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Participatory oral history exploration of poverty-aware social work

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2023

Project ID: S3 33

Recent concern with rising numbers of children being taken into the care of Children’s Services has raised questions for practice and policy. Research has established that children and families in poverty are significantly more likely to be the subject of state intervention (Bywaters et al 2014). This is a matter of social (in)justice. Social workers play a key role in determining whether reports and allegations of child abuse or neglect are substantiated, their decision-making being key to outcomes. The influences on their decisions are less well known and it is difficult to capture the nuances. Research on the social construction of neglect and child abuse highlights how explanations which recognise systemic oppression, such as gendered, classed, and racial inequalities, are often discarded in favour of a discourse focused on parental pathologies and individual deficits (Featherstone et al 2017; Gupta 2017). Poverty has become invisible in practice, obscuring the relationship between the material circumstances of children and their families and cases of child abuse and neglect (Morris et al 2018). Whilst there have been recent welcome international developments in developing a poverty-aware pedagogy within social work education (Krumer-Nevo et al 2009; Gupta, 2017; Roets et al 2020) most social workers currently practicing have not had this benefit. Poverty intersects with other forms of inequality - mental ill health, learning disability, domestic abuse, substance misuse, racialisation, chronic health conditions and disability - often perceived as risk factors for child abuse and neglect, without reference to systemic pressures and the intersection of forms of disadvantage.

The aim of this project is: 

To use a qualitative participatory action research driven approach to co-produce oral histories with social workers and families to explore perceptions of poverty and how poverty influences/does not influence child protection decision-making.

To explore how co-produced oral histories can be used to inform and influence the implementation of practice with families who have come to the attention of child welfare services.

To make recommendations for training, resources and system development to support social work practitioners in addressing the impact of poverty on children and families.

Candidates may suggest a research design that meets the project aims and a suitable methodology.

Supervisory Team:

Director of Studies: Geraldine Brady, Professor, Social Work, Care and Community Department, School of Social Sciences  Geraldine Brady | Nottingham Trent University

Co-supervisor: Dr Verusca Calabria, Senior Lecturer/ECR, Social Work, Care and Community Department, School of Social Sciences  Verusca Calabria | Nottingham Trent University

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

To make an application, please visit our studentship application page.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2023 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Application guidance can be found on our studentship application page.

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