Social Change and Wellbeing (SCWB)

Wellbeing, Ageing and Social Care Research Group

RESEARCH STRAND 4: EXPERIENCING SOCIO-PHYSICAL SPACES

Members: Baines, Fairhurst, Kagan, Lawthom, Loggenberg, Sixsmith

Contact person: Sue Baines

Throughout our lives, we are constantly moving through and within a complexity of socio-physical spaces which hold intrinsic meaning for us, provide the context of our activities and constrain our ambitions, goals and expectations. This research grouping takes space and place as its unit of analysis and extends understanding of the experience of space as socially and physically located and integrally linked to health and well-being.

PROJECT AREAS

(a) Healthy Places
Recently, the notion of ‘place’ has permeated much of academic thinking and policy debate in which places are seen as the site for health and well-being. As such, healthy cities and healthy schools have been built into government agendas for change. This research grouping focuses on what makes places ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ and how well-being is located within place.

Project example:
Healthy Schools: Children’s well-being in School.
Funded by Wigan LEA. This qualitative project explored children’s well-being in school from the perspectives of both children and school staff using diary, in-depth interview, written accounts and focus group methodologies.
Contact Judith Sixsmith.

(b) Workplaces and Family Spaces
Projects in this group are concerned with working life under conditions of flexibility, individualism and entrepreneurialism. A strong theme is the reconfiguration of expectations around gender and generation when social relations of the family become embedded in the economic institution of the micro-enterprise.

Project example:
A Creative Business? Towards Understanding the Livelihoods of Visual Artists.
ESRC. Numerous cities and regions have adopted strategies to regenerate themselves through creativity. The visual arts - alongside other creative industries - are expected to contribute to the changing of out-dated perceptions and to new economic opportunities. Almost all discussion and commentary on visual artists stresses their low and precarious financial rewards. Drawing upon the biographies of practising artists in the North of England, this study addressed a gap in understanding the processes and dynamics of artists’ livelihoods. The researchers concluded that artists’ economic behaviour must be understood in the context of the range of mediating institutions through which they can sustain themselves economically while maintaining their commitment to art and identity as artists. These institutions are the commercial market for art, the supported arts sector, the non art labour market, the family, and co-operative artistic networks.
Contact Sue Baines.

Project example:
Balancing work and family lives in self employment.
This project was part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Work and Family Life Programme. The research was designed to assess the opportunities and constraints that underpin work family arrangements when people have turned to self-employment in places characterised by economic decline. The study was undertaken in the North East of England, where levels of business start up are low and policies are in place to increase them. Business households were located in places that share disadvantages associated with both the urban and the rural. The research team conducted in-depth interviews with self-employed men and women, and their partners and children. 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 small businesses. On the positive side, the children could benefit from opportunities to learn about business.
Contact Sue Baines.

Project example:
Enterprising livelihoods in rural households: new and old ways of working.
Funded by the ESRC.Livelihoods are increasingly likely to be pursued outside large organisations and growth of micro-businesses and self-employment has been especially strong in rural areas. Yet the lives and livelihoods of individuals and households dependent on forms of small enterprise have been largely overlooked in academic and policy agenda to promote more new businesses. Focusing on the rural micro-business household and its networks, this project investigated the internal and external dynamics (including gender and power relations) as households create new forms of livelihood and arguably recreate old ways of working. It formed a basis for comparison with earlier research on urban micro-businesses in the UK and with a recent study of rural micro-businesses in Norway.
Contact Sue Baines.

Project example:
Doing One's duty: A Case Study of Volunteering in a Deprived Community.
ESRC funded. Volunteering has been increasingly mainstreamed into public policy and more and more is expected of people who volunteer. Voluntary organisations now play a key role in the delivery of social and care services, involving more formal reliance upon the work of volunteers. Yet the large and growing expectations now invested in volunteering across policy domains sit awkwardly alongside the welfare to work agenda that tends to devalue non-marketised activity This study was designed to confront such contradictions.
Contact Sue Baines.

(c) Constructing Social Spaces
This research group focuses on how space is constructed, often differently by professionals and users. Issues of form and function can collide whereby for professional designers space comes before anything else, ie it is logically prior to any activities occurring there. On the other hand, for individuals, space is socially organised and is situated in interaction.

Project example:
Memories, objects and older people’s worlds: Continuities with the past?

Contact Eileen Fairhurst.

Project example:
Re-documenting home and managing long term conditions: the social organisation of space and place
.
Contact Eileen Fairhurst.

Research Projects in development

Social organisation of Space in Health Settings. Collaborative research between RIHSC, lead Eileen Fairhurst, and Professor Mike Kagioglou of the Health and Care Infrastructure Research and Innovation Research Centre (HaCIRIC) at Salford University . The current research focus on LIFT centres is on the ‘hard’ measurables of space and usage at the expense of ‘softer’ perspectives. The intention is to study the same research locations but to combine the two perspectives.
Contact Eileen Fairhurst.