In a slight departure from my usual research focus, earlier on this year I took a leading role in a qualitative study investigating the effects of the recession and drastic cuts to welfare provision in the UK on the daily lives and health of people living in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas. A key findings report from this project is now available on the website of the GoWell Research and Learning Programme. Click here to download a copy. This work links to some of the issues I explored from the perspective of campaigners in my PhD, including the ability of those most likely to be affected by radical welfare changes to oppose these policy plans and influence decision-makers at the national level. Most notably, this work found that, despite mounting financial difficulties and worsening mental and physical health, people in deprived areas strive to retain control of their budgets and preserve their quality of life. However, a number of constraints emerged that severely limit both individual and collective agency under these circumstances, making it especially difficult for those most badly affected by austerity policies to come together to influence policy-makers. This project is now in its write-up phase so watch out for further publications in the coming months!
I recently started work on a new project as part of the University of Glasgow’s MRC/Scottish Public Health and Sciences Unit. As the name suggests, this is a new place and a new and exciting area for me. I will be carrying out qualitative research on the effects of the recession, welfare reform and rising costs of living as part of the 10-year GoWell research project. This links to my PhD research, which focused on online disability rights networks that campaigned against welfare reforms and public expenditure cuts in the UK and the United States. In the meantime, I also continue to be involved in the VoterEcology project, which has now approached the writing-up phase.