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Dr Flora Cornish


Flora Cornish is Associate Professor in Qualitative Research Methodology. She received her PhD in 2004 from the LSE’s Institute of Social Psychology, and is also a graduate of the Department of Methodology’s MSc in Social Research Methods. She joined LSE as a Lecturer in 2011, following positions at the University of Cambridge and Glasgow Caledonian University. She is Editor of the Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology|

Research interests

Flora Cornish’s research addresses the role of community mobilisation and partnerships in improving public health. She has a long-standing research engagement with HIV prevention projects led by sex workers in India. Her recent work has focused on the relations between local grassroots realities and globalising development policies and management practices, in the context of efforts to mobilise communities to tackle HIV/AIDS.

Social science methodologies comprise an important part of the global environment of health and development projects. Flora has current research interests in the uses of ‘evidence-based practice’, monitoring, evaluation and accountability, and the role of qualitative research as a source of useful evidence. In the Department of Methodology ‘Communicating Chronic Pain’| project, she is working on the question of the ways in which non-textual methods of expression of pain can constitute useful evidence.

Flora’s approach to doing social scientific research is informed by a pragmatist interest in constituting a better future, and a dialogical assumption that human realities are characterised by tension, contradiction and diversity. She uses a range of qualitative research methods, with a particular interest in multi-level and multi-site ethnographies. She is interested in questions of the quality, rigour, and applicability of qualitative research, in the interest of making qualitative research matter. 

Selected publications

Community health, participation and partnerships

  • Campbell, C. & Cornish, F. (2014). Community Health Psychology for the 21st century: Pathways to health-enabling social change. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(1). [guest-edited special issue]
  • Cornish, F., Montenegro, C.R., van Reisen, K., Zaka, F. & Sevitt, J. (2014). Trust in the process: Community health action after Occupy. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(1): 60-71.
  • Campbell, C. & Cornish, F. (2014). Re-imagining Community Health Psychology: embracing maps and journeys? Journal of Health Psychology, 19(1): 3-15.
  • Cornish, F. & Banerji, R. (2013). How do relationships between peer educators and sex workers lead to increased condom use? A social capital interpretation of the Sonagachi Project. Indian Anthropologist
  • Lorimer, K., Kidd, L., Lawrence, M., McPherson, K., Cayless, S. & Cornish, F. (2013). Systematic review of reviews of behavioural HIV prevention interventions among men who have sex with men. AIDS Care, 25(2):133-50.
  • Campbell, C., Cornish, F. & Skovdal, M. (2012). Local pain, global prescriptions? Using scale to analyse the globalisation of the HIV/AIDS response. Health and Place, 18(3), 447-452.
  • Cornish, F., Campbell, C., Shukla, A. & Banerji, R. (2012). From brothel to boardroom: Prospects for community leadership of Indian HIV interventions in the context of global funding practices. Health and Place, 18(3), 468-474.
  • Campbell, C. & Cornish, F. (2012). How can community health programmes build enabling environments for transformative communication? Experiences from India and South Africa. AIDS and Behavior, 16(4):847-857.
  • Cornish, F. & Campbell, C. (Eds.) (2010). The social context of community mobilization: Foundations for success or failure. AIDS Care, 22 (Suppl. 2) [guest-edited special issue]
  • Cornish, F., Campbell, C., Shukla, A. & Banerji, R. (in press). From brothel to boardroom: Prospects for community leadership of Indian HIV interventions in the context of global funding practices.Health and Place
  • Campbell, C. & Cornish, F. (2011). How can community health programmes build enabling environments for transformative communication? Experiences from India and South Africa. AIDS and Behavior. [DOI: 10.1007/s10461-011-9966-2]
  • Cornish, F., Shukla, A. & Banerji, R. (2010). Persuading, protesting and exchanging favours: Strategies used by Indian sex workers to win local support for their HIV prevention programmes. AIDS Care, 22, 1670-1678.
  • Campbell, C. & Cornish, F. (2010). Towards a 'fourth generation' of approaches to HIV/AIDS management: Creating contexts for effective community mobilization. AIDS Care, 22, 1569-1579.
  • Campbell, C., Cornish, F., Gibbs, A. & Scott, K. (2010). Heeding the push from below: How do social movements persuade the rich to listen to the poor? Journal of Health Psychology, 15, 962-971.
  • Cornish, F., Banerji, R. & Shukla, A. (2010) Community-based organisations in policy and practice: Sex workers, HIV prevention and the social construction of solutions. In Mishra, A. (Ed.). Health, Illness and Medicine: Ethnographic Readings in India. Delhi: Orient Blackswan.
  • Cornish, F. & Campbell, C. (2009). The social conditions for successful peer education: A comparison of two HIV prevention programs run by sex workers in India and South Africa. American Journal of Community Psychology, 44, 123-135.
  • Bryans, A., Cornish, F. & McIntosh, J. (2009). The potential of ecological theory for building an integrated framework to develop the public health contribution of health visiting. Health and Social Care in the Community, 17, 564-572.
  • Cornish, F. (2009) Targeting HIV or targeting social change? The role of Indian sex worker collectives in challenging gender relations. In J. Boesten & N. Poku (Eds.) Gender and HIV/AIDS: Critical Perspectives from the Developing World (pp121-142). London: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
  • Parfitt, B.A., Cornish, F. & Ferguson, L. (2009). Global perspectives on health and nursing. In W. Holzemer (Ed.) Improving Health through Nursing Research. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • McIntosh, J., Bryans, A., Cornish, F. & Wallis, L. (2008). Developing health visitors' capacities to challenge health inequalities. Caledonian Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre.
  • Cornish, F. & Ghosh, R. (2007). The necessary contradictions of 'community-led' health promotion: A case study of HIV prevention in an Indian red light district. Social Science & Medicine, 64, 496-507.
  • Cornish, F. (2006). Challenging the stigma of sex work in India: Material context and symbolic change. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 16, 462-471.
  • Cornish, F. (2006). Empowerment to participate: A case study of Indian sex workers' participation in HIV prevention. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 16, 301-315.

Dialogue & intersubjectivity

  • Howarth, C., Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (2014). Making communities: Diversity, movement and interdependence. In G. Sammut, E. Andreouli, G. Gaskell & J. Valsiner (Eds), Handbook of Social Representations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gillespie, A., Reader, T., Cornish, F. & Campbell, C. (2014) Beyond ideal speech situations: Adapting to communication asymmetries in healthcare. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(1): 72-78.
  • Gillespie, A & Cornish, F. (2013). The Northern Rock bank run: An analysis of communication within a distrust sequence. In I. Marková & P. Linell (Eds.), Dialogical approaches to trust in communication. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
  • Howarth, C., Campbell, C., Cornish, F., et al (2013). Insights from Societal Psychology: The contextual politics of change. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 1(1): 364–384.
  • Cooper, M., Chak, A., Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (2013). Dialogue: Bridging personal, social and community transformation. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 53(1), 70-93.
  • Cornish, F. (2012). Collectives may protest, but how do authorities respond?In B. Wagoner, E. Jensen & J. Oldmeadow (Eds.) Culture and social change: Transforming society through the power of ideas. London: Routledge.
  • Gillespie, A. & Cornish, F. (2010). Intersubjectivity: Towards a dialogical analysis. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 40, 19-46.
  • Gillespie, A. & Cornish, F. (2010). What can be said? Identity as a constraint on knowledge production. Papers on Social Representations, 16, 5.1-5.13.
  • Gillespie, A., Cornish, F., Aveling, E.-L. & Zittoun, T. (2008). Conflicting community commitments: A dialogical analysis of a British woman's World War II diaries. Journal of Community Psychology, 36, 1-18.
  • Cornish, F. (2004). Making "context" concrete: A dialogical approach to the society-health relation. Journal of Health Psychology, 9, 281-294.


  • Cornish, F., Zittoun, T., & Gillespie, A. (2013). Collaborative data analysis. In U. Flick (Ed). The SAGE handbook of qualitative data analysis. London: Sage
  • Gillespie, A., Howarth, C. & Cornish, F. (2012). Four problems for researchers using social categories. Culture & Psychology, 18(3): 391-402.
  • Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (2009). A pragmatist approach to the problem of knowledge in health psychology. Journal of Health Psychology, 14, 1-10.
  • Cornish, F. (2009). Let's get real (with a small 'r'): For a health psychology that prioritises the concrete. Journal of Health Psychology, 14, 638–642.
  • Zittoun, T., Cornish, F., Gillespie, A. & Baucal, A. (Eds.) (2007). The socio-cultural psychology of collaborative research. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 41(2). [guest-edited special issue]
  • Zittoun, T., Baucal, A., Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (2007) Collaborative research, knowledge and emergence. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 41, 208-217.
  • Cornish, F., Zittoun, T. & Gillespie, A. (2007) A cultural psychological reflection on collaborative research. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8, Art. 21.