This research programme brings together a group of researchers from a number of social science and humanities disciplines in our University. The focus of our research is on economic, political and social inequality in different national and international contexts in the fields of literary, cultural and historical studies, urban geography, political economy, sociology, and international development. Details of current projects and events are listed below. The programme leads welcome enquiries from scholars whose research interests align with the programme. Please get in touch for further information.
Left-wing movements and political parties in the 21st century
This project focuses on the emergence of social movements and political mobilizations from around the world with a particular emphasis on left-wing social movements and political parties. This project will culminate in a two volume edited book that seeks to take stock of whether the Left is today. It will consider many different themes such as the state of leftist trade union activism and community unionism, different radical social movements, left-wing media outlets, parliamentary left-wing political parties and activists, leftist community groups and voluntary associations, left-wing networks, social policy and the left, leftist public spheres and public spaces, affects and emotions of the left, and identity politics of the left. The collection will be part of a book series called Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics.
Aid, Trade and Inequality in West and Southern Africa
Dr Mark Langan and Dr Sophia Price
The role of development aid in sustaining asymmetries of wealth between the EU and developing countries in Africa, and in particular the development of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in African sub-regions. The research will engage with trade-oriented international NGOs such as Oxfam, Save the Children and African researchers interested in this topic. The research will engage with both trade policy in Europe and development practice in West African and Southern African EPAs. It will be of use to academics as well as trade practitioners and policy makers.
Inequality and the Future of the European Welfare State
Dr Alex Nunn
Labour market governance and the social effects of a low-wage economy in contemporary Britain and the EU, particularly focusing on the implications of and alternatives to the logic of competitiveness in welfare reform under the banner of the Europe 2020 strategy and the politics of austerity. This project will be policy and practice focused and engage with a range of stakeholders, anti-poverty campaigners and NGOs.
Inequality and Systemic Vulnerabilities in financial systems
Dr Jamie Morgan
Jamie's current research interests include vulnerability in complex systems (applied for example, to hedge funds and private equity finance), the critical failures of economics theories in institutions, and the development dynamics of the Peoples' Republic of China and India. He also has a book in the late stages of development with Professor Heikki Patomaki focused on the current relevance of the work of Alfred Marshall.
Mapping Peace and Development
Dr Rachel Julian
Over the last two decades poverty reduction has become a key objective of the international community, as reflected in the Millennium Development Goals. It is also increasingly recognised that one of the causes and implications of poverty is conflict, both between and within states and communities. As such, poverty reduction interventions are increasingly delivered in the context of persistent or recently ended conflict; the integration of poverty reduction and peacebuilding activities are seen as mutually supportive and reinforcing. Both donors and development agencies have well-established methods for evaluating the effectiveness of development and poverty reduction activities. Similarly, there are have also been attempts to establish the effectiveness of peacebuilding, albeit in much less well-developed form. However, there are as yet no systematic data on the effectiveness of integrated peace and development interventions. Even where interventions are coordinated at the local level they are often managed and evaluated separately.
This research will design, test and improve an approach to the collection and analysis of integrated data on the coordination of development/poverty reduction and conflict resolution/peacebuilding activities. The project will address both process and outcome issues, will deepen our understanding of how peacebuilding and development interact and how this can increase the likelihood of the programme reducing poverty. It aims to transform the way in which we plan, design and implement projects which seek to alleviate poverty whilst dealing with the ongoing violent conflict in the area. The research will be of use to the international aid and peacebuilding community.
Evaluating Non-Violent Interventions
Dr Rachel Julian
Having recently evaluated Non-Violent Peaceforce’s (NP) South Caucuses (NPSC) project, as well as being familiar with NP's work and having conducted research in related fields, this project aims to replicate and improve upon methods of evaluation of non-violent peacekeeping and conflict interventions to provide an evidence base about the effectiveness of non-violent methods. This project will produce research evidence to support future intervention decisions in conflict and post-conflict scenarios.
Agua Social: The Social Interface in Access to Water Technologies
Poor people experience social exclusion in many ways including access, or lack of access, to technology which could improve their lives. Technology exists within a social and political setting, and it's impacts and outcomes can be shaped by both ‘technicos’ and local actors. The application of technology in development has been seen to be not as neutral as first intended; for example, the Green Revolution which improved the lives of certain farmers on certain continents – generally grain farmers in Asia & Latin America – but bypassed others, such as root crop staple farmers in Africa. There are two gaps to bridge at the social interface: conceptually between the technical and social sciences (Vincent 2001); between theory and practice or knowledge and action (Molinga 1998); and between different worlds of expertise. Farmers (Levine 1977) and pastoralists (Kenny 1997) have been observed to act rationally according to their reality in a way that is often not acknowledged by outside experts.
Where poor people do have access to useful technologies they often do not have agency over the way it is designed or used, such as how water is shared, distributed and managed. This can impact on the uptake and impact of a seemingly promising technology. This research will seek to understand change processes whereby technology is implemented (or not) and what influence users can exert over water treatment systems, such as making meaning contributions to design and operation, beyond being able to merely comment.
This research will be undertaken as part of the Agua Social: Social Innovation in the Water Treatment Sector in the Amazon EU-funded project and will form the basis of my PhD fieldwork. I will be also be working alongside and mentoring Brazilian colleagues as well as exploring opportunities for field research for postgraduate students and colleagues. For example, I am exploring the opportunities for collaboration with the partnerships team who will be providing student volunteers to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and would like to integrate this with work in social projects in Brazil prior to the Olympics.
The Future of Human Rights in the UK
Dr Robin Redhead
There is much political debate about the future of human rights legislation in the UK. This project will assess awareness of the Human Rights Act among different groups, including children and young people. In conjunction with the British Institute of Human Rights, this project will also develop educational materials to raise public awareness of the provisions of the existing legislation and the impacts of legislative change.