Social Change and Wellbeing (SCWB)

Critical Community and Disability Studies Research Group

RESEARCH STRAND 1: CRITICAL POLICY STUDIES

Members: Fisher, King, Worley, Yarwood, Baines, Kagan, Humphries, Lund, Hayes, Batsleer, McLaughlin, Hawkins

Contact person: Sue Baines

This strand is inherently multi disciplinary, reflecting the research, teaching and practice environments in which members work. Specific research interests encompass identities, communities, institutions, cultural practices and forms of communication.

Critical analysis of the development and implementation of policy, practice and governance cuts across domains including community cohesion, mental health legislation, work-life balance, and workforce development in the caring and enabling professions.

Researchers challenge taken for granted understandings and ask questions about the wider impact of these policies, including unintended consequences. Influenced by contemporary discourses around social change and diversity, there is emerging interest within the strand in thinking through the intersections of race, gender and disability.

PROJECT AREAS

(a) Public policy and ‘private’ lives
This area examines the reconfiguration of the public and private as policy initiatives increasingly target the domestic arenas of home and family while continuing to construct and constrain forms of professionalism and professionalisation.

Project example:
Subjectivity and Social Work.
This project examines manifestations of 'diminished subjectivity' in the arena of social work. It reviews the overt politicisation of social work, and problematises current interpretations of anti-racist/anti-oppressive practice. Inparticular the public/private emerges as a cross cutting theme.
Contact Ken McLaughlin.

Project example:
Balancing work and family lives in self employment.
This project was part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Work and Family Life Programme. It assessed the opportunities and constraints that underpin work family arrangements when people turn to self-employment in places characterised by economic decline. This evidence showed that that long, irregular hours, low incomes, reliance on unpaid family labour, and use of the home as a workplace were part of the 'flexibility' of these business households.
Contact Carolyn Kagan.

(b) Shifting representations, interactions and communications
A key area of analysis relates to communication; its constitution and consequences. Research in this area aims to excavate issues of inequality, pedagogy and identity

Project example:
EPICS a regional collaboration on ePortfolios and PDP in the North East funded by JISC .
A regional forum offered mutual learning and personal and professional support to ground the technical aspects of the EPICS project in a working and pedagogic context. EPICS produced a governance toolkit to engage a wider community in the HE and FE sector.
Contact Sue Baines.

Project example:
Theory, governance, policy, practice – a critical analysis concentrates on the application of critical theories and contemporary empirical research to the analysis of current government policy and practice, particularly in relation to the work of the DCLG and in relation to health/social care.
Contact Martin King.

Project example:
New technologies – This strand of the research group is concerned with exploring the impact of social change on contemporary processes of communication and forms of representation (e.g. the impact of new media technologies).
Contact Martin King.

Research projects under development

‘Putting your career on line’ explores the interface where identity and narrative meet institutional systems in the development and deployment of e-portfolios Contact Sue Baines.

BME employment in UK newspapers . There is evidence that journalism as a profession is becoming so white and middle class that it no longer reflects the social mix on which it reports. This project examines lack of ethnic diversity in the media from industry and employee perspectives
Contact Sue Baines.

(c) Social transformations
This emerging project area aims to generate ‘new’ theoretical interventions to help us understand the rapid processes of social transformation, working within an eclectic, interdisciplinary and intersectional framework. A further aspect of the research group relates to the need for critical, theory driven and empirically informed analysis of the inter-relationship between patterns of social transformation and contemporary forms of governance, policy and practice across the health and welfare sectors, and other contemporary institutions.

The research grouping is closely related to the new BA (Hons) Social Change degree, which attempts to address these issues, whilst drawing upon the research expertise of the programme team and other members of the research group.

Project example:
Informal social networks and wellbeing
Contact Jenny Fisher.

Project example:
Gender, parenting and employment
Contact Gemma Yarwood.

Project example:
Social transformations of race and racialisation in contemporary Britain . Our aim is to adopt and develop a critical approach to theory (drawing upon for example, critical race studies) and contemporary forms of policy/governance.
Contact Claire Worley.

Research projects under development

Exploring Britishness - application to the PSA with University of Huddersfield and Wolverhampton University to hold a conference that will draw on the historical legacy of empire: transnational constructions of Britishness; British diasporas and the impact of dual citizenship on identity and governance; representations of Britishness in non-British national media, education and culture and contemporary debates on the value and legacy of Britishness across within the UK, Ireland, the Commonwealth and North America.
Claire Worley

Ethnicity, segregation and citizenship - a funding application to the ESRC with the University of Birmingham Planned submission date Jan 2008.
Claire Worley