Birmingham researchers explore fake news, ordinary working families and Birmingham's Muslim community at the Festival of Social Science

What does it mean to be an ordinary working family, who are they next to the just managing families or the squeezed middle? What do we really know about fake news and how can we interpret it? And what can we learn about Birmingham Muslim’s in the city?

Researchers from the University of Birmingham, College of Social Sciences, are leading workshops and discussions across the city as part of the 15th ESRC Festival of Social Sciences showcasing their research to members of the public.

Dr Daniel Wheatley will lead a discussion and round table debate on ‘Ordinary Working Families’ - a term which has been used to describe middle and lower-middle income working households.

Dr Wheatley, University of Birmingham said: ‘Ordinary Working Families have a constrained disposable income, caring responsibilities or precarious jobs.

‘Although there is no single definition, this group have been prioritised by the UK Government, including in Theresa May’s first speech as Prime Minister and Philip Hammond’s 2016 Autumn Statement.

‘Our event provides the opportunity to showcase the latest research and understanding of these households to a wider audience.’

Dr Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, Dr Colin Rowat, Dr Zhihua Li and Dr Kamilya Suleymenova, will explore the concept of ‘fake news’ and illustrate how data can misinform consumers, showing delegates simple rules to make sense of data with examples from current policy debates such as Brexit.

Dr Bandyopadhyay, University of Birmingham said: ‘The session promotes an understanding of how data in social sciences can be used by the public to make informed choices.

‘The talks will use examples to examine how data can be used to misinform, and then show how it can be used to inform us on policy issues.’

And Dr Chris Allen leads a sell-out session discussing his research on Birmingham’s Muslim community, challenging some of the negative media representations of Birmingham and its Muslim community.

Dr Allen, University of Birmingham said: ‘The ESRC Festival is a wonderful opportunity for us to reach out and talk to people from all walks of life including those who don’t normally engage with academic research.

‘Given my research focuses on the lived experiences of everyday people in the city, being able to share that with others is vitally important.’

This event will adopt a ‘conversational’ approach whereby specialists and audience members will be able to freely engage in discussion and debate.

ENDS

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Notes to Editors

  • Further information about the 15th ESRC Festival of Social Sciences. The festival runs from the 4 – 11th November.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world's top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.