After graduating with first a Bachelors and then a Doctoral degree from the University of Kent, Claire taught at Plymouth and then at Lancaster Universities. During the early 1990s she helped to set up the Sociology Department at the Central European University, Prague before moving to the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, where she later became Head of Sociology.
Claire was formerly editor of the international journal \"European Societies\", official journal of the European Sociological Association.
She was elected President of the European Sociological Association, serving from September 2007 to October 2009.
She was Director of Research for the College of Arts and Social Sciences between 2008 and 2011 and then became Vice Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange for the University in 2011.