Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Martin Robb

Dr Martin Robb

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education & Language Studies
  • School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
  • Health and Social Care
  • martin.robb

Professional biography

Martin Robb is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, based in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care. He currently chairs Critical Practice with Children and Young People (K802), a core module in the MA in Childhood and Youth. His academic research has been broadly concerned with issues relating to gender, identity and 'care', with a recent focus on fatherhood and young masculinities. Martin was Principal Investigator for two recent research projects: 'Beyond Male Role Models: Gender Identities and Practices in Work with Young Men' (2013-15), a collaboration between The Open University and Action for Children, funded by the ESRC, and 'Young Men, Masculinity and Wellbeing' (2016-17), in partnership with Promundo, and funded by Axe/Unilever. He is book reviews co-editor for Children & Society, a member of the advisory group for the Fathers' Development Foundation, and a member of the Men As Change Agents working group set up by the UK Government Equalities Office, by whom he was appointed as a Champion AdvocateBefore joining the Open University Martin worked in a variety of community education projects with disadvantaged adults and young people.

Research interests

  • Currently developing projects on young fathers, relationships and wellbeing; fathers and perinatal bereavement; fathers and disabled children
  • Young men, masculinity and wellbeing (principal investigator, in partnership with Promundo, funded by Axe/Unilever, 2016-17)
  • Gender identities and practices in work with young men (principal investigator; in partnership with Action for Children, funded by ESRC, 2013-2015)
  • Fatherhood and identity (funded by Faculty of Health and Social Care Committee, 2001)
  • Men, masculinities and childcare (funded by Faculty of Health and Social Care Research Committee, 1998)
  • Project to assess the training needs of people working with parents and primary carers (with Parenting Education and Support Forum, funded by Home Office, 1999-2000)
  • Reading, discourse and learning (funded by Institute of Educational Technology Research Committee, 1996)

Teaching interests

Current and recent teaching responsibilities include:


  • E808 Children's and young people's worlds: author, co-editor
  • KE206 Making a difference: working with children and young people: author
  • K828 Researching and evaluating healthcare practice (rewrite): chair
  • K827 Advancing Healthcare Practice (rewrite): co-chair
  • EK313 Research with Children and Young People: Reader editor and author
  • K802 Critical Practice with Children and Young People: chair and author
  • KE308 Youth: Perspectives and Practice: co-chair and author
  • K309 Communication in Health and Social Care: chair and author
  • K204 Working with Children and Families: author

Current and recent postgraduate supervision includes:

  • Ned Redmore (parenting and autistic adults)
  • Christopher Chaloner (older fathers)
  • Katia Narzisi (international adoptions in Italy)
  • Alison Davies (parental constructions of ADHD)
  • Jeff Hunt (fatherhood and masculine identity)
  • Ian Ndlovu (street children in Zimbabwe))
  • Jane Reeves (socially excluded young fathers)


Impact and engagement

  • Book reviews co-editor, Children & Society
  • Member, ESRC Peer Review College
  • Member, Fathers Development Foundation advisory group
  • Member, Men as Change Agents Working Group: Government Equalities Office/Women's Business Council, 2015 -
  • Panel member, National Consultation with Women: Government Equalities Office, November 2014
  • Independent expert representing UK at European Commission exchange of good practice seminar on role of men in gender equality: Helsinki, Finland, October 2014

External collaborations

  • Axe/Unilever-funded research project 'Young men, masculinity and wellbeing' (2016-17), in collaboration with Promundo-US
  • ESRC-funded research project 'Beyond Male Role Models' (2013-2015), in collaboration with Action for Children

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Children and Young People Research GroupGroupFaculty of Health and Social Care


Externally funded projects

Young men, masculinity and well-being

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
This research project, organised on behalf of Promundo-US, will use focus groups to explore the attitudes and experiences of a cross-section of British young men, with the aim of examining connections between masculine identity and well-being. The project, which builds on a questionnaire survey commissioned by Promundo, forms part of a three-country study in the UK, the US and Mexico.

Do boys need male role models? Gender Identities and Practices in Work with Young Men

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/May/201330/Apr/2015ESRC Economic and Social Research Council
Young men have become a key focus of public anxiety in recent years, with widespread concern about educational under-achievement, poor mental health and anti-social behaviour. One popular explanation for these poor outcomes has been the absence of male role models from the lives of many vulnerable young men, resulting in a number of initiatives aimed at increasing male involvement in boys' lives and recruiting more men to work in educational and welfare settings. But how much do we know about the part played by gender in work with young men? Does it really make a difference if boys are surrounded by positive male role models? This project has provided a unique opportunity to explore these questions, in a way that offers fresh insights into young men's lives and contributes to improving professional relationships. The project has been developed in partnership between a team at The Open University and a national charity, Action for Children. The research was carried out at projects throughout the UK and included focus groups and individual interviews with service users and staff, and an analysis of policy documents, media stories and academic texts. It includes a comprehensive dissemination process, including a short film, aimed at sharing the findings of the research with a wide audience, with a view to increasing understanding of the issues and improving practice in work with boys and young men.


Doing gender locally: The importance of ‘place’ in understanding marginalised masculinities and young men’s transitions to ‘safe’ and successful futures (2017-11-01)
Ward, Michael R.M.; Tarrant, Anna; Terry, Gareth; Featherstone, Brid; Robb, Martin and Ruxton, Sandy
The Sociological Review, 65(4) (pp. 797-815)
‘They are just good people…generally good people’: perspectives of young men on relationships with social care workers in the UK (2017)
Featherstone, Brid; Robb, Martin; Ruxton, Sandy and Ward, Michael R.M.
Children & Society ((Early view))
Are Male Role Models Really the Solution? Interrogating the ‘War on Boys’ Through the Lens of the ‘Male Role Model’ Discourse (2015-08)
Tarrant, Anna; Terry, Gareth; Ward, Michael R.M.; Ruxton, Sandy; Robb, Martin and Featherstone, Brigid
Boyhood Studies. An Interdisciplinary Journal, 8(1)
Exploring fatherhood: masculinity and intersubjectivity in the research process (2004-11)
Robb, Martin
Journal of Social Work Practice, 18(3) (pp. 395-406)
Family relationships and troubled masculinities: the experience of young men in contact with care and welfare services (2017-10-10)
Robb, Martin; Featherstone, Brid; Ruxton, Sandy and Ward, Michael R.M.
In: O'Dell, Lindsay; Brownlow, Charlotte and Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist, Hanna eds. Different Childhoods: Non/Normative Development and Transgressive Trajectories (pp. 72-84)
ISBN : 9781138654037 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Disseminating research: shaping the conversation (2014)
Robb, Martin
In: Clark, Alison; Flewitt, Rosie; Hammersley, Martyn and Robb, Martin eds. Understanding Research with Children and Young People. Published in association with The Open University (pp. 237-249)
ISBN : 978-1-4462-7492-7 | Publisher : SAGE Publication Ltd. | Published : London
Men wanted? Gender and the children's workforce (2010)
Robb, Martin
In: Robb, Martin and Thomson, Rachel eds. Critical Practice with Children and Young People (pp. 185-199)
ISBN : 9781847426826 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : Bristol
Gender (2007)
Robb, Martin
In: Kehily, Mary ed. Understanding Youth: perspectives, identities and practices (pp. 109-145)
ISBN : 9781412930642 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Wellbeing (2007)
Robb, Martin
In: Kehily, Mary ed. Understanding Youth: perspectives, identities and practices (pp. 181-213)
ISBN : 9781412930659 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Relating (2007)
Robb, Martin
In: Kehily, Mary ed. Understanding Youth: perspectives, identities and practices (pp. 313-344)
ISBN : 9781412930659 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Men talking about fatherhood: discourse and identities (2003-11-27)
Robb, Martin
In: Barrett, Sheila; Komaromy, Carol; Robb, Martin and Rogers, Anita eds. Communication, Relationships and Care: A Reader (pp. 121-130)
ISBN : 9780415326599 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
Men working in childcare (2000-12)
Robb, M.
In: Foley, Pam; Roche, Jeremy and Tucker, Stan eds. Children in Society: Contemporary Theory, Policy and Practice (pp. 230-238)
ISBN : 333945883 | Publisher : Palgrave/The Open University | Published : Basingstoke, UK
Understanding Research with Children and Young People. (2013-11)
Clark, Alison; Flewitt, Rosie; Hammersley, Martyn and Robb, Martin eds.
ISBN : 9781446274927 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Critical Practice with Children and Young People (2010-07-21)
Robb, Martin and Thomson, Rachel eds.
ISBN : 9781847426819 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : Bristol
Youth in Context: Frameworks, Settings and Encounters (2007)
Robb, Martin ed.
ISBN : 9781412930666 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London
Communication, relationships and care: A Reader (2003)
Barrett, Sheila; Komaromy, Carol; Robb, Martin and Rogers, Anita eds.
ISBN : 978-0-415-32660-5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London


Jenny Simpson

Learning from people: the training method bringing service users and social workers together

Jenny Simpson, Head of Social Work (England), as well as students and staff at the OU are involved in an exciting development in relation to social work education. Mend the Gap is a model for the effective involvement of people who are at the receiving end of services, together with those who provide professional support. Read more about Mend the Gap here

18th April 2018
See all

Are you already an OU student?

Go to StudentHome

Request your prospectus

Request a prospectus icon

Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

Request prospectus