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Annual Distinguished Lecture Series

Each year the department runs a Distinguished Lecture Series, which invites leading social scientists to talk about key societal issues and their research.

Previous Lectures

Professor Peter Dwyer (University of York) – A Social insecurity? Citizenship, conditionality and discretion in the 21st century UK welfare state, 22nd February 2018 Lecture Theatre Complex

Social citizenship in the UK has undergone profound change in recent decades as the extension and intensification of welfare conditionality within the social security system has undermined citizens' entitlement basic welfare. A principle of welfare conditionality links eligibility to continued receipt of work related benefits to claimants’ engagement with mandatory, work focused interviews (WFIs), training and support schemes and/or job search requirements, with failure to undertake such specified activities leading to benefit sanctions. Allied to this discretion is firmly embedded within the 21st century UK welfare state. This paper explores how conditionality and discretion come together in the everyday encounters between job coaches and benefit claimants to create a range of outcomes for citizens in receipt of social welfare benefits

Dr Kevin Farnsworth (University of York) - Taking back control in order to hand it back to big business: corporations in Brexit Britain, 21st March 2018 Lecture Theatre Complex A

Brexit is stacking the cards in favour of big business. EU governments are competing vigorously for British capital. The British government is introducing new inducements to retain it. And business lobbyists are more active than ever in trying to ensure that public policies privilege capital. This paper examines empirical data from two separate studies. First it looks at the ways in which the UK competes for capital and its implications for public policy. The second presents new data on business lobbying in the UK. Drawing on both sets of data, this paper speculates that current approaches to Brexit is dramatically empowering capital and disempower citizens. The prognosis for British public and social policy is not great, but an alternative British capitalism may yet emerge to offer hope.

Professor Ian Gough (LSE) - The environment and social policy: heat, greed, and human need, 18th April 2018 EDEN Lecture Theatre

Previous lectures from the 2017/18 Series are available on Youtube:

Dr Alex Scott-Samuel (University of Liverpool) 16th November 2017 – Back to the Future? Prospects for a Labour policy on a renationalised NHS 

Although a Conservative government introduced the first NHS internal market in 1991, it was the Blair governments that promoted NHS privatisation and commercialisation, especially in England. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act took this a stage further and legislated to allow complete future NHS privatisation. Labour opposition to this has been restrained, in acknowledgment of Labour's earlier contribution to privatisation. Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party has given confidence to those arguing for complete renationalisation and the new policies agreed at the 2017 Labour Party conference represent a turning point. I will discuss these issues in the context of current and past health politics and policy

Professor Kate Pickett (University of York) 26th October 2017 – Inequality and the quality of society 

After declining through most of the 20th century, levels of inequality increased sharply from the early 1980s onwards and we are now as unequal a society as we were in Edwardian times. No other country in Europe tolerates such high levels of inequality. There is now substantial evidence that larger income differences in a society increase the prevalence of most of the health and social problems that tend to occur more frequently lower down the social ladder. Inequality is also related to poor economic performance and damage to the environment. The pathways through which human beings are sensitive to inequality are now becoming clear. In this lecture, I will describe an explanatory theory that best fits the growing evidence. Inequality appears to have its most fundamental effects on the quality of social relations—with implications affecting the prevalence of a number of psychopathologies. I will also outline different policies to reduce inequality, with a focus on increasing economic democracy to create a stronger culture of equality.