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 Visiting Professor at the LSE International Inequalities Institute; and Emeritus Professor of European Social Policy in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Loughborough University, UK.

Her international activities have involved membership of research advisory committees, particularly in France and elsewhere in Europe, including the Agence nationale de la Recherche, the Comité national d’évaluation de la recherche; the Council of Advisors of Population Europe, the European Commission’s High Level Group of Experts on Demographic Questions, convened by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and evaluation panels for DG Research and Innovation. She has also undertaken consultancies for the British Council, ESRC, European Science Foundation and European Universities Association. Since 2011, she has chaired the UK Academy of Social Sciences’ International Advisory Group

Her research interests focus on three interrelated themes: international comparative research theory, methodology and practice, and the management of international multidisciplinary 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, higher education and research; and the relationship between socio-demographic change and policy responses, drawing on the evidence base.

Her recent publications include articles, papers, blogs and monographs on the socio-economic and political dimensions of Brexit and the pandemic for EU and UK social policy and research, as well as comparisons of the differential impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the European Union and beyond. Her most recent work is an edited How to… guide to the management of international multidisciplinary research projects targeting mid-career researchers.


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.