Recession, Resilience and Rebalancing Social Economies in Northern Ireland's Neighbourhoods

Project Director: Professor Paul Hickman
Project Duration: 2012-2015

This four year study into recession, resilience and rebalancing in Northern Ireland's disadvantaged neighbourhoods was funded by the Office for First Minister and Deputy First Minister. The three overarching aims of the research were to

  • further understand and generate robust evidence of the longitudinal impacts of the recession and public finance reductions on different types of neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland, at individual household and community levels, including the impacts on equalities groups as defined by Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;
  • understand how the trajectories, dynamics and outcomes of neighbourhoods are affected by risk, resilience and recovery factors and the relationships between these factors and social capital, collective efficacy and the stewardship, community development and entrepreneurism functions of residents and voluntary and community groups;
  • use this understanding to inform policies which promote the resilience and recovery of deprived communities and facilitate the rebalancing of the social economies of neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland in order that the public, private and voluntary and community sectors can all contribute towards achieving the aims of the Lifetime Opportunities strategy.

The specific objectives of the research were to

  • use a mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology to track change over a 36 month period in case study neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland;
  • examine the longitudinal impacts of the recession and public finance reductions on deprived neighbourhoods and equalities groups within them and what factors and dynamics influence these impacts;
  • identify to what extent social capital, collective efficacy and social economies in different neighbourhoods may operate to ameliorate the impacts of recession and reduced public expenditure and how these may be strengthened by the role and functions of residents, voluntary and community groups and the public and private sectors;
  • undertake an economic assessment of the specific impact of the voluntary and community sectors in case study neighbourhoods, including upon the outcomes for equalities groups and to identify its potential to support economic enterprise and a rebalancing of the Northern Ireland economy;
  • examine whether the implementation of the Social Investment Fund and Social Protection Fund is likely to enhance the resilience and capacity of deprived communities and protect the most vulnerable groups in Northern Ireland society;
  • develop a series of policy recommendations to support the aims of the Lifelong Opportunities strategy and related strategies, including the Child Poverty strategy and how these strategies should respond to the challenging economic environment.

The study also employed a range of research instruments including

  • household surveys
  • in-depth resident interviews
  • in-depth 'stakeholder' interviews
  • photo novella
  • secondary data analysis.

For further information on this project can be found here

The project team also included John Flint (University of Sheffeld), Jenny Muir (Queens University Belfast) and Joe Frey (Northern Ireland Housing Executive ).

Project team

Associate Professor, BA (Hons), Master of Research
Professor of Energy Policy, BA (Hons), MSc, PhD
Research Fellow, BA (Hons), PhD
Research Fellow, BA (Hons), MA, MA
Principal Research Fellow, BA (Hons), MSc
Professor of Housing and Social Policy, BSc (Hons), MPhil, Cantab, PhD
Professor of Public Policy Analysis and Evaluation, BA (Hons), MA, PhD - Assistant Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer, Faculty of Development and Society


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