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Truly transformative? Critically appraising the ‘voice of lived experience’ in anti-poverty strategy and policy in Scotland.

Project Description

Project reference number: GSBS-2019-123

The lived experience of poverty in Scotland has been conveyed for a wide range of population groups, in a diverse range of places, and with regards to a broad range of issues. In 2019, SPIRU was asked by the Poverty and Inequality Commission to undertake a rapid review of the ‘voice of experience of poverty’ in Scotland (McKendrick, in press). A wide range of population-specific work has been undertaken, with ex-offenders (McHardy, 2011), lone mothers (Arneson, nd), asylum seekers (Stewart, 2015), homeless persons (Reid, 2015), children (Nourish Scotland, 2016) and disabled persons (Inclusion Scotland, 2015), among others. However, although diverse in character, it is not clear the extent to which this body of work adequately represents the lived experience of poverty in Scotland. Similarly, given that the means taken to access people experiencing poverty is often through gatekeepers or gatekeeper organisations, it is unclear whether this is capturing the voices of the very most marginalised or disenfranchised (who may be beyond the reach of gatekeepers or gatekeeper organisations).

This study will systematically profile the voice of lived experience of poverty in Scotland. Building on this, the study will reflect on the extent to which the store that is being placed on the voice of lived experience is truly transformative in terms of shaping the direction of anti-poverty policy and strategy in Scotland and consistent with the participatory agenda that Scotland is pursuing in social policy, promoted through the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. Building on the conceptual tools shared in the Poverty and Inequality Commission’s recent report (McKendrick, in press), this study will seek to theorise the actual and potential contributions of lived experience to anti-poverty activity and understanding.

Supervisor Research Profiles

Director of Studies: Professor John McKendrick
GCU Research Online URL:

2nd Supervisor: Professor Stephen Sinclair
GCU Research Online URL:

3rd Supervisor: Dr Ruth Lightbody
GCU Research Online URL:

This project is available as a 3 years full-time PhD study programme with expected start date of 1 October 2019

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisors for the project before applying.

To apply for this project, use the following link to access the online application form, as well as further information on how to apply:

Applicants shortlisted for the PhD project will be contacted for an interview within four weeks from the closing date.

Please send any other enquires regarding your application to:

Funding Notes

Exceptional candidates will be put forward for the scholarship competition. The Scholarship packages available include fully funded studentships and fees only scholarships. The fully funded studentships are worth £19,300 per year for 3 years, subject to satisfactory progress. They cover payment of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend of £14,800.

For further details on funding see View Website

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