploring the career experiences and work-related intentions of new and emerging theatre directors.
    • The Age at Work project with Professor Katrina Pritchard at Swansea University. This project started in 2011 and aims to map the language of age at work using Web 2.0 textual and visual data. It adopts an inclusive approach both to age (by giving equal attention to issues faced by old, young and those in-between) and to work (by including issues relating to employment, unemployment, under-employment and retirement). It explores how notions of age, age identities and related conceptions such as generations are socially (and discursively) constructed in relation to issues of work.
    • The Digital Brain Switch project with colleagues originally at Lancaster University, The Open University, Royal Holloway and the University of Kent. This EPSRC funded project started in 2013 and adopts a range of methodologies including a video and interview study to explore how modern communication technology affects how people manage transitions across work life boundaries. My research colleagues and I discuss findings from this project in two videos Work-Life Boundaries in the Digital Age and Three Implications of Our Digi Lives which are available on YouTube.

    Invited talks and lectures:

    • Webinar ‘Digi-housekeeping: the invisible work of flexibility’. University of Swansea Business Department Seminar Series, 21st April 2021.

    • Webinar ‘Collecting Qualitative Data using Digital Methods’ for the Centre for Qualitative Research, University of Bath (funded by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, part of a series of Demand-Led Qualitative Innovations Sessions), 25th March 2021.

    • Webinar "Digital Strategizing & SAP Research" - the Academy of Management’s Strategizing Activities and Practices (SAP) Interest Group, 23 February 2021.

    • Webinar ‘Collecting qualitative online data’ Dept of Management, University of Ulster Business School, 15 December 2020.

    • Collecting qualitative online data: Our methodological journey since 2012. Invited seminar for the Digital Organisation and Society Research Centre, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2 December 2020.

    • The Reconstruction of Retirement as an Enterprising Endeavour Invited Seminar presentation at Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship/NUBS Entrepreneurship Seminar Series for 2019, University of Nottingham, 3 April 2019.

    • Capturing the everyday negotiations of work-life boundaries and transitions. Invited presentation for European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference, Symposium sponsored by BPS Division of Occupational Psychology, Lisbon, September 2018.
    • Qualitative Methods in Action Day, Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck, April 2018.
    • TRIGGER project seminar series on 'Exploring gender in management studies', Birkbeck, March 2018.
    • The ethical and legal challenges of qualitative digital research; Birkbeck Institute of Data Analytics, February 2018.
    • Digital Organization & Society research group seminar, School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, October 2017.
    • Keynote talk at ‘Sharing Insights into Publishing Social Media Research’ event, Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Nottingham, July 2017.
    • Qualitative Methods in Action Day, Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck, May 2017.
    • Global Sustainability Institute and the Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, January 2017.
    • Management & Organization Research Seminar, University of Sussex, November 2016.
    • EU COST Action Invited Conference on the Dynamics of Virtual Work, Vilnius, September 2016.
    • Qualitative Methods in Action Day, Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck, May 2016.
    • Open University Business School, April 2016.
    • ESRC Well-Being seminar, Work Foundation, March 2016.
    • University of Liverpool Management School, November 2015.
    • Summer Seminar Birkbeck, July 2015.
    • British Psychological Society ‘Always on’ seminar, May 2015.

    Research Centres and Institutes

    Research clusters and groups

    • Diversity Research Group
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Current PhD supervision

    Isabel Beydag who is examining how intellectual activism and academic agency is shaped by the evolution of intellectualism and neoliberalism.

    Adrian Eagleson whose research is examining how strategic human resource development can act as an enabler to support organizational learning in a post-crisis situation.

    Roger Fagg whose research explores the experience of volunteers in the heritage / cultural sector who have roles involving the management of other volunteers.

    Greg Swaysland whose research is examining 'Disability Confidence' as a dyadic model to replace the social and medical models of disability.

    Completed supervision

    Samantha Evans (completed November 2020), thesis title: Struggles for distinction: class and classed inequality in UK museum work.

    Helen Cooper (completed November 2020), thesis title: Taxi! A narrative study of low-skilled work from a career boundary perspective.

    Christine Brown (completed January 2022), thesis title: Discourses of digital difference.


    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who are interested in undertaking qualitative research in my areas of research interest.


    • Director and Admissions Tutor, MPhil/PhD Programme
    • Supervisor, MSc and BSc research projects

    Lecturer and Module Convenor:

    • Learning & Development (MSc)


    • Research Methods (MSc)

    Teaching modules

    • Research Methods (BUOB037H7)
    • Learning and Development (MOOP012H7)
  • Publications




    Book Review

    Book Section

    • Whiting, Rebecca (2020) Embracing research ethics approval: from cognitive walk-through to reflexive journey. In: Townsend, K. and Saunders, M. and Loudoun, R. and Morrison, E. (eds.) How to Keep Your Doctorate On Track: Insights From Students’ and Supervisors’ Experiences. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN 9781788975629. (In Press)
    • Whiting, Rebecca and Symon, G. and Roby, H. and Chamakiotis, P. (2018) Participant-led video diaries. In: Buchanan, D. and Bryman, A. (eds.) Unconventional Methodology in Organization and Management Research. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198796985.
    • Pritchard, Katrina and Whiting, Rebecca (2017) Analysing web images. In: Cunliffe, A. and Cassell, C. and Grandy, G. (eds.) SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. London, UK: Sage. ISBN 9781473926622.
    • Whiting, Rebecca and Pritchard, Katrina (2017) Digital ethics. In: Cunliffe, A. and Cassell, C. and Grandy, G. (eds.) SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. London, UK: Sage. ISBN 9781473926622.
    • Pritchard, K. and Whiting, Rebecca (2017) Investigating understandings of age in the workplace. In: Niven, K. and Lewis, S. and Kagan, C. (eds.) Making a Difference with Psychology. The Richard Benjamin Trust. pp. 225-234. ISBN 9781788085670.

    Conference Item