ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2021-22
ISRF Political Economy Fellow 2021-22
Eleanor Jupp is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Kent. She has also held teaching and research positions at the Open University, University of Reading and Oxford Brookes University. She holds at PhD in Human Geography from the Open University, and her teaching and research interests combine social policy and urban social geography, with particular interests in community, neighbourhoods and families. Before undertaking her PhD, Dr Jupp worked in policy and practice in the voluntary sector, and as a UK government policy advisor on issues of neighbourhood regeneration and social exclusion, and she continues to collaborate with the voluntary sector and community groups on research.
Dr Jupp’s research concerns shifting relations between social policy frameworks and citizens, with a focus on two areas: modes of collective action and citizenship within disadvantaged urban communities, including activism, community action and experiments in collective provisioning and sharing; and how families, children and young people interact with welfare systems, with a focus on early childhood. She has overarching interests in gender and feminist theory, and how matters of care, emotions, space and embodiment can be considered in relation to the welfare state. Research projects have focused on the geographies of Sure Start Children’s Centres (2010-12); localism and urban policy (2011-13); ‘home’ and the welfare state (2013-15, ESRC funded seminar series, PI), and austerity, children’s services and voluntary action in Medway and Oxfordshire (2015-2017).
These themes have been explored in two recent books: Emotional States: sites and spaces of affective governance (Routledge, 2017, eds Jupp, Pykett, Smith) and The New Politics of Home: housing, gender and care in times of crisis (Policy Press, 2019, Jupp, Bowlby, Franklin and Hall). She has edited special journal issues of Children’s Geographies (2013) and Critical Social Policy (2017). Her monograph on Care, Crisis and the Politics of Everyday Life (forthcoming, Bristol University Press, 2021) will draw together research on austerity, everyday lives and community action from the past ten years.
The project seeks to understand a rapidly growing phenomenon: localised gifting practices, both online and face to face, that enable sharing of food, clothes, hygiene products and other goods between strangers in need. At the same time, in a context of austerity, there seems to be a crisis in the underlying politics and ethics of the welfare state, and solidarity within communities seems to be under threat. In order to consider these issues together, this project will break with existing ways to conceptualise gifting practices within social sciences, and frame them instead as experiments in collective welfare, solidarity and care. Drawing inspiration from Titmuss (1970), a study that proposed that welfare states should be underpinned by an understanding of gift economies between strangers, the project will bring these contemporary case studies of gifting into dialogue with debates about how we provide welfare for society at a far wider scale.
The project will involve ethnography and interviews of gifting practices in two disadvantaged areas of the UK (East Kent, and Stoke-on-Trent), in order to understand whether new ‘infrastructures of solidarity’ are emerging. Ethnographic research will focus on the affective, material and interpersonal qualities of these infrastructures, in terms of both potentials and problematics. Interviews will enable the production of narratives about involvement in gifting. Particular attention will be paid to the role of mediators and moderators of gift-giving between strangers, and how far trust and solidarity is generated. Participants’ experiences in these practices will be brought into dialogue with debates about welfare provisioning, through an innovative participatory workshop.
Overall, drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives, the project will open up new ways of thinking about both gifting infrastructures and the future of collective welfare.