Daisy Payling


Doctoral researcher

Department of History


PhD title: Activism in Sheffield 1970-1990
Supervisor: Professor Matthew Hilton
PhD History


My research focuses on social and political activism and activist networks in Sheffield in the 1970s and 1980s. I’m looking at how old social movements, like the trade union and labour movement, and new social movements, such as feminism and the CND, crossed over at a local level and how the participants in such movements interacted with each other and the local council. The general idea is to track Sheffield’s activism in this period, look at how this is relevant on a national level, and to show how new social movements should not be looked at as an isolated phenomenon, but as movements developing alongside other types of movements and local politics.

I’ve been at the University of Birmingham for five years. I did my undergraduate degree in English and History here, then the MA in Contemporary History – which prepared me well for the PhD I started in 2011, supervised by Professor Matthew Hilton. Birmingham is a great place to study contemporary history as there are many faculty members and post-grads working on similar themes which creates a good research atmosphere. Faculty members have also been very supportive of our growing post-grad community, and of the journal and workshop group we run within the School of History and Cultures.

I was also a research assistant on the Stories of Activism Project. My involvement included:

  • conducting a scoping study on activism in Sheffield which included a database of over 300 known activist organisations in Sheffield from 1950s till now.
  • facilitating a workshop which was attended by activists to develop ideas around what activism, particularly in Sheffield, constitutes. This workshop enabled activists to guide the focus and progress of the project in the future onto elderly and ethnic minority activisms.

I worked with academics from the University of Sheffield on this project, and met and worked with many of the activists involved in my own research.

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