How do children’s environments contribute to their life satisfaction?

Amy Clair.jpgAmy Clair, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Oxford

Recent years have seen an increase in interest in how happy children are with their lives in many countries.

Comparisons of wealthy nations show that there is cause for concern, with many studies finding that the UK lags behind in terms of how satisfied children are with their lives, ranking bottom of a Unicef report in 2007 for example (although there was some evidence of improvement in 2013).  In order to improve this, we must improve our understanding what drives children’s satisfaction.

There has been a lot of work investigating how individual characteristics impact life satisfaction, for example we know that girls report lower satisfaction than boys. However, there has been relatively little work examining how children’s environments affect how satisfied they feel about their lives.  Two of the main environments in the majority of children’s lives are the home and the school.  These locations are where children spend the bulk of their time and they provide the location for many of their important relationships, with parents, teachers, and friends for example.

Continue reading How do children’s environments contribute to their life satisfaction?

New domestic violence policy to hand back control to victims – but does it?

DugganDr Marian Duggan, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent

Domestic violence is never far from the news.

With an average of two women a week being killed by a current or former partner, and an increasing number of cases involving the murder of children too, initiatives to address this form of interpersonal victimisation have been increasingly prioritised by governments.

One such initiative in the UK is the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS). Launched on International Women’s Day (8th March) 2014 by Home Secretary Theresa May MP, the DVDS offers members of the public the ‘right to ask’ the police for information about a partner’s past if they are concerned that there is a history of domestic violence or violence against women. The policy was heralded by the Home Secretary as part of a “raft of measures” designed to “hand control back to the victim by ensuring they can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary”.

Continue reading New domestic violence policy to hand back control to victims – but does it?

Imagining the future: Growing older together?

Alexandra ChapmanAlexandra Chapman

There is a clear divergence emerging between each region in the UK in terms of the nature and pace of implementing a policy framework that supports older service users and promotes a person-centred framework.

Following devolution, Scotland and Wales have developed adult social care strategies underpinned by person-centred principles through divergent policies and provision from each other and England. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, policy developments have not progressed at the same pace as the rest of the UK and there has been emphasis on a person-centred policy for adult social care users. The acknowledged shift in dependency ratios and increasing social care projects have emphasised a sense of urgency to reform adult social care policy in Northern Ireland. Continue reading Imagining the future: Growing older together?

Are voluntary organisations complying with or resisting austerity?

mike_hemmings_profile1Mike Hemmings

I will be presenting a paper at the 2016 Social Policy Association Conference in Belfast in July. The paper looks at the impact of austerity on voluntary sector organisations campaigning and delivery of welfare services. Austerity has had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable people in society.

These are the people that voluntary sector organisations were often set up to represent and serve. Given this the paper asks whether voluntary sector organisations are, in the current period, complying with or resisting austerity. When we take a long historical view we see the repeated failure of the market, state and the voluntary sector to meet welfare need. We have moved from feudal obligations to the poor through the ideal of a universal welfare state to a mixed welfare model and now to austerity and the withdrawal of welfare. Continue reading Are voluntary organisations complying with or resisting austerity?

A Fair Economy is About More than Just Cash

Nat O'ConnorNat O’Connor, IRiSS, Ulster University

We all know that living on a low income is a daily challenge.

It’s not just about carefully planning the week’s spending—and deciding what things to do without—but it is a balancing act to deal with unexpected expenses: a medical emergency, a debt to be repaid or an extra cost for a child’s school trip.

And there is no point at which someone waves a magic wand and says here’s money that will clear your debts and allow you to patch up the fabric of your life. Most people won’t inherit money or be given a lump sum when they reach retirement age. Continue reading A Fair Economy is About More than Just Cash

Citizen’s Initiative Review process: mediating emotions, promoting productive deliberation

fuji johnson-black-knoblochGenevieve Fuji Johnson, Laura Black and Katherine Knobloch

Emotion and reason are often framed as adversaries, with reason the victor. In this line of argument, emotion clouds reason and disrupts our ability to reach sound decisions.* Within the past several decades, however, scholars of decision making – and deliberation in particular – have begun to understand emotion’s more nuanced role in producing reasoned judgement.

In the context of deliberation, emotion can foster perspective taking and create bonds across difference, but it can also undermine deliberation by creating exclusionary identities and enhancing groupthink. In our recent article published in Policy & Politics entitled Citizen’s Initiative Review process: mediating emotions, promoting productive deliberation, we examine one highly structured deliberative process, the Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR), and asks how specific design features influence the role that emotion plays in fostering or hindering informed judgement. Continue reading Citizen’s Initiative Review process: mediating emotions, promoting productive deliberation

Northern Ireland – Where is the peace dividend?

Colin Knox PhotoColin Knox

So, Northern Ireland is sorted. A devolved executive is in place, violence has reduced significantly, and we are selling our peace process around the world as a model of power-sharing for contested societies. Well yes, to some extent. But in my recent article analysing the fragility of the peace process entitled Northern Ireland: where is the peace dividend, and published in Policy & Politics, I argue that we now have a ‘negative peace’ where those most impacted by violence have gained least from the peace process.

Not to take away from all those who have got us to this point but people living in highly segregated, socially deprived areas have actually witnessed the quality of their lives remain the same or regress under ‘peace’. If we look at some of the indicators which determine if people’s lives have got better (health, education, social welfare, mental health, and crime), there is little evidence that much has changed since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Such is the sensitivity of this topic that a research paper prepared by the Northern Ireland Assembly, Research and Library Service which tracked some of these indicators was withdrawn from the official website. Continue reading Northern Ireland – Where is the peace dividend?