Category: Articles

  • On being more like John Hills

    John Hills – a titan of British social policy, and my old PhD supervisor – died just before Christmas. I wanted to write something about John, but it is hard to write in grief. I simply do not have the poetry to convey fine emotions in words; everything comes out as either a bland list […]

  • Perceptions of poverty levels: a long view

    This is a guest post by Elizabeth Clery (@liz_clery), who works with the amazing NatCen team that are responsible for the British Social Attitudes Survey. The latest British Social Attitudes report came out in July, and it pointed out a puzzle in public attitudes to poverty: Trends in poverty have remained relatively stable over the […]

  • Is truth-seeking inherently conservative?

    Howard Becker’s 1967 ‘Whose Side Are We On?’ is one of the most famous papers in Sociology – a staple reading for generations of undergraduates, and still the subject of argument between academic sociologists about what Becker actually meant. Yet I have just discovered (thanks to Alistair Leitch at Oxford) a later 1973 paper by […]

  • Does diversity help students learn about inequality?

    Amidst all of the studies of public attitudes, there are relatively few studies that look at how we learn about inequality – yet if we know how people learn about inequality, then we have ideas about how people’s attitudes can be changed. So I was really interested to hear a presentation by LSE/Harvard’s Jonathan Mijs, looking […]

  • Most people are ‘benefit claimants’ sometimes…

    One of the biggest misconceptions about the benefits system is that we split neatly and permanently into two groups: ‘benefit claimants’ and ‘everyone else’. As soon as you take a long view, though, you realise how wrong this is: many people move in-and-out of struggles at different times in their lives, and one of the […]

  • Sanctioning disabled benefit claimants: is it fair and is it effective?

    This piece was cross-posted in the Demos Quarterly, issue 13. The sanctioning of disabled benefit claimants is a reality in Britain: over a million benefit sanctions have been applied to disabled people since 2010. We therefore cannot avoid asking: can these be justified? One possible justification is that sanctions increase employment, and another is that […]

  • The perception of inequality of opportunity – and the reality

    In a guest post, Paolo Brunori – an Assistant Professor at the University of Bari, and blogger at Lavoce – summarises his new paper on the perception of inequality of opportunity in Europe, recently published in the Review of Income and Wealth. When thousands of Egyptians gathered to protest in Tahrir Square in January 2011, many […]

  • Benefits, food banks, and denial

    A blazing row erupted earlier this week with the publication of a charity research report on food banks – the latest in a series of blazing rows on food bank use in the UK.  At stake was the claim that food bank use is related to issues with the benefits system, a claim that has […]

  • The Psychology of Poverty and Welfare Reform

    In the last few weeks in the UK there has been a surge in high profile figures – from TV chef’s to government ministers – blaming ‘poor people’ for their poverty. In this guest post, Joe Penny from the new economics foundation summarises recent research from behavioural psychologists on how poverty itself makes it harder to […]

  • Marriage and Parental Investment in Children

    Marriage ain’t what it used to be. Consider that: In 1950, almost half of all women were married by age 20 and for men the age was 23. By 2010, the median age of first marriage had increased to about 24 for women and 27 for men. More people are opting out of marriage. In […]