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In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In ‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.

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Following the 2008 global financial crisis, Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) have become a common feature of the urban landscape in cities throughout Europe. An emerging body of literature suggests that Fab Labs go beyond providing access to digital fabrication tools, and function as ‘third places’ as they enhance social connectedness. Drawing on a case study of a Fab Lab in the English city of Coventry, this article utilises the concept of ‘austerity urbanism’ to understand the changing nature of third places in England since the 2008 global financial crash. In doing so, we argue that a confluence of austerity urbanism and digital advancements has influenced both the emergence of new third places (such as Fab Labs) while simultaneously undermining long-established third places (such as libraries). As a result, vital aspects of social infrastructure are being shaped and reshaped in the contemporary era. The article reflects on what these changes mean for individual and community well-being.

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This article considers the degree to which achieving equity in Global North–South research partnerships is possible under current UK funding models. While there has been significant discussion with respect to the decolonisation of research, it will be argued that there is some distance between the language of equity articulated currently by UK funding bodies, and the realities of working as a project partner in the Global South. The article draws on the prior and ongoing experiences of a multidisciplinary team of researchers brought together by a UK-funded research project. In the interests of moving towards more equitable systems of knowledge production and dissemination, it explores the power asymmetries that can be inherent in Global North–South research partnerships, and the extent to which issues of coloniality continue to shape aspects of research agenda setting, project framing, impact, academic publishing and the division of labour within partnerships.

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Changes in patterns of family formation in Britain in recent decades have been documented in the previous chapter. In tandem with this, there have been changes in the labour market. As Chapter Four will show, male employment has become less secure while women are entering the workforce in increasing numbers, albeit often in part-time rather than full-time jobs.

The contrast with marriage and family life in the 1950s is stark, where the economic roles of spouses were symmetrical but markedly different. Men had jobs, and in an era of full employment, this meant that virtually all men worked between the end of full-time schooling and the statutory retirement age. There is a debate as to how to characterise women’s longer-term employment histories, but with some specific exceptions, women left the paid labour force at marriage, or at the birth of their first child, or they may never even have entered it. A minority of those who left during the early part of marriage returned later. These patterns gave a characteristic lop-sided M-shape to the graph of women’s employment by age (Dale, 1987). Instead of paid work in the labour force, during the early stage of family formation women took virtually sole responsibility for unpaid work within the household, and maintained this irrespective of any subsequent re-attachment to the labour market. The evidence suggests that the total amounts of paid work done by men roughly balanced the total time spent on unpaid work by women (Young and Willmott, 1974). However, the work itself was strongly segregated by gender.

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This chapter is about the changes in people’s incomes from one year to the next in Britain. It aims to establish salient facts about income dynamics in general and poverty dynamics in particular, and their socio-economic correlates, drawing on new evidence for the 1990s derived from the British Household Panel Survey.

A household’s income level is strongly associated with two main characteristics: the composition of the family and the employment of its members. So this chapter follows logically from previous contributions to this book, especially Chapters Two and Four. As will be shown later in this chapter, movements in and out of poverty are related to both demographic and economic changes.

The pattern of income changes from one year to the next is one of much mobility, but most of the changes are short-range. For example, of those who are poor in one year, almost one half are not poor the following year – but those who escape poverty often remain on low incomes and have a high risk of returning to poverty in future years. Income mobility also means that the proportion of the population that is touched by poverty over a six-year period is twice as large as the proportion that is poor in any one year.

Income and poverty dynamics have intrinsic social relevance and policy significance. The extent of mobility and poverty persistence are important social indicators to be placed alongside information about the income distribution at a point in time. For example, the former Secretary of State for Social Security Peter Lilley discounted the rising incidence of low income during the 1980s with reference to new evidence about

income mobility:

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People’s housing situation changes through stages of their life-course – the way in which this occurs in Britain is the focus of this chapter. In keeping with the rest of this book, the chapter is concerned with the dynamics of the housing situation, and not simply cross-sectional snapshots. It considers not only the nature of the moves that people make from year to year, but goes beyond this to look at the cumulative impacts of these moves. It then describes housing careers as they develop over the life-course.

The housing career may be considered as not unlike the work career. It starts with leaving the childhood situation, a process of relatively active search. It then leads to relatively high mobility, and a process of investment to obtain or keep better jobs or housing, although in the case of the work career the investments are mainly in human capital, while in the housing career they are financial investments. These processes of career building in both housing and work tend to lead to a stabilisation in middle periods of the life-course. It is at the later stages of the life-course that the patterns diverge, since although there is sometimes a scaling down of housing requirements, it is nothing like as deterministic as the disengagement from the labour market.

However, there are three important reasons for elaborations to this view of the housing career. The housing career is:

  • substantially shaped by the work career, both because the investments which people can make in housing will depend on their incomes (and on the stability of their incomes) and also because work career mobility will often require housing mobility;

  • directly influenced by the movements through various stages of the life-course: there are changing housing space and location requirements from different stages of the process of family building;

  • strongly influenced by the pattern of state intervention, perhaps even more so than the work career, leading to much greater differences in housing careers in different countries, and greater changes over time within a single country.

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The album tells us stories. Perhaps the studious child, curled up with a book in the corner of the frame of an old black and white photo at the start of the album, reappears in a graduation photo towards the end. Perhaps the mother-to-be is found again, as we turn the pages, with two toddlers and a less convincing smile. The walk-up flat in the background becomes a three-bedroom semi, and later acquires a roof-light and a downstairs extension, or the semi is exchanged for a studio apartment with a care assistant down the hall. Some faces recur throughout the book, older but still recognisable; we see others for a few pages, and then no more.

Each snap tells us something, but we learn more from the sequence of photographs, and more still from the connections we make between the people shown in them…. The whole album provides a picture that is more than the sum of the individual pictures, more than we would get from, say, a random collection of photos from different families in successive decades of the century. The family album tells about the complex pattern of continuity and change that make up the lives of individuals and households. (Buck and others, 1994, p 10)

‘The family’ is a subject of enormous academic, political and popular interest. It is a central feature of most people’s lives, the framework within which other relationships, activities and events take place. Families have changed hugely during the past generation: not only in the formal demographics of marriage, cohabitation and childbearing, but also in the social and economic relationships between men and women, and between adults and children.

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The BHPS data on family structures, employment, income and housing, on which previous chapters are based, have been the subject of detailed analysis ever since the panel data first came on stream in the mid-1990s. Much of the material covered so far has summarised work that has already been published in a series of more detailed, and sometimes more technically complex, papers. However, the survey also includes a substantial set of questions about respondents’ state of health, and their use of health services. These have not been analysed in anywhere near as much detail, and certainly not in a way that takes full advantage of the longitudinal structure of the data. The purpose of this chapter is to develop the analysis of the dynamics of ill-health. However, because the analysis of this part of the BHPS data is at a much earlier stage, it is necessary to start by considering some more technical issues than needed to be addressed in other chapters. The most commonly used survey-based measures of ill-health and impairment in Britain are derived from cross-sectional surveys. A sample of respondents is interviewed once, and asked questions about their current state of health. This provides an estimate of the number of people ill or impaired at any time, but it provides no direct indication of the rate at which people become ill or recover. This is true of the self-reported health measures obtained by, for example, the General Household Survey (ONS, 2000) and the 1996 Health Survey for England (Prescott-Clarke and Primatesta, 1998); and of the impairment measures obtained by the 1985 Disability Survey (Martin and others, 1988), the 1995 Health Survey for England (Prescott-Clarke and Primatesta, 1997) and the Disability Follow-up to the Family Resources Survey (Grundy and others, 1999).

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During the past 25 years, two major changes have occurred in the patterns of household and family formation (as identified in the Introduction). Marriage and childbearing are occurring increasingly later in people’s lives, and there has been a dramatic increase in childbearing outside marriage. These two changes are likely to affect family life dramatically. The way in which men and women form and dissolve their families has direct consequences on the way in which they allocate their time inside the household (see Chapter Three on the role of partners within families) and in the labour market (see Chapter Four on employment). The allocation of time within and outside families is also likely to shape the situations that men and women face when forming and dissolving their families. This chapter will argue that the two major changes in the patterns of family life can be primarily accounted for by the large increase in the tendency to cohabit in first partnerships (rather than marry immediately). In doing so, it will analyse when and in what way young people leave their parental home, when they enter their first partnership and whether it is a cohabitation or marriage, the stability of cohabiting unions, repartnering after cohabitation dissolution and the timing of motherhood. In the light of the importance of cohabiting unions in the emergence of these major changes in family formation patterns, the chapter also analyses who is likely to cohabit in their first partnership, and it investigates the factors associated with the dissolution of cohabiting unions and their conversion into marriage.

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