I am a doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham and I am looking to speak to gig economy disabled, neurodiverse and/or chronically ill workers, to reflect together on the current working conditions for precariously employed disabled workers in the UK.
Prior to starting the programme in October 2019, I had once worked on a full-time, permanent contract (as a University administrator), with the rest of working arrangements, contracts, and internships being short-term and ad-hoc both within the University and outside. This is an experience that has been normalised increasingly more after the 2008 economic crisis, when austerity measures started to be rolled out throughout the UK, and stable working conditions began to be deteriorated and deemed as privilege. Throughout my adult life, I had been interested in matters related to body and work, but I never had the chance to fully explore the relationship between the two until I secured funding from Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC – they are the UK’s funding body for social research) to undertake a Doctoral project designed by myself.
My broad academic area of interest is social and political theory, but most importantly I am driven by a political desire to put these theories to use in a way that informs and leads to concrete change to the lives of marginalised groups. Over the past decade, I have focused my efforts on educating myself about matters related to social justice, both academically and in practice within and beyond the university, and through active involvement in two trade unions (and supporting others too). Being interested both in supporting disabled people’s movements, and having reflected upon working conditions during my time as a student, worker, and trade unionist, I realised that I needed to do whatever I could to highlight the perspectives and experiences of disabled workers in the most recent discussions regarding the present working conditions for insecure workers (self-employed, zero-hours, short-term employees/workers), and the future of work and disability more generally. At the same time, exciting developments have occurred in the area of Critical Disability Studies and qualitative research methodologies, and I wish to engage with these debates as well.
If you are interested in reading my previous publications (on various other topics), please visit thinkingthroughtechnics.wordpress.com
Whenever possible, I will post short blog posts throughout the duration of my programme, reflecting on and sharing my experiences of postgraduate research in higher education – what it entails, how it feels to be doing particular activities, what ethical and logistical dilemmas I encounter. If you have any curiosities or questions you would like me to address as a blog post, please feel free to send them to me. As a working class student who is the first one in her family to go to university (let alone do a PhD), I know that what happens within universities is not well-known beyond those who spend time in them – those who are already in them. This is partly because reflections on academic life are usually to be found on blogs that do not have many followers (like this one!).
There will be two categories of posts (which will often overlap): one on experiences of the PhD programme and the work done during it, and the other will focus on disability and work (the topic of the research). The blog posts will be found here: https://materialbodies.work/category/reflections