latest research

Policy, Governance & Uncertainty

A range of threads looking at how social/public policies not only address uncertainty, but in fact develop, legitimise and reproduce uncertainty.

Many of my publications deal with this in one way or another, especially those concerned with resilience and social cohesion.

Projects (pending funding) include:

  • understanding Brexit as a phenomenon, resisting its reification and looking at the ideational and material conditions beyond it.
  • Investigating the extent to which social policies designed to address uncertainty in fact perpetuate it within Europe, and the extent to which this is a driving factor in the rise of welfare chauvinism.

Social Cohesion in Late Capitalism

Social cohesion is gaining in salience again, in part due to the high levels of political and social uncertainty, but also due to the longer-term changes that societies globally are experiencing .

Alongside various empirical work undertaken, I am working on developing a framework of social cohesion based on Gramsci's theory of (counter-) hegemony, which refocuses social cohesion as explicitly about the acquisition, maintenance and effective diffusion of (challenges to) power.

Another strand is comparing how social cohesion strategies are framed and implemented in multilevel polities - combining comparison of cases alongside comparison of theory and practice.

Finally, I am working on a book that makes clear the continuities in approaches to social cohesion in the UK over a number of decades, to show that it's not really party ideology that drives approaches to social cohesion, but the deeper ideological structures within the state.

Resilience, discipline and financialisation

Resilience is increasing in popularity because it just seems so positive. Who doesn't want to be resilient? Anywhere someone might need to deal with adversity can be framed in terms of resilient practices and outcomes.

But resilience, especially in social policy, often looks like a continuation of the same strategy of 'empowerment' with little of the necessary resources to fulfill it. More than that, it can be used to legitimise broader economic structures, especially those associated with finance capitalism.

Ongoing work here includes theorising how resilience acts as a disciplinary mechanism to facilitate the growth and consolidation of financialised (welfare) capitalism.