Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice

The issues involved in poverty, inequality and social justice are many and varied, from basic access to education and healthcare, to the financial crisis and resulting austerity, and now COVID-19. Addressing Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, our list both presents research on these topics and tackles emerging problems. A key series in the area is the SSSP Agendas for Social Justice.

This focus has always been at the heart of our publishing with the view to making the research in this area as visible and accessible as possible in order to maximise its potential impact.

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Poverty, inequality and social justice, we aim to address the following goals: 

Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice

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This book focuses on the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic currently dominating the agenda of global, national and local policymakers, from the perspective of the UK. This major public health crisis presents a threat which is impacting adversely on global economic structures, and exacerbating a number of pre-existing wicked issues. These interlinked issues include climate change, racial justice, austerity, housing and homelessness, employment, domestic abuse, human trafficking and modern slavery.

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The Centre for Partnering is a collaboration of universities: University of Stirling, University of Northumbria (Newcastle Business School), Manchester Metropolitan University, Oxford University (Blavatnik School of Government) and the University of Cardiff. Recently, the Centre for Partnering has been joined by ‘fuse’, involving the universities of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside, with a focus on public health.

The Centre for Partnering has established its own governance framework with an aim of delivering more effective partnering outcomes through the application of relationalism. In particular, this involves the identification of a number of relational dividends covering the functional, financial, social and emotional values that can arise.

Through the Centre for Partnering’s governance arrangements and the workings of its Discussion Groups/Forums a knowledge base has been compiled which will form part of the Centre for Partnering’s accreditation model.

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Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent co-operative retailers in the UK, with gross sales of more than £1 billion, over 400 trading outlets, a family of around 8,600 colleagues and more than 330,000 regular trading members.

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COVID-19 uncovered how fragile New Zealand’s public and community services are for many people. While the health system has so far avoided the worst impacts because of initial success in containing the disease, income, food, education, employment and housing and community support systems have been strained and inequalities amplified. For decades public health has had community health and empowerment at its theoretical core but in New Zealand, our health systems have failed to reach effectively into communities. This failing is replicated throughout the government sector where a highly centralised polity has little experience or tradition of working with communities.

The New Zealand health system is currently undergoing significant reform providing an opportune moment to revisit our social infrastructure and consider options for more effective action to achieve health and wellbeing for all. There is good reason why local government could be a central actor in any transformation to more empowered and resilient communities. But learning from the experiences of other countries while ensuring we also learn from our own context and innovations will be key. Wellbeing needs to be embedded throughout the system. The pandemic has served as a wake-up call and conversations have begun. This chapter explores this potential rethink of relationships in New Zealand between central and local government, and communities.

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This case study explores the impact of COVID-19 on communities in Nepal and North East India and how the pandemic has increased vulnerabilities to modern slavery and human trafficking. It is an accumulation of our own personal reflections of what we have experienced and observed during the COVID-19 pandemic in our country contexts. Responding to modern slavery and human trafficking during this time has never been so difficult. Despite lockdowns implemented in our respective contexts, we have continued responding to modern slavery and human trafficking, as we recognise the urgency and severity it brings in an emergency.

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Nigel Saunders, Director at Pozzoni Architecture, considers whether recent developments to the procurement of environmental design and construction services, driven by a mixture of new government policies, the national response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, and ambitions to reach net-zero carbon by 2050, go far enough.

He explores emerging techniques for the assessment of ‘value’ during the procurement of contracts, advocating that there are a wide range of assessment criteria that should form the bedrock of subsequent successful relationships.

With fundamental questions remaining around hidden costs and who should carry the losses associated with tendering processes in construction, design and planning, as well as other key industries such as healthcare, he encourages a sustainable model of public–private relationalism that is focused on transparent partnerships with purpose and longevity.

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The supply of good quality, low or zero carbon housing is an enormous challenge for the country. The private sector has shown that it doesn’t have the capability or desire to deliver more than around 150,000 houses a year, while the public sector lacks the resources to deliver new homes in the volume required. How then can the government get close to meeting its target of building 300,000 new homes a year?

The answer may lie in nurturing alternative delivery channels such as off-site and modern methods of construction (MMC) manufacturers. However, to do so it is important to work collaboratively with the sector and seek to nurture it rather than wrap it up in impossible key performance indicators and contract conditions. It should be expected that there will be delays and failures, but this should be treated as a positive, allowing the sector to evolve and grow.

This will require an entirely different contractual framework. A relational approach is ideally suited to working collaboratively with partners to help realise the overarching goal of improving housing output and quality while addressing climate change and providing much needed new homes for families across the country.

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The United States’ long history of structural racism, permeating all aspects of life including housing, employment and healthcare, placed American minorities at disproportionate danger from COVID-19. The combination of American racism and COVID-19 resulted not only in spikes in hate crimes and discrimination, but also the avoidable deaths of thousands of Americans. This case study reviews structural racism’s mounting death toll and culture wars and clashes in the context of the US political landscape during COVID-19.

While some individuals and non-governmental organisations moved to fill voids left by government inaction on racism and xenophobia, others actively sought to escalate racial tensions. The structural racism and social determinants of health that set the stage for the harm American minority communities endured in the pandemic’s first year and beyond remain deeply ingrained in the American cultural, political and social systems.

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South Africa has some of the highest rates of gender-based violence and femicide in the world (WHO, 2018). COVID-19 is seen to be compounding pre-existing vulnerabilities globally and making visible a broader landscape of inequalities which interact in new ways. South Africa’s civil society organisational network forms an important asset in relation to the twin pandemics. A history of collaboration under apartheid and HIV/AIDS provides resources on which to draw, especially in the light of state systems mired in corruption and inefficiency. Civil society offers important resources for COVID-19, such as communicating information, providing food support, and holding the government to account on social issues.

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