Wellbeing ESRC Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Manchester Metropolitan University
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Seminar 4

Research and Policy


4th July 2002

King's Fund , London

Co-ordinator: Dr John Haworth, Professor Graham Hart and Professor Sarah Curtis
Seminar presentations: Speaker's notes


Participants Projects

David Haley Social and Environmental Practices Research Unit. (SEPRU)
Jonathan Bradshaw The Well-Being of Children

David Halpern, Peter John and Zoë Morris

Social Capital, Participation and the Causal Role of Socialisation
Dr Judith Sixsmith Health, Well Being and Social Capital


The aim is to introduce the topic of wellbeing for consideration in policy/research
9.30 - 9.50 Registration/Coffee
9.50 - 10.00 Welcome & background to the series: Graham Hart
10.00 - 10.45 Summary of previous seminars in the series
10.00 - 10.10 Environment and wellbeing. Prof Sarah Curtis
10.10 - 10.20 Work, leisure and wellbeing Dr John Haworth
10.20 - 10.30 Health and wellbeing. Prof Graham Hart
10.30 - 10.45 Points of amplification/information on seminars.
10.45 - 11.0 Coffee
11.30 - 1.00 Keynote speakers on themes crosscutting the seminars, plus discussion.
Prof Richard Wilkinson, Division of Public Health Sciences, University of Nottingham Medical School. 'Social Capital: the impact of inequality'
Perri 6. Director, Policy Programme, Institute for Applied Health and Social Policy, King’s College, London. ‘Sense and solidarities: a neo-Durkheimian theory of well-being and its implications for public policy’
1.00 - 2.00 Lunch
2.00 - 4.15 Policy discussions on each of the three previous seminar areas.
2.00 - 2.45 Health and wellbeing
2.45 - 3.30 Work, leisure and wellbeing
3.30 - 4.15 Environment and wellbeing
4.15 - 4.30 Coffee
4.30 - 5.00 Antony Morgan, Director, Health Development Agency.
'Social Capital'
5.00 - 5.30 General discussion. Close.



Participants Projects

Social and Environmental Practices Research Unit [SEPRU]

David Haley

Faculty of Art and Design
Manchester Metropolitan University
Cavendish Building North
Manchester M15 6BR

www.miriad.mmu.ac.uk/sepru  (site under construction)

SEPRU was founded in 1998 as an interdisciplinary forum for a community of interest focused on accelerating social environmental change. It has a core membership of arts and design practitioners and a cross-cutting faculty of associates from the social and natural sciences. This provides the unit with access to qualitative and quantitative methods of enquiry to pursue research in the creative arts.

SEPRU members operate at community, national and international scales with practical projects, artworks and theory to generate critical capacity in its field. This body of information and knowledge is disseminated electronically, in print and in dialogue to promote understanding of practice based research.

SEPRU has agreements and accords with the University of Barcelona, University of California, Davis and the Public Art Observatory, and actively seeks collaboration with other HE institutions, NGOs, Government agencies and community groups.

SEPRU’s most recent action was to host the Public Art Observatory Workshop, COMMON-WEALTH: Cultural Diversity As A Driver of Change, March 2002. Projects initiated by SEPRU members include an ecological arts programme focused on climate change and flooding on the River Severn, a European heritage gardens landscape programme and an international programme to explore environmental/feminist theory through fine arts practice.



Professor Margaret Harrison postmaster@mfharrison.demon.co.uk

David Haley d.haley@mmu.ac.uk

Ed Bennis e.bennis@mmu.ac.uk 

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Social policy Research Unit

The Well-Being of Children

Jonathan Bradshaw

At the University of York we have been engaged in research on the well-being of children since we were commissioned by UNICEF to write the UK report (Bradshaw, 1990) for their comparative study of the well-being of children in industrialised countries (Cornia and Danziger, 1996). We had originally worked on the UNICEF report as a sub-contractor of the National Children’s Bureau and they funded an update of that review (Kumar, 1995). Then as part of the ESRC Programme on Children 5-16 we were funded to undertake Poverty: The outcomes for children (Bradshaw, 2001a). This project involved:

1. A programme of secondary analysis of large data sets focussing on child poverty. This included British data - the Family Resources Survey, the Breadline Britain Survey and the British Household Panel Survey and comparative data - the Luxembourg Income Survey and the European Community Household Panel Survey (Whiteford, Kennedy and Bradshaw, 1996; Adelman and Bradshaw, 1998; Bradshaw, 1997, 2001; Clarke, Bradshaw and Williams, 2000).

2 A comparative study to discover how other countries attempt to monitor the well-being of their children.

3. A review of existing evidence on the impact of poverty on the outcomes for children.
The latter two elements were published as a book by the Family Policy Studies Centre and the National Children’s Bureau (Bradshaw, 2001a).

One of the conclusions of this work was that there is a strong case for a routinely produced and comprehensive national report on the State of Children in the UK. We had thought that the Office for National Statistics might undertake this work, or perhaps a coalition of voluntary bodies. But we were delighted to be approached by Save the Children (UK) and commissioned to produce three reports on the state of children in the UK over the next six years 2001-2007. The first of these is in press and will published in August 2002 (Bradshaw 2002).

Meanwhile in England, the Children and Young Person’s Unit (CYPU) has been established in the Department for Education and Science with responsibility for policy coordination and for running the Children’s Fund. The CYPU has recently begun work to develop a framework for monitoring outcomes for children and young people and in Building a Strategy for Children and Young People (CYPU, 2001) proposes that it will produce a regular State of the Nations’s Children and Young Person’s Report, perhaps from 2004 onwards. Similar moves are taking place in the other countries of the UK.

Adelman, L. and Bradshaw, J. (1998) Children in Poverty in Britain: An analysis of the Family Resources Survey 1994/95, Social Policy Research Unit, University of York.
Bradshaw, J. (2001) (ed) Poverty: the outcomes for children, London: Family Policy Studies Centre/ National Children’s Bureau.
Bradshaw, J. (2002)(ed) The well-being of children in the United Kingdom, London: Save the Children.
Bradshaw, J. (1990) Child poverty and deprivation in the UK, National Children’s Bureau.
Bradshaw, J. (2001) Child poverty in comparative perspective, in Gordon, D. and Townsend, P. (eds) Breadline Europe: The Measurement of Poverty, Bristol: Policy Press, pp223-250
Children and Young People’s Unit (2001) Tomorrow’s Future: Building a Strategy for Children and Young People, London: CYPU
Clarke, L., Bradshaw, J. and Williams, J. (1999) Family Diversity and Poverty and the Mental Well-being of Young People, Unpublished paper: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University of York.
Cornia, G. and Danziger, S. (eds)(1996) Child poverty and deprivation in the industrialised countries 1994-1995, Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Kumar, V. (1995) Poverty and inequality in the UK: The effects on children, National
Whiteford, P., Kennedy, S. and Bradshaw, J. (1996) The economic circumstances of children in ten countries, in Brannen, J. and O’Brien, M. (eds) Children in families: Research and Policy, London: Falmer.


Social Capital, Participation and the Causal Role of Socialisation

ESRC Democracy and Participation Programme
David Halpern, Peter John and Zoë Morris

This project is an investigation into the origins of social capital. The original aims and objectives were:

  1. To discover the origins of social capital, including civic participation and trust (main aim);
  2. To appraise the extent to which training on citizenship, and the culture and regime of the school affect social capital;
  3. To explore why continuing education is associated with higher levels of civic participation, trust, as well as better life chances, in particular to test whether cognitive style – such as the tendency to consider long-term consequences – underlies both civic participation and the decision to stay in school;
  4. To examine the relationship between subjective well-being, trust and other aspects of social capital;
  5. To feed the results of 1-4 to policy-makers, in particular the DfEE and the Cabinet Office.

Therefore our main research questions are:

We operationalise these objectives through a longitudinal survey of 1249 Year 11 school children in Hertfordshire with a follow-up after completion of compulsory education participation. The focus is on socialisation and value-orientation of school children; and analysis of the secondary data - the World Values Survey (WVS).

Using the data gathered from the first phase, we have explored theoretical models of political socialisation; specifically the effect of aspects of family and school on political knowledge, efficacy, and interest, and trust, volunteering. This has allowed us to evaluate the validity of existing theoretical models and thus to update theorising political socialisation. It has also allowed us to link social capital with socialisation, and to consider the role of psychological variables such as self-esteem and well-being. We have started to analysis our existing data using multi-level analysis by means of MLWin. We have several publications in draft using data gathered in this first phase. Analysis of data gathered from the first phase (Autumn 2000-Spring 2001) suggest that some well-being measures help predict levels of interest in politics and levels of social trust (John, Halpern, and Morris 2001).

We are currently inputting data gathered from the same young people a year on. This phase is designed to establish how well they did in the GCSEs, what they chose to do after Year 11 – return to education, or look for a job – and whether their social and political attitudes have changed over the additional year in education.

We will use the 1990 WVS, specifically the Bradburn Affect Scale, to look at well-being, and how it is made up. We will use path analysis to explore the relationship between well-being and social capital, and apply the same model to the data gathered from our schools pupils. The later model will include academic performance data. We are interested in two aspects of well-being – (1) what predicts it, and (2) how these are associated with other social capital measures.


ESRC Seminar Series: Wellbeing: Social and Individual Determinants
Research and Policy for Wellbeing

4th July 2002

Health, Well Being and Social Capital

By Dr Judith Sixsmith
Manchester Metropolitan University

It is now widely recognised that individuals’ health and wellbeing is shaped by structural factors such as the social and community context in which they live. Moreover, health inequalities are deeply gendered, with men’s health being a major concern across the UK (Wilkinson, 1996). The present Government White paper, ‘Saving Lives – Our Healthier Nation’ (1999) has endorsed the view that social factors can play a vital role in improving health and well being and that narrowing the health gap involves a commitment to action at the individual as well as social and community level. The White paper suggests that reducing health inequalities should be based on a “…three way partnership between people, local communities and the Government.” (1.21) whereby,

“Good health is the bedrock on which we build strong health, strong communities and a strong country” (1.9)
Government White paper, ‘Saving Lives – Our Healthier Nation’ (1999)

While such convictions regarding the link between individual health and community life underlie Government policy making, there is little research evidence which explicates the complex ways in which participation in community life can play a health enhancing role and contribute to well being, particularly relating to gendered experiences in socially deprived communities. In two interlinked qualitative studies, the relationship between social capital (Putnam, 1993, 2000), health and gender were explored (Sixsmith et al 2001; Sixsmith et al 2002) in a socially deprived community in the North of England. These studies underlined the notion that bonding ties (family and friendships) were particularly strong within the community, but bridging ties (based on professionalisms and difference) were weak. Both bonding and bridging ties could operate in positive and negative ways highlighting the fact that social capital has the potential to improve, but also to constrain or to damage health and wellbeing. At the community level of analysis, the meaning and experience of community life was highly implicated in individuals’ sense of health and well being, particularly concerning generalised suspicion and fear of violence. However, the community did not exist as a homogeneous place and the meaning of community varied depending on time of day, the age and gender of residents as well as specialised places which were designated as feminised space. The playing out of masculinities and femininities within the complexity of community space and social networks held implications for the development and maintenance of social capital and how this generated a sense of wellbeing. The policy implications of such work have yet to be fully explored since the emphasis on increasing social capital at community level holds the potential to exclude those who are ‘different’ as well as constraining opportunities and experiences for those who are included within the density of networks, meanings and spaces within which social capital is manifest.

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