Below is a summary of my academic publications; published, and in the pipeline:
This paper examines poverty and hardship in Europe after the 2008 crisis, using household interviews in nine European countries. A number of findings deserve highlighting. First, making a distinction between ‘the old poor’ (those who lived in poverty before as well as after the crisis) and ‘the new poor’ (those who fell into hardship after the crisis), we show that hardship is experienced quite differently by these groups. Second, the household narratives showed that while material deprivations constitute an important aspect of hardship, the themes of insecurity and dependency also emerged as fundamental dimensions. In contrast to popular political discourse in countries such as the UK, dependency on welfare or family was experienced as a source of distress and manifested as a form of hardship by participants in all countries covered in this study.
This article engages with popular narratives of community and cohesion, explored through a series of focus groups in Bradford and Birmingham. The paper argues that the participants interviewed used discourses propagated by government to make sense of these narratives in their neighbourhoods and communities. The use of these discourses constructs what Gramsci calls a ‘common sense’ position, which legitimises a specific and targeted notion of cohesion. However, participants can contaminate these discourses, which can lead to subtle changes or explicit challenges to dominant discourses on community and cohesion in the UK.
This paper provides a critical assessment of the highly agent-centric conceptualisation of the term ‘resilience’ with respect to its application to how individuals and households respond to hardship. We provide an argument for social conditions of resilience to be embedded into the framework of its development. Drawing on two different perspectives in social theory, namely structure-agent nexus and path dependency, we aim to demonstrate that the concept of resilience, if understood in isolation from the social conditions within which it may or may not arise, can result in a number of problems. This includes misidentification of resilience, ideological exploitation of the term and inability to explain intermittence in resilience.
Since the inception of Community Cohesion policy in 2001 and the ongoing welfare reform of the New Labour era, creating a cohesive, responsible and mutualist society has become an important goal for UK governments – something that is still partially true for the Coalition government thanks to their Big Society project. However, although New Labour intended to create such a society, their welfare and cohesion policies fell short of this goal. This is due, in part, to the creation and perpetuation of a number of discourses and discursive logics present in the policy literature and within British society as a whole. The article uses Critical Discourse Analysis to analyse a number of government documents on welfare reform and community cohesion between 2001 and 2010 to highlight the links between the spheres of cohesion and welfare, and to highlight how these linkages can shed new light on New Labour’s political project. The article calls for a combined approach to understanding notions of cohesion, both academically and politically.