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2009/10 News

28/05/2010: Poverty and social exclusion research launched

Researchers from the School are taking part in the UK’s largest ever study on poverty and social exclusion. Mary Daly, Paddy Hillyard, Grace Kelly and Mike Tomlinson are involved in the project which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The investigation will be led by a team of top flight researchers, who will examine trends from the past ten years and the impact of the recession. The findings will identify the causes and outcomes of poverty and social exclusion and could have a significant impact on policies to improve the standard of living across the social divide. The initiative, which will span three and a half years, is a major collaboration between Queen’s, the University of Bristol, Heriot-Watt University, the National Centre for Social Research, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, The Open University, the University of Glasgow and the University of York.


Professor Mike Tomlinson, Head of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s said: “This is a very significant project, which allows us to compare how Northern Ireland has changed since the poverty and social exclusion survey carried out here in 2001/2. “We are especially interested in how living standards vary by the equality dimensions included in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998). We also want to address the continuing debate over the legacy of the troubles and to establish how people are dealing with the consequences of the crisis in financial services and associated impacts on employment and public services. “Northern Ireland faces serious challenges in meeting its obligations under the Child Poverty Act (2010), but it does so with a high degree of political consensus that child poverty must be eliminated. This research will provide policy makers with key insights into different forms of social exclusion and how these may be addressed through the devolved government.”  The research project will:

•                Improve the measurement of poverty, deprivation, social exclusion and standard of living.

•                Measure the change in the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion over the past ten years.

•                Produce policy-relevant results about the causes and outcomes of poverty and social exclusion and how best to address these problems.

Professor David Gordon, Director of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol, said: “Billions of pounds are spent each year in the UK on trying to reduce poverty and yet poverty rates remain stubbornly and persistently higher than during the 1960s and 1970s.  “Wages and benefits are too low and too much money and talent is wasted on ‘socially useless activities’ in the financial sector. A radical re-think is needed on how to end poverty and exclusion once and for all. This study will provide the kind of deep analysis that can inform the work of the new Government - and that of Frank Field MP, who has been invited to lead a review on levels of poverty and how it should be measured.” For more information visit  

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07/05/2010: Sociological Association of Ireland holds annual conference at Queen's
The Sociological Association of Ireland will be holding its annual conference in the School from 7-9th of May.   Over 70 papers will be presented over the three days of the conference. Themes include immigration, mental health, religion and changing values, childhoods, memory, social exclusion, social movements and the environment. The full programme can be viewed here.

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28/04/2010: Professor Ruggiero talks on "Rubbish Capitalism"

Professor Vincenzo Ruggiero, renowned international scholar, visited the School today to talk about his latest research on "Rubbish Capitalism", specifically the case of the crisis in the collection and disposal of rubbish in Naples. Professor Ruggiero is professor of sociology at the University of Middlesex. He discussed how concerns around environmental justice are growing.  He showed how various writers have exposed failures of regulation and avoidance of responsibility and have contributed to the production of relevant recommendations for the kinds of policy and legislation required for the defence of the earth. After briefly outlining such concerns, the paper focused on conducts which are not adopted in a normative void but are violations of even the limited environmental norms in existence. Discussing such conducts, relating to the case of Naples and the ‘rubbish crisis’ experienced by this Italian city, it is felt that an analysis of the novel ways in which white collar and organised crime are connected is necessary.

Professor Ruggiero's books include: ‘Social Movements: A Reader’ (2008); ‘Understanding Political Violence’ (2006); ‘Crime in Literature’ (2003); ‘Movements in the City’ (2001); ‘Crime and Markets’ (2000). His new book ‘Penal Abolitionism: a celebration’ will be published in July by Oxford University Press. 

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23/04/2010: Professor Pinkerton and Dr Campbell appointed co-editors of British Journal of Social Work
Two social work experts from Queen’s University Belfast have been appointed Co-editors of the British Journal of Social Work, the UK’s leading academic social work journal.
Professor John Pinkerton and Dr Jim Campbell are the first Northern Ireland academics to hold the prestigious positions of co-editors.
The journal covers every aspect of social work, with papers reporting research, discussing practice, and examining principles and theories. It is read by social work educators, researchers, practitioners and managers who wish to keep up to date with theoretical and empirical developments and is regarded as one of the top ten international journals in its field.
Professor Pinkerton said: “The British Journal of Social Work is ideally positioned to connect the world of British social work research and practice to the increasingly global profession that is social work today. BJSW already has an impressive international reputation and to see that further strengthened is one of the major goals of our term of office.”
Dr Campbell said: “We are looking forward to working with the BJSW’s Editorial Board to expand and develop its network of academic and practitioner contributors and readers. With the support of the Oxford University Press team we are confident we can ensure the Journal continues to provide the highest standards of contemporary publishing, making full use of the constant developments in information technology.”

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23/03/2010: Dr Sally Shortall gives keynote address in Melbourne

Dr Sally Shortall, a Reader specialising in rural sociology, will give a keynote address in Melbourne today. Dr Shortall is to speak on The changing role of women in the global dairy industry, where’s our future?  at the University of Melbourne. She is there as a guest of the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, in conjunction with Genetics Australia, which has organised the lecture as part of the Australian Government’s policy of promoting women leaders in Australian society.

Sally will consider the organisational culture of mainstream dairy organisations, and reflect on whether having a small number of women leaders can change organisational culture. She will also ask if women dairy organisations are effective, or whether they are perceived as a special interest group outside of the main game. Sally will give examples from Developing Countries where aid organisations very deliberately seek to work with women in dairying and notes the reason for this is that aid organisations are surer of an economic return on their investment if they work with women. She reflects on what lessons we can learn from this to advance the position of women dairy leaders in the Developed world.

While in Australia, Sally has also been invited to give a number of seminars and lectures in the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and Deakin University. These will draw on her recent ESRC funded Knowledge Transfer Fellowship post with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland. She will offer a critical reflection on the links between evidence and policy formation; the power struggles involved in the formation of policy; and how evidence, policy and politics are not neutral.

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15/03/2010: Applications for Postgraduate Research

Due to the problems experience with the On-line Application Portal, the deadline for submission of applications for Postgraduate Research has been extended until 9am on Wednesday 17th March.

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27/01/2010: Policing Seminars

The School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social work has teamed up with the Committee on the Administration of Justice to organise a seminar series on Contemporary Policing: Issues and Initiatives.

The series consists of eight seminars led by presenters who will provide perspectives on policing from particular sections of the community and from within the police service itself.  The first seminar is on Tuesday 2nd February and the full programme can be downloaded from here.

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26/01/2010: School hosts seminar on 'The Changing External and Internal Borders of Northern Ireland'
The School hosted a visit today of students and staff from the University of  Nijmegen, The Netherlands.   Eighteen MA students studying Conflicts, Territories and Identities and three staff members attended a seminar convened by Professor Liam O’Dowd  (Director of the Centre for International Borders Research) on the theme: ‘The Changing External and Internal Borders of Northern Ireland’.  Professor Henk Van Houtum who participated in the visit also serves on the International Advisory Board of  Queen’s Centre for International Borders Research.

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15/01/2010: Deadline for applications for Part-time Social Work extended.

The deadline for applications for September 2010 entry is 5:00 pm 22nd January 2010. Applications received after this date will not be accepted.

For more information and application forms please click here.

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10/12/2009: Applications now being accepted for part-time Social Work degree

The School is delighted to announce that applications are now being accepted for the new part-time BSW Social Work Programme. The new degree will commence in September 2010 and the closing date for applications for September entry will be 15th January 2010.

For more information on the new programme, and to download an application form, please click here

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10/12/2009: Queen’s University group to help tackle domestic violence

A new group at Queen’s University Belfast will help tackle the scourge of domestic violence, which affects thousands of women, children and men in Northern Ireland every day.

The Domestic Violence Research Special Interest Group is the first of its kind on the island of Ireland to bring together researchers, policy makers, health and social care professionals, charities and support groups. The Group will provide access to the latest research into domestic violence and help shape future research to inform the development of more effective and efficient ways of tackling the problem.

The first meeting of the Group, which is part-funded by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, will take place at Queens today (Tuesday 8 December). The meeting will be addressed by Professor Julie Taylor from the University of Dundee, who led the development of a similar initiative in Scotland.

Dr John Devaney from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work is Co-Chair of the Group. He said: “Domestic violence is a significant social problem in Northern Ireland. Last year, the police responded to an incident of domestic violence every 23 minutes, yet we know many cases go unreported. Around 11,000 children are directly affected by domestic abuse and the cost to the Northern Ireland economy is estimated at £180million annually. This is equivalent to the deferral of water charges each year or the building of nine new post-primary schools.

“The Government’s Tackling Violence at Home strategy in 2005 highlighted the need to develop policies and services to counter domestic violence. These must be based on the latest research evidence on violence in the home, its causes and effects, and evidence as to what works best when tackling domestic abuse. This is where the Domestic Violence Research Special Interest Group will play an important role.

“The Group will provide a forum to share the latest research findings and shape future research to help improve our understanding of the problem. Ultimately, our aim is to help rid our society of the scourge of domestic violence.”

Dr Anne Lazenbatt, NSPCC Reader in Childhood Studies at Queen’s and Co-chair of the group said: “Queen’s researchers are already working hard to better understand experiences of older women who have suffered domestic violence. Violence at home is a common experience for around 15 per cent of women aged over 55 years. While some have been living with an abusive partner for many years others, who have begun a new relationship in later life, may be experiencing domestic violence for the first time.

“Our research, which is funded by the Changing Ageing Partnership, has found that older women are less likely to seek help, partly because of the lack of specialist services available to them. They are more likely to resort to misusing alcohol or prescription drugs in order to cope, resulting in problems for their physical and mental health.

“This research, which will be published next year, highlights the need for more support services for older women and awareness of the fact that they too suffer domestic abuse. It is just one example of how research can help us better understand extent and impact of domestic violence. Through research like this, the Group can help inform the development of policies and services to tackle domestic violence.”

For more information on the Domestic Violence Research Special Interest Group contact

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18/11/2009: School PhD students secure BSA Funding for conference

Congratulations to SSPSW PhD students Ciaran Burke and Nathan Emmerich who have secured support from the British Sociological Association to run a two-day postgraduate event in the School at the end of March 2010 on:

‘Bourdieu and Education: A Postgraduate Conference and Three Masterclasses on Post-Primary, Higher and Professional Education’. Please click here to view details of the event. Any queries should be directed to

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11/11/2009: Queen’s launches new Part-time BSW pathway
Queen’s is delighted to launch a new part-time programme for the BSW Social Work, which will accept its first intake of 15 students in September 2010.

The Part-time pathway is offered as part of our recognition of the need to widen access to opportunities to study Social Work. It aims to offer the opportunity for Social Work training to persons who cannot, for various reasons, access our two full-time programmes.

For more information on the new programme, including details on how to apply, please click here (Part-time BSW).

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11/11/2009: SSPSW student is Local AIESEC President

Many people often ask me what AIESEC is and what it does. The simplest answer is that it is the world's largest student organization, operating in 107 countries. AIESEC was formed shortly after WW2 by several European students who believed that the leaders of the future would an appreciation for different cultures and backgrounds in order to prevent another world war. Thus they created AIESEC, a student run organization which would give people the platform to develop their skills and lead by running a global exchange programme. Alongside this process students would improve their worldview and cultural understanding. Today AIESEC in Queen's is just one of 1,700 in which students foster 5000 exchanges in order to realise the original dream. I am proud to say I am one of the students helping to make it happen.
I joined AIESEC about a week into my first year at Queen's. I went along to the first meeting for the free pizza, not understanding what the organization was or how it could possibly offer me anything. Four years later and I am glad I did not make a hasty decision. With AIESEC, I've been to ten national conferences, had three recognised leadership positions and have had the chance to enhance my presentation, sales and team-working accumen. As well as that I've met students from hundreds of other countries and universities in the UK. My understanding of other cultures has constantly been questioned and reformed - I have hundreds of AIESEC friends on facebook from many different cultures, backgrounds and faiths.
I am currently Local Committee President of AIESEC's operations in Belfast and I recently took time out from my studies to attend a conference in Portugal for Local Committee presidents throughout Europe and North America. This conference aim was to give the governing leaders of AIESEC in these regions the opportunity to further improve their skill-sets, network with companies and develop their cultural understanding.
The opening event was held in a global village in the centre of Lisbon where delegates presented their native culture, food, drink and dance. Twitter were also involved in hosting a lucrative networking event. Local and national companies offered a platform for LCP's like myself to discuss opportunities available within AIESEC and after I graduate. The conference has connected me with AIESEC members who are experienced and have been part of the organization for several years. Overall I have returned home with more ideas and skills which will enhance AIESEC in Belfast as well as my employability and cultural understanding.
Mark Rodgers, Level 3 Major Gender Studies, Minor Sociology
Local Committee President
AIESEC Belfast 09/10
(For more information about getting involved in AIESEC email or check out
More information can be found in the Enterprise Centre in the Student's Union.

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02/11/2009: School Research into social networking sites

Almost half of P7 children who took part in a survey by Queen's and the University of Ulster use social networking sites like Bebo, Facebook and MySpace.

48 per cent of the 3,657 Primary 7 pupils (10-11 year olds) who took part in the Kids' Life and Times Survey had used these websites, despite the sites themselves indicating they are not suitable for children below the age of 13.

The survey is carried out annually by ARK, a joint research initiative by Queen's and the University of Ulster, and documents children's opinions on a wide range of social issues, from experiences of school and bullying to their favourite TV programmes.

The key findings from the questions on technology use are:

  • 48 per cent of respondents had used social networking sites like Bebo, Facebook or MySpace, although these sites indicate that P7 children are too young to use them. 29 per cent of the children who responded said they use these sites 'a lot'.
  • 46 per cent play multi-player online games, with boys more likely to do so than girls. Boys also spend much more time playing these games than girls do.
  • More boys (41 per cent) than girls (31 per cent) said their friends include people they talk to online but don't meet face-to-face.
  • 13 per cent of respondents have experienced bullying either online or by text.
  • Most respondents (87 per cent) said their parents or their teachers had talked to them about internet safety, with more girls (90 per cent) than boys (83 per cent) saying that they had done so.
  • 93 per cent of P7 children who responded to the survey had their own mobile phone.
  • 98 per cent said their family had at least one computer or laptop and of these, 94 per cent said these computers had an internet connection.

Dr Katrina Lloyd from Queen's said: "The public and the media often debate topical and controversial issues relating to children but we rarely ask the children themselves what they think about these things. The Kids' Life and Times Survey gives children the opportunity to express their views on the issues that affect them.

"With so many children accessing social networking sites and playing online games, it is imperative that children are taught about online safety to protect them from the very real dangers that are present in the 'virtual' world." Dr Paula Devine from Queen's said:

"The results from the Kids' Life and Times Survey indicate that P7 children in Northern Ireland have widespread access to and use of technology such as mobile phones and computers.

"There is no doubt children in Northern Ireland, like their counterparts elsewhere, have adopted these technologies wholeheartedly to communicate with the outside world and with each other.

"While these technologies bring benefits for all of us, there are unforeseen dangers that can affect children in particular, such as health problems like obesity, while unsupervised access to the internet can leave children vulnerable to sexual predators and 'cyber' bullying."

The Net Generation, findings from the Kids' Life and Times Survey, are available online at

The Kids' Life and Times Survey was funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Watson at Queen's University's Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5320 or mailto:

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23/09/2009: Find your way round the new library!
Students returning to Queens this month will be aware that the new library is now up and running. In order to make best use of the library, staff are running short tours for all returning students to make them familiar with the building and the vast amount of resources and facilities on offer.

Tours will take around 20 minutes and will be available Monday to Friday from 21 September to 9 October 2009 at 10.00am, 11.00am, 2.00pm and 3.00pm.  There is no need for you to book a place just come along at one of the appointed times above.  However, in order to gain access to the building you need to bring your student card.

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18/09/2009: Teenage drug use discussed at Queen’s

The issue of drug use will be the focus of two important events at Queen’s University next week.

On Monday 21 September, school teachers, health educationalists and drug prevention professionals will hear findings from the Youth Development Survey. They study questioned 4,000 teenagers in 43 schools in Northern Ireland about drug use. It found that by the age of 12 years, eight per cent of those questioned had used cannabis. This rose to 43 per cent by the age of 16, and 45 per cent by the age of 18.

Later in the week (Thursday 24-Saturday 26 September) researchers from across Europe will meet at Queen’s to discuss the latest developments in drugs-related issues at the 20th Annual Conference of the European Society for Social Drug Research.

The Youth Development Survey is one of the largest schools-based surveys of its kind in the UK or Ireland. It is conducted by the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and is funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland.

Dr Patrick McCrystal, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Child Care Research, said: “Monday’s event will bring together educationalists and health professionals to discuss the onset and development of problem drug use among teenagers.

“A number of young people who took part in the Youth Development Survey appear to have developed a drug-using lifestyle by the age of 16 years.

“While the survey looks at the use of a number of drugs, the findings relating to cannabis are particularly interesting as cannabis is often considered the ‘gateway’ drug to more serious substance abuse. In nearly all cases, cannabis is the first illegal drug used by young people – and almost all of those who reported using cocaine or ecstacy also used cannabis. Levels of cannabis use by these young people is higher than among teenagers of the same age in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

“The cannabis users who took part in the study were more likely to be male, have weaker family bonds, and be less committed to school than those who did not use the drug. They were also more likely to have smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol to intoxication before the age of 16.

“Of the young people who had tried cannabis, around one in ten went on to use it on a weekly basis by the age of 16. The most common age for first trying cannabis is 15, and most of those who admitted using the drug obtained it from friends.

“These findings highlight the need to educate young people about the risks of experimenting with drugs. This event is an opportunity for the people who work with these teenagers in schools, health care and drugs prevention organisations, to consider the research findings and their implications for drugs education and prevention initiatives for young people in Northern Ireland.”

The 20th Annual Conference of the European Society for Social Drug Research will explore drugs policy, trends and patterns in drug use, drug using lifestyles, the availability of drugs and the structure of drug dealing networks.

The Youth Development Survey involved young people who attended schools in Belfast, Ballymena and Downpatrick. For more information on the Survey visit

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