It has been far too long since I last published an update about my life as a Research Fellow! So here is an update on everything that is going on! A must because while I have been quiet on my blog, I have been busy, busy doing my research. This is what I have been up to!
My main news is that I have secured a permanent position at the University of Lincoln, as Lecturer in Sociology. From now until Spring 2018, I will complete my Leverhulme Trust funded study, ‘Men, Poverty and Lifetimes of Care’ (MPLC) and then become a Lecturer when it concludes. While I am sad to leave colleagues in Leeds (although technically I’m not leaving them because we have ongoing work planned!), I am delighted to finally have some job security. I have written several posts on this blog about my worries and concerns about being on fixed term contracts, including this one about my career story for Vitae. While I consider myself to be incredibly privileged to work in academia, the current economic model which has increasingly become characterised by precarity (see, “I don’t make enough for rent“) has been tough to manage and negotiate, not just on me but also on my family. The Guardian has published some important articles in the past week about the problems with the ways in which universities currently operate (Universities accused of importing Sports Direct model) and it is so important that casualisation and zero hour teaching contacts continue to be challenged and exposed, rather than exploited.
Supporting Young Fathers (impact project)
Alongside the MPLC study, I am also leading an impact project based on Following Young Fathers, one of the Timescapes studies that I conducted an analysis of to set up MPLC. This project is called ‘Responding to Young Fathers in a Different Way’ (May 2016-May 2017) and you can find out more about it here. Ensuring impact from research findings is an incredibly important part of the research process and needs to be built into research design, all the way through to completion. Involvement in this study has supported me to share findings from the secondary analysis I have been conducting to set up the MPLC study, with practitioners who are able to respond to those findings and enact them in practice at a local level. This project is practitioner led (by my partners at Family and ChildCare Trust, Leeds City Council and Oakhill Secure Training Centre) and we are using findings from the Following Young Fathers study in order to explore ways of developing effective policy and practice that better supports young fathers (aged 25 and under) and their children and partners. Our main focus includes training young fathers as ‘experts by experience’ so that they can become advocates for other young men and engage in campaigning, essential for giving them a voice. This model has also been useful for supporting young fathers who come out of the prison system. These young men in particular receive very little support when they leave prison. We will be presenting the outcomes of this study in Leeds in March 2017 so watch this space for further details.
Researcher safety and risk
Another small project that I have been working on in collaboration with Dr Jo Neary and Dr Lisa Bradley as prompted by a blog post that I wrote on this site, about researcher safety and risk in fieldwork (view the post here). Since then, we have managed to secure two lots of funding to run some one day workshops. These workshops have been fascinating, resulting in conversations that extend beyond fieldwork safety. Attended predominantly by female early career researchers, these events have provided critical spaces for reflection on the nature of academic life, on the governance and ethics of doing social research and the ways in which gendered inequalities permeate the life of researchers and teachers. We hope to share further reflections from these workshops soon.
Things can take a long time in academia but I am delighted that I have finally had the first journal article from the MPLC study published in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, available here. This paper is about analysing existing data from the Timescapes Archive in order to develop the research design for the MPLC study. If you are interested in reading the paper but can’t access it via the link, please do get in touch for a copy.