During the COVID pandemic, the devastating shutdown of entire sectors of the economy has exposed key vulnerabilities in our current modes of social and economic organisation that existed prior to the crisis, in which income is dependent on employment for most. We have also come to realise that the most essential and important work is done by those who provide the human labour of caring, healing, public services, and transportation are those on whom hyper-societies rely. As a result, the status of work in question is now at the heart of these structural vulnerabilities, where global experiences of ongoing disruptions have been brought to the surface across various social, economic, and political domains (Gao and Sai, 2020; Einola et al., 2021).
Critical scholars have questioned the conventional, idealistic approaches to advocating for a rethinking of vulnerabilities and work ethics in recent years (Gilson, 2014; Meriläinen, Salmela and Valtonen, 2021; Pullen and Rhodes, 2008, 2015; Pullen, Rhodes and Thanem, 2017). Work, on the other hand, is becoming more uncertain in its reality as employment conditions deteriorate (Kalleberg and Vallas, 2018). Meanwhile, paid work remains a crucial political move, with polltakers chanting and swearing ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ as if a return to a post-war patriarchal vision was both important and necessary. Amidst this, inequality appears to be growing across socioeconomic classes, racial divides, and national borders. Yet, there is no evidence that practical organisational and social reforms have resulted in significant improvements.
Against this backdrop, it is necessary to question how traditional economic, financial, and political values are distributed in ways that sustain socioeconomic inequalities in a post-pandemic context, which also reminds us to think about gender, race, class, nation, sexuality, and colonialism in terms of histories and experiences that bind varying situated women, minorities, other marginalised groups together. Thus, this project raises questions:
What changes post Brexit and Covid are influencing work and employment of vulnerable groups in society?
How does the intersection of various socio-economic and disadvantageous characteristics influence employment outcomes? (Intersectional analysis of various manifestations of precarity, vulnerability, and marginalisation, e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, and indigenous communities rendered invisible by dominant regimes.)
How can we move towards a more equal, meaningful, and sustainable workforce?
This interdisciplinary project combines studies of intersectional politics, global inequalities and intervention, feminist ethics, and the value of human labour and work.
This project is supervised by Dr Gosia Ciesielska.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
· Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
· Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF21/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Open
Start Date: March 2022 or October 2022
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.