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.

Recent Submissions

  • Place, Space, and Identity: The Manifold Experience of Transition In and After the Military

    Albertson, Katherine; Taylor, Paul; Murray, Emma (SAGE Publications, 2019-03-08)
  • Health and GDP

    Fernandez, Rosa Maria; University of Chester (Springer, 2019)
    This piece looks at the relationship between health, development and economic growth, going beyond the traditional and incorrect use of GDP as a measure of welfare. The focus will be given to explain the relationship between investments in health and progress in development and growth. This will be done through the analysis of existing literature from health and economics disciplines, as well as the works (studies and reports) of international organisations. The contribution of this piece to the existing body of work will be the compilation of empirical evidence used as basis for policy recommendations. Specific areas that will be covered are the consideration of health as part of human capital, and the relationship between health and education, development and GDP.
  • Agnotology and the Criminological Imagination

    White, Holly; Barton, A.; Davis, H.; University of Chester; Edge Hill University (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-11-08)
    In this chapter we reflect upon the concept of ‘agnotology’ and its usefulness for the expansion of a zemiological criminology. Initially presented as an analytical tool in the fields of science and medicine, agnotology explores the social and political underpinnings of forms of ignorance and their role in both generating and securing acquiescence in mass harms and crimes of the powerful. Typically originating within state-corporate symbioses of ideology, policy and practice, ‘crimes of the powerful’ include harms inflicted through health and safety violations, ‘security’, criminal justice, social and economic policies, war, disaster and environmental destruction. In each case real harms are obscured, denied or otherwise neutralised. Two cases of mass harm are presented here as examples. First, we discuss corporate constructed agnosis over the use of asbestos that has allowed corporations to kill hundreds of thousands yet avoid criminal justice. Second, we reflect on the Holocaust and the role of agnosis in this most extreme form of state-generated harm. Despite its scale, and in contrast with the attention from other disciplines, criminology has remained remarkably taciturn about this crime. We conclude that the central zemiological purpose of an imaginative criminology—the understanding of and struggle against major harm—cannot be undertaken without systematic and rigorous attention to ignorance.
  • Film and Superheroes as a Pedagogic Tool

    Bendall, Mark J. (IGI Global, 2019)
    Hollywood film has a mass-market and global appeal. As such it is already well received and known by many learners and offers a method to build from this into more sophisticated theoretical concepts. The chapter makes the case for film as a viable and valuable teaching strategy. In an environment where many are visual learners, film offers a multisensory pedagogic tool which can draw students away from the handheld mobile devices which often compete for attention with the lecturer. It also notes the risks in film and answers potential objections. Then it applies these broader pedagogic concerns to the specific case of superhero films, and how it can illuminate complex terminology in social sciences, such as polysemy, inter-textuality, sociopolitics, psychopolitics, cultural and visual criminology. Other concepts discussed include notions of the denotative and the connotative, and the metonym. Questions of identity, gender, nation, and liminality are included.
  • ‘Soldiering by consent’ and military-civil relations: Military transition into the public space of policing

    Murray, Emma; Taylor, Paul; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester (SAGE Publications, 2019)
    Growth in the Armed Forces undertaking public policing is occurring in the United Kingdom and elsewhere and as such a complex security landscape emerges, both practically and conceptually. The aim here is to pose questions of the manifest and latent issues in the assemblage of multiple actors in public policing. It aks to reader to consider the implications of military actors transitioning from defence duties ordinarily associated with military work, to policing activities in public spaces. Taking the London 2012 Olympic Games as our point of reference, this article argues that to understand military presence, their role must be considered in the broader context of military and policing functions, the ‘war on terror’, accountability, and future priorities for public policing. We must be careful not to assign the presence of the military into pre-existing understandings of how mega-events should be secured – the military patrolling the streets of London represents more. Instead, as their presence comes to be legitimate in certain geopolitical contexts, critical questions must be asked especially as public and private arrangements are continually reworked in the domestic fight against terrorism.
  • The politics of cycling infrastructure: introduction

    Cox, Peter; Koglin, Till; University of Chester, UK; Lund University, Sweden (Policy press, 2019)
    Introduction to edited collection. Provides an overview of the issues and introductions to chapters
  • Theorising infrastructure: a politics of spaces and edges

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester (Policy Press, 2019)
    As a growing number of authors demonstrate, ‘infrastructure is never neutral and always inherently political’ (Nolte 2016: 441, compare McFarlane and Rutherford 2008; Young and Keil 2009). Infrastructures of all types, whether hard (as in material structures) or soft (as in skills and knowledge) are those systems that support action. Infrastructures both provide the potential for social actions and processes and are produced by social actions and processes. In creating potential, however, infrastructures inevitably also order and govern the actions they make possible (Koglin 2017). Infrastructures organise and shape potentials, providing for some courses of action and not for others. The mechanism of ordering and governing is one of facilitation – infrastructural provision being the provision of material facilities or the facilitation of actions through social development. While certain actions are facilitated by both kinds of infrastructure, actions and practices that fall outside of its desired outcomes are rendered unruly, ungoverned, perhaps even ungovernable and deviant. Consequently, material infrastructures are not only comprised of their material dimension but also operate on discursive levels. Infrastructure’s multiple dimensions and impacts can be traced, according to Picon (2018: 263), as ‘the result of the interactions between a material basis, professional organizations and stabilized sociotechnical practices, and social imagination’. These interactions, and the constitution of those actants, are ably traced in individual chapters elsewhere in this volume. This chapter seeks to engage with a selected range of current theorisations of the politics of infrastructure, and to apply them to specific cases of cycle-specific infrastructures. It subsequently relates the ideas of social and spatial justice arising from these perspectives to bell hooks consideration of marginalisation, to consider how the patterns of marginalisation and mainstreaming revealed in the contributions to this volume might be understood through a lens of a critical and radical politics.
  • Affordable Housing

    Fernandez, Rosa; University of Chester (Springer, 2020-08-26)
    This is a piece of work that intends to make a contribution to clarify the existing information available about what affordable housing means and what it involves, linking income with house prices but also with other variables, and indicating the different perceptions and problems depending on the country of reference.
  • Preface

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester (German Environment Agency / European Cyclists' Federation, 2018-11)
    Preface to volume
  • Social practices and the importance of context

    Cox, Peter; Bunte, Heike; University of Chester: German Environment Agency (German Environment Agency / European Cyclists' Federation, 2018-11)
    Social practice theory provides insight not only for analysis of existing social habits but also into their formation. Better understanding of the complexity of practices also allows insight into their relative degrees of obduracy: the potential for change or resistance to change. Characteristic of much work in recent analysis of cycling promotion is a tendency towards abstract generalization that ignores the specificities of practices as they occur in given locations. Cycling practices are not only located in space but also in time, and meanings, competencies and technologies are all inheritors of particular histories. This paper argues that much current promotional activity and research into changing behaviour is problematic inasmuch as it is ahistorical, lacking in analysis of the social and political forces that are responsible for the sedimentation of current practices. Following Oosterhuis’ (2016) argument, the paper argues that without embedding analysis of transport processes in a much broader context, that pays heed to forms of governance, citizenship, the relative competencies of different levels of polity and the ways in which these forces are historically constructed, interventions aimed at behavioural change have little chance of success. Developing the work of Aldred (2010) on cycling and citizenship and Shove (2015) on social practice and policy, the paper links these to the field of comparative environmental politics (Steinberg & Van Deever 2012) through a lens of historical analysis. Drawing on a survey of over 100 recent papers analysing problems and interventions designed to promote modal shift in general and toward cycling in particular, the paper considers the degree to which these are sensitive to the social political and historical forces against which they operate. It then uses a comparison between historic campaigns for change in the UK and Germany to argue that the impact of interventions is less to do with their design than with the political context into which they are introduced.
  • The Penal Voluntary Sector: A Hybrid Sociology

    Tomczak, Philippa; Buck, Gillian (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-01-09)
  • Sensory ethnography and film interpretation: sociological readings of historical archives

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-06-19)
    Recent work in sensory ethnography, especially as applied to the study of mobilities makes extensive use of video recording as a means of making field notes. A body of literature has built up around these mobile methodologies and the practices of interpretation connected with using this data. Drawing on these approaches to mobile methods and visual research the author undertook a six month study to explore the sensory experiences of cycle riders as urban (and peri-urban) travellers. At the same time, investigations were undertaken using conventional analyses of photographic and written archive materials to locate current practices in historical contexts. During the course of this investigation it became clear that there were also film documentary sources that could inform this research. This then raised a question as to whether existing historical film sources could be “read” and interpreted using the same analytical frameworks deployed for the interpretation of the video field notes captured in the investigation of sensory experiences. This chapter outlines the methodological procedures involved in the analysis and the result of initial attempts to deploy these in relation to historical sources. By connecting approaches developed in the context of digital recording of mobile experience to extant analogue film sources it considers whether such connections can enable a richer understanding of historical mobile subjects. While visual analysis suggests that film-makers’ intentions, especially in framing and editing their subject matter, are always inescapable, interpretative practices applied to digital recordings of public space today suggest there may be value in considering incidental “background” mobilities in historical documentary film and incidentally explains how a critical sociologist comes to be developing historical research tools.
  • Cycling: a sociology of vélomobility

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-04-08)
    Cycling: a Sociology of Vélomobility explores cycling as a sociological phenomenon. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, it considers the interaction of materials, competences and meanings that comprise a variety of cycling practices. What might appear at first to be self-evident actions are shown to be constructed though the interplay of numerous social and political forces. Using a theoretical framework from mobilities studies, its central themes respond to the question of what is it about cycling that provokes so much interest and passion, both positive and negative. Individual chapters consider how cycling has appeared as theme and illustration in social theory and considers the legacies of these theorizations. It expands on the image of cycling practices as product of an assemblage of technology, rider and environment. Riding spaces as material technologies are found to be as important as the machineries of the cycle, and a distinction is made between routes and rides to help interpret aspects of journey-making. Ideas of both affordance and script are used to explore how elements interact in performance to create sensory and experiential scapes. Consideration is also given to the changing identities of cycling practices in historical and geographical perspective. The book adds to existing research by extending the theorisation of cycling mobilities. It engages with both current and past debates on the place of cycling in mobility systems and the problems of researching, analysing and communicating ephemeral mobile experiences.
  • Economic Crimes

    Fernandez, Rosa Maria; University of Chester (Springer, 2019)
    The piece of work will be dedicated to look at some of the most common types of economic crimes, analysing their consequences, particularly with regard to how they can affect the achievement of sustainable development.
  • The pleasure imperative? Reflecting on sexual pleasure’s inclusion in sex education and sexual health

    Wood, Rachel; orcid: 0000-0002-0053-2969; Hirst, Julia; orcid: 0000-0001-9230-1828; Wilson, Liz; Burns-O'Connell, Georgina; orcid: 0000-0001-6430-8627 (Informa UK Limited, 2018-04-30)
  • The crisis of democratic culture?

    Bendall, Mark J.; Robertson, Chris (Intellect, 2018-09-01)
  • Rethinking Bicycle Histories

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester (Brill, 2018-09-11)
    Bicycle history and historiography is currently undergoing significant reassessment. Historical studies on bicycles and bicycle mobility have been dominated by the legacy of chronologically organised accounts of the bicycle as artefact. While valuable, this approach has had a tendency to elide significant differences between specific histories of the place of the bicycle as a component of broader mobility systems in varying geographical locations. New areas of social and cultural history are combining with colonial and post-colonial analyses to understand both the Eurocentric nature of dominant accounts and the hidden possibilities of multiple and plural narratives. Moving away from an artefactual bicycle history, this study embraces recent developments in the study of technology and draws on use-pattern approaches to the study of bicycle technology. Shifting focus to a use-centred account and comparing experiences across geographical and other boundaries reveals substantial differences in patterns and timescales of user experiences of cycles and cycling beyond its function as mass mobility. The chapter therefore explores bicycle historiography and historiology, examining in particular the implications of oversimplified periodization and schematic linear histories of bicycle development. Subjecting these narratives to critical scrutiny, the chapter considers how they serve both to continue to render the bicycle invisible, even within dramatically changing mobility scenarios, and to limit understanding of the potential of bicycles and other human-powered and hybrid human-motor vehicles to sustainable mobility futures.
  • The Missing Link: Relational Exploration in Working with Suicide

    Reeves, Andrew; University of Chester (Regent's University, London, 2018-09-01)
    Empirical research has driven the agenda around suicide risk assessment for many years leading to mental health services and allied professionals, including counsellors and psychotherapists, relying more heavily on risk factor-based questionnaires as the primary mechanism for identifying suicide potential. Research also suggests however, that the efficacy of such risk questionnaires is, at best, questionable and does not really provide a reliable insight into the likelihood of harm. This article argues the position that while factor-based information can be contextually helpful, the only way in which a deeper understanding of the meaning of, and potential for, suicide can be achieved is through the therapeutic discourse. Suicide exploration, it is asserted, provides not only greater insight into the process of suicide for the client, but also contributes to a context where the client may be enabled to support themselves effectively at times of suicidal crisis.
  • Social Policy and Narrative: The Global and State Contradictions of Care

    Powell, Jason; University of Chester (Sryahwa, 2018-10-01)
    This article provides a critical assessment of the assumptions and narratives underpinning the development of social policy initiatives targeting caring relationships based upon family ties. At the time of writing in late 2018, the impact of globalization has had a profound impact but we cannot underemphasise state power in examining care policy, theory and practice. Hence, deploying a narrative approach attention is drawn to the ways in which family identities are open to a far greater range of negotiation than is assumed by policy. Drawing on the United Kingdom as a case example, questions are posed about intergenerational relations and the nature of late life citizenship. The comparatively recent invention of narratives supporting ‘informal care’ and the link with neo-liberal and ‘third way’ notions of active citizenship are explored. As is the failure of policy developments to take into account the diversity of care giving styles and the complexity of caring relationships. It is argued that the uneven and locally specific ways in which policy develops enables the co-existence of a complex range of narratives about family, caring and ageing which address diverse aspects of the family life of older people in often contradictory ways.
  • From a utilitarian universal health coverage to an inclusive health coverage

    Fernandez, Rosa; University of Chester (Springer, 2019)
    Healthcare systems vary across countries but the access to health is considered fundamental both individually and collectively. Individually, good health is one of the main contributors to well-being, and collectively it has an important effect on countries’ productivity. From a utilitarian perspective, governmental intervention in health coverage has the purpose to maximise the total ‘utility’, in this case the total welfare, of all the members of society. Health services must therefore be produced and allocated efficiently, and distributed in accordance to equity. This approach gave origin to the so-called ‘universal’ healthcare systems, in trying to provide healthcare for as many members of a community as possible. Such systems can be considered inclusive insofar to try not to leave anyone out of coverage, but their implementation is not free of criticism. One of the limitations is that they tend to provide the same level of coverage for everyone, regardless of their differing characteristics, circumstances, and needs. This also means that some health issues will not be covered by the public health system, and if patients need specialised attention they will need to use private health provision, with the subsequent exclusion of those without enough resources. It is for this reason that healthcare systems are evolving to become ‘inclusive’ in a different manner, away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach covering only basic minimum health services, and aiming to provide different services to people with different needs, including giving access to health to the poorest of society.

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