Fully funded PhD Studentship The Big Society: Does Voluntary Work Build Stronger Communities?

Supervisors: Dr Daniel Sage (Research Centre for Professional Work and Society, School of Business and Economics) and Prof. Karen O’Reilly (Department of Social Sciences, School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences).

Applications are invited for the above studentship commencing 1st October 2013.

The Graduate School studentship provides a stipend of £13,726 p.a. plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for up to three years (full-time only). Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK and EU applicants only. 

About the Project:

Since 2010 the UK government have promoted voluntary work as a necessary ingredient of the success of the ‘The Big Society’ policy. Under this initiative voluntary work is promoted to support community integration, well-being, and prosperity. This project seeks to examine the challenges and potential of these efforts. Contributing to debates in the sociologies of work, communities and organisations, as well as social policy and human geography, the research will explore whether this recent state-directed push for voluntary work is building stronger communities, or is it a symptom, even cause, of ever-greater social exclusion and injustice? Through a range of qualitative research methodologies, including ethnography, the project will consider how individuals, social groups, and a range of organisations, are responding to, and being shaped by, the recent prioritization, even quasi-professionalization, of voluntarism within social policy.


Applicants will have a good first degree in a relevant social science discipline. An MSc/MA postgraduate degree in a related field is also highly desirable. Applicants should have excellent oral and written presentation skills, and experience with qualitative research methods.

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The closing date for applications is Wednesday 19th June 2013. 

Candidates should use the reference GSS13 on the application form for the ‘funding’ section. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an interview, foreseen to take place soon after the closing date for applications.

Informal enquiries about the project should be made to Dr Daniel Sage (d.j.sage@lboro.ac.uk).

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