Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
Queen’s University Belfast Featured PhD Programmes
Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes

3-year PhD Studentship: The Politics of Inequality: Examining the Dynamic Trajectories of Economic Inequality in the UK


   Department of Law and Criminology

  Dr Emily Gray, Prof Alex Nunn  Sunday, October 31, 2021  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Purpose / Objectives

1.     To explore long-term trends in economic inequality, political polarisation and public sentiments to inequality in the UK.

2.     To use existing datasets (for e.g. the Cohort Studies) and/or produce new data on political responses to inequality/insecurity.

3.     To contribute to the development of a research team/programme at Derby on the political and social consequences of economic trends, by co-producing outputs.

 Description of the Project

Consistent rises in economic inequality since the 1970s have made it one of the pressing concerns of our era, raising questions around the legitimacy of our social systems. At the same time, inequalities have become highly concentrated in particular social groups. Recently, interest has begun to question the way that economic inequality and insecurity may be fuelling political dissatisfaction and polarisation (Matheson, 2019, Gidron and Hall, 2017; 2020; Bukodi and Goldthorpe, 2021) including the role that it played in establishing the important new political cleavage of Brexit identities (Duffy et al, 2021). 

The supervisory team have previously explored long-term patterns of inequality and the shifting political contexts in which these trends occur (Nunn 2016; Nunn and Tepe, forthcoming; Farrall, Gray and Jones, 2021; Farrall, Gray and Jones 2020; Farrall, Gray, Farrall, Nunn and Tepe, forthcoming). The PhD student will receive excellent supervision and first-hand experience of undertaking an innovative type of long-term analyses.

The UK is fortunate to have access to a range of high-quality longitudinal data. These include multiple ‘life-course’ studies (cohorts born at various points and tracked from birth onwards), as well as socio-economic markers and repeated cross-sectional surveys (for example, the British Social Attitudes Survey, the Crime Survey for England and Wales; the British Election Studies). These resources cover a range of policy fields, including crime, education, employment, housing, welfare, and will allow the successful candidate to locate their own discreet line of enquiry within the field of inequality and political sentiments (for example, they may wish to examine the emergence of ‘complex inequalities’; ‘the ‘left behind’ or regional inequality). The student may also wish to supplement the secondary data analysis with new field work. The final methodology and research question will be discussed and agreed between the student and supervisors.  

The thesis will produce an accurate, long-term and empirically-grounded assessment of the effects of economic inequality on political polarisation and political attitudes. It will move forward debates in social policy on these relationships and embed the analysis in wider historical and political processes.

Interested applicants are recommended to contact the supervisory team to discuss the project and their interests for this proposal.

Interview date: 15th November 2021

How to apply

To apply, please click here.


Funding Notes

The successful applicant will receive a maintenance stipend (based on the minimum stipend defined by UKRI, currently £15,609 for academic year 2021/22) and home MPhil/PhD tuition fees only up to the target submission date. Please note, if your application is successful and you are assessed as Overseas for fees purposes, you will need to pay the difference between the Home fees and the EU/Overseas fees. The intended intake period is January 2022.

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