Petra Nordqvist


  • Arthur Lewis Building 3.032, University of Manchester

    M139PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

Personal profile


I’m Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Director of the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives. My research lies at the intersection of family life, kinship, gender, sexuality and reproduction, with a particular focus on new reproductive technologies and donor conception. I have received funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council to conduct a series of studies exploring how donor conception impacts on family lives and relationships, including how it impacts on recipient parents and their everyday lives and relationships (in the Conceiving Together study (my doctorate) and the Relative Strangers study, with Carol Smart), and how it impacts on egg and sperm donors and their everyday lives and relationships (in the Curious Connections study, with Leah Gilman). I have published widely on these questions in both journals and books, and welcome PhD students exploring issues in these and related areas.  

Research interests

I work in the areas of sociology of family life, gender and sexuality, and I am especially interested in the way in which family relationships and kinship are impacted by new and developing reproductive medical technologies, such as in vitro fertilisation and sperm, egg and embryo donation. I am particularly interested in using and developing qualitative methodologies and have used mixed qualitative approaches in my research.

Since 2018, I'm co-editing (with Prof Nicky Hudson, De Montfort University) the Emerald Series in Reproduction, Culture and Society.

My research

2017-2021: ESRC funded project 'Curious Connections: The Impact of Donating Egg and Sperm on Donors' Everyday Life and Relationships' The study explores how donors negotiate and navigate donating egg or sperm in the context of their own relationships and everyday life. Drawing on a qualitative research design, it comprised interviews with donors, partners and parents of donors, as well as infertility counsellors, and included policy analysis.
I have previoulsy conducted two major studies into family life and donor conception. In my PhD (University of York, 2009, examiner Dr Celia Roberts, Lancaster University) I explored how lesbian couples’ pursuit of donor conception is changing the landscape of family, kin and reproduction. The study was based on interviews with 25 lesbian couples who were pursuing parenthood through donor conception, or who were already parents. I found that there was an irresolvable tension between the couples’ conception practices using donor sperm, and their romantic desire to be and become a traditional nuclear family. I explored the interview data with regards to this tension, and looked at the material and practical dimensions of the process of trying to conceive, constructions of intimacy and the practical and intimate management of donations and inseminations, and understandings, aspirations and constructions of family connectedness, parenthood and siblinghood.

From 2010 to 2013, I worked together with Professor Carol Smart (PI) on a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) into assisted conception and wider family relationships. This study addressed how heterosexual and same sex couples with donor conceived children negotiate sharing information about gamete donation and genetic difference with wider family. You can read about our findings or watch our videos here:


I welcome PhD students in the following areas:

  • Relationships, intimacy and personal life
  • Reproduction
  • Kinship
  • New reproductive technologies
  • Assisted conception and donor conception
  • Gender
  • Sexualities
  • Same sex intimiacies

Other teaching information

I'm involved in teaching undergraduate modules on Personal Life; Gender and Sexuality; and postgraduate modules on Creative Methods.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester


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