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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Recent Submissions

  • Political Management. The Dance of Government and Politics

    Robertson, Christopher; University of Chester
    A book review of Jennifer Lees-Marshment's book 'Political Management. A Dance of Government and Politics.'
  • Rethinking Public Relations. Persuasion, Democracy and Society

    Robertson, Christopher; University of Chester
    A book review of Kevin Moloney and Conor McGrath's book 'Rethinking Public Relations. Persuasion, Democracy and Society.'
  • Philosophy and public administration: An introduction ( second edition) By Edoardo Ongaro:  Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020. 334 pages. Hardback. £85.00. ISBN: 9781839100338

    Robertson, Christopher; University of Chester
    A book review of Edoardo Ongaro's book 'Philosophy and Public Administration: An Introduction'
  • Building a voice of influence: Supporting social science doctoral students with disabilities

    Taylor, Paul; Reeves, Andrew; University of Chester
    This chapter draws together experience from two supervisors on the subject of supporting social science doctoral students with disabilities. Our aims here are to illuminate the structural obstacles that students may encounter, and how supervisors might assist their students in navigating the terrain of ‘poor listeners’, unsubstantiated criticism, and views that are expressed that serve to suppress the voice and influence of the doctoral scholar. It is not our intention here to render the doctoral student as a powerless individual whose identity is one of deficit, on the contrary; rather in identifying structural and disciplinary barriers, supervisors, and their students may better prepare from what they may experience.
  • Prospective study on a fast-track training in psychiatry for medical students: the psychiatric hat game

    Clément, Anthony; Delage, Raphaël; Chollier, Marie; Josse, Laure; Gaudry, Stéphane; Zahar, Jean-Ralph; Baubet, Thierry; Degos, Bertrand; email: bertrand.degos@aphp.fr (BioMed Central, 2020-10-19)
    Abstract: Background: While medical students are losing interest in lectures in favor of other educational materials, many studies suggest the benefit of active learning, combined with gamified educational tools. The authors developed a psychiatric adaptation of the « Hat Game ». It was hypothesised that this game would increase both knowledge and motivation in medical students toward psychiatric semiology. The aim of the study was to assess the benefit of a Psychiatric Hat Game session for learning psychiatric symptoms in third-year medical students. Student performance was also evaluated at 3 months. Methods: This gamified fast-track training consists of two teams and each team has to guess as many psychiatric semiology terms as possible using different techniques (i.e. speech, mime). The study involved a pre- and post-evaluation of knowledge (Multiple Choice Questions) and a satisfaction survey. Baseline, post-immediate, and three-months scores were compared by using Friedman analysis for paired samples. Comparisons of mean scores at two different times were performed by using Wilcoxon test for paired samples. Results: One hundred and sixty-six students were proposed to take part in the study. Among them 129 completed the whole program (response rate = 77.7%). Mean scores measured at the three points in time were significantly different (p < 0.001, N = 129). Knowledge mean scores were significantly higher after the game than before (+ 28.6%, p < 0.001). Improvement was maintained 3 months after the game (+ 18.9%, p < 0.001). Satisfaction survey items highlighted that students enjoyed and would recommend this type of gamified training. Conclusions: The Psychiatric Hat Game improved knowledge of psychiatric semiology in medical students. Results suggest that it is a promising and efficient tool to playfully teach medical semiology, with transferable features, utility and acceptability from one medical field to another. This study contributes to the growing body of knowledge advocating for serious games and gamified training in medical education.
  • Humanity, expectations, access and transformation (HEAT): revisiting South African higher education entrance assessment in a postcolonial context

    Francis, Suzanne; Lewis, Janine; Fredericks, Brenton; Johnson, Belinda (Informa UK Limited, 2020-07-19)
  • Work, identity, place and population. A changing landscape

    Bennett, Julia; University of Chester
    Taking a biographical approach, this paper uses life history narratives across four generations of families living and working in Wigan, Lancashire to analyse social and cultural changes in working life biographies over the past 80 years. Beginning with those who left school at 14, prior to the 1944 Education Act up to the present, where young people are required to remain in education until 18, the paper examines the decisions people have taken throughout their working lives. Inevitably these are shaped by structural changes, particularly to the industrial landscape. The biographical narratives allow a ‘bottom up’ approach to uncovering changes to life courses over three generations in a northern British former industrial town whilst also exploring the wider relations between self, society and place (conceptualised here as ‘taskscape’) in a post-industrial setting. Key changes over the generations are the increased ability of women to pursue careers in addition to having a family, the decrease in parental influence over career choice, and the loss of a ‘job for life’ and employment opportunities for manual workers.
  • Working with Suicidal Clients in the Counselling Professions

    Reeves, Andrew; University of Chester
    An information sheet for members of BACP for working with suicidal clients in the counselling professions.
  • ‘What I’m not gonna buy’: Algorithmic culture jamming and anti-consumer politics on YouTube

    Wood, Rachel; University of Chester
    This article is based on an analysis of ‘anti-haul’ videos on YouTube, where a vlogger explains which beauty products they plan not to buy. Anti-haul vloggers have much in common with ‘culture jamming’ movements, which use the communicative practices and materials of promotional culture against itself to spread an anti-consumerist agenda. The article argues that anti-hauls should be understood as the reinvention of ‘culture jamming’ techniques for a contemporary promotional culture that is platform based, algorithmically governed, and mobilised through the affective, authentic performance of the ‘influencer’. I refer to this manipulation of the platform’s visibility mechanisms to spread anti-consumer messages as ‘algorithmic culture jamming’. The anti-consumer politics of anti-hauls are contradictory and ambivalent. At the same time, I argue that anti-hauls also offer important possibilities for political learning, personal and collective transformation, and alternative creative pleasures outside of continual consumer accumulation.
  • The experience of young people transitioning between youth offending services to probation services

    Price, Jayne; University of Chester
    This article explores the experience of transitioning from youth offending services to adult probation services upon turning age 18 years whilst incarcerated. The significant differences in the level of provision has been described as a ‘cliff-edge’ (Transition to Adulthood Alliance, 2009). Drawing upon interviews with young people held in institutions, stakeholders and survey data from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), it is argued that the drop in support is exacerbated by poor communication between institutions and services which has harmful implications for young people during this crucial period of developmental maturity and beyond custody.
  • Exploring the impact, value and limitations of reflective practice groups for clergy in a Church in Wales diocese

    Gubi, Peter Madsen; University of Chester
    This research explores the impact, value and limitations of reflective practice groups for Clergy in a Church in Wales diocese. The aims were to explore what participants of reflective practice groups experience as the impact, value and limitations of their groups, and to better understand any implications for delivery of reflective practice groups for Clergy. Two focus groups comprising of the participants from two reflective practice groups from a diocese in the Church in Wales were interviewed, and the data analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Two superordinate themes emerged along with ten subordinate themes. The key findings are that the participants of both groups clearly found them to be a valuable experience and self-defined the impact on their ministries as: creating more reflective clergy; developing greater wisdom; building and gaining affirmed strategies that they could take back into relationships within their parishes; enabling a different perspective to be gained on management expectations; development of self-preservation strategies for coping with those expectations; improvement in practice and relationships within their work; improving their priestly skills; managing boundaries more appropriately; approaching meetings more positively; managing situations in more helpful ways; and discerning what God may be saying in certain situations.
  • Shifting Models of Energy Companies towards Green Economy in Europe

    Fernandez, Rosa M; University of Chester
    The traditional model of European energy company has been characterised by big entities that usually play a relatively important role as national champions in terms of market share, assets value, vertical integration, political influence and employment volumes, among other factors. However, last decade has seen how these big dinosaurs are losing market power in favour of new actors. On one side Russian and Chinese competitors have started showing interest in the Western European energy sector, and they are developing purchasing strategies to acquire part of the business in different countries, taking advantage of the vulnerable financial position that many of these companies suffer. On the other side having been unable to change their business models away from the focus on fossil fuels into the renewable energies sector has made traditional companies lose market share in favour of a new model of companies, smaller in terms of assets but quite focused on a market segment with a privileged institutional support, particularly thanks to the European Union targets for 2020 on renewable energy. This chapter uses the framework of green economy as the one that approaches macroeconomic issues through innovative ways, promoting green investments through the most adequate regulatory measures, and considering green energy as one of the sectors where these investments should be focused. Bearing this in mind, the chapter will try to point out the existing constraints to reach the new model of development (sustainable development, as promoted by a green economy) and also the barriers that energy companies impose themselves through old fashioned strategies that do not take into consideration the wider demands from a much larger group of stakeholders in a changing society. It will also address the changing governance framework caused by recent political events such as Brexit and the shifting EU institutional discourse towards 2030 targets.
  • Trade Barriers

    Fernandez, Rosa M.; University of Chester (Springer Nature, 2020-09-30)
    A basic definition of trade barriers could be ‘all factors that influence the amount of goods and services shipped across international borders’ (Feenstra and Taylor, 2017a). This definition is quite neutral, and it needs to be understood that the word ‘barrier’ has a negative connotation, which means that a trade barrier would be any instrument that limits or restrict trade between countries, as opposed to free trade. It is generally accepted that free trade is good for productivity and economic growth, but it is also true that most countries apply some sort of trade restriction, for different reasons.
  • Factors that may continue to impact a mother’s emotional wellbeing once her child’s treatment for cancer has completed and their implications for ongoing support

    Hill, Lynda; Gubi, Peter Madsen; University of Chester; The Joshua Tree Foundation
    This research explores factors that may continue to impact a mother’s emotional wellbeing once her child’s treatment for cancer has completed. Research indicates that, contrary to a general expectation of experiencing joy as treatment ends, some families experience very mixed emotions, with fear playing a large part, both leading up to treatment completion and, for some, continuing post-treatment. However, there is no literature that explores a mother’s emotional wellbeing after a number of years’ post-treatment. This research is a contribution towards addressing that deficit. Five mothers were interviewed using semi-structured questions to gather data relating to their specific lived experiences. These were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results indicate that although end of treatment was longed for, there continues to be much uncertainty and fear post-treatment, and this can continue years after treatment has ended. Mothers described changes within themselves (e.g. new attitudes to living) and a need to adapt to a ‘new normal’. There were elements of grief for the loss of family life with which they were once so familiar. There was also a strong sense of wanting to support others, so that their own experiences weren’t wasted. All participants recognised that further counselling support for themselves would be beneficial.
  • Welsh Primary Schoolchildren’s Perceptions of Electronic Cigarettes: A Mixed Methods Study

    Porcellato, Lorna; Ross-Houle, Kim; Quigg, Zara; Harris, Jane; Bigland, Charlotte; Bates, Rebecca; Timpson, Hannah; Gee, Ivan; Bishop, Julie; Gould, Ashley; et al.
    There are concerns that the growing popularity of e-cigarettes promotes experimentation among children. Given the influence of the early years on attitude and habit formation, better understanding of how younger children perceive vaping before experimentation begins is needed, to prevent uptake and inform tobacco control strategies. We explored Welsh primary schoolchildren’s (aged 7–11) awareness of e-cigarettes relative to tobacco smoking, their understanding of the perceived risks and benefits and their intentions and beliefs about vaping. Data was collected using a mix of methods in June and July 2017 from 8 purposively selected primary schools across Wales. Four hundred and ninety-five children (52% female) aged 7 years (n = 165), 9 years (n = 185) and 11 years (n = 145) completed a class-administered booklet encompassing a draw and write exercise and survey. Ninety-six children participated in 24 peer discussion groups comprised of 2 boys and 2 girls from each year group. Data were analysed independently and findings triangulated. Survey analyses used frequencies, descriptive statistics and chi-squared tests. Content analysis was undertaken on the draw and write data and peer discussion groups were analysed thematically. Study findings highlight that primary schoolchildren have general awareness of e-cigarettes. Vaping was perceived to be healthier than smoking and there was some recognition that e-cigarettes were used for smoking cessation. Understanding of any health harms was limited. Few children intended to smoke or vape in the future but almost half thought it was okay for grownups. Children’s perceptions were influenced by exposure through family and friends. Findings suggest a need for e-cigarette education in primary schools, to highlight the associated risks of e-cigarette experimentation including the potential for tobacco initiation.
  • Is person-centred counselling effective when assisting young people who have experienced bullying in schools?

    Jones, Callum; University of Chester
    The effects of bullying on children have profoundly been researched; however, there is a gap in research on how therapy can assist children who are bullied. The aim of this research was to understand how person‐centred therapy may assist individuals who are being bullied within the school environment. Methodology Person‐centred therapy was chosen as it is the author's profession. When pursuing his master's degree and the allied research programme, the author conducted the therapy. This research was performed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The researcher worked with four research participants, and the contributors were individuals who had left school due to childhood bullying. The participants also underwent person‐centred therapy to work through the issues that bullying had caused them. A series of interviews were conducted with the participants using pre‐decided questions. These interviews were then transcribed, and key themes were found within the text. The themes, and the subordinate themes, include the following: Childhood bullying in the context of the experience of support, and the absence of support leading to trauma. Bullying as a multifaceted experience, and bullying as an emotional communication. Childhood bullying and its association to adult mental health and adult experiences of anxiety. How person‐centred counselling helped participants, and gaining support in schools. Conclusions The article found that in the school environment a lack of emotional support added to the trauma that the victims experienced from bullying. Bullying was experienced individually, but each participant reported it being an emotional way of communicating. The bullying the participants experienced during school lead to mental health problems in adulthood, the most reported mental health condition was anxiety. Finally, the article explored how the person‐centred approach assisted participants, whilst most participants found the approach to be very useful. A few participants believed that the limitations of the person‐centred approach lead to less exploration, many wished for techniques to help them cope with their bullying experiences something that CBT might be more adequate for.
  • An exploration of alcohol advertising on social networking sites: an analysis of content, interactions and young people’s perspectives

    Atkinson, Amanda; Ross-Houle, Kim; Begley, Emma; Sumnall, Harry; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester
    Young people increasingly communicate and interact via social digital media such as Social Network Sites (SNS), where they discuss and display alcohol-related content. SNS have also become an important aspect of the alcohol industry’s multi-platform marketing strategies, which may contribute to the creation of intoxigenic digital spaces in which young people learn about alcohol. This paper presents findings of a content analysis of the extent, nature, and user interaction with SNS-based alcohol marketing for brands popular among young people in the UK. It provides a systematic analysis of both official and user generated marketing content on brand Facebook and Twitter profiles, and user interaction with such content. Findings from peer group interviews (N = 14) also present young people’s (N = 70) perspectives and experiences regarding alcohol marketing on SNS. New SNS engagement marketing strategies extended existing multi-platform brand marketing. Young people interacted with such strategies as part of their identity-making practices, yet through a discourse of immaturity distanced themselves from certain brands, online marketing practices and the idea that their own actions were influenced by marketing. Local night life economy marketing appeared more meaningful and relevant to young people and led to further interaction with brand marketing. Implications of the findings are discussed in relation to the influence of alcohol marketing on young people, and the implications for current regulatory frameworks
  • Impact Assessment of Holiday Provision in West Cheshire, 2019

    Francis, Michael; Dunne, Seona; Fernandez, Rosa M.; University of Chester
    This piece of work analyses the impact of holiday activity and food provision in deprived areas of West Cheshire, with the intention to reflect on the impact in children, their families and the wider community and assess the need for this provision, and the need to continue funding these initiatives in the future.
  • An exploration of the emotional demands made on clergy wives in the New Testament Church of God tradition in the UK

    Gubi, Peter; West, William; Gardner, Deanne (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-09-30)
    In the context of this research, a ‘clergy wife’ is defined as the wife of a clergyman. The role of clergy wives in the New Testament Church of God (NTCG) involves substantial emotional demands. Emotional demands are aspects of a job, or role, that require continual emotional effort. Clergy wives in the NTCG tradition offer congregants emotional support and spiritual guidance. Each clergy wife is one part of a two-person career in which the wife is inducted into her husband’s career, even though she is not employed in her own right by the organisation. Whilst the emotional demands and their impact on male clergy are welldocumented in research, almost no research has been conducted on the emotional demands made on clergy wives within the NTCG tradition in the UK, and on the support that they may need to enable them to conduct their role effectively and survive its impact emotionally. This qualitative study seeks to explore the lived experiences of wives whose husbands currently serve, or have served, as pastors in the NTCG, in order to identify their current support systems and discover what further support they may need. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants (n=14). The data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The data reveal that wives experienced many emotional demands as a result of the implicit nature of the position of being a pastor’s wife. Emotional demands arose from: the role and difficulties; exposure to the personal suffering of others; and exposure to experiencing a high level of distress over a prolonged period. The research discusses the impact of emotional demands upon pastors’ wives and the necessity for developing a greater awareness of the needs of this group within the counselling, supervision and pastoral care community. Current support systems are discussed, and further support systems are recommended to enhance better pastoral care of pastors’ wives within the NTCG tradition in the UK.
  • Content, perceptions and impact of alcoholic drink promotions in nightlife venues that are targeted towards students

    Ross-Houle, Kim; Quigg, Zara; University of Chester; Liverpool John Moores University
    Binge drinking is generally considered socially acceptable for students across Western culture. Social norms within the student population have meant that excessive drinking plays a key role in socialising and reinforcing peer group identity. Research has highlighted the United Kingdom (UK) as having elevated levels of alcohol consumption especially within the student population, and the role that drink promotions have in influencing consumption practices. This paper considers promotions of alcoholic drinks in UK nightlife venues and student perceptions of these promotions. Bourdieu's concepts of social and cultural capital are applied to the findings. Method Content analysis of social media posts by nightlife venues (n = 12), observations of nightlife venues (n = 20) and semi-structured focus groups and paired interviews with 32 undergraduate students, from one city in the North West of England. Results Nightlife venues target promotions of alcoholic drinks at students through social media, advertisements throughout nightlife venues, and by promoters outside of venues. These promotions will often influence the course of a night out in terms of venues visited and the drinks consumed. Alcohol holds importance within mainstream student culture; it plays a key role in achieving cultural capital and is a means for students to obtain social capital through the creation of shared experiences, which are key for those who are new to university. Conclusions Nightlife venues will target alcoholic drink promotions at students and will use the notion of creating a shared experience as part of this targeted promotion. This contributes to the overall social and cultural capital that alcohol holds within the student population. This is an important consideration for alcohol policy – it demonstrates how prevention activities need to take into consideration the importance of shared experiences for the students; alternatives to excessive alcohol consumption need to offer a similar opportunity.

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