Welfare Futures: Where Next?

Seminar 3
Tuesday 4th December 2018, 10.00-17.30
The Birmingham and Midland Institute (BMI) in Birmingham

The final seminar in the series will take place at the British Midlands Institute in Birmingham on 4th December. This concluding seminar will ask: what does the future of welfare look like? The seminar will encourage participants and speakers to think expansively – and imaginatively – about what the future of the welfare state could be. Drawing on a range of speakers, and through the use of collectively produced zines, the seminar will explore narratives and counter-narratives of ‘welfare’, and reflect on how such imaginaries foster and incubate wider public attitudes towards state provision. In doing so, it will question what we might learn going forward – across time, across academic disciplines (sociology, history, social policy, media studies, film, arts and social policy), and across wider welfare activism – and what shape this could take.

The day will be followed by a book launch of Tracey Jensen’s new monograph Parenting the Crisis: the cultural politics of parent-blame(2018, Policy Press).


Rebecca Bramall is Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Rebecca’s research explores the interpenetration of culture and economy, with a current focus on taxation imaginaries. Key publications include The Cultural Politics of Austerity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and a special issue of New Formations on Austerity (2016).

Stef Benstead is an independent researcher in disability and social policy. She has worked with the Spartacus Network and Ekklesia, and is currently working on the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project (funded by DRILL) with Catherine Hale. Her book, Second Class Citizens, is due to be published in the New Year and covers the history of the welfare state as it applies to sick and disabled people, with a particular focus on the post-2010 changes and their implications for human rights.

Joe Chrisp is a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath researching the political economy of universal basic income and its feasibility in advanced welfare states. His work adopts a comparative approach to examine political actors’ proposals for social security reform in the context of changes in the labour market and public opinion.

Akwugo Emejulu is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include the political sociology of race, gender and the grassroots activism of women of colour in Europe and the United States. Her co-authored book, Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain was published in 2017 by Policy Press.

Kayleigh Garthwaite is a Birmingham Fellow in the Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology, University of Birmingham. Her research interests focus on poverty and inequality, welfare reform, and stigma. She is author of Hunger Pains: life inside foodbank Britain (2016, Policy Press), and is also co-author of Poverty and insecurity: Life in ‘low-pay, no-pay’ Britain (2012, Policy Press).

imajsaclaimant is an activist and campaigner. After being sanctioned I felt very isolated. I began to over-eat and would rarely leave my home, struggling with depression and anxiety. I started using Twitter to express my frustration and to highlight what it is like in the benefits system. Over time I found it was not enough to be just a keyboard warrior so I joined Unite Community and started campaigning both locally and nationally. It has been a long road to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem and I still struggle with poor mental health, but throughout I have always tried to educate and use my experience positively.

Michael Orton is a researcher at the University of Warwick, working on core issues of poverty, work/welfare and inequalities. Previously, he worked for over 15 years in the voluntary sector and local government. Michael’s current research focuses on socio-economic (in)security, using solutions focused, participatory and consensus building approaches. He is the author of author of Secure and Free: 5+ solutions to socio-economic insecurity (2016,Compass)

Full biographies of all our speakers and activity organisers can be found on our website here.


Places are free but limited. Booking is essential. Please book your place here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/welfare-imaginaries-constructing-rhetoric-realities-and-resistance-over-time-seminar-3-tickets-52205824025


The venue is wheelchair accessible. If you have any additional requirements around accessibility please inform Laura Clancy at l.clancy2@lancaster.ac.uk

Bursaries & access fund

The seminar organisers have a small travel bursary fund for those requiring financial assistance (priority is given to those who are unemployed; unfunded PGRs; ECRs in insecure work; and unaffiliated academics). There is also an access fund for attendees with specific attendance requirements. If you would like to make a request to draw on these funds, please view our website for further information on how to apply. These funds will be allocated by 23rd November.

Contact information

Please contact us via our webite here.

This seminar series is organised by Kim Allen (University of Leeds), Sara De Benedictis (Brunel University London), Kayleigh Garthwaite (Birmingham University),Tracey Jensen (Lancaster University) and Ruth Patrick (University of Liverpool). The series is part of the Sociological Review Foundation Seminar Series and has been generously sponsored by the Sociological Review Foundation, the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham, and the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Brunel University. Find out more about the series, including future seminars, on our website.

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