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

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

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