There is a strong culture of research activity in the Department of Social and Political Science which informs academic teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Staff are engaged in research of both national and international significance and are also involved in publication, peer review, professional practice, postgraduate training and Knowledge Transfer activities. A number of PhD students supervised by Social Studies and Counselling staff also contribute to the vibrant research culture of the department and are usually offered both teaching and publication opportunities. There is an active research culture in the department with regular research seminars at which staff and postgraduate research students present their most recent work. Research and scholarship has developed and flourished around a number of key areas in the department: Criminology; Sociology, Health and Social Policy; International Development; Political Communications; Counselling and Trauma.

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  • Lockdown Diaries: merging fact and fiction in auto/biographical research

    Bennett, Julia; University of Chester
    From January to March 2021 the UK experienced its third Covid lockdown. By this time, 10 months after the first UK lockdown started, the scenario of staying at home, working from home and home schooling had become familiar. Towards the end of, so far, the final full lockdown in England, and on the day of the budget announcements, people from across the UK were asked to complete one day diaries for this project. The diaries, along with media accounts and other publicly accessible data, have been used to create a series of short fictionalised narratives of one day during the pandemic. Based on the autobiographical accounts the participants produced, the stories explore how people from different backgrounds, life stages and geographical areas spent their time during lockdown, highlighting both shared and very different experiences across and between places and age groups. The stories draw attention to mundane everyday lives during this time. The relatively experimental method of creating composite characters taken from real life also provides material for exploring how the use of fiction (here biographical fiction) in research can work to help to bring social science research into the public realm.
  • Transformation Hidden in the Sand; a Pluralistic Theoretical Framework Using Sand-Tray with Adult Clients

    Fleet, Doreen; Reeves, Andrew; Burton, Amy; DasGupta, Mani; University of Chester; University of Chester; Staffordshire University; Staffordshire University (Taylor and Francis, 2021-06-14)
    Jungian sandplay predominates the existing literature on sand-tray therapy. Although there is a small volume of literature on alternative approaches of using sand-tray with adults, most primarily focuses on children and adolescents. The study aimed to establish a sand-tray therapy framework to be utilized by practitioners who are not Jungian trained and intend to use this intervention with adult clients. The grounded theory multiple case study involved six client-participants receiving six sand-tray therapy sessions. The pluralistic model established incorporates inter-relational and intra-psychic dimensions. Concepts include phenomenological shift and two sand-tray specific mechanisms of phenomenological anchor and phenomenological hook, aiding ‘edge of awareness’ and unconscious processing. In this study, pluralistic sand-tray therapy was deemed successful based on improved CORE-10 clinical scores and the various participant feedback collected.
  • Remaining ‘in-between’ the divides? Conceptual, methodological, and ethical political dilemmas of engaged research in Critical Military Studies

    Massey, Rachel; Tyerman, Thom; University of Chester; University of Warwick
    Critical Military Studies (CMS) has emerged as an important subdiscipline in international security studies and an interdisciplinary field in its own right. In this article, we offer a close reading of foundational CMS literature to reveal its distinct approach to the critical study of military power. We argue this foundational literature is characterised by a commitment to a series of ‘in-between’ and 'engaged' positions on conceptual binaries between civilian and military spheres, questions of methodological proximity to or distance from military actors, and ethical political support for or opposition to militarism. While CMS makes important contributions to analyses of military power and security, we argue it too often re-centres white western male military subjects and agendas while marginalising antimilitarism. In this way, we argue, it reproduces a form of epistemic and ‘methodological whiteness’ that limits its potential to offer a sustained critique of the racialised structural inequalities and violent effects of militarism in world politics.
  • Motivations: a study of why some counsellors choose to become counsellors

    Barton, Heather; orcid: 0000-0003-2644-4729 (Informa UK Limited, 2023-01-12)
  • Anti-austerity politics and social media in the UK: political participation and non-traditional political organisations

    Bendall, Mark; Harris, Phil; Robertson, Christopher (University of Chester, 2022-03)
    This thesis examines how UK anti-austerity communities on Twitter have contributed to politics. The ‘age of austerity’ has embroiled much of the UK for over 10 years with little deviation from anti-austerity policies in governments occurring. It could be questioned what is the purpose of anti-austerity communities? Political researchers (e.g., Craddock, 2017, 2019, Harrison, 2020, 2021) have questioned ‘what is the point of anti-austerity activism on-the-ground’ and others have regularly attributed digital participation to pejoratively termed ‘slacktivism’ (Christensen, 2011, 2012, Rickett, 2013, Bendell, 2021). This thesis shifts attention to how anti-austerity communities communicate online and how digital publics receive and interpret these alternative messages. By constructing an original model entitled the ‘sixth-estate’, it is argued that anti-austerity communities online are chosen to be engaged with due to their provision of (1) an alternative perspective to mainstream agendas; (2), a desirable single-issue focus on subjectively salient issues; (3), the amplification of traditionally marginalised discourses and (4), they can affect political efficacy and foster political competence. The creation of this model is substantiated by data collected from a mixed-methods online survey and social network analysis conducted utilising the software NodeXL. The survey provided in-depth qualitative understanding as to why digital publics chose to engage with and consume information from digital anti-austerity communities. This was corroborated by social network analysis, where a semi-longitudinal quantitative dataset observed anti-austerity discourses to recognise how anti-austerity conversations were brokered, led, and what their purpose was. The social network analysis also featured a qualitative component, where applied thematic content analysis, mirroring the survey, was employed to unearth meaning within anti-austerity discourses and generate noticeable themes. In the period of study, these were (1) Twitter discourses contained a specific anti-austerity focus; (2) the presence of a pro-Corbyn, anti-Starmer agenda; (3), an evident anti-Tory sentiment; (4), explicit interconnection with COVID-19. This is underpinned by the theoretical framework of counterpublics (Fraser, 1990, Asen, 2000, Loehwing and Motter, 2009, Wonneberger, Hellsten and Jacobs, 2021). This is where political communities seek to contest dominant narratives and legitimise alternative discourses. Anti-austerity communities constitute visible counterpublics. This work contributed to knowledge on this area by recognising the subjective significance of anti-austerity communities and their democratically-significant contribution to UK politics.
  • Coping with Gendered Welfare Stigma: Exploring Everyday Accounts of Stigma and Resistance Strategies among Mothers Who Claim Social Security Benefits

    Evans, Nancy; University of Liverpool; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2022-04-07)
    Drawing upon findings from a qualitative project exploring welfare stigma in the lives of women in Merseyside, this article examines experiences of stigma and resistance strategies among the mothers interviewed. The article provides insights into how gendered stigma manifests in the lives of mothers reliant on social security benefits in the present era of continued welfare reform. The mothers’ experiences of stigma are argued to revolve around the devaluation of caring labour, the perception that benefits are undeserved and the notion of ‘bad motherhood’. Furthermore, the article contributes to knowledge about stigma resistance strategies, including acknowledging the value of care and rejecting blaming narratives. Nonetheless, it is argued that owing to the power and pervasiveness of structurally-imposed stigma, individualised resistance strategies are limited and mothers must also engage in everyday stigma management techniques.
  • Do Divisia monetary aggregates help forecast exchange rates in a negative interest rate environment?

    Binner, Jane M.; Tong, Meng; Molinas, Luis A.; Central Bank of Paraguay; University of Birmingham; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2022-10-12)
    This paper contributes to the literature as the first work of its kind to examine the role and importance of Divisia monetary aggregates and concomitant User Cost Price indices as superior monetary policy forecasting tools in a negative interest rate environment. We compare the performance of Divisia monetary aggregates with traditional simple-sum aggregates in several theoretical models and in a Bayesian VAR to forecast the exchange rates between the euro, the dollar and yuan at various horizons using quarterly data. We evaluate their performance against that of a random walk using two criteria: Root Mean Square Error ratios and the Clark-West statistic. We find that, under a free-floating exchange regime, superior Divisia monetary aggregates outperform their simple sum counterparts and the benchmark random walk in a negative interest rate environment, consistently.
  • Housing market spillovers through the lens of transaction volume: A new spillover index approach

    Yang, Jian; Tong, Meng; Yu, Ziliang; University of Colorado Denver; Nankai University; University College London; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2021-10-13)
    This paper examines intercity housing market spillovers (HMS) in China using a novel dataset of daily transaction prices and volume from 32 Chinese cities. Based on intercity price-price, price-volume, and volume-volume dynamics, we propose a new spillover index to summarize price and volume information comprehensively in measuring cross-market spillovers. We find that: (1) the volume-volume dynamics plays a more significant role than price-price or price-volume relationships in intercity HMS; (2) fundamentals related to population and GDPs are among significant determinants of the index. Overall, these findings provide new evidence for a significant informational role of volume beyond prices in HMS.
  • An exploration of the helpful and hindering aspects of counselling and psychotherapy with Middle Eastern clients in England

    Gubi, Peter; West, William; Bin Hasan, Noof (University of Chester, 2022-03-01)
    Over the last few decades, there has been exponential growth in the demographics of diversity within British society. As a result, Britain is home to many ethnic groups, including at least half a million Middle Eastern individuals. However, when it comes to counselling and psychotherapy with Middle Eastern clients, there appears to be a lack of counselling and psychotherapy literature around the topic in Britain. Therefore, it is becoming more pertinent than ever for the mainstream profession of counselling and psychotherapy to understand the needs of the Middle Eastern population in Britain. This research explored the helpful and hindering aspects of counselling and psychotherapy with Middle Eastern clients living in England. The research aimed to understand the attitude of Middle Eastern individuals towards accessing counselling and psychotherapy support; to explore the helpful and hindering aspects of counselling and psychotherapy for Middle Eastern clients; and to identify the specific ways of relating and attributes utilised by counsellors and psychotherapists in delivering therapy for Middle Eastern clients in England. This research utilised a mixed-methods approach consisting of three distinctive phases. Phase One involved quantitively surveying (online) Middle Eastern individuals in England. This was conducted by employing the Short-Form (Fischer & Farina, 1995) of the Attitude Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale (Fischer & Turner, 1970). 66 survey responses were analysed using the Online Bristol Survey. The purpose of Phase One was to understand the attitude of Middle Eastern individuals towards accessing counselling and psychotherapy support in England, as well as recruiting participants for Phase Two. The survey identified four contactable interviewees who had a lived experience of engaging with counselling as clients. The four interviewees participated in qualitative semi-structured interviews conducted in Phase Two to explore the helpful and hindering aspects of counselling with Middle Eastern clients in England from the client's perspectives. Phase Three focused on counsellors' and psychotherapists' perspectives who have engaged therapeutically with Middle Eastern clients in England. This involved qualitative, semi-structured interviews with six counsellors and psychotherapists who had self-selected to partake. Data gained from the interviews for Phase Two and Phase Three were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The main findings identified a sense of reluctance towards accessing counselling and psychotherapy support; a cultural stigma attached to mental health and counselling; cultural identity factors (i.e., language, religion and gender) that influenced the therapeutic process and relationship; challenges and helpful therapeutic practices; and the importance of cultural sensitivity when working with Middle Eastern clients. The findings of this research are transferable and significant in delivering culturally competent and congruent counselling and psychotherapy support to Middle Eastern clients in England. The findings also have implications for Middle Eastern clients, practitioners, trainers, supervisors, professional bodies, practice, therapy services and policies which need to be considered. Finally, the research findings generated knowledge to enhance our understanding of working effectively with Middle Eastern clients and delivered a sense of justice within the British counselling and psychotherapy literature in England. The research proposes recommendations for future research to consider.
  • Cycle Campaigning for a Just City

    Cox, Peter; Leyendecker, Katja; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2022-09-05)
    Campaigning bodies and local actions and activism have significant impacts on the development of local infrastructural plans for cycling. These voices are frequently homogenized as presenting a unified voice. For strategic reasons, this may be an appropriate tactic. Yet in doing so, important dimensions of discussion can be missed, especially those that rethink the urban environment beyond the immediate focus of change. This paper examines a particular set of disputes between proponents of vehicular cycling and those concerned with a broader vision of mobility justice. Using ethnographic and autoethnographic methods, it shows how there are important issues of gender politics hidden in these discussions. A secondary concern of the study, arising from the research methodology, is to acknowledge and show the location of academic research within campaign communities. These analyses have implications for how planning and consultation processes are developed and implemented.
  • For a Zemiology of Politics

    Davis, Howard; White, Holly; University of Chester; Edge Hill University (Sage Publications, 2022-09-09)
    A zemiology of politics is required in the face of disastrous historic, contemporary and future social harms. Focusing on state-led politics, the article charts some politically generated or mediated social harms: military; ecological and economic. These can generate justificatory narratives of zemiogenic deceit and ignorance. In a contemporary political moment of authoritarian populism, nativism and racism, each feature as part of wider processes towards the corruption and destruction of politics. The article then suggests some of the potentials of healthy politics and fundamental principles for a zemiology of politics including: subordination of crime-centric criminology to a historically grounded international zemiology, the incorporation of agnotological perspectives, and an orientation that is public, inclusive, reflexive and non-fundamentalist.
  • Evaluation of the good night out campaign: a sexual violence bystander training programme for nightlife workers in England

    Quigg, Zara; Ross-Houle, Kim; Bigland, Charlotte; Bates, Rebecca; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester (Springer, 2022-08-16)
    Abstract Aim Sexual violence is global public health, human rights and gender equality issue. Sexual violence bystander programmes for nightlife workers are emerging across a few countries and further examination of such programmes is required. This exploratory study evaluates the potential effectiveness of the Good Night Out Campaign, a sexual violence bystander programme for nightlife workers. Subject and methods Two hundred and seven trainees attending the 1.5 hour training programme across two cities in England were recruited opportunistically, immediately prior to training delivery. Sexual violence myth acceptance and readiness and confidence to intervene in sexual violence were measured at baseline and post-intervention. Analyses used paired-sample tests to examine differences in the three measurements pre to post-training and effect sizes were quantified using Cohen’s d. Results Compared to pre-training, post-training participants were significantly (p<0.001) less likely to agree with sexual violence myths, and more likely to be confident and ready to intervene in sexual violence or incidents of vulnerability. Erect sizes were small–medium. Conclusions The study adds to emergent evidence suggesting that sexual violence bystander programmes may be promising in decreasing sexual violence myths and barriers to bystander intervention, and increasing willingness to intervene amongst nightlife workers. Findings can support the emergence of sexual violence prevention activities implemented in nightlife spaces. Further programme implementation and evaluation using experimental designs is needed to explore outcomes in greater depth, considering the complexity of the nightlife environment.
  • An exploration of the differences and similarities between Counselling and Confession, as experienced by Counsellors who are, or have been, Catholic Priests.

    Devassia, Jinson; Gubi, Peter M.; University of Chester; Teofilo Kisanji University (Taylor and Francis, 2021-11-22)
    This research sought to examine the question, “what are the similarities and differences between counselling and Confession?”, by exploring the experiences of five Catholic priests, who are also qualified counsellors. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five participants, who each have a minimum of five years of experience in both counselling and the Catholic priesthood. The data was analysed using Thematic Analysis. The research found that there are some similarities between the sacrament of Confession and the practice of counselling. These are that both practices involve being empathetic, unconditional, non-judgemental, keeping confidence, and careful listening. There are also clear differences between the two practices, the main differences being their intention and faith context. Both counselling and Confession deal with similar ‘human’ struggles, are understood using different languages (theology and psychology), have a different intention, but contribute much comfort to many who are seeking peace.
  • Mental Wellbeing and Boosting Resilience to Mitigate the Adverse Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Critical Narrative Review

    Beckstein, Amoneeta; Chollier, Marie; Kaur, Sangeeta; Ghimire, Ananta R.; Fort Lewis College; University of Chester; GHU Psychiatry and Neurosciences, Paris; Emerging Journey Asia; Uniglobe College (SAGE Publications, 2022-05-28)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc globally. Besides devastating physical health consequences, the mental health consequences are dire as well and are predicted to have a long-term impact for some individuals and communities and society as a whole. Specific keywords were entered into various popular databases at three points in time (June 2020, April 2021, and February 2022). Articles about COVID-19 that focused on mental health and/or discussed improving resilience/coping were reviewed by the authors. A total of 119 publications were included. The pandemic is certainly a chronic stressor for many people, and some may be traumatized in the aftermath which may lead to stress-related disorders. The psychological impacts of this stress and trauma are reported and findings presented around three key themes: mental health impact, impact in the workplace, and improving resilience. In addition, particularly vulnerable populations are discussed and some of the violence and inequities they might face. Resilience literature offers keys to promoting positive mental wellbeing during and after the pandemic. Being able to effectively respond to the heterogeneity of specific situations while building resilience is addressed. Prevention, preparedness, Psychological First Aid training, and trauma informed practice can all contribute to building resilience and promoting peri/post-traumatic growth at all levels of society. This narrative review provides an overview of the literature on mental health and resilience in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors propose that, through the use of the accumulated empirical knowledge on resilience, we can mitigate many of the most damaging outcomes. Implications for mental health professionals, policy suggestions, and future research directions are explored.
  • Magazines as contradictory spaces for alcohol messaging: a mixed method content and thematic analysis of UK women’s magazine representations of alcohol and its consumption

    Atkinson, Amanda; Meadows, Beth; Ross-Houle, Kim; Smith, Chloe; Sumnall, Harry; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester
    BACKGROUND Women’s magazines provide a space in which gendered norms around alcohol-related practice are (re)-produced. They act as important points of reference for women to draw upon in their own understandings of alcohol use within their identity making. Studying the alcohol-related messages women’s magazines disseminate is therefore an important line of inquiry. METHODS An analysis of textual and visual alcohol depictions, including alcohol advertising, in 70 editions of 20 printed magazines targeted at and read by women, published between August 2020 and January 2021, was conducted using quantitative content and qualitative thematic analysis. RESULTS Women’s magazines have the potential to disseminate public health messages about the physical and mental health impacts of alcohol use, alcohol’s role in gender inequalities and the risk of harm from alcohol use by men. However, they do so in ways that reproduce harmful gender norms and expectations, and overlook the structural causes of alcohol-related harms. Associations between alcohol use and violence against women were simplified, in ways that ignored the root causes, produced victim-blaming narratives and deflected responsibility from the perpetrator to the effects of alcohol. Narratives around drinking and sobriety were underpinned by concerns over appearance, which reinforced social expectations of the ideal feminine body. Health narratives were in conflict with the presence of pro-alcohol messages such as consumption suggestions and alcohol advertising, which promoted alcohol use as a normalised aspect of women’s day to day lives. CONCLUSIONS Women receive a number of mixed and contradictory messages on alcohol use through their magazine readership, which places limits on magazines as educational sources of public health messaging.
  • An exploration of the impact of diversity and culture on the journey of faith and spirituality of the counsellor who is a Christian

    Gubi, Peter; West, William; Barton, Heather D. (University of Chester, 2021-09)
    Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of diversity and culture on the journey of faith and spirituality of the counsellor who is a Christian. This is an under-researched area. Method: The study explored the experiences of eight experienced counsellors who were also Christian. It was conducted by means of semi-structured qualitative interviews. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: Analysis of data identified five superordinate themes: 1) thoughts on motivations; 2) perspectives on training; 3) experiences in supervision; 4) experiences of faith and spirituality; 5) experiences of diversity and culture. Discussion: The data revealed that participants believed their faith to be a vital part of their desire to become a counsellor. In spite of this, they received little preparation for the diverse clients they were to meet and found little support in the areas of diversity and culture, or faith and spirituality, in training or supervision. They also faced challenges to their own faith and spirituality. This has, however, resulted in what participants believe is a broader and deeper faith. A move to a new stage of faith, which they may not have reached had they not become counsellors, was also identified. Conclusion/Implications: Gaps in training and supervision were highlighted, and areas for further research are identified.
  • Developing creative methodologies: using lyric writing to capture young peoples’ experiences of the youth offending services during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Wilkinson, Dean; Price, Jayne; Crossley, Charlene; University of Chester (Emerald, 2022-04-12)
    Purpose The COVID-19 lockdowns (2020–2021) disrupted all aspects of usual functioning of the criminal justice system, the outcomes and impact of which are largely still unknown. The pandemic has affected individuals across the wider society, this includes a negative impact on the social circumstances of children and young people involved within youth offending services (YOS) (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, 2020; Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorates, 2021). This population frequently represents those from marginalised circumstances and are rarely given the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the services they are involved in. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of the young people serving orders with the YOS during Covid19 lockdowns and requirements. Design/methodology/approach This paper outlines a creative methodology and method used to uncover the experiences and perceptions of young people undergoing an order within a YOS during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The arts-based approach entailed a novel and creative method using a lyric artist to engage with young people through a virtual platform, supporting them to create lyrics about their experiences of the YOS during this time. Findings The artist developed a successful rapport with young people based on familiarity with, and passion for, music. He promoted their strengths, improving their confidence which was perceived to elicit more in-depth perspectives that might not have otherwise been obtained using more traditional methods. As such, the method and methodology outlined developed the young people’s social and communicative skills whilst producing meaningful feedback that can contribute to the YOS recovery plan and thus future of the service. Practical implications This paper reports on a novel arts-based research methodology, implemented to capture meaningful data from participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Originality/value This paper reports on a novel arts-based research methodology, implemented to capture meaningful data from participants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Creels and Catenary wires: Creating Community through Winter Lights Displays

    Bennett, Julia; University of Chester (Sage, 2022-03-22)
    Lighting up darkness is a material practice shared across many cultures. Lighting up winter darkness is a particular concern in urban areas in order to make urban spaces feel safer and more welcoming. Temporary lights, often characterized as ‘Christmas’ or ‘Winter’ lights, are installed over the darkest period of the year (December in the northern hemisphere) in town and city centres to attract shoppers and tourists. This paper examines the lights displays installed over the Christmas / New Year period in two British towns. In each case the lights are installed by volunteers, who also arrange a ‘switch on’ community celebration. The research argues that the architecture of the lights signifies and reinforces the identities of the communities involved. In particular, the paper examines: the importance of infrastructure for the ongoing creation of community; the creative potential of these temporary structures for community identity; and the essential materiality of community.
  • A pilot evaluation study of pastoral supervision provision in the Moravian Church (British Province)

    Mwenisongole, Tuntufye Anangisye; Gubi, Peter M.; University of Chester; Teofilo Kisanji University
    This pilot study is an evaluation of pastoral supervision within the Moravian Church (British Province). The findings indicate that pastoral supervision is considered sufficiently beneficial, with 94% having found pastoral supervision to be of help to them, to be worth continuing with, and to be worth continuing to be funded by the denomination; thereby adding a contribution to the discussion on the value of pastoral supervision for clergy.

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