Current students

Summary profiles of the work being undertaken by our current students are provided in the table below.

postgraduate researcher Title of study Funded in collaboration with Main supervisor (2nd supervisor)
Maimon Ali Housing quality in Malaysia: an assessment on current practices Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia Barry Goodchild (Paul Hickman)

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Maimon Ali, MSc BA

0114 225 3562 /

Maimon is currently a full time phD student at CRESR and funded by Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia. Her thesis entitled 'Housing Quality in Malaysia: An Assessment on Current practice'. Her research objectives are:

  • to undertake an evaluation of Malaysian practice in assessing housing quality
  • to examine the possibilities for development of quality assessment tools for Malaysia housing
  • to provide an appraisal of controlling quality in new housing development in Malaysia

In line with that, she will see the method and theory which practices in the United Kingdom and other countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong and the applicability of the theory and methodology for housing quality into Malaysian context.

Paul Anderson Relocation as a way of ending homelessness   Stephen Green (Main). Kesia Reeve (Second). Paul Hickman (third)

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Paul Anderson

In the early 90s Paul found himself living a hostel for homeless people. Since that time he has worked in the field of homelessness in a number of practical, strategic and policy roles. His previous impacts include helping to:

a) redefine the meanings of rough sleeping,
b) amend the law respecting homeless people
c) persuade Government to change policy on the funding of supported housing.

He has also just completed an MRes into the passing of the Homeelessness Reduction Act.

His current research takes place in the context of benefit and legal changes which have increased pressure on those supporting homeless people (such as local authorities and charities) to make offers of accommodation elsewhere in the country. Paul's research is the first to the interrogate assumptions underlying this approach to resolving homelessness. Arguably, this response implies an understanding of 'home' as an exclusively material need. The likely acceleration of such geographical moves means there is an urgent need for research to hear the narratives of those affected by this approach. Hitherto, their voices have been relatively quiet in discourse dominated by affordability, public spending and ending benefit dependency. It is to address this gap in knowledge through lived experience that the research aims to fill.

Christopher Devany 'Hidden NEETs'; Understanding marginalisation through relational class Sheffield Hallam University Richard Crisp (Tony Gore)

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0114 225 3562 /

Chris' phD research aims to address the significant gap in knowledge around the experiences and conditions for young men who are NEET, whilst not claiming welfare. Recent evidence suggests that this problem is substantial, with 59.7% of unemployed young people not claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. This group is termed as the ‘hidden NEETs’, with the word ‘hidden’ denoting how being unemployed and not claiming benefits leaves young people obscured from the formal support structures of the state.

Methodologically his research shall compare the practices of young working-class and middle-class men in Sheffield around finding work and how they navigate their lives without work.

In addition to his phD research, Chris is also working for CRESR as a Graduate Research Assistant.

Julian Dobson Can urban anchor institutions become low carbon leaders? Sheffield Hallam University peter Wells (Will Eadson)

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Julian Dobson

0114 225 3562 /

Julian comes to CRESR following an extensive career as a journalist specialising in public policy and urban regeneration, and as a consultant and trainer working with practitioners. Through a range of writing and research projects he has explored the interface between policy and practice. He is the author of How to Save Our Town Centres, to be published by policy press in February 2015.

His phD will examine the link between concepts of urban governance and theories of low carbon transitions, examining in particular the role of non-elected 'anchor institutions' in major cities. He is particularly interested in ideas of civic leadership in the context of climate change, and the concepts of civic leadership and approaches to action deployed both in aspiration and in practice by influential organisations that do not have a democratic mandate.

Lorna Dowrick Understanding the impact of enduring public sector austerity on local civil society-state relationships ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (Collaborative Award) Chris Dayson (Chris Damm and Rob Macmillan)

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Lorna Dowrick

The study aims to develop an understanding of the impact of enduring public sector austerity on local civil society-state relationships. There has been limited quantitative research into the local impacts of austerity on the resources available to civil society organisations from Local Government. Nor has there been much research that digs deeper into these impacts to understand how they affect local civil society organisations and their contribution to public service delivery, partnership working and the well-being of communities. This study aims to contribute to addressing this gap using a mixed methods approach.

The collaborative partner for this research is NCVO, umbrella body for civil society organisations in England, and an important producer of research through their Almanac Research Programme which provides an annual statistical overview of formal civil society organisations in the UK.

The award is a 1+3 studentship from 2018 until 2022.

Joe McMullan A Working-Class Backlash”? An Exploration of How Class, Culture and Identity Shape ‘Rupture’ in a Post Brexit World Sheffield Hallam University Rich Crisp (Bob Jeffery)

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Joe McMullan

Brexit has raised profound questions about the complex actualities of working-class life and the formations of class, culture and identity within ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. The notion of Brexit as ‘backlash’ is variously presented as: the dissolution of the Labour vote alongside the rise of UKIP over fears of immigration, an assertion of control as a response to perceived marginalisation and an expression of frustration over a lack of economic opportunity. This timely study will critically interrogate the notion of Brexit as ‘backlash’ and question ‘against what’. In doing so, this PhD project will explore the social, economic, cultural and political processes that informed this point of ‘rupture’.

However, it is imperative to understand that the working-class did not vote as a homogenous group. Hence, this study will explore the differences and tensions within the way individuals, households and the wider community perceived and responded to the referendum. Ethnographic work on working-class life is relatively sparse and it is crucial to revisit and develop this in the context of the perceived socio-political rupture of Brexit, against a wider backdrop of political and economic crisis in the 'urban vortex' (Hall and Savage, 2015).

Sophia Negus Blurring the boundaries between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’: experiences of in-work conditionality Sheffield Hallam University Paul Hickman (Lindsey McCarthy)

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Sophia Negus

This PhD will explore the experiences, identities, responses and impacts of benefit claimants receiving Universal Credit (UC). The focus is on in-work claimants who have seen the biggest change to their benefit receipt under UC; as they now engage with conditionality. The inclusion of in-work conditionality is ‘unchartered territory’ and an estimated 1.2 million in-work claimants will be affected (Pennycook and Whittaker, 2012). As a new area of social policy, little is known about in-work conditionality and so it is imperative to explore this area as UC continues to roll-out across the country and for all claimant types.  

Under UC, all working-age claimants are subject to conditionality and scrutiny over their deservingness. This re-categorises in-work claimants as 'potential skivers' (Carter and Whitworth, 2015) who are in possession of two problematic and conflicting identities; 'low paid worker' and 'benefit claimant'. The boundaries of deservingness are blurred for in-work claimants and this will have serious practical and personal implications. 

This research will contribute to the currently limited knowledge on in-work conditionality. More broadly, it aims to offer greater understanding on how claiming benefits is experienced, responded to, and managed by claimants and how this affects identities.

Jamie Redman An Investigation into Young Jobseeker's Experiences of Benefit Receipt in an Era of Conditional Welfare, Insecure Labour Markets and Pejorative Welfare Narratives Sheffield Hallam University Del Fletcher (Richard White)

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Jamie Redman

My PhD research aims to offer insight into the lived experiences of young claimants under a welfare regime that has increasingly endeavoured to re-condition their behaviour. Customarily, conditional welfare is understood of as cementing rights to benefit entitlements with responsible behaviour. For the young Jobseeker demographic specifically, conditional welfare is more concerned with utilising unemployed labour to ensure benefit entitlements produce economically conducive behaviour. The crux of this research will explore the perennial pressures and consequences that a conditional welfare regime can inflict upon young people, especially when contextualised against a backdrop of labour market fragility and dominant, pejorative welfare narratives.

Tom Shore Spaces of informalization: the geography of behaviours and manners at music festivals ESRC Ryan powell (Tony Gore)

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Tom Shore BA (Hons), MA

0114 225 3562 /

My phD explores the spatial and cultural politics of manners and behaviours at music festivals. Under the working title of 'Spaces of Informalization: The Geography of Behaviours and Manners at Music Festivals' this ESRC-funded research project explores many areas of human geography, the sociology of Nobert Elias, as well as, insights from wider philosophical and theoretical debates in spatial theory. The research project will investigate the notion that music festivals are in essence 'de-controlled' spaces where looser more informal behavioural alternatives become permissible.

My other main research interests include social and cultural geographies, historical geographies of 'modernity', critical Marxist theory - especially Lefebvre, Debord, Benjamin et al, and local geographies - the urbanisation of Sheffield.

Josie Soutar Social Impact Bonds and the implications for small and medium-sized UK charities Sheffield Hallam University Christopher Dayson (Ellen Bennett, Peter Wells)

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Josie Soutar

This study is concerned with Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) and the implications they have on small to medium-sized charities operating within the UK. SIBs are a new type of outcome-based commissioning to fund the delivery of public services, often through voluntary sector organisations. They aim to utilise finance from capital markets to invest in health and social care, paying out financial returns only when social outcomes have been met. SIBs require at least three parties: the social investor, the public commissioner and the delivery partner, often with an intermediary acting as a fourth party to help develop the complex financial models that SIBs can require.

The UK Government has been keen to promote social investment as a progressive way to fund charity work; with SIBs an innovative solution to the biggest social challenges we face today (Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2017).  But little is known about the long-term impact of SIBs on the shape of the voluntary sector. Against the backdrop of austerity, small or medium-sized charities in particular face real challenges of survival. So far, social investment within the voluntary sector has mainly been through large investments. Thus SIB’s, which require high transaction costs in order to develop complex financial models and a large enough scale to generate sufficient financial returns for investors have the potential to be inaccessible and/or inappropriate to the smaller charity, further adding to their fight for survival.

Beth Speake Compounding vulnerability? The impact of the post-2012 welfare regime on women survivors of sexual violence Sheffield Hallam University Kesia Reeve (Angela Maye-Banbury)

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I am exploring how the post-2012 welfare regime has impacted on women who have experienced rape and sexual abuse. My study will consider the mental health, emotional and material impacts of the current welfare regime; the ways in which the system might prolong or reproduce trauma; the parallels between experiences of abuse and experiences of the welfare system; and the similarities in ‘victim-blaming’ experienced by survivors of sexual violence and welfare claimants.

My analytical approach is centred on an inclusive definition of violence: i.e., that my participants have experienced direct violence through their experiences of rape/sexual abuse/domestic violence; cultural violence through the stigmatising discourses of 'welfare scroungers' and victim blaming within rape culture/misogyny; and structural violence through the social policies enacted through the welfare system which is reproducing avoidable harm/poverty etc.

Key References

Farmer, P. (1996) On suffering and structural violence: A view from below. Daedalus, 25 (1), pp. 261.

Galtung, J. (1969) Violence, Peace, and Peace Research. Journal of Peace Research, 6 (3), pp.167-191.

Galtung, J. (1990) Cultural violence. Journal of Peace Research, 27 (3), pp. 291.

Krumer-Nevo, M. and Benjamin, O. (2010) Critical Poverty Knowledge: Contesting Othering and Social Distancing. Current Sociology, 58 (5), (SAGE Publications).

Lee, B.X. (2016) Causes and cures VII: Structural Violence. Aggressive and Violent Behaviour, 28, pp. 109-114.

Jordan, J. (December 01, 2013). From victim to survivor - and from survivor to victim: Reconceptualising the survivor journey. Sexual Abuse in Australia and New Zealand, 5 (2), 48-56.

  Larissa Povey Female Ex-offenders and Welfare Conditionality Vice Chancellor's PhD Studentship Del Roy Fletcher (Richard Crisp, Tony Gore)

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Larissa Povey

0114 225 3562

Funded in collaboration with: Vice Chancellor's PhD Studentship

Description: This PhD examines the gendered dimensions of Wacquant’s 'carceral-assistantial net' as female ex-offenders navigate a tougher conditionality and sanctions regime. The use of sanctions in the UK has grown exponentially as a means of inducing correct behaviour in welfare recipients. As the role of the welfare state shrinks, responsibility has shifted to individuals who have an ‘obligation to work’. These punitive ‘activation’ reforms have arguably impacted vulnerable groups in unforeseen ways; it is no coincidence that the rise in sanctions has been accompanied by an increase in the award of financial hardship grants.

Within both welfarist and penal discourses ‘welfare dependent’ and ‘criminal’ are constructed as social ‘problems’; employment is heralded as a panacea to these ‘problems’. The convergence of these discourses impacts on how women in poverty and women in conflict with the law are perceived, and the conceptualisation of women being 'at risk'. This PhD project seeks to understand women's experiences at the carceral-assistantial nexus and the suitability of the welfare system to successfully engage with female ex-offenders and those 'at risk' of offending. It examines this emerging 'precariat' by exploring the experiences of women under reformed welfare policies and how this affects their behaviour, attitude and wellbeing as well as the wider impact on their dependants.

Latest publication: POVEY, L. (2017). Where welfare and criminal justice meet: applying Wacquant to the experiences of marginalized women in austerity Britain. Social Policy & Society (16)2, pp. 271–281

This PhD is linked to the ESRC-funded 'Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change' project (

  Lucy Taylor The dehumanising of failed asylum seekers: challenging prevailing narratives and restrictive social policy Sheffield Hallam University David Robinson (Kesia Reeve)

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Lucy Taylor

0114 225 3562

Dominant discourses on migration and asylum serve to dehumanise failed asylum seekers. This reinforces and normalises a policy response which deems these people to be deviant and not worthy of the assistance of the British state. This phD will challenge this positioning of failed asylum seekers through an exposition of the reality of their situations, experiences, histories, motivations and aspirations. It will do so using in-depth life history interviews and photography.

  Abigail Woodward Community self-help as a coping strategy: Experience of Pakistani Muslims in Sheffield Sheffield Hallam University Dr Richard White (Peter Wells and Nadia Bashir)

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Abigail Woodward

0114 225 3562 /

My PhD study aims to address the significant gap in knowledge relating to the experiences of Pakistani Muslims living in the UK and their engagement with community self-help (CSH) as a coping strategy. This will be achieved through exploring how Pakistani Muslims living in deprived areas of Sheffield are getting by. CSH acts as a crucial ‘safety net’ for marginalised groups but is often hidden and overlooked and while much is known about the coping strategies of low-income individuals and families who are predominantly White, the experiences of other ethnicities have remained largely unexplored. Evidence suggests that the Pakistani group is most likely to be in persistent poverty but also less likely to access welfare services and food-aid provision. Subsequently, Pakistani Muslims may be accessing less formalised resources to get by, driven by religious, cultural or family values rather than public policy.

Key References

Burns, D., Williams, C., and Windebank, J. (2004) Community self-help. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Power, M., Doherty, B., Small, N., Teasdale, S. and Pickett, K. E. (2017a) All in it together? Community food aid in a multi-ethnic context. Journal of Social Policy, 1-25.

Richardson, L. (2008) DIY Community Action: Neighbourhood problems and community self-help. Policy Press.

Soteri-Proctor, A. (2017) Getting below the radar: micro-mapping ‘hidden’ community activity. In: McCabe, A., and Phillimore, J. (Eds.). Community groups in context: Local activities and actions. Bristol: Policy Press.

Williams, C.C., (2004) Fostering community self-help in deprived neighbourhoods. International journal of sociology and social policy. 24(6), 30-43.

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For further information please contact Will Eadson at or call 0114 225 4173.

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