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

  • 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; orcid: 0000-0002-3702-0991; email: amoneeta@asu.edu; Chollier, Marie; Kaur, Sangeeta; Ghimire, Ananta Raj (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.
  • 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.
  • Ethically sensitive research with ‘children’ and ‘adults’ in custody

    Price, Jayne; University of Chester
    This chapter draws on data from young men interviewed on two occasions; first as ‘children’ aged 17 years within juvenile Young Offenders’ Institutions (YOIs); and then again as ‘adults’ aged 18 years within young adult/adult prisons about their experiences of transitions. Ethical reviews typically reflect age-determined constructions of child/adult status and those aged under 18 years are deemed to be more ‘vulnerable’, thus attracting more scrutiny from research ethics committees (Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC] 2020). This concern heightens the methodological difficulties of prison research, as incarceration renders children ‘doubly vulnerable’ (Jacobson and Talbot 2017). Such institutions may be obstructive and access must be obtained from a series of gatekeepers. Negotiating the balance between participants’ rights and their best interests (Heptinstall 2000, Thomas and O’Kane 1998), along with gatekeepers’ priorities can be challenging. This chapter outlines how tricky ethical tensions were balanced with participants’ best interests in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (UN 1989). Despite the difficulties encountered, the researcher (JP) took the view that there would be ‘ethical implication[s] of NOT conducting the research’ (Girling 2017, p. 38). The chapter offers recommendations for how researchers might conduct ethically sensitive research with similar cohorts of young people.
  • Theorising Cycling

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester
    Any academic study uses underlying assumptions about the object of study, appropriate methods and analytical tools. This chapter explores some of the key questions and approaches that have arisen in cycling studies over the last two decades, ranging from realist to constructivist analysis. It offers a brief introduction to some of the most important strands of social theory applied to cycling studies. In particular, the chapter traces the politics of knowledge as it applies to cycling studies and the implications of contrasting perspectives as they relate to practical application.
  • Introduction: Cycling and Society

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester
    Section introduction overview of themes and discusisions
  • Distance, Time, Speed & Energy: A socio-political analysis of technologies of longer distance cycling

    Cox, Peter; University of Chester (University of Westminster Press, 2022-04-19)
    The basic laws of motion governing cycling are well understood. Consideration of the variables of energy use in cycle travel is less frequent. The potentials of both aerodynamically efficient cycle design and the augmentation of human power with e-motors dramatically reconfigure what we understand as a cycle and as cycling. The prospect of increasing travel distance in regular journeying, coupled with the logical application of augmentation (aerodynamic and/ or power), suggest a need to re-evaluate some of the ground expectations applied in design and planning for cycle travel if the cycles for which infrastructure is designed no longer conform to existing expectations of what a cycle is and how it performs. Current e-bike performance is limited principally by normative legislative intervention, not by the intrinsic potential of the technologies. Existing decisions as to what an e-bike can (and should) be, are shaped by the performance expectations of late 19th and early 20th century bicycle designs. Shaping modal shift for longer trips returns us to think about the place of cycling travel time as a function of the relationship between distance and speed. Increased speed allows for greater distance without time penalty. However, speed is itself governed by available energy, coupled with the efficiency of use of that energy. Without entirely substituting human power, E-motors allow us to augment the human power available in different ways; Changes in cycle design (velomobiles, for example) allow us to increase the efficiency of use of available power in overcoming resistance to movement. Identifying the assemblage of cycle/cyclist as a variable, rather than a determinate object to be accommodated, raises difficult questions for cycling provision, especially in relation to longer distance travel. Drawing on the capacities of already existing technologies of cycling and e-cycling, the paper focuses on the social implications of potentially problematic interactions. It argues that new decisions will need to be made in regard to speed and distance in cycle travel and that the forging of regulations consequent on those fundamentals will substantially shape the potentials and possibilities of modal shift for longer distance cycle travel. What emerges is a politics of longer distance cycle, not simply a set of technical barriers and problems.
  • Working with risk within the counselling professions

    Reeves, Andrew; University of Chester (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 2021-09-20)
    This practitioner factsheet looks at the factors that counsellors and psychotherapists need to keep in mind when working with clients who present at risk. Good practice indicators are outlined, as well as evidence-informed interventions.
  • Permission to be kind to myself’. The experiences of informal carers of those with a life-limiting or terminal illness of a brief self-compassion-based self-care intervention

    Diggory, Kate; Reeves, Andrew; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2021-09-19)
    Background: Informal carers of someone with a life-limiting or terminal illness often experience marked levels of depression, anxiety and stress. Carers have limited free time to devote to lengthy, well-being interventions. Carers also struggle to prioitorize their self-care, a factor which may help buffer some of the negative impacts of being a carer. The aim of this study was to gain insight into carers’ views and perceptions of a brief, four session face to face self-compassion intervention for carers (iCare) which was created to improve well- being, increase self-compassion and develop self-care among carers. In so doing, this qualitative research addresses gaps in the literature relating to self-compassion interventions for carers and targeted self-care initiatives for carers. Method: Semi-structured interviews with nine participants of iCare were conducted and data subjected to a reflexive thematic analysis within a critical realist framework. Findings: A number of themes and sub-themes were identified. Carers discovered a kinder, less judgemental way of seeing themselves allowing themselves to recognize that they had their own individual needs. In turn this led to an intentional practise of self-care activities. Benefits from conscious self-care and self-kindness included experiencing a greater sense of calm or relaxation and the development of a more positive outlook. Conclusion: The findings highlight that a brief self-compassion intervention can have a positive impact on carers reported well-being through developing a kindlier internal orientation and locating a permission to allow themselves to practise an intentional self-care.
  • An interview with Judith Weir

    Egeli, Cemil; University of Chester (Egalitarian Publishing, 2021-09-01)
    Cemil Egeli previously worked as a researcher on the flagship arts TV programme 'The South Bank Show' (then broadcast on ITV), where in 2001 Judith Weir received the prestigious music award for her choral and orchestral work, We Are Shadows. Some 20 years later, Judith Weir has very kindly agreed to him posing some interview questions.
  • Editorial: Towards a psychomusicology

    Egeli, Cemil; University of Chester (Egalitarian Publishing, 2021-09-01)
    Editorial for the 'psychomusicology' special issue
  • Unmasking the phantom

    Lewis, Megan; University of Chester (Egalitarian Publishing, 2021-09-01)
    This article explores an experience of bereavement in adolescence and the use of musical theatre in the grieving process.
  • Community Renewable Energy Projects. The future of the sustainable energy transition?

    Fernandez, Rosa M.; University of Chester
    The Energy Union and the European Green Deal advocate the participation of citizens and communities in the energy transition, which encourage a bottom-up approach in the implementation of sustainable energy initiatives. Both are in tune with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which attempt to involve all members of society in the sustainability path. The reality in EU Member States however, is that community energy still lacks the necessary regulatory framework to compete with large utility companies. This can indicate that the governance framework is lagging behind, still not ready to include communities (collective citizens) as full participants in the energy transition.
  • Europe's Transition to Sustainability: Actors, Approaches and Policies

    Fernandez, Rosa M.; Schoenefeld, Jonas.; Hoerber, Thomas; Oberthuer, Sebastian; University of Chester; University of East Anglia; ESSCA School of Management; Vrije Universiteit Brussels; University of Eastern Finland (Routledge, 2021-09-06)
    The European Union has developed an international reputation as an advocate of sustainability and as a leader in environmental policy and in tackling climate change. The European Green Deal is the latest amongst numerous policy initiatives indicating an aspiration to lead. The contributions to this special issue show, however, that the path to sustainability in the EU (and beyond) is far from clear cut, with uneven progress in a number of policy areas. Some Member States are lagging behind, and there are barriers both within and outside the EU. Moving forward, a successful transition still requires substantial policy effort.
  • Tears from the void: The arts, the spiritual and the therapeutic

    Egeli, Cemil; University of Chester
    Cemil Egeli has an autoethnographic conversation about a night at the theatre, posing questions to himself to challenge and explore his thinking further.

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