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Changing Public Attitudes to Inequality, Poverty and Redistribution: Longitudinal Data Analysis Collaborative Project with the Scottish Government

School of Social Work and Social Policy

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Dr C Deeming No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Glasgow United Kingdom Public Policy Social Work

About the Project

Social Science: Social Work and Social Policy

This studentship aims to advance understanding of trends in social attitudes towards poverty and inequality in Britain by undertaking secondary analysis of existing datasets derived from the British and Scottish Social Attitudes surveys. It will be supervised jointly by Dr Christopher Deeming and Professor Sir John Curtice at the University of Strathclyde and the placement supervisor, Angelica Lorenzo from Community Analytical Services at the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government has a strong anti-poverty policy agenda, based on social investment and inclusive growth, and is committed to ending child poverty and reducing inequality. Yet the UK has relatively high levels of poverty and inequality for a rich country, while little progress has been made in recent years to reduce them. Scotland has not been immune from this pattern. Further governmental action is therefore likely to be necessary in future if poverty and inequality are to be reduced. Yet the legitimacy and effectiveness of such action will depend in part at least on public consent and support for policies that promote a fairer and more equal society. This studentship will utilise the rich legacy of data on the subject that has been collected by the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey since 1983 and the parallel Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey since 1999 and which will be combined to undertake a comprehensive study of the sources of support for and opposition to policies designed to reduce poverty and inequality in Scotland and England.

The specific aims and objectives of this studentship project are to:

  • Examine and report on how public attitudes to inequality, poverty and redistribution in Scotland and England have changed over the past four decades
  • Examine what people in Scotland and England think about governmental action to address poverty and inequality
  • consider the extent to which attitudes vary and have changed over time across different sections of the population, social groups and geographical areas, regions, countries
  • Consider empirically the relationship between poverty and inequality – for example, how do rises and falls in the level of poverty influence public opinion?
  • Consider how support for government action varies across party preference, and the underlying values on which people draw when forming their opinions on issues to do with inequality.

The student will benefit from a tailored training programme in quantitative methods and a research work placement with the Community Analytical Services team at the Scottish Government where they will have access to in-house researcher training and seminars and will have the opportunity to be involved working on a relevant project relating to ‘Public Attitudes to Poverty, Inequality and Welfare in Scotland and Britain’. This is a fantastic placement opportunity for anyone wishing to develop a research career in this field. Findings from the research will be disseminated through presentations at seminars, workshops and conferences, reports and academic papers.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

For 1+3 funding (Masters and 3 year PhD)

  • A good first social science degree (at least 2:1) with a substantive quantitative research methods component
  • Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of secondary data analysis using major national/international social surveys
  • Have a good grounding in secondary data analysis and training and experience in one of SPSS, Stata or R

For +3 funding (3 year PhD)

As above, and, additionally, a Masters social science degree that has a quantitative social research methods component and a dissertation. Qualifications for international students will be assessed on a case by case basis


Experience of secondary data analysis using major national/international social surveys such as the British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA), the European Social Survey (ESS), or the World Values Survey (WVS)

Please note that all applicants must also meet the ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here.

For full details and to apply for this studentship, please visit the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) website here.

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 12th April. Interviews will take place on 22nd April.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Strathclyde. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they have been selected for funding.

Funding Notes

The scholarship is available as a +3 (3 year PhD) or a 1+3 (Masters year and 3 year PhD) studentship depending on prior research training (this will be assessed as part of the recruitment process). The programme will commence in October 2021 and the full ESRC studentship package includes, as advised by ESRC:
• An annual maintenance grant (stipend)
• Fees at the standard institutional home rate
• Students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)


Applicants will be asked to provide contact details for two referees during the application process. SGSSS will then contact them (automatically) and ask that they each complete a reference template and return this to applicants intended institution. Applicants should seek permission from their referees in advance of providing their details to SGSSS.
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