Studentship opportunity

Young people’s lived experiences of welfare conditionality over time

This studentship is funded by the ESRC through the Scottish Graduate School of the Social Sciences

Institution
University of Glasgow
Pathway
Social Work and Social Policy
Mode of study

Full time / Part time

Application deadline
5 April 2019

Project details

This PhD is designed to re-analyse the ‘Welfare Conditionality’ Qualitative Longitudinal Research data set to establish original knowledge about how conditionality impacts on young people’s lived experiences of claiming benefits and looking for work in Scotland and England.

Welfare conditionality has been at the heart of a fundamental and controversial transformation of the British welfare system.  In contrast to traditional rights-based social security, conditionality aims to stimulate job entries by requiring intensive job-seeking behaviour, backed by one of the toughest sanctions regimes in the world (e.g. removing benefits for up to three years).  The on-going roll out of Universal Credit extends conditionality to in-work claimants, disabled people, carers, lone parents with pre-school children, and claimants’ partners.

Recent research suggests that young people aged 18-24 are disproportionately affected by these reforms because they are at twice the risk of unemployment (compared with those aged 25-64) and face the highest risks of benefit sanctions.  Young people are also multiply disadvantaged, with reduced social security entitlements than older citizens; lower earnings potential (lower national living wages); and confronted with barriers to establish housing and financial independence due to increasingly precarious work conditions and housing insecurity. Growing numbers of young people have hence become economically marginalised within a context of growing precarity in an unequal, insecure labour market characterised by underemployment and in-work poverty. However, little is currently known about how young people growing up in this context experience the policies that intensify conditionality and limit welfare support, which hold potentially harmful and long-lasting impacts. This doctoral project is designed to contribute new knowledge on how young people experience and are impacted by conditionality over time and whether conditionality is effective or ethical for them.

The candidate will work at the forefront of methodological innovation and learn and apply advanced large-scale qualitative data analysis techniques, including QSR NVivo framework matrix analysis, during the project.  The core objective is to work with secondary datasets and reanalyse the Welfare Conditionality youth data and, additionally, to potentially re-contact a group of the original participants for re-interview.

The outcome of the research will be new findings about the long-term impacts of welfare conditionality on young people and a set of policy and practice recommendations to address these in Scotland, UK and international levels.

About the institution

The PhD will be based within a thriving research environment in Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow, which is the UK’s leading urban research unit, within the interdisciplinary environment of School of Social and Political Sciences.  The project will be affiliated with the ‘Neighbourhoods, Welfare and Wellbeing’ Research Group at Urban Studies (which consists of researchers at all levels) and the candidate will work alongside doctoral candidates investigating similar topics, e.g. Universal Credit, welfare conditionality for disabled people etc.  Youth inequalities are a central concern of the wider School of Social and Political Sciences, forming a core contribution to the University research beacon on Inequality.

Eligibility

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria
  • A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science component
  • Demonstrate an interest in and knowledge of youth studies, youth transitions, social security, welfare conditionality, and social/public policy.
  • Have a good grounding in qualitative research methods.

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here.

Award details

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training.  This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process.  The programme will commence in October 2019.  It includes
  • an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2019/20 rate £15,009 full-time)
  • fees at the standard Home rate
  • students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Other information

Ideally candidates should have undertaken some initial training in qualitative research methods and, more importantly, be keen to develop their expertise in the area of secondary qualitative longitudinal analysis. The studentship provides an excellent opportunity to receive training in this emerging area of methodological innovation in social sciences. The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr. Sharon Wright (Senior Lecturer in Public Policy) and Dr. Mark Wong (Lecturer in Social and Public Policy) in Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow.  Dr Wright will act as the lead supervisor of the project and is an international expert in welfare conditionality, social security reform and employment services.  Her leading role in a previous ESRC-funding project on welfare conditionality offers essential expertise in cutting-edge qualitative analysis techniques.  Having taught postgraduate ESRC-recognised advanced research methods courses for more than a decade, she can offer bespoke advanced training in the techniques needed to analyse the data set.  Dr Wong brings theoretical and policy expertise on youth and precarity and has a valuable set of methodological skills to guide the project. He has previously worked with longitudinal, large-scale datasets as well as qualitative data in his research. He has also designed and delivered a range of research methods training (e.g. research design, knowledge exchange, and social network analysis) for PGR and ECRs at the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, and the SGSSS Summer School in the past 6 years. This studentship will allow the successful candidate to draw on a supervisory team with a large breadth of skills but will also provide significant opportunities to promote the research and findings in a highly topical area among academics, the public and media commentators, practitioners, and the policy community.

How to apply

Applicants must register their interest by completing the ESRC Eligilibility Checker: https://glasgow.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/supervisor-led-awards-esrc-award-eligibility-checker-201

Applicants should then register on the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences GradHub and fill out equal opportunity data (this is a requirement of the application process and equal opportunity data is used for monitoring purposes only, and not in the decision making process, completing and uploading the following documents on to GradHub

  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • References
  • CV
  • A one or two page (A4) statement of interest detailing the following:
  • Your interest in the topic of the project
  • Relevant experience and knowledge of the topic and/or methods
  • Issues (and difficulties) you think are involved to conduct the research
  • Your career goals
  • Applicants submit application through GradHub

Selection process

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 1 May 2019. Interviews dates are to be confirmed. All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within University of Glasgow.  Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Supervisor/Contact details

Name
Dr Sharon Wright
Email
Sharon.wright@glasgow.ac.uk