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Ordinary Working Families: What does it mean?

Room G13 University House
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research, Social Sciences
Wednesday 8th November 2017 (13:00-16:00)
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For more infomation about this event, please contact Dr Daniel Wheatley.

Follow updates on the event on Twitter at: @dr_danwheatley @NottsCivicEx

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Daniel Wheatley

The University of Birmingham are delighted to present this event, part of the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science 2017.

This event will provide a forum for discussion and debate of ‘Ordinary Working Families’, disseminating a programme of work by researchers at the University of Birmingham and Nottingham Trent University, in partnership with Nottingham Civic Exchange. Presentations, including by leading practitioners and academics, will be followed by roundtable discussion and debate, with artefacts from the project available to participants.

To influence UK national and regional (including Midlands Engine) policy, the project employs a multi-disciplinary approach to researching ‘Ordinary Working Families’. The term has been used alongside ‘Just About Managing’ and ‘The Squeezed Middle’, to refer to middle and lower-middle income working households. Existing contributions identify common characteristics, e.g. constrained disposable income, caring responsibilities or precarious jobs, but use varying measures and offer little explanation of the impacts of financial precarity, including on well-being. Although there is no single definition across the literature, 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.

The research outputs that will be presented at this event include: an empirical investigation of UK data from the Understanding Society survey exploring how individuals feel they are ‘managing financially’; trends in objective measures of income and earnings; small area mapping of different measures of income and quality of employment; and more conceptual attempts to define the group.

ESRC Festival 2017This event aims to engage practitioners, academics, communities, intermediaries and potential service-users, with the findings of new research, and provide an opportunity to all of these stakeholders to feedback and inform subsequent phases of research: to identify gaps in the empirical work, including datasets or alternate analytical approaches known to attendees; and design qualitative sociological research, including participatory action research with households within the Ordinary Working Families group.

Directions to the event



Registration, Tea/Coffee and Pastries




Paula Black, Director, Nottingham Civic Exchange



Just Managing? The living standards of low-to-middle income households

David Finch, Senior Economic Analyst, Resolution Foundation



Evidence from the Analysis of Ordinary Working Families: Findings, Gaps and Recommendations

Chris Lawton, Senior Research Fellow, Nottingham Business School

Daniel Wheatley, Senior Lecturer in Business and Labour Economics, University of Birmingham



Work-life balance and ‘ordinary working families’: money and time in working class lives

Tracey Warren, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham



Roundtable: Where to next? Debating the Future of Research and Understanding of Ordinary Working Families


Andy Reeve, Director of Urban Economics, Impact Hub Birmingham

Josh Westcarr, Student Representative, Nottingham Trent University

Julia McKeown, Voluntary and Community Sector Representative

Kris Ali, Housing & Community Officer, University of Birmingham Guild of Students

Peter Davies-Bright, Economic Policy & Strategy Manager, Nottingham City Council

Richard Pickford, Knowledge Exchange & Impact Officer, Nottingham Civic Exchange



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