Research update: December 2011/January 2012

After a slower than I would have liked start to the fieldwork year things are now starting to move very quickly.

The start of December was taken up with drawing up page after page (about twenty!) pages of interview questions and then revising them to make sure they would answers my research questions. That might seem obvious, but there’s so many interesting little nooks and crannies to wander off on tangents to that you can soon lose sight of the overarching questions you’re trying to answers. There’s a very difficult balance to strike here between asking questions about specific policy changes that you think are significant and then ending up with 45 different answers to these individual questions which don’t really combine to answer the one or two big questions you set out to ask.

Those twenty pages were then boiled down to two pages and set off to Matt Garlick and Liz Cole at the DWP’s research department who were very helpful in helping me refine them further and ensure that they are posed in a way that DWP respondents will be able to relate to.  Matt is now in the process of arranging an initial round of interviews in Sheffield and London.

Jan Høgelund and Steen Bengtsson at the SFI in Copenhagen have been tremendously helpful in helping me round up interviewees for the Danish portion of the research. They’ve helped put me in touch with some of the directors of the Labour Market Authority, some of the Ministry of Employment’s specialist officers in charge of disability policy, some board members at Specialfunktionen Job og handicap, a statutory body that advises Danish local government on activation of disabled people and a whole range of academic researchers at various universities and research institutes. I’m hoping to split all these into three or four three week stints starting in March and extending into the early summer. I’m hoping to have most of these done by July so I can spend the summer working out where there are gaps and then early autumn plugging them so I’m ready to start writing in September. That’s the plan, anyway.

December all saw the presentation of my draft paper Disability and Society paper, Disabled people, activation, welfare reform and new economic times: a research agenda. It was largely well-recieved but it will need some tinkering before it goes formally to D&S.

It’s looking like the paper I presented to the QMU research is going to be my first published one. I’m just putting the finishing touches to it now and it goes to print in a few weeks’ time.

I’ve also had an abstract accept for the 2012 Nordic Research Network conference here in Edinburgh. This is a properly international conference, so I’m excited to have been accepted, especially because I only found out about it an hour before the deadline.  Hopefully this will be a good build-up to the Disability Studies Conference in Lancaster in September.




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