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Dr 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; completing the Master of Social Work Programme at Durham in 2019 with Distinction. Nikki has 16 years experience working and volunteering for various women and children's organisations and embeds this experience in her teaching.

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 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 research and practice which aims to conceptualise and frame 'child-to-parent violence', and explores 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

Convenor: Practice Education Stage 1- SOCI30220

Convenor: Social Work Practice 1 - SOCI42150

Convenor: PGT Placement - SOCI44215

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