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Social Work: People


Gary Clapton

Gary Clapton
Dr Gary Clapton
Senior Lecturer
2.28 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 3903
Research Interests
Adoption and fostering, fathers and fatherhood, children and families social work practice, moral panics

Current research, teaching and practice interests

My interests and specialities are children and family social work practice; adoption and fostering; fathers and fatherhood and moral panics.   

I am a Committee member of the Fathers Network Scotland and contribute to their blog, I am advisor to Birthlink and edit their bi-annual Bulletin.

I have also conducted research, with colleagues, on social work education for many years.

Latest publication: Good practice with fathers in children and family services

'To coincide with the celebration of Father's Day on 18 June 2017, we're delighted to launch our new Iriss Insight - Good practice with fathers in children and family services. Written by Gary Clapton, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh, it explores changes in perceptions of fatherhood over time and the role of fathers.'

Download at

Career History

I have been a qualified social worker since 1977 and worked in Edinburgh and London in the children and families, community care and criminal justice fields. My most recent social work practice was in after-adoption counselling with adopted adults and birth parents.  I am also an accredited practice teacher.

Funded research experience

Co-researcher on ESRC Impact Grant-funded Project 'Waiting Better' 2017-2018

Co-researcher on ESRC funded seminar series Revisiting Moral Panics: A Critical Examination of 21st century Social Issues and Anxieties, 2012-2014

Co-researcher on evaluation of ‘Men Care Too’, three training programme run by Kibble Education Care Centre; funded by European Social Fund, 2009–11

Co-researcher on evaluation of ‘Dad’s Work’, Edinburgh-based father’s support group; funded by Big Lottery Fund, 2008

Co-researcher on ‘Learning for Ethical and Effective Practice’ research programme; funded by the Scottish Institute for Excellence in Social Work Education (SIESWE), 2003-2006

Principal researcher on, ‘Evaluation of Learning for Practice’ (BSc/Masters Social Work Programme); also funded by SWSIE, 2005

Principal researcher on evaluation of Adoption Contact Register for Scotland; funded by Scottish Executive, 2003

Recent Publications

2017 'Neglected spaces: General Practice surgery waiting rooms’, British Journal of General Practice (online)

2016 ‘The birth fathers of adopted children: differences and continuities over a 30-year period’, Adoption & Fostering, 40 (2), 153 – 166

2016 ‘Communicating Concern or Making Claims? : The 2012 Press Releases of UK Child Welfare and Protection Agencies’ with Cree, in: Journal of Social Work, 17(1), 71 90

2016 ‘The GP Waiting Room Under Examination’, British Journal of General Practice, 66, 260 

2016 Where's Dad Too?, Edinburgh: Fathers Network Scotland

2016 Here's Dad, Edinburgh: Fathers Network Scotland

2015 Revisiting Moral Panics (with Cree and Smith), Bristol: Policy Press

2015 'A Social Work ‘Academic-in-Residence?' Social Work Education: The International Journal, 34 (4), 391 398

2014 'The birth certificate, 'father unknown' and adoption', Adoption & Fostering, 38 (3), 209 – 222

2013 Social Work with Fathers: Positive Practice, Edinburgh: Dunedin Press

2013 ‘Moral Panics, Claims-Making and Child Protection in the UK’, British Journal of Social Work, 43(4), 803 – 812

2013 ‘Moral Panics and Social Work: towards a sceptical view of UK Child Protection’, Critical Social Policy, 33(2), 197 – 217

2013 Where’s Dad? Father-proofing Your Work, Edinburgh: Fathers Network Scotland

2013 ‘Adoption and birth fathers’, Therapy Today, 24 (3), 20 – 26

2013 ‘Minding the Gap: Assisting the Transition from the Academy to the Profession’, Social Work Education, 32 (3), 411 – 415

2012 Adoption and Fostering in Scotland, Edinburgh: Dunedin Press

2012 ‘Scottish fathers: an absence in Scottish policies’ In Scotland: the best place in the world to bring up children?, Edinburgh: Parenting across Scotland

  • Clapton, V.E., Cree, V.E. (2016), 'Communicating Concern or Making Claims?: The 2012 Press Releases of UK Child Welfare and Protection Agencies', Journal of Social Work, 0(0) 120.
    DOI: 10.1177/1468017316637228
  • Clapton, G., Cree, V.E., Smith, M. (2012), 'Moral Panics and Social Work: towards a sceptical view of UK child protection', Critical Social Policy, Published online before print September 6, 2012.
    DOI: 10.1177/0261018312457860
  • Smith, M., Cree, V.E., Clapton, G. (2012), 'Time to be heard: Interrogating the Scottish Government's response to historical child abuse', Scottish Affairs, Vol. 78, Winter, 2012: 1-24.
  • Cree, V.E., Clapton, G., Smith, M. (2012), 'The Presentation of Child Trafficking in the UK: An Old and New Moral Panic?', British Journal of Social Work, Published online: August 16, 2012.
    DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs120
  • Clapton, G., Forbes, R. (2009), 'Barefoot Tutors? Navigating the barriers between student, university and field in social work education', The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 9(1): 5-19.
    DOI: 10.1921/146066909X481420
  • Clapton, G. (2009), 'How and Why Social Work Fails Fathers: Redressing an Imbalance, Social Work's Role and Responsibility', Practice: Social Work In Action, 21 (1): 17-34.
    DOI: 10.1080/09503150902745989
  • Clapton, G. (2009), ''Yesterday's Men': The Inspectors of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1888-1968', British Journal of Social Work, 39(6): 1043 -1062.
    DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcn031
  • Clapton, G., Cree, V.E., Allan, M., Edwards, R., Forbes, R., Irwin, M., MacGregor, C., Paterson, P., Brodie, I., Perry, R. (2008), 'Thinking 'Outside the Box': A New Approach to Integration of Learning for Practice', Social Work Education: The International Journal, 27 (3): 334-40.
    DOI: 10.1080/02615470701379826
  • Clapton, G. (2008), 'Donor assisted conception and after: parallels and differences in the development of thinking, policy and practice in adoption', Journal of Fertility Counselling, 15 (3): 33-39.
  • Clapton, G., Daly, M. (2007), 'Bridging the Theory - Practice Gap: Student Placement Groups Co-Facilitated by Lecturers and Practice Teachers', Groupwork, 17 (3): 60-75.
    DOI: 10.1921/19634
  • Clapton, G. (2007), 'The Experiences and Needs of Birth Fathers in Adoption: What We Know Now and Some Practice Implications', Practice, 19 (1): 61-71.
    DOI: 10.1080/09503150701220515
  • Clapton, G. (2006), 'Mediated Contact: Reflections on a Piece of After-adoption Intermediary Practice', Adoption and Fostering, 30 (4): 53-63.
  • Clapton, G, Cree, V.E, Allan, M., Edwards, R., Forbes, R., Irwin, M., Paterson, W., Perry, R. (2006), 'Grasping the Nettle: Integrating Learning and Practice revisited and re-imagined', Social Work Education, 25 (6): 645-56.
    DOI: 10.1080/02615470600833634
  • Clapton, G. (2001), 'Birth fathers' lives after adoption', Adoption & Fostering, 25 (4): 50-59.
  • Clapton, G. (2000), 'Perceptions of fatherhood: birth fathers and their adoption experiences', Adoption & Fostering, 24 (3): 69-70.

Topics interested in supervising

Anything on fathers, or adoption (especially after-adoption issues). I am currently supervising three PhD students, the first of whom is looking at the experiences and needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors in Greece, the second is studying the relationship between organisational culture and the lived experiences of child protection practitoners and my third student is exploring the use of social media by children in care.

If you are interested in being supervised by Gary Clapton, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Work; MSc (R) Social Work