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I am a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE). My background is in the sociology of work and employment, and I am interested in the class and gender dimensions of working lives and structural inequalities in employment outcomes. My interest in construction stems from my PhD, which, working with the Bourdieusian notion of field, investigated the internal dynamics, tensions and power relations that characterise architectural production.
I took my degree in Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (1997). After working in a HE library and in social housing for three years, I decided to pursue a career in social research, and completed a master's degree in Social Research Methods (2000), also at the LSE. I then worked at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) for nine years, on a part-time basis for seven of those, balancing family and work responsibilities. Most of the projects I was involved in addressed social policy concerns such as discrimination in the labour market, basic skills training provision for adults, the needs of social housing tenants, representation of ethnic minorities in higher education, women in science and academia, and family-friendly work policies and practices. The funders included the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education, the European Commission, non-governmental bodies (e.g. CABE) and professional institutions (e.g. RIBA). I left PSI to study for a PhD, which I worked on between 2009-2014 (University of York). I have been working at the University of Westminster since 2016.
Currently, I’m involved in three projects:
1. Green Transitions in the Built Environment (with Professor Linda Clarke and Dr. Colin Gleeson). The objective of the research is to investigate the labour and labour process implications of the transition to a low carbon, energy efficient construction industry and the role of trade unions in implementing innovative low carbon construction projects in Europe. The study is overseen by the International and the Built Environment Working Groups of an international research programme, “Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces – An International Perspective”, of which ProBE is a partner.
2. Inclusive Vocational Education and Training for Low Energy Construction (with Professor Linda Clarke and Dr. Colin Gleeson). The aim is to identify the issues that arise in low energy construction and the ways in which different European countries address these in the context of varying VET models, industrial relations traditions, construction industry and labour profiles and national policy environments. Special attention is paid to the impact of on-site practices, contractual and social relations on the implementation sustainable building regulations. These issues will be investigated through in-depth examination of examples of low/zero energy building schemes in ten EU member states.
3. Housing and Labour: a pilot oral history of post-war council house building in England and Scotland (with Professor Linda Clarke and Dr. Christine Wall): The project involves organising a travelling exhibition of 'Constructing Post-War Britain', and accompanying seminars, to lay the ground for the development of a research programme exploring the role of Direct Labour Organisations (DLOs) in post-war social house building.