Seminar 3 – Future

Welfare Futures: Where next?

4th December 2018 – The Birmingham and Midland Institute (BMI) in Birmingham 

The third and final seminar in the series 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 (facilitated by Jean McEwan from Wur Bradford), 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, 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).

*Places are free but limited. Booking is essential. Please book your place here.


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 and Ruth Patrick.  Kayleigh 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). Ruth is a lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York. Her research interests encompass welfare reform, social citizenship, participatory research and qualitative longitudinal methodological approaches. She is the author of For whose benefit? The everyday realities of welfare reform (Policy Press, 2017) and faciliated the Dole Animators (2013) film.

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)