Life behind bars: can prison be better than this?

Anastasia Chamberlen is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick and is researching in the fields of prison sociology, feminist criminology and criminal justice.

English and Welsh prisons are undergoing one of their most challenging periods in decades. As I’m writing this piece, news emerges of yet another outbreak of violence in an English prison. This time, it’s the high security HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire, a prison described by the Ministry of Justice as ‘well-staffed’, which saw 81 prisoners take over a wing, raising once again concerns about safety and order in English carceral institutions.

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Time for Parliament to allow for job-sharing MPs?

rosie-campbell 150Rosie Campbell is Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. She has recently written on what voters want from their parliamentary candidates, attitudes to MPs’ roles, the politics of diversity and gender and voting behaviour. She is the principal investigator of the ESRC-funded Representative Audit of Britain.

sarah childs 150Sarah Childs is Professor of Politics and Gender at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research centres on the theory and practice of women’s representation, gender and political parties, and re-gendering parliaments.

Just because MPs don’t job-share at the moment doesn’t mean they never will. We think it’s worth asking why the practices of flexible working, which have helped many people access to the labour market, don’t yet apply to our democratic institutions.

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Guidelines for pedestrian crossing speeds may disadvantage older people

Elizabeth Webb

Elizabeth Webb is a lecturer in gerontology at the University of Southampton, a member of the ESRC’s International Centre for Lifecourse Studies and principal investigator of an ESRC grant to investigate causes and consequences of caregiving in later life. She has an interest in older people’s physical capability and use of transport.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is consulting on new draft guidelines on environmental changes which should be made to support people to be physically active. The consultation caught my eye, since it directly relates to some ESRC funded research I recently published with colleagues.

The draft NICE guidelines state that local authorities should ensure pedestrian crossings give people with limited mobility enough time to cross the road. This is a laudable aim, however I want to emphasise that the current guidelines for crossing speeds don’t just disadvantage people who would be thought of as having limited mobility, but a large majority of the UK’s older population.

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Not just a linguistic resource but a unique record of humanity

robbie-love 150Robbie Love is a PhD student at the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) at Lancaster University, where he spent four years working on the Spoken British National Corpus 2014 project.

 

harry-strawson 150Harry Strawson is a writer living in London and contributed recordings to the Spoken British National Corpus 2014.

Here Robbie and Harry share two different perspectives on the Spoken British National Corpus project ahead of its release next week.

Every day billions of words are uttered in hundreds of languages all over the world. For corpus linguists, that is, people who study the form, use and function of language using specialised computer software, speech is like the golden snitch in a game of Quidditch. It appears to be everywhere around you and yet it is incredibly difficult to capture.

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Academics in ivory towers? It’s time to change the record

James_Georgalakis 150x150James Georgalakis is the director of communications and impact at the Institute of Development Studies and is director of the ESRC-DFID Impact Initiative for International Development Research.

Here he asks: are scholars really so out of touch with the real world or do we need to look again at this tired narrative that doesn’t reflect the reality of modern academia?

Explaining my work as a director of communications and impact in an academic institution can sometimes prove challenging.

A case in point was a recent conversation with a new acquaintance about work that went something along the lines of: “So, what is it you do again. Something about research isn’t it?” To which I replied: “Yes, that’s right. I work with academics helping them make sure that their research is put to good use – you know, informing policy, changing attitudes – so it doesn’t just end up in some journal that no one ever reads.”

“Getting them out of their ivory towers, then” came the reply, at which point I nodded vigorously and gave them a knowing smile. Continue reading