Week 1: Reflections on the Beginning

This week was the first start of my project! Focusing on the analysis of the key text within my project: “The Inclusive Society” by Ruth Levitas, as getting to know the core concepts of her work is the first important step to understanding the direction my research may go in.

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Day 1: Getting Started  

I officially started my research today. I thought one of the main challenges for this week is going to be actually getting started and breaking down the workload I have to do- but today has been really productive and I feel like I have made some positive steps in the right direction. I have decided that this project will begin with a narrow focus on Levitas, then broaden out as required.

I have been able to get the heart of Levitas’ ideas today, looking at defining the concepts of redistributionist discourse (RED), moral underclass discourse (MUD) and social integrationist discourse (SID), as well as foundational differences between discourse and ideology. I have started to make notes on her work as well so I am in a positive position to write up my findings and really enjoyed the progress so far!

 

Day 2: Continuing effort!

After getting over the start of Levitas’ work, I have now started to look into her further chapters and keep my notes up to date in order to aid my research report. Today’s reading focused on The Commission on Social Justice, Inquiries into Income and Wealth by the Rowntree Foundation and the Liberal Democrat Dahrendorf report which all feed into different notions of reducing inequality.

The biggest take away from this today is the underlying theme that there is undeniable interdependence on wealth/income growth and social cohesion. With a large wealth gap, you will inevitably have less social cohesion as society is divided by economic status.

I started to make extended plans for the rest of my research project, have contacting the People’s History Muesum in Manchester as they have an extensive archive collection of Labour Party related items. While they may not be able to assist my enquiry, I would like to assess the scope of the project and see if any detailed documentation they have would be of value.

 

Day 3: Levitas continues

Today has been another day of reading and progress with Levitas’ work, making two chapters of progress looking at Stakeholder discourse within Blair’s campaigns and policy.

The Peoples History Museum have informed me that their archives are only updated every ten years, therefore there is limited material on the leadership of Miliband, and no information available on Corbyn or Starmer. Due to this fact, I have decided to not visit the archive as it would not be productive to my project.

While this is a setback in my original project plan, I have decided to use extensive internet archives, including the library at the University of York in order to make sure my project is still well researched.

 

Day 4: Meetings and more notes…

This has been a good day of progress. I had a constructive meeting with my mentor who helped me in deciding the next actions that need to be taken after this first stage of work. What I did find helpful was the decision we came to focusing on the final product of my research, which will take the form of a research paper with integrated sections on discourse analysis. I also made sure to start my Leadership journal, which enabled me to reflect on what we have learnt up to now and how this may have implications for my research.

I am continuing to push through with Levitas’ text and I now only have two chapters until I can start analysing the strengths and weaknesses of her arguments and write up my thoughts. I think that this may be one of the most challenging aspects so far as I am critiquing the work of an established academic, however I have taken extensive notes therefore am able to recount and understand her arguments.

 

Day 5: Completion of the Text

I have completed Levitas’ work and made notes on her theories, arguments and understanding of New Labour Policy.

The next stage in Days 6 and 7 will be to plan and write up my findings of Levitas’ work and therefore analyse the strengths and weaknesses of her work. While I appreciate there has been significant time differences between her producing the work and my research, I feel that she maybe overlooks some key aspects that would have benefited her research well. I have found some surprising aspects of New Labour policy which I didn’t expect, notably their approach to lone parents, which I will cover further

I have also been able to order the other texts required for this project, therefore starting to consider sourcing literature for my discourse analysis. I look forward to starting week 2! 

Hannah Boyle

Undergraduate Student, University of York

I am a 2021 Laidlaw Scholar from the University of York, focusing my research on the question:  How was the U.K. Labour Party changed their discourse and proposed to challenge domestic poverty and inequality since 2010?

I have been involved in Politics at a local, grassroots level, including community campaigning, and previously worked for Rachel Reeves MP in her constituency office. As a Politics student, I am interested in all things political and anything related to International Relations, with particular interest on the European Union, Women in Politics and International Development.