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Studying with us during coronavirus in 2020 to 2021

Social Policy Research Centre

Established in 1990, the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) is an interdisciplinary, cross-departmental centre, initiating and supporting high-quality research of national and international standing. We aim to investigate and raise awareness on a range of social and public policy issues, with a particular emphasis on social justice. Using innovative methodologies, we produce evidence and provide cutting-edge analysis in order to contribute to academic debates, inform policy-development and make a real impact on local, national and international practice.

Our key areas of work are:

  • Inequality and discrimination
  • Migration and citizenship
  • Gender, Sexuality and Feminism
  • Labour, work, labour markets
  • Community engagement and activism
  • Research methods and data analysis

Our research projects

Over the past few years, the SPRC has been involved in a wide range of research projects funded by research councils, the EU, government departments and the major charities. We are building on this track record, continuing to attract research and KE funding and producing research outputs of outstanding international value.

Examples of recent and ongoing projects include:

Health, social, economic and cultural impacts of COVID-19 on migrant essential workers in the UK - 2020-2022 (PI: Prof Sharon Wright, University of Glasgow, Co-I's: Dr Kasia Narkowicz, Middlesex University, Dr Anna Gawlewicz, University of Glasgow and Dr Aneta Piekut, University of Sheffield). Funded by ESRC.

The project is a mixed-methods study mapping the impacts of Covid on Polish migrant workers in the UK and how it intersects with existing insecurities around Brexit and impacts plans to remain in the UK.

Gender, Justice and Security Hub - 2019-2024 (Necla Acik, Zahra Hussain, Sobia Kapadia, Janroj Keles, Cecilia Passaniti Mezzano, Neelam Raina)

This UKRI Global Challenges  Research Fund project covers 32 projects across the globe and is coordinated by LSE with Middlesex University co-directing the Migration and Displacement stream.  It works with academics, local and global civil society, and policymakers, especially in the Middle East and South Asia,  and seeks to advance the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality; SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions; and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.

PHS-Quality: Job Quality and Industrial Relations in the Personal and Household sector - 2018-2020 (Erica Howard, Eleonore Kofman). Funded by European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

The project studied from a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective the existing public policies and social partners’ strategies towards personal and household services in ten EU countries.

Women’s lived experience of Holloway Prison2017-2018 (Carly Guest, Rachel Seoighe)

This project explores the impact of the closure of Holloway prison on the women imprisoned there, using interviews and focus groups. The research team includes research assistant Alexandra Phillips and the project engages with community groups and organisations working on women’s incarceration and community justice. The project is supported by Middlesex University’s School of Law small grants scheme.

RESL.eu – Reducing Early School Leaving in the EU - 2013-2018 (Alessio D’Angelo, Magdolna Lorinc, Neil Kay; Louise Ryan, University of Sheffield)

This 5-year EU-funded project aims to provide insights into the complex, diverse and dynamic trajectories of young people from school to training and into employment. In doing so, it aims to inform policy debates about education and employment policies at the local, national and international level. Involving 9 EU countries; the UK team oversees the quantitative research element.

EVI-MED – Constructing an evidence base of contemporary Mediterranean migrations - 2016-2017 (Brad Blitz, Eleonore Kofman, Alessio D’Angelo, Nicola Montagna, Martin Baldwin-Edwards)

This ESRC/DFID-funded project explored the nature of migration flows across the Mediterranean and investigated the reception mechanisms in Italy, Greece and Malta. Undertaken in partnership with local NGOs, the project is informed by 750 questionnaires with migrants and a rich body of primary and secondary data.

DiverCity2015-2017 (Eleonore Kofman, Simon Harding, Erica Howard, Rachel Cohen)

This EU funded project maps multiple dimensions of LGBT-phobia in six small and medium-sized cities in five European countries, including Nottingham in the UK, in order to make visible the needs and lives of LGBT people as well as the discrimination and harassment they may face in different aspects of their lives.


Each year, the SPRC produces a wide range of academic outputs, including research reports, journal articles, edited volumes, and briefs for policymakers, practitioners and community groups.

Some recent publications:

  • Montagna, N. (2020). Da Blair a Brexit. Venti anni d’immigrazione e politiche migratorie nel Regno Unito (From Blair to Brexit: Twenty years of Migration and Policies in the UK). Collana ISMU, Franco Angeli, Milano.
  • Morrison, C., Sacchetto, D. and Croucher R. (2020). Migration, ethnicity and solidarity: ‘multinational workers’ in the former Soviet Union. British Journal of Industrial Relations. DOI: 10.1111/bjir.12518
  • Akgöz, G., Croucher, R., Pizzolato, N. (2020). Back to the factory: the continuing salience of industrial workplace history. Labor History, 61(1), 1-11.
  • Saini, R. and Begum, N. (2020). Demarcation and Definition: Explicating the Meaning and Scope of 'Decolonisation' in the Social and Political Sciences. Political Quarterly: Reports and Surveys, 19(1). DOI: 10.1111/1467-923X.12797
  • Pilkington, H. and Acik, N. (2019). Not Entitled to Talk: (Mis)recognition, Inequality and Social Activism of Young Muslims. Sociology, 54(1), 181-198. DOI: 10.1177/0038038519867630
  • Christou, A. and Michail, D. (2019). 'A window to knowledge is a window to the world’: Socio-aesthetics, Ethics and Pedagogic Migrant Youth Journeys in Crisis Shaped Educational Settings in Greece. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2019.1636210
  • Guest, C. and Seoighe, R. (2020). Familiarity and strangeness: seeing everyday practices of punishment and resistance in Holloway Prison. Punishment and Society, 22(3), 353-375. ISSN 1462-4745
  • Howard, E. (2019). Law and the Wearing of Religious Symbols in Europe (2nd ed.) Routledge, London.
  • Juntti M., Costa H., Nascimento N. (2019). Urban environmental quality and wellbeing in the context of incomplete urbanisation in Brazil: Integrating directly experienced ecosystem services into planning. Progress in Planning
  • Keles, J.Y. (2019). Return mobilities of highly skilled young people to a post-conflict region: the case of Kurdish-British to Kurdistan – Iraq. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2019.1600401
  • Kofman, E.  (2019). Gendered mobilities and vulnerabilities: refugees crossing to and through Europe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 45(12), 2185-21. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1468330

Full list of publications by individual SPRC members are available on the Middlesex University Research Repository: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/

Future Events

Rima Saini: "Decolonisation of quantitative methods pedagogy in political and social science"

February 1, 2021, 1-2 PM (GMT)

Register here.

This seminar stems from Rima Saini's homonymous paper.


In this paper, we explore how two, ostensibly separate initiatives—the project to mainstream quantitative methods teaching and the endeavour to decolonise Higher Education—can be effectively combined to generate a pedagogical strategy that is effective and opportune for contemporary social and political science curricula. In doing so, we weigh the merits and challenges of combining decolonisation and quantitative approaches to undergraduate social and political science teaching. Our approach is informed by several years of experience in teaching quantitative methods across Sociology and International Politics to diverse cohorts of undergraduate students at various institutions. Our starting point is the observation that the production of social data is a form of knowledge production. Equipping students to grapple with the authoritarian, hierarchical and hegemonic nature of data is at the core of our approach. We provide examples to show how this may be applied for two learning outcomes: (1) to understand the power relations that underlie knowledge production, and (2) to describe and critically analyse social data, in secondary as well as primary forms, in the context of its biases. We propose approaches in which data literacy is an explicit tool to critique mainstream social and political discourses in pursuit of broader social justice aims.

Kasia Narkowicz: "Brexit, Covid and the hierarchies of Europeanness: Polish migrants in the UK"

March 1, 2021, 1-2 PM (GMT)

Register here.

Polish migrants make up the biggest foreign-born population in the UK. Despite their numbers, many do not feel welcomed or at home in the UK. They face increased uncertainty about their lives due to their precarious situation in the context of Brexit and Covid-19. While many Eastern European countries are geographically and politically located within European borders, and benefiting from (white) privilege not granted to many other migrants to the UK, there is historical tension around the place of Eastern Europe in wider hierarchies of Europeanness that get mobilised in the everyday lives of Polish migrants. In this talk, I will draw on data from interviews that I conducted in 2019-2020 with Polish migrants and introduce ideas from a new project with Polish migrant key workers. I hope to sketch out some of the current challenges faced by the Polish community in the context of both Brexit and Covid.

Professional activities

Members are active in a range of professional organisations, such as IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe), of which Middlesex University is an institutional member and Eleonore Kofman is a member of the Executive Board; Anastasia Christou is a Committee member of the Gender and Sexuality Standing Committee of IMISCOE; Rima Saini is the Co-Convenor of the British Sociological Association Race and Ethnicity Study Group.

Guest, Ahmet, Christou, Kofman, Peyrefitte, and Seioghe organised the ATGENDER Spring Conference 2020 held online on the theme of Caring in Uncaring Times with 300 participants from across the world.

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