Achieving fairness? Challenging poverty and social exclusion through partnership working

  • Marisol Lopez

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Income inequality and poverty have been a persistent and prevailing issue in Scotland (Mooney, 2014; McKendrick, 2014). Despite efforts of the Scottish Government (2016a) to lower poverty rates, statistics demonstrate an increase in poverty levels since 2011 (Scottish Government, 2019a). The introduction of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (UK Government, 2012) has resulted in an additional loss of resources for the most disadvantaged areas in Scotland (Beatty and Fothergill, 2018). To tackle the high levels of inequality and poverty, local authorities have been implementing Fairness Commissions, which are strategies that advocate partnership working and the inclusion of the community (Dundee Partnership, 2012; Lyall, 2015). This research aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of how inequality is impacted through services, partnership working, and wider support networks. A series of longitudinal interviews was conducted with 23 service users (of which 12 participated in a follow-up). Further interviews were held with five support workers and three policymakers. Additionally, a Social Network Analysis was conducted with 42 organisations. This was framed within the context of a critical systems approach (Kogetsidis, 2012). The findings of this research demonstrate that individuals experience intersectional inequalities which restrict social mobility. Service users accessed support during times of crises, through which they encountered wider support services. Within these wider services, this research identified ‘hidden communities’ in which individuals had created ‘collective capital’, framed as an alternate understanding of social capital. Individuals had created networks of support established on foundations of solidarity and compassion, resulting out of experiences of severe social exclusion and inequality. Whilst the organisations in which these networks were established were reported as being the most beneficial to service users on a long-term basis, many of these organisations struggled to secure funding. Organisations which were aligned with public partnerships had more steady income streams, allowing for greater power within the network. These findings highlight the need for a prevention of inequality, a review of the funding environment for support services and a reconsideration of theory on social capital.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBeverley Searle (Supervisor) & Carlo Morelli (Supervisor)

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