North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership

Presenting at the Social Legal Studies Association Annual Conference

Sophia Taha, Socio-legal Studies, Keele University (2019 Cohort) 

Every year since its foundation in 1990, the Social Legal Studies Association holds a conference which moves around and is hosted by different universities. This year it was hosted at York University.

As an association it has a specific aim:  ‘for the public benefit to advance education and learning in the field of socio legal studies and to promote research, the useful results of which shall be published for the public benefit, teaching and the dissemination of knowledge in the field’ (source SLSA website) This is reflected in that the event is open to attendees from academia as well as practitioners working in the legal professions, third sector organisations and charities. With the ongoing impact of Covid-19 taken into consideration it was run in a hybrid format (online and in person) and this was the first time I attended. The hybrid format was perfect, not just for Covid considerations but because in-person events can be very intense, particularly if you are engaging with them and have neurodiverse needs.

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It’s always good to reflect on the research process

Anna  Sanders, Politics, University of Manchester (2016 Cohort)

Parties often target women voters with policy promises during election times. However, we know very little about which types of policies matter to women voters. As part of my doctoral thesis, I ran a set of focus groups in Greater Manchester with women voters at the 2015 election, which aimed to explore this further.

I spoke to 61 focus group participants overall. I held focus groups in two constituencies (Manchester Central and Altrincham), splitting focus groups up by age (under 35s, 35-64 and 65+). Thanks to the NWSSDTP, I was able to use my research training support grant to remunerate participants with a £10 gift voucher.

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Storytelling in the Thesis

Siobhan O’Neill, Politics, University of Manchester (2019 Cohort)

My PhD project –The Dynamics of Race, Racism and Whiteness in Politics: How do racially minoritised students experience and navigate the whiteness of Politics disciplines in British HE? – centres the experiences and narratives of racially minoritised students at British universities. The project is grounded predominantly in Critical Race Theory (CRT) as well as in Black Feminist and Decolonial thought, as such, I chose the critical race methodology of counter-story-telling to centre those experiences and narratives. As part of this, based on 30 interviews, 5 diaries and 5 follow-up diary-based interviews I conducted with racially minoritised students, I start each of my empirical-based chapters with a story. In these stories I put my participants in conversation with one another (and myself) in a setting that they might actually find themselves in as students at university. In what follows I share some of my reflections about using story-telling in my thesis as well as the rationale behind it and practicalities of the process.

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Learning from and with the others: my experience organising the PGR Sociology Conference

Daniela Fazio Vargas, Sociology, University of Manchester (2021 Cohort)

As first-year PhD students, we have repeatedly been told that starting a PhD journey is not easy. It requires us to be organised, not miss deadlines, be open to changing ideas, devote ourselves to a single topic for many years, be guided by experts in our field, and meet the most diverse students. But it is also an extraordinary opportunity to research something you are passionate about, develop skills, challenge yourself, and constantly learn from your supervisors and peers. This first year has been enriching for me as a Sociology PhD student at the University of Manchester. I consider that this has been made possible by the support I have received from the School of Social Sciences, my department, and the NWSSDTP. One of the reasons why I am eager to write this entry for the scholarship’s blog is to be part of the organising team of the PGR conference: “Social Movements in a Changing World: Disharmony, affinity, and solidarity at the intersections” (to be held online on the 1st of June).

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