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

  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • An exploration of how trainee counsellors, who have a Christian faith, experience the impact of person-centred counsellor training on their faith

    Abbey, Paula; Gubi, Peter M.; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2022-02-07)
    This study explores how trainee counselors, who have a Christian faith, experience the impact of person-centered counselor training on their faith. The research question was: ‘How do trainee counsellors who have a Christian faith experience the impact of person-centred counsellor training on their faith?’ The aims were: to explore the possible impact of person-centered counselor training on Christian faith; to explore trainees’ level of comfort at exploring issues of faith on the course; and to understand how counselor trainees who have a Christian faith perceive their faith ‘fits’ with person-centered theory. The data were collected using semi-structured interviews and ana lyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Findings point to the centrality of God within the process of becoming a person-centered counselor, from the decision to train, to interpre tation of theory. All participants reported no, or limited, input from tutors on religious and spiritual issues. Differing levels of comfort were felt in the disclosure and exploration of their religious faith whilst training, citing supervisors of Christian faith or church members as the main sources of support with religious or spiritual issues. All participants experienced changes to their religious beliefs and practices, which occurred during and after the course of study.
  • Working After Loss: How Bereavement Counsellors Experience Returning to Therapeutic Work After the Death of Their Parent

    Swinden, Colleen; University of Chester (SAGE Publications, 2021-12-29)
    Despite increased interest in the impact of external events on counsellors, surprisingly little has been written on counsellor bereavement. To address the research question: How do bereavement counsellors experience therapeutic work after the death of their parent? Interviews were conducted with four bereaved counsellors who reflected on its impact on their work. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three major themes emerged; how decisions about returning to work were informed by colleagues and supervision; the benefits of returning to work and the use of ‘bracketing’; long-term implications for practice including heightened empathy with clients’ and disclosure of loss. In addition, participants felt they had insufficient guidance regarding fitness to practice. The possible limitations of the study were that self-selection may have introduced an element of bias to the results. These findings support existing literature and also revealed potential gaps in grief and loss training for counsellors and supervisors. A particular training issue for supervisors might be identifying and discussing fitness to practice issues with supervisees. There are also implications for counsellors in terms of the use of self-disclosure in therapy. Suggested further research to explore the use of self-disclosure in greater depth.
  • Recovery capital in the context of homelessness, high levels of alcohol consumption, and adverse significant life events

    Ross-Houle, Kim; Porcellato, Lorna; University of Chester; Liverpool John Moores University (Taylor and Francis, 2021-12-16)
    Homelessness and heavy alcohol consumption are increasing global public health concerns. Homelessness is associated with poorer health outcomes, shorter life expectancy, and are more likely to engage in health risk behaviours. High levels of alcohol consumption intersect with the cause and effect of homelessness making this an important consideration for research. This is explored through a theoretical lens of recovery capital, referring to the resources required to initiate and maintain recovery, and is applied to both heavy alcohol consumption and homelessness. Life history calendars were utilised alongside semi-structured interviews to explore the impact that adverse life events had on alcohol consumption and living situations with 12 participants in contact with homelessness services in North-West England. The findings consider how social, health, and structural-related adverse life events were both a cause and effect of homelessness and increasing consumption of alcohol, which were further exacerbated by a lack of recovery capital. The authors argue for further consideration relating to the intersection of homelessness and high levels of alcohol consumption in relation to recovery capital. The findings have implications for policy and practice by demonstrating the need for relevant services to help individuals develop and maintain resources that will sustain recovery capital.

View more