Faculty of Social Sciences
   
   
  

Featured Research Projects

Across the Faculty of Social Sciences our staff undertake a wide range of research projects with more than 96% of the Faculty of Social Sciences' research being of 'international quality' in the latest Research Excellence Framework.

Below are just a selection of research projects from across the schools in the faculty. 

Nottingham University Business School

Neo-demographics

Neo-demographics: Opening Developing World Markets via Personal Data and Collaboration

School: Nottingham University Business School
Project duration: July 2014 - July 2016
Funder: EPSRC/ESRC (RCUK Digital Economy) - EP/L021080/1
Funding: £614,000

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham
  • The University of Stirling

Project staff

  • Principal Investigator: Professor Andrew Smith (PI) - Nottingham University Business School
  • Co-investigators:
    Dr James Goulding (Horizon Institute - University of Nottingham)
    Dr Gavin Smith (Horizon Institute - University of Nottingham)
    Dr Mark Iliffe (Nottingham University Business School)
    Professor Leigh Sparks (Inst for Retail Studies - University of Stirling)
    Professor Jon Garibaldi (Comp Sci - University of Nottingham)
    Professor Xiaolin Meng (Geospatial Inst - University of Nottingham)

Aims

Examines the use of Big Data to augment business decision making and social policy via new forms of demographic and behavioural intelligence in Emerging economies.

Methods

Primarily focuses on the development of behavioural segmentation and predictive modelling techniques via novel computational (machine learning) and clustering methods applied to a rich range of people centred data sources (from retail transaction data to communications data), provided by their international collaborators across three of the world's fastest growing emerging economies, Tanzania, Malaysia and China. Project partners include Tesco, Walgreen Boot Alliance, M&S; 7-11; Tigo Mobile and Experian.

Outcomes and findings

Preliminary findings include: power of behavioural data over 'traditional' geo-demographics to segment and understand populations; ability to predict behaviour and urban development; new forms of customer segmentation; new methods of crowd-sourced/community mapping

Publications

  • Automatic Temporal Retail Segmentation from Big Data, Goulding, J., Smith. G, Iliffe, M., Smith A., American Marketing Association Winter Educators' Conference, Las Vegas, USA, Feb 2016.
  • Mobile Money - Towards Understanding Spending Patterns in Emerging Economies, Iliffe, M., Smith, A., Roadknight, Goulding, J., American Marketing Association Winter Educators' Conference, Las Vegas, USA, Feb 2016.
  • A Novel symbolization technique for time-series outlier detection, Smith, G., Goulding, J., IEEE Big Data, Santa Clara, USA, 2015.
 
 
Understanding the reconfiguration of Major Trauma Service

Understanding the reconfiguration of Major Trauma Service

School: Nottingham University Business School
Project duration: May 2013 - May 2016
Funder: The Health Foundation
Funding: Improvement Science Fellowship (Waring)

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham

Project staff

  • Dr Justin Waring
  • Dr Bridget Roe

Aims

To understand the reconfiguration of major trauma service and to identify lesson for future service development, workforce development and to inform similar service reconfigurations based on the centralised of specialists services into regional centres of excellence.

Methods

A system ethnography, involving non-participant observations across and within network organisations, observations of critical care episodes and handovers of care, qualitative interviews, and video-recordings of training and handover events.

Outcomes and findings

  • Evidence to support education and training of health professionals
  • Evidence of care handover and transition points
  • Evidence of threats to safety
  • Evidence about workforce development needs

Publications

  • Waring, J., Bishop, S. and Roe, B. (2016) 'Network contra network: the gap between policy and practice in the organisation of major trauma networks' (invited paper University California, Berkeley)
 
 

School of Economics

Behavioural Economics of Cooperation

Behavioural Economics of Cooperation – how is cooperation influenced by strong reciprocity and self-regarding incentives?

School: School of Economics
Project duration: 1 May 2012 to 30 April 2017
Funder: ERC - ERC-AdG 295707 Cooperation
Funding: Euro 2,072,844

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham

Project staff

Principal Investigator

  • Professor Simon Gaechter - School of Economics

Post Doc Researchers

  • Dr Lucas Molleman - School of Economics
  • Dr Jonathan Schulz - School of Economics
  • Dr Ori Weisel - School of Economics

Aims

The major ambition and innovation of this research programme is to "put strong reciprocity into context" by investigating how incentives, social and cultural context, and gender and personality differences, shape strong reciprocity and, as a consequence, cooperation.

Methods

ERC Project Cooperation comprises four linked research themes, which all address key open questions of interest to economists and other behavioural scientists. All projects use economic experiments and insights from across the behavioural sciences.

Outcomes and findings

The overarching objective is to develop a 'behavioural economics of cooperation', that is, the basic science of relevant behavioural principles that are needed to achieve sustainable cooperation.

Publications

  • Intrinsic Honesty and the Prevalence of Rule Violations Across Societies, Simon Gaechter and Jonathan F. Schulz, Nature, 495-499, 2016.
  • Eye Movement in Strategic Choice, Neil Stewart, Simon Gaechter, Takao Noguchi and Timothy L. Mullett, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, online, 2015.
  • Visible Inequality Breeds More Inequality, Simon Gaechter, Nature, 526, 333-334.
 
 
Testing and Modelling Human Behaviour and Behavioural Change

Testing and Modelling Human Behaviour and Behavioural Change

School: School of Economics
Project duration: 31 December 2012 to 30 December 2016
Funder: ESRC - ES/K002201/1
Funding: £3,054,753

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham
  • The University of East Anglia
  • The University of Warwick

Project staff

Principal Investigator

  • Professor Chris Starmer (PI) - School of Economics

Co-investigators

  • Professor Uwe Aickelin (School of Computer Science - University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Abigail Barr (School of Economics - University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Gordon Brown (Department of Psychology - University of Warwick)
  • Professor Nick Chater (Warwick Business School)
  • Professor Robin Cubitt (School of Economics - University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Enrique Fatas (School of Economics - University of East Anglia)
  • Professor Simon Gaechter (School of Economics - University of Nottingham)
  • Dr John Gathergood (School of Economics - University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Shaun Hargreaves-Heap (Dept of Political Economy, King's College London)
  • Professor Graham Loomes (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
  • Professor Robert MacKay (Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick)
  • Dr Anders Poulsen (School of Economics - University of East Anglia)
  • Professor Daniel Read (Warwick Business School)
  • Professor Martin Sefton (School of Economics - University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Neil Stewart (Department of Psychology - University of Warwick)
  • Professor Robert Sugden (School of Economics - University of East Anglia)
  • Dr Theodore Turocy (School of Economics - University of East Anglia)
  • Professor Daniel Zizzo (Business School - Newcastle University)

Aims

We are a cross-disciplinary group of researchers who develop and test models of human behaviour and behavioural change, and draw out their implications for the formulation and evaluation of public policy.

Methods

There has been growing interest in policy tools which take into account the realities of people's perceptions, judgements and choices. Different social sciences provide different accounts of the underpinnings and dynamics of human behaviour. The Network seeks to synthesize these approaches by combining the expertise of 19 experienced researchers in three major UK centres for behavioural research. The Network operates an exchange programme, primarily for junior researchers, involving seven other international centres of excellence in behavioural science.

Outcomes and findings

The Network has four main objectives, which are to:

  • draw on cross-disciplinary knowledge and methods to develop and promote high quality theoretical, empirical and applied research on behaviour and behaviour change
  • make an important contribution to capacity building in behavioural science via the development and nurturing of a new generation of interdisciplinary researchers
  • promote high quality, policy relevant work, which will inform dialogue on the appropriate policy context for understanding behaviour and behaviour change
  • develop and sustain an innovative knowledge transfer and communication strategy

Publications

  • Moral Consequences of Becoming Unemployed, Abigail Barr, Luis Miller and Paloma Ubeda. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113(17), 4676–4681, 2016.
  • How Do Risk Attitudes Affect Measured Confidence? Zahra Murad, Martin Sefton and Chris Starmer, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 52, 21-46, 2016.
  • Time Matters Less When Outcomes Differ: Uni-modal versus Cross-modal Comparisons in Intertemporal Choice, Robin Cubitt, Rebecca McDonald and Daniel Read, Management Science, in press, 2016.
  • Financial Literacy and the Co-Holding Puzzle, John Gathergood and Joerg Weber, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Special Issue on Empirical Behavioral Finance 107: 455-469, 2014.
 
 

School of Education

Labour Market Intelligence Partnership

Labour Market Intelligence Partnership

School: School of Education
Project duration: April 2012 - March 2015
Funder: South African Department for Higher Education and Training
Funding: £6.5m

Project institutions

  • HSRC
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • University of the Western Cape
  • The University of Nottingham

Project staff

  • Programme Director: Dr Vijay Reddy, Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa
  • Nottingham involvement: Professor Simon McGrath

Aims

  1. Advance information and knowledge of the post-school education and training system in relation to economic development and growth
  2. Build labour market intelligence to inform strategic planning and interventions
  3. Develop future research capacity in the area of education and training, skills development and labour market analysis
  4. Enhance the institutional capacity of DHET and its stakeholders to gather and interpret labour market information
  5. Create a community of practice through dissemination activities with policymakers and researchers

Methods

LMIP was a multi-methods programme utilising a wide range of methods including skills forecasting using a macro-education model; sectoral labour market surveys; rates of return analysis; a youth panel study; critical discourse analysis of policy texts; questionnaires; semi-structured interviews; and social network analysis, drawing on disciplinary insights from economics, sociology, innovation studies and education.

Outcomes and findings

Key outcomes have been described by the funders as including:

  • improved synergies between the work of the DHET and researchers
  • the development of the List of occupations in high Demand published by the Minister of higher education and training as a signalling tool to inform enrolment planning in further and higher education, as well as for visa decisions

Key findings include:

  • the importance in the South African context of an inclusive socio-economic skills planning approach
  • the importance of education and training and labour market institutions as key actors in a skills system and their capacitation as an important policy priority
  • the need to prioritise innovation whilst carefully locating South Africa's innovation potential within a critical reading of the global political economy

Publications

  • More than 20 international journal articles, including the winner of an Elsevier Atlas Award for research with high developmental impact for: Glenda Kruss, Simon McGrath, Il-haam Petersen, Michael Gastrow, 2015, Higher education and economic development: The importance of building technological capabilities, International Journal of Educational Development 43, 22-31
 
 

School of Geography

Conferencing the International

Conferencing the International: a cultural and historical geography of the origins of internationalism (1919-1939)

School: School of Geography
Project duration: August 2015 - August 2019
Funder: AHRC
Funding: From AHRC £576,845, in total £721,057

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham

Project staff

  • PI: Dr Stephen Legg
  • CI: Prof Mike Heffernan
  • PDRA: Dr Jake Hodder

Aims

We will examine three sets of conferences that demonstrate these visions of peace and their forms of internationalism that were emerging through and in tension with specific nations (Britain, France and the USA): the Round Table conferences on the future of India in the British Empire (Legg), the International Studies conferences of the League of Nations's ICIC (Heffernan), and the Pan-African Congresses (Hodder). Each of these conferences provided a public commentary on the changes brought by the war and the prospects of a new international order which it was seen to make possible. It was the secret negotiations before and during World War I which exposed the urgent need for public political meetings, to which people would travel from around the globe; these meeting spaces are what international conferences provided.

This project will re-assemble and re-interpret the archives of imperialism through an analysis of the infrastructures, materials and performances of the inter-war international conference: where people stayed; how their days were planned; how clothing and manners facilitated or hindered certain meetings; what they discussed, and how.

Methods

The research requires a varied methodology in which the PI, CI and PDRA have extensive experience, in: textual and visual analysis of imperial and League of Nations documents and maps, biographical research on colonial bureaucrats and campaigners, and urban analysis of town planning and city history (PI); work on histories of geography and science as international projects as examined using the inter-textual methodologies focusing on maps, photographs, film and texts (CI); extensive research in private collections and shared correspondence, analyses of the visual and textual techniques of pamphlets and propaganda (PDRA).

We will craft and develop multi-method approaches to different archives and materials as required, drawing upon: content and discourse analysis; quantitative and quantitative prosopography (collective biography); visual methods; material and object analysis; and dialogue with current practitioners.

Outcomes and findings

Research is ongoing.

Publications

  • Hodder, J., Legg, S. and Heffernan, M. (2015) Introduction: Historical geographies of internationalism, 1900-1950 Political Geography 49, 1-6.
 
 
Spaces of experience and horizons of expectation

"Spaces of experience and horizons of expectation": the implications of extreme weather events, past, present and future

School: School of Geography
Project duration: December 2013 - December 2016
Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Funding: £1,055,208.30 (FEC); £844,166.64 (AHRC contribution)

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham (PI)
  • Aberystwyth University
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Liverpool

Project staff

  • Georgina Endfield (PI)
  • Sarah Davies, (Co I)
  • Cerys Jones (Co I)
  • Simon Naylor (Co I)
  • Neil Macdonald (Co I)
  • Lucy Veale (PDRA)
  • Marie Jeanne Royer (PDRA)
  • James Bowen (PDRA)

Aims

  1. To develop a set of local and regional climate histories in order to identify periods of unusual weather and extreme events, producing the first multi-regional climate history of the UK
  2. To investigate the scale of impact of- and the nature of human responses to these events and the way in which time and place specific contexts may have influenced both impact and response
  3. To examine how individual and community responses to climate variability, including the recording and recollection of events, have changed over the course of recent centuries and are still changing
  4. To explore how social memory of- and adaptations to past events may have influenced perceptions of relative resilience and vulnerability
  5. To create a user friendly database of extreme weather events and their implications

We are working in a series of case study areas, identified as being vulnerable to increased risk of different extreme weather of different types. They are the SW of England (increased storminess, flooding and heatwaves), Central England (drought, water scarcity and flood risk), Eastern England (increasing storminess and flooding), coastal and upland areas across Wales (flood risk, drought extreme winters) and Northwest Scotland (increased storminess).

The purpose has been to identify the nature, timing and implications of unusual and extreme weather over the past c.350 years in these areas. These regional histories of extremes will also enable us to assess how different communities in different contexts might be affected by, might comprehend and respond to future events as both climate and communities change.

Methods

For each of these case study areas, we have been undertaking systematic archival investigations in many different archival collections held in national, regional and local libraries and institutions, and county records offices. The work has involved consultation of a broad range of historical materials including unpublished diaries, correspondence, weather records, estate records, newspaper reports, school log books, among other sources dating back to the 17th century and up to the present, though we have also been consulting materials that date back much further where available.

The documentary evidence is a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data, eye witness and anecdotal information, subjective accounts of unusual weather and systematic weather observations maintained by amateur and professional meteorologists. In order for a documentary item to be useful for our project, it has to be dated, at least to a year, and have a geo-reference, at least to the regional level, providing a situated account. Materials have been read and relevant material has been transcribed verbatim and compiled into a custom built database- TEMPEST (Tracking Extremes of Meteorological Phenomena Experienced through Space and Time). This has a searchable end user interface and allows exploration of historical extremes by date, period coverage, place, event type or by individual author. We are also currently conducting oral history work in each of the case study regions to develop our work on extreme weather memory.

Outcomes and findings

There is a significant public engagement aspect to the work. One of the key outputs is a publicly accessible database: TEMPEST. We are also currently working on an exhibition for the project, which is being hosted by the Weston Gallery, University of Nottingham in conjunction with The University of Nottingham manuscripts and Special Collections and Nottinghamshire Archives. This will start in December 2016 and will run till April 2017 becoming a virtual, online exhibition after this point. We are also preparing a series of educational materials for the RGS to feed into the Geography curriculum at primary and secondary level.

Publications

  • Endfield, G.H. and Veale, L. Weathering the digital turn? Going public with historical geographies of weather. To be included in a special issue of Area
  • Veale, L. and Endfield, G.H. "A summer more unseasonable than any former one in my remembrance": Insights into the summer of 1816 from the UK documentary record. To be submitted to The Journal of Historical Geography
  • Allan, R., Endfield G.H, Damadoran, V et al., (in press) Toward integrated historical climate research: the example of Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth. WIREs Climate Change
  • Hall, A. and Endfield, G.H (in press) Snow scenes: Exploring the role of memory and place in commemorating extreme winters. Weather, Climate and Society (forthcoming)
  • Veale, L., Endfield, G.H and Naylor, S.K (2014) Knowing Weather in Place: The Helm Wind of Cross Fell. Journal of Historical Geography. 45: 25-37
  • Endfield, G.H. Veale, L. and Hall, A. (2015) Gordon Valentine Manley and his contribution to the study of climate change: a review of his life and work. WIREs Climate Change Vol 6 (3): 287-299

The project team is currently collectively working on a co-authored project book. Endfield and Veale have also submitted a proposal for an edited volume on extreme weather and cultural memory for the Routledge Series in Historical Geography. As a team we have also published 46 blog pieces online at different stages of the project work so far, which we hope to develop into a publication. We have also had several pieces about the project in various newsletters and history magazines.

 
 

School of Law

Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database (CJAD)

Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database (CJAD) - The Case Matrix Network Knowledge Hub

School: School of Law
Project duration: September 2013 - September 2016
Funder: European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EC) and the Royal Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Funding: €1.2m overall, HRLC €200k

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham
  • Case Matrix Network

Project staff

  • Prof Olympia Bekou
  • Aikaterini Katsimardou-Miariti

Aims

Although more than 120 States have ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, around 70 countries are yet to join the Court, excluding roughly 65% of the world's population from its reach. More than 60 State Parties do not have cooperation legislation, which can restrict their capacity to work with the ICC. This has a direct impact on the effectiveness of the Court, which does not have a police force of its own and entirely depends on State cooperation. Equally, a similar number of States are yet to criminalise core international crimes in their national legislation, which can limit their ability to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Ratification, Implementation and Co-operation Toolkit aims to provide national legislators, State and independent institutions, NGOs and academics with resources to support efforts to ratify and implement the ICC Statute and to co-operate with the Court. Its main tool, the Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database (CJAD), will provide a central information hub and analysis on all aspects of implementing legislation on cooperation relevant to the ICC Statute. CJAD will be available for open access online.

Methods

Desktop research will be used to source all relevant legislation which will then be catalogued and placed online. To enable detailed searches on cooperation, legislation will be broken down to fine-grain decompositions at paragraph level and analysis will be provided on specific cooperation approaches. A technical platform to facilitate this work as well as the online tools for global usage will be developed. These fine decompositions increase the accuracy of the search results on cooperation which in turn facilitates an increased knowledge and understanding in the way States have implemented the Statute.

Such information will help shape cooperation policies with the view to improving cooperation. Moreover, the implementation checklist (a set of key cooperation provisions and a selection of diverse implementation approaches followed by States) will enable target groups to access the information provided in CJAD in a manner which offers specific drafting options in accordance with pre-determined criteria and with showing targeted examples of other States' legislation at paragraph level. Moreover, the comparative charts will provide quick overviews of statistical data generated through the database on the actual status of cooperation.

Outcomes and findings

Outputs will include the Cooperation and Judicial Assistance Database; a user manual on the use of CJAD, available in English and French; an implementation checklist, available in English and French; comparative co-operation charts, available in English and French; annotated legislation in selected countries; advisory papers on ratification, implementation and co-operation in the context of the ICC; thematic guidelines.

Publications

The project's blog is available at http://blog.casematrixnetwork.org/toolkits.

 
 
Fostering Human Rights Among European (Internal and External) Policies

Fostering Human Rights Among European (Internal and External) Policies

School: School of Law
Project duration: 1 May 2013 - 31 April 2017
Funder: European Commission, FP7 Programme
Funding: €6.4m overall, HRLC €416k

Project institutions

  • Coordinator: Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KUL
  • Total of 19 partner universities in the EU and beyond

Project staff

  • Prof Jeff Kenner
  • Dr Stuart Wallace
  • Prof Mary Footer
  • Prof Aoife Nolan
  • Dr Narine Ghazaryan

Aims

The main objective of FRAME is to provide the building blocks for the development of a comprehensive and coherent EU human rights policy. Within this context research at Nottingham focuses on the EU's engagement with non-state actors (eg. businesses, international financial institutions, civil society and individual human rights defenders), with the aim to:

  • analyse the potential for more fruitful engagement with non-state actors in meeting the challenges of protecting and promoting human rights in EU external relations and internal policies
  • identify the problems and suggest ways forward in strengthening this engagement while recognising that, in an age of globalisation, deregulation and privatisation, non-state actors have been identified not only as defenders or promoters of human rights, but also as perpetrators of human rights violations, or complicit in them
  • critically examine the methods by which positive contributions of non-state actors as deliverers or providers of human rights goods or services are facilitated and rewarded, while adverse human rights impacts of non-state actors are prevented or mitigated
  • identify effective mechanisms through which non-state actors who are responsible for perpetrating human rights violations can be held accountable within a multilateral framework of human rights due diligence consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other global and EU initiatives to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Methods

FRAME is a multidisciplinary, collaborative project. For each topic, the most suitable disciplinary perspective has been chosen, the research design consists of different methods, including a comprehensive meta-analysis of existing studies, quantitative analysis and assessment of indicators, in-depth case studies, legal analysis and theoretical and empirical assessment of leading concepts. FRAME uses a wide range of data sources, including primary and secondary texts, academic literature and existing datasets, and data collection techniques, including interviews, roundtable discussions and study visits. Regulatory, policy and evaluation developments at the EU level are closely monitored so as to make research as up-to-date and cutting edge as possible.

More specifically, research at Nottingham focuses on different levels and types of EU engagement with non-state actors in order to qualitatively assess the EU's supporting policies in relation to these actors and to legally and politically assess human rights due diligence requirements in corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Outcomes and findings

Research is ongoing, but initial findings include the following:

  • EU is engaging with a relatively narrow spectrum of civil society organisations (CSOs), many of them large, professional, Brussels-based NGOs.
  • Research highlights the need to improve communication channels with CSOs to gather information and harness their expertise. In particular by improving their points of contact in third country delegations.
  • Research identified that there was limited engagement with consumer groups and trade unions on the subject of corporate social responsibility and emphasised the need to engage with these groups.
  • Existing remedies at international and national levels are ill-suited to provide human rights remedies to victims of human rights abuses perpetrated by private security companies.

Publications

  • Report on the positive and negative human rights impacts of non-state actors (July 2014)
  • Report on enhancing the contribution of EU institutions and Member States, NGOs, IFIs, and human rights defenders, to more effective engagement with, and monitoring of, the activities of non-state actors (March 2015)
  • Report on tracking CSR responses (November 2015)
  • The Post-2014 EU Action Planon Human Rights and Democracy - A Policy Brief (December 2015).

For a full list see www.fp7-frame.eu/reports

 
 

School of Politics and International Relations

Poverty Alleviation in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda

Poverty Alleviation in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda

School: School of Politics and International Relations
Project duration: March 2015 - March 2018
Funder: ESRC/DFID
Funding: £347,000

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham
  • The University of Nottingham Ningbo China
  • University of the Philippines (Diliman)

Project staff

  • Dr Pauline Eadie (PI) (University of Nottingham)
  • Prof May Tan-Mullins (University of Nottingham Ningbo China) (C-I)
  • Dr Maria Ela Atienza (C-I)

Aims

The overarching aim of our project is to identify the strategies that work in relation to poverty alleviation in post-disaster urban environments and the conditions necessary for the success and scaling up of these strategies. We propose to measure resilience over time and to test the extent to which the notion of 'Building Back Better' is credible. Rapid and unregulated urbanisation has taken place in environmentally fragile LIC countries that are often extremely vulnerable to environmental disasters. Disasters can swiftly derail development planning and poverty alleviation strategies and those living in densely packed informal urban settlements are amongst those most at risk.

Our objectives relate to the following key research question: 'what factors shape pathways into and out of poverty and people's experience of these, and how can policy create sustained routes out of extreme poverty in ways that can be replicated and scaled up?'. We inform policy makers and aid agencies working with the urban poor and disaster relief thus contributing towards and building the capacity for better practice.

Methods

The typhoon Yolanda relief efforts in the Philippines are used as a case study. Governance in the Philippines is devolved through a system of Local Government Units (LGUs), ie. provinces, cities and municipalities. LGUs are further sub-divided into barangays that are the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines run by elected officials. The organization of LGUs and barangays offers a convenient mechanism against which poverty alleviation strategies can be measured across time and space. The performance of selected LGUs and barangays are tracked over time and against each other over space to investigate which units perform more effectively and why.

Over time we will compare poverty alleviation strategies in the immediate (reactive), medium (pro-active) and longer (sustainable) term. Our research methods will use gender, age, disability, educational and employment status and housing status as independent variables in relation to sustainable solutions to poverty. Poverty is the dependent variable in our project. We will generate our own dataset through interviews and surveys of local residents and officials across our chosen administrative units. However we aim to go beyond metrics that account for exposure to risk and the immediate impact of the disaster as these offer only a limited measure of resilience. Rather we aim to measure vulnerability, risk and resilience in relation to agency and as a measure of the conditions in which meaningful agency can be built over time.

Outcomes and findings

We are at the data gathering stage.

 
 
Globalisation, national transformation and workers’ rights

Globalisation, national transformation and workers’ rights: An analysis of Chinese labour within the global economy

School: School of Politics and International Relations
Project duration: October 2011 - September 2014
Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Funding: £275,000

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham

Project staff

  • Professor A. Bieler (PI)
  • Dr Chun-Yi Lee (CI)

Aims

The current restructuring in the People's Republic of China (PRC) is of phenomenal importance to the global economy. Millions of workers are added to the global workforce and it is cheap labour, which makes the PRC so attractive for foreign direct investment (FDI). Unsurprisingly, it is workers, who are most under pressure as a result. Chinese workers often work in conditions of super-exploitation, while workers elsewhere either become unemployed, because production is moved to the PRC, or they are pressured into accepting lower wages and worse working conditions through the threat of production transfer to China.

To date, research has been conducted on the new Chinese production structures, the role of the Chinese state in these transformations, as well as China's changing role in the global economy. Nevertheless, neither have workers been at the centre of these studies, nor has it been attempted to combine an analysis across all three levels of activity.

Professor Bieler and Dr Lee have investigated the role of Chinese labour within these structural changes at the production, national and international level. They have analysed to what extent trade unions and NGOs have been able to protect the interests of Chinese workers within China and through cooperation with international labour organizations.

Methods

Methodologically, this project has drawn on existing data such as FDI flows and GDP levels, semi-structured interviews with workers and managers, representatives of the official Chinese trade union, informal labour organisations, the Chinese government, the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Labour Organization. Official documents of these organizations have also be consulted.

Outcomes and findings

China continues to be integrated into the global political economy mainly as an assembly platform for exports. Pre-fabricated parts are imported, assembled in Chinese factories and then exported to North America and Europe. Hence, China's economic growth still depends on its enormous resource of cheap labour. Considering this dependence on cheap labour, conclusions about Chinese developmental catch-up and China emerging as the new economic hegemon at the world level are premature. Instead, Chinese development is characterised by uneven and combined development.

Unsurprisingly, working conditions in factories are highly exploitative, characterised by low wages, long working-hours and a lack of health and safety measures. The main objective of informal labour NGOs is the right to form free trade unions and to engage in collective bargaining with employers. They do not want to return to a communist past. Although grass-root labour organisations are still under great pressure from the government, this research uncovered the strong organisational activities by grass-root labour NGOs to enhance workers' collective bargaining power and to strengthen workers' understanding of industrial relations based on negotiations between employers and trade unions. Unsurprisingly, Chinese workers' strikes are not only driven by economic interests. They are increasingly demanding more general workers' rights such as the right to form free trade unions outside the government controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).

It is noticeable that the younger generation of Chinese workers is more assertive and proactive than the older one. It is better connected through the new means of social media and more confident at demanding a decent working environment.

Publications

  • Bieler, Andreas and Chun-Yi Lee (forthcoming) ''Exploitation and resistance: a comparative analysis of the Chinese cheap labour electronics and high-value added IT sectors', Globalizations.
  • Bieler, Andreas and Chun-Yi Lee (forthcoming) 'Special issue: Chinese labour in the global economy: capitalist exploitation and strategies of resistance', Globalizations.
  • Lee, Chun-Yi (2014) 'Learning a Lesson from Taiwan? A Comparison of Changes and Continuity of Labour Policies in Taiwan and China', 2014, Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 43(3): 45-70. Available at www.currentchineseaffairs.org
  • Lee, Chun-Yi (2015) 'Growing or Perishing? The Development of Labour NGOs', in A. Fulda (ed.) Civil Society Contributions to Policy Innovation. London: Palgrave, forthcoming
 
 

School of Sociology and Social Policy

Broadening Our Understanding of Good Homecare

Broadening Our Understanding of Good Homecare (BOUGH) AKA Defining Quality Homecare for People with Dementia: A Mixed-Methods Study

School: School of Sociology and Social Policy
Project duration: July 2015 - June 2017
Funder: NIHR School for Social Care Research
Funding: £386,589

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham
  • Loughborough University
  • King's College London
  • University of North Carolina

Project staff

  • Professor Justine Schneider
  • Dr Kristian Pollock
  • Dr Anthony Kelly
  • Dr Cheryl Travers
  • Professor Nick Manning
  • Dr Kezia Scales

Aims

Primary objective

The study will inform home care policy service development and workforce training by answering the following question: What does 'good' home care look like?

Secondary objectives

he study will address the following questions using multiple methods, synthesising data from various sources and disseminating findings purposefully.

  1. What do home carers do in practice for people with dementia?
  2. What does it feel like to give - and to receive, home care? How are home care relationships experienced by care workers and recipients?
  3. What are the stresses and rewards of working with people with dementia in home care?
  4. What key factors appear to influence home care quality?

By exploring the subjective experience of clients, their family/informal carers, and home care workers, in the light of current commissioning specifications, the study will enable recommendations to be made about how providers and commissioners may manage clients' expectations, foster relevant workforce skills and improve service delivery through effective contracting practice. The commissioners' perspective will enable us to contextualise our findings and disseminate them appropriately to maximise their usefulness.

Methods

This is an exploratory, mixed-methods study with five work packages.

  1. Team participant observation
    Two researchers undertake participant observation by working to all intents and purposes ('hands on') as home carers in two franchises of Home Instead, undertaking >12 months whole time equivalent of field work with clients with dementia and their family/informal carers.
  2. Interviews with home care personnel
    Researchers carry out one-to-one interviews with 15 home care personnel from each provider (N=30).
  3. Interviews with service users
    In a similar way, researchers will interview ten current clients and ten of their relatives, and ten past users (relatives of former clients, both those who have moved into care homes and those who have passed away) (N=30).
  4. A diary study
    12-15 home carers will be trained and supported to participate in the study by keeping diaries over a period of eight weeks. Two hours per week will be bought out from the provider to permit them to do this.
  5. Job analysis of the work of home carers nationwide
    We will also conduct interviews with a national sample of 30 commissioners of home care drawn from local authorities (adult social care departments) in England, who will be asked to produce examples of their contract specifications for home care.

Outcomes and findings

Research is ongoing.

 
 
Social and Ethical Dimensions of Lignocellulosic Biofuels

Social and Ethical Dimensions of Lignocellulosic Biofuels (part of LACE: Lignocelluosic Conversion to Bioethanol)

School: School of Sociology and Social Policy
Project duration: 2009 - 2013
Funder: BBSRC
Funding: £235,621 (overall LACE project: £5.4m)

Project institutions

  • The University of Nottingham

Project staff

  • Dr Sujatha Raman (Principal Investigator, Sociology and Social Policy)
  • Dr Alison Mohr (Sociology and Social Policy)
  • Dr Kate Millar (Biosciences)

Aims

The aim of this project was to examine the social and ethical dimensions of lignocellulosic biofuels, and propose ways of integrating them into sustainability assessment of this technology. Debates over the potential for biofuels to offer alternatives to fossil fuels have been heavily framed by controversy over the impacts of so-called 'first-generation' liquid transport biofuels that rely on food crops. By contrast, this project focused on 'second-generation', non-food biofuels that might be produced from lignocellulosic feedstocks (eg. straw, dedicated crops such as miscanthus or short-rotation coppice willow). The aim was to identify different assumptions and value conflicts that shape how impacts are identified and assessed.

Methods

Embedded social science

The team from social sciences and agricultural/environmental ethics was embedded in a large consortium led by the School of Biosciences (University of Nottingham) in which options for conversion of lignocellulosic (non-food) biomass to liquid biofuel were being investigated. Laboratory work in this overarching project focused on techniques for pre-treatment of biomass and for fermentation. Other elements on sustainability assessment involved life-cycle assessment (LCA) led by the University of Bath and farm-level economics (University of Nottingham).

Documentary analysis and stakeholder interviews

Key scientific, professional, government and other policy-relevant documents were reviewed to map the main issues. This was followed up with a set of interviews with selected stakeholders from different sectors.

Expert advisory group

Finally, our main findings and their implications for sustainability assessment were discussed in a series of meetings with an advisory group consisting of leading members of the UK bioenergy community.

Outcomes and findings

Emerging frameworks for responsible innovation provided a lens for unpacking values that influence biofuel assessments and explore different visions for innovation.

From a techno-economic perspective, lignocellulosic biofuels are envisioned to contribute to energy security with improved greenhouse-gas implications and fewer sustainability problems than fossil fuels and first-generation biofuels, especially when biomass is domestically sourced in the UK.

From socio-economic and cultural-economic perspectives, there are concerns about the capacity to support UK-sourced feedstocks in a global agri-economy, difficulties monitoring large-scale supply chains and their potential for distributing impacts unfairly, and tensions between domestic sourcing of biomass from within the UK and established rural legacies of farming.

The dominant model for biofuels emphasizes large-scale production for the global market. We identified the potential for moving away from this one-size-fits-all model to regionally-tailored bioenergy configurations that might lower large-scale uses of land for meat, reduce monocultures and fossil-energy needs of farming and diversify business models. Such configurations could explore ways of reconciling some of the following conflicts and opportunities that arise in the biofuel field:

  1. Tensions between food, fuel and feed - These might be addressed by mixing feed crops with lignocellulosic material for fuel, combining livestock grazing with energy crops, or using crops such as miscanthus to manage land that is no longer arable
  2. Competition between the use of biomass for different bioenergy applications - This might be addressed with on-farm use of feedstocks for heat and power, not just for commercial liquid biofuel production)
  3. Climate change objectives have also created pressures on farming to be more sustainable - Here there are opportunities for developing appropriate on-farm bioenergy options
  4. Other renewable energy technologies are also being opened up for scrutiny - This opens up the possibility to simultaneously assess different energy innovation options rather than biofuels in isolation

Publications

  • Raman, S., A. Mohr, R. Helliwell, B. Ribeiro, O. Shortall, R. Smith and K. Millar. 2015. 'Integrating Social and Ethical Dimensions into Sustainability Assessment of Biofuels.' Biomass and Bioenergy 82: 49-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.biombioe.2015.04.022
  • Shortall, O., S. Raman and K. Millar. 2015. 'Are Plants the New Oil? Biorefining, Responsible Innovation and Multipurpose Agriculture' Energy Policy 86: 360-368. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2015.07.011
  • McManus, M.C., C.M.Taylor, A. Mohr, C.Whittaker, C.D.Scown, A.L.Borrion, N.J.Glithero, Y.Yin. 2015. 'Challenge clusters facing LCA in environmental decision-making - what we can learn from biofuels'. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 20:1399-1414.
  • Raman, S. and A. Mohr. 2013. 'Biofuels and the role of Space in Sustainable Innovation Journeys.' Journal of Cleaner Production 65: 224-233
  • Mohr, A. and S. Raman. 2013. 'Lessons from First-generation Biofuels and the implications for Sustainability Appraisal of Second-generation Biofuels.' Energy Policy 63:114-122
 
 

 

Faculty of Social Sciences

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham
NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 2356