Empowerment and Social Justice Research Area

colourful hands reaching upwards

The Empowerment and Social Justice research area within the ARU Centre for Societies and Groups (ARU-CSG) is a group of qualitatively-focused scholars working toward social change, social justice, empowerment, and overturning the marginalisation of disenfranchised groups.

We undertake collaborative and applied research that makes a real difference to people’s lives through understandings of the self and processes within social environments, with impacts on public policy, pedagogies, and professional identities.

We take an action-oriented approach to our work with a range of non-academic partners, such as health and social care services, third sector organisations, service-user groups, and industry. We offer courses on applied qualitative research methods to both academics and non-academic audiences wishing to conduct research in their own organisations. We work with a wide range of organisations, communities, and individuals, consulting on research practices and methods.

Current topics of research include improving mental health and learning disability services, evaluations of social media and digital technologies, extremism and prejudice, inclusivity in sport coaching, abuse and duty of care in youth sport, and men’s health and masculinities.

We offer a Psychology PhD and a range of innovative research project opportunities for postgraduate researchers.

Academic staff

PhD researchers

Read more about find out more about the academics in empowerment and social justice research group.

PhD completions

Two of our students successfully completed their PhDs recently:

  • Magdalena Borawska-Charko - 'An examination of the sexual health knowledge, experiences and needs of people with learning disabilities'
  • Clare Nicholson - 'Interactions involving people with severe intellectual disabilities'

In the press

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Perinatal mental health in fathers

Research increasingly suggests that the transition to fatherhood can trigger mental health problems in the perinatal period (i.e., the period spanning pregnancy, childbirth, and the first postnatal year). The financial costs of paternal perinatal mental ill-health on the UK economy are substantial, but so too is the burden on fathers themselves, their partners, and their children. It is therefore important to consider perinatal mental health in terms of the family unit, including fathers.

In the Groups and Social Processes research area, we are leading ambitious projects that consider the lived experiences of fathers in terms of their mental health, in collaboration with partners in mental health services and scholars internationally. Led by Prof Viren Swami and PhD candidate Caroline Estrella, this research seeks to understand the experience of psychological distress in fathers and how best to help fathers experiencing distress to get the help they need.

Service experiences of people with mental health problems and intellectual disabilities

In order to improve services for people, we need to understand how people use and access support services, and what happens in interactions between workers and those they support.

In the Groups and Social Processes research area, we study how people communicate with each other in care services for people with intellectual disabilities, how psychiatrists discuss medication with people who have mental health issues, how people use mental health apps, and how ward staff make formulations. Led by Dr Emma Kaminskiy, Dr Lewis Goodings and Dr Mick Finlay, we try and understand what happens when people access psychological and social support.

Read more about read more about the projects from the empowerment and social justice research group.