Professor Linda Hantrais

Professor Linda Hantrais

Visiting Professor

International Inequalities Institute

Key Expertise
international comparative research theory, methods, management and practice

About me

Linda Hantrais FAcSS is Emeritus Professor of European Social Policy in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Loughborough University, UK, a Visiting Professor at the LSE, and Chair of the UK Academy of Social Sciences’ International Advisory Group. Her research interests span international comparative research theory, methods, management and practice, with particular reference to public policy and institutional structures in the European Union. She has coordinated several European research projects on these topics. Her recent publications include articles, papers, blogs and monographs on the social dimensions of Brexit for EU and UK social policy, and on comparisons of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the European Union.

International activities

Her international activities have involved membership of international research advisory committees, particularly in France including: Agence nationale de la Recherche, British Council Franco-British Alliance Programme, Centre d’études de l’emploi, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Comité national d’évaluation de la recherche, Réseau des Maisons des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris Think Tank: Base Recherche Action INovation Santé (BRAINS). She acted as expert adviser to European and other International institutions, including the Council of Europe’s Committee on Social Policy for Families and Children, the European Commission’s High Level Group of Experts on Demographic Questions, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs Inclusion, and the Council of Advisors of Population Europe. She has also undertaken consultancies for the British Council, ESRC, European Commission’s DG Research, European Science Foundation and European Universities Association.  

Research interests and outputs

Her research interests focus on three interrelated themes: international comparative research theory, methodology and practice, and the management of international research projects; international comparisons of public policy and institutional structures, with particular reference to European social policy and the implications of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic for EU and UK social policy; the relationship between socio-demographic change and policy responses, and the evidence base for policy.

These research activities have attracted external funding for international projects, publications, seminars and training workshops from the European Commission Framework Programme and Economic Social Research Council, among others. 

Research training

Between 2010 and 2012, she served as an academic consultant, based at the LSE Centre for International Studies, for an ESRC award under their Researcher Development Initiative. The project, which was conducted in cooperation with the Social Research Association, aimed to develop and deliver a programme of international social research methods training workshops across the UK and abroad. The workshops were delivered at venues in the UK and France. They were designed to meet the needs of researchers who are engaged in, embarking on or using social research with an international dimension in all sectors (academia, local and central government, government agencies, voluntary and independent organisations) and from different scientific and linguistic cultures. One of the outputs from the project was a databank of International Social Research Methods Case Studies, hosted by ReStore, the Sustainable Web Resources Repository, under the auspices of the National Centre for Research Methods at the University of Southampton. Adapted versions of the international methods case studies have been published as SAGE Cases in Methodology. The goal of the collection, shared with the ReStore databank, is to help higher education students and researchers in other sectors to gain a better understanding of abstract methodological concepts and the realities of research in practice.

 In July–August 2014, under the auspices of the International Social Science Council, she acted as local convener on behalf of the AcSS for a World Social Science Fellows Seminar, hosted by the LSE Centre for International Studies and British Council, entitled ‘Global Social Governance: Developing International Social Science Research and Impacting the Policy Process’. Contributions to the Seminar were published by the Academy as a research resource.


My single-authored book-length publications in the past two decades closely reflect these research interests. Family Policy Matters: responding to family change in Europe (The Policy Press, 2004) drew on the findings from a European Commission project funded under the Fifth Framework Programme, entitled ‘Improving Policy Responses and Outcomes to Socio-Economic Challenges: changing family structures, policy and practice’ (IPROSEC). My third edition of Social Policy in the European Union (Palgrave, 2007) spanned 50 years of EU social policy, extending to 27 member states and covering a period of intense activity associated with enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe. My single-authored book, International Comparative Research: theory, methods and practice (Palgrave, 2009), built on and developed the findings from seven series of research seminars and Cross-National Research Papers delivered over more than 20 years, together with analysis of the research methods adopted in a large body of other international projects. This work was made available as an e-book together with a web companion.  

As Chair of the Academy’s International Advisory Group, in 2013–14 I convened a series of seminars on ‘Social Science Evidence and the Policy Process: International Insights’. Several of the papers from the series were subsequently published in 2015 in a themed issue of Contemporary Social Science, and then in 2016 in the Routledge: Contemporary Issues in Social Science book series, for which I acted as Guest Editor with members of the IAG. In 2017 and 2018, the IAG convened another series of seminars in ‘International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Evidence-based Policy’ (2015), funded by Taylor and Francis. Papers on the topics addressed at the seminars were published as guest-edited themed issues of Contemporary Social Science, covering the sustainability of natural resources in a changing environment (2018), family change, intergenerational relations and policy responses (2020), and evidence-based policy in a digital society (2021). 

My most recent books – What Brexit Means for EU and UK Social Policy (Policy Press, 2019) and Comparing and Contrasting the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the European Union (co-authored with Marie-Thérèse Letablier, Routledge, 2021) – build on and extend my previous work. The Brexit book considered in detail the UK’s perspective on social policy in the EU and the role that it played in both promoting and hindering European social integration, leading ultimately to the decision to leave the EU. Policy Press published an ‘Afterword’ in June 2020, covering developments since the beginning of 2019. The Routledge book in the Routledge Studies in Political Sociology series challenges the use of uncontextualised comparisons of Covid-19 cases and deaths in member states during the period when Europe was the epicentre of the pandemic. The study looks behind the headlines and the statistics to demonstrate the value for knowledge exchange and policy learning of comparisons that are founded on an in-depth understanding of key socio-demographic and public health indicators within their national policy settings. The book adopts integrated, multi-disciplinary international perspectives to track and assess a fast-moving topical subject in an accessible format and to offer a template for analysing policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic using evidence-based comparisons to inform and support policy development.