Professor Margaret Stacey

Pioneer in the sociology of health and illness

Margaret Stacey was a major influence on British sociology for over 40 years; her pioneering research and her passionate commitments, both intellectual and practical, have left an indelible mark on the discipline.



Margaret Petrie, sociologist: born London 27 March 1922; Labour Officer, Royal Ordnance Factory 1943-44; Tutor, Delegacy for Extra-Mural Studies and Delegacy for Social Training, Oxford University 1944-51; Research Officer and Fellow, University College of Swansea 1961-63, Lecturer in Sociology 1963-70, Senior Lecturer 1970-74; Professor of Sociology, Warwick University 1974-89 (Emerita); married 1945 Frank Stacey (died 1977; three sons, two daughters); died Warwick 10 February 2004.



Margaret Stacey was a major influence on British sociology for over 40 years; her pioneering research and her passionate commitments, both intellectual and practical, have left an indelible mark on the discipline.

She first made her mark through her beautifully crafted community study Tradition and Change: a study of Banbury published in 1960. Rooted in the tradition of British community studies which flourished in the post-Second World War environment, her work none the less stood out for its attention to detail, for her willingness to approach the data with an open mind and for the sharpness of intellect which produced a creative, rich and wholly convincing analysis. It marked her out as a leading figure in the development of the (then) very young discipline of sociology in the UK.

As her research agenda matured, Meg Stacey developed a strong interest in the sociology of health and illness, largely born of her experiences with her own children in hospital. She pioneered the development of this aspect of the discipline, with which her name is most strongly associated. Her particular focus of interest was in topics related to children's and women's interactions with health-care services. She published extensively on these topics, as well as undertaking innovative and influential conceptual work on constructions of health and illness.

Without compromising her intellectual rigour, Stacey's academic interests derived from her own personal commitments and led her into public service, and sometimes campaigning. Her standing in the world of health was attested by her appointment to the Welsh Hospital Board in 1970 and to the General Medical Council in 1976. She served on the latter body for eight years and, in parallel, produced some fine academic work on the topic of professional regulation in health.

A lifelong interest in gender issues, and the rights of women in particular, was another way in which her academic interests overlapped with her personal commitments. The early part of her own career had not been easy, because the academic world found it difficult to create a secure place for a young woman with five children, however talented and committed. But she succeeded and in 1974 was the first woman ever to be appointed to a professorship at Warwick.

She used the new security and influence of her position to foster the careers of other women sociologists, principally through her work for the British Sociological Association, which she served in various capacities including as its President in 1981-83.

Born Margaret Petrie in London in 1922, she was educated at the City of London School for Girls and then graduated with first class honours in Sociology from the London School of Economics in 1943. In 1945 she married Frank Stacey, a political scientist of great distinction who always supported and encouraged her. His book Ombudsmen Compared was unfinished when he died in 1977. Meg completed it and it was published the following year.

Having joined Frank after the war in Oxford, where she herself was a tutor, she followed him to Swansea in 1951, but was not appointed to a Lectureship until 1964. Her work on the study on Banbury was undertaken, completed and published without the security of an academic position and whilst rearing her children. From Swansea she moved to a Chair at Warwick, where she remained for the rest of her career, proving a guiding influence on the development of sociology there and helping to make it one of the top sociology departments in the UK.

In retirement she remained active as a sociologist and indeed published some important work, including her book on genetics and assisted reproduction Changing Human Reproduction: social science perspectives (1992). She was able to devote more time to her love of gardens and gardening and to her large family.

Retirement also provided the opportunity to focus on her commitments to peace and human rights. In her later years she became very interested in Buddhism and was a member of the Community of Interbeing, a Buddhist community based in south-west France. She was drawn to the core of Buddhist teaching about the alleviation of suffering, which she viewed as a central thread in her own life's work.

Meg Stacey is survived by five children, 16 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and her partner Jennifer Lorch.

Janet Finch

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links