In the afternoon session, we had a series of short and snappy 5-minute presentations from PhD students and early career researchers so that they could introduce their work and research interests to the network. As the group included people at very different stages of their research, the presentations were varied: some outlined a theoretical framework or intended methodology, others a summary of their research findings. Knowing that there would be plenty of time later for in-depth debate and discussion, questions were limited to one per presentation. Below is a summary of the presentations (with some pictures!):
Poverty and Parenting in the UK – Kerris Cooper
Kerris gave a brief summary of findings from her thesis: she used the Millennium Cohort Study to understand more about how poverty is related to parenting in the UK and what mechanisms explain these relationships.
The health and well-being impacts of benefit sanctions – Evan Williams
Evan provided an overview of his PhD research, which is located at the intersection between the ‘Welfare Conditionality’ and ‘Activation’ literatures. In particular, his research investigates the impact of the threat and imposition of benefit sanctions on mental health.
Connecting Policy with the Personal: Individual Decision Making after Auto-Enrolment – Hayley James
Hayley’s presentation explained how her research explores pensions decisions through a qualitative research methodology. Her research has suggested that there are a wide range of influences on pension decision making, and there were two types of rationale that feature strongly in people’s experiences. These are a market-based rationale (which considers the return or outcome from investing in a pension) and a moral-based rationale (which draws on pension saving as the ‘right’ thing to do), and she is currently analysing the patterns of how and why people draw on these perspectives.
Relative Poverty: photographing the destitute – Les Monaghan
Les gave an overview of his work on “Relative Poverty”, which is a crowdfunded photography project shown in free public spaces. He explained how limited public awareness is that there are a shocking 1.25 million people in the UK in the direst of economic circumstances, choosing between eating, heating and keeping clean. He asked if our media cannot inform us of news as vital and critical to the functioning of society as this how else can a story of the voiceless be told and disseminated? His project seeks to address this awareness gap, with recent exhibitions in libraries and elsewhere.
Universal Credit’s influence on recipients in South London – Shuo Fei
Shuo discussed a very relevant topic of the moment: Universal Credit. Her presentation included evidence of recipients’ experiences and assessed the pros and cons of Universal Credit claiming methods/processes, in relation to the policy’s aims.
Alternative measures to GDP – Fabio Battaglia
Fabio’s presentation discussed what factors inhibit a) the growth of public interest in alternative/complementary measures to GDP and b) their actual application in decision-making. Although still at the start of his project, he explained how he might explore these factors and easily won the competition for the day’s best slides with a very interaction presentation.
Exploring labour market security: the perceptions and experiences of gendered work among young adult social care workers in Teesside – Duncan Fisher
Duncan’s presentation summarised his doctoral study of contemporary working conditions, with a focus on the perceptions and experiences of young adult social care workers in the Teesside area. He explained how adult social care work in the UK is characterised by low pay and poor working conditions, and the sector’s high turnover rate reveals particular difficulties with the retention of young people. Furthermore, adult social care work is heavily gendered, and his study looks to explore how gender, as well as social class and place, shape the lives of young people working in the sector
Money and meaning: how working age social security recipients understand and use their money – Kate Summers
Kate outlined her research, which has involved conducting in-depth interviews with social security recipients who live in east London. Kate’s work is particularly inspired by insights from new economic sociology, and the idea that we should pay close attention to money’s social and cultural relevance when trying to understand it.
What is money? – Israel Cedillo Lazcano
Israel’s research is tasked with trying to answer an important question from a legal perspective: what is money? He explained that different interpretations, warnings, memoranda, amongst other legal documents, have been issued around the world since the publication of a “modern” version of John Law’s Money and Trade Considered by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008: Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Yet, the only conclusion that we can obtain from the content of these instruments is that we do not have a uniform and optimal definition of money.
Basic Income and the Political Economy of the Welfare State – Joe Chrisp
Joe’s presentation outlined why the recent emergence of basic income on the political agenda demands a more rigorous understanding of how it might fit within existing institutional settings and their interaction with citizens and parties. He hopes to analyse citizens’ welfare state preferences as well as conduct elite interviews with policymakers.
Absolute and relative socio-economic status and subjective wellbeing – Laura Kudrna
Laura started by outlining key theories of reference groups and social comparisons as they relate to socio-economic status. She discussed which reference groups matter for people’s mental states in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and American Time Use Surveys, and the fundamentally stressed the importance of understanding how well people are doing socio-economically in relative and not just absolute terms for social policy.
How low-income families experience and manage income variability and change – David Young
David outlined his PhD research which looks at how people on low-incomes experience and manage income variability and related changes in their lives that have financial consequences. This included a discussion of how his previous role as a welfare rights adviser had motivated him to carry out the research, some of the poverty dynamics literature underlying it and his methodological approach. He is particularly interested in the role income variability and related change plays in the experience of poverty and will use qualitative interviews and income and expenditure diaries to look at this experience over time.
Can’t save or won’t save: Retirement saving behaviour among young British adults – Ellie Suh
Ellie’s presentation outlined her project examining attitudes to saving and asset accumulation patterns among young British adults (30-49). The first part of her research looks at whether attitudes to pensions can be explained by resources or behavioural tendencies (can’t save vs. won’t save). The second investigates who gets to buy a home and how this helps (or hinders) their asset building at an earlier stage of life. Finally, she will examine who uses products such as ISAs or LISAs and how this also affects asset building.
The presentations all matched the bill of being concise and engaging and there were many others also there that had plenty of great insights to offer and questions to ask. It was a well-appreciated opportunity to see what common themes, theories and methods we were all using in our research. If you are reading these summaries and see some overlap with your research please get in touch!