School of Social Sciences and Humanities

School news

Dr Vaclav Stetka & Prof Sabina Mihelj awarded new ESRC research grant to study polarisation and news consumption in Central & Eastern Europe

Dr Vaclav Stetka (PI) and Professor Sabina Mihelj (Co-I) have been awarded an ESRC standard research grant for a project titled "The Illiberal Turn? News Consumption, Political Polarisation and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe" (£817,000).

The project will carry out a comparative analysis of the relationship between news consumption and political attitudes in four CEE countries - Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Serbia, at a key point in time when the region is witnessing the rise of populist leaders, resurgence of illiberal nationalism, and a shift towards authoritarian forms of government.

Scheduled to run from May 2019 until November 2021, the project will be using a novel multi-method analytical framework that combines survey data, digital tracking of media consumption, as well as media diaries and qualitative interviews with audiences. The project has also a significant impact component, which will be realised through collaboration with several partner organisations representing European media regulators, journalists and researchers, including the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) or the Centre for Media, Data and Society at the Central European University (CEU). Two Research Associates will be recruited to work on the project, both to be based at our School.

Four in 10 people living in London cannot afford a basic standard of living, new report finds

Researchers from Loughborough University also found that half of all youngsters who live in the capital are from households which fall below this threshold.

The figures, published on Wednesday, March 6, are based on the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) set by Loughborough's Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) and funded by the Trust for London.

MIS is the income that people need in order to achieve a minimum socially acceptable standard of living in the UK today.

Researcher Matt Padley, of CRSP, said: “This new research in London, looking at what the public think is needed for a minimum socially acceptable standard of living, reinforces what we have found in our previous research in the capital - principally, that much of life in London is very similar to life in other urban areas of the UK.

“Many everyday needs are the same, but in some key areas substantial differences in the cost of a minimum living standard persist.

"This is particularly true when it comes to housing and childcare, both of which really increase the amount that households need to reach this minimum. 

“These higher costs mean that around 40% of Londoners don’t have what they need for a minimum, and that more than half of all children living in the capital are growing up in households who are likely to face difficult decisions about prioritising resources.

“Rising rents and childcare costs, as well as cuts in support, are making meeting a decent living standard far more of a challenge.

“Unless something is done to make housing in the capital genuinely affordable for all, to reduce the cost of good quality childcare and to halt the planned welfare cuts, it is likely that more and more households will not have what they need to meet their minimum needs.”

London estate

The London figure is higher compared to the rest of the UK, where 29% of people do meet the criteria of the same minimum living standard.

The standard is calculated by asking what members of the public think about essential goods and services, and those which enable genuine participation in society.  

The new report provides an updated cost of a minimum budget, required for a minimum standard of living in Inner and Outer London, such as what is happening to rents, public transport, childcare costs and wages.

This is the fourth in a series of reports.


  • Four in every 10 Londoners (41%) have an income below what is needed to reach a minimum socially acceptable standard of living. This is higher than the 29% below this level in the UK as a whole.
  • Many of the costs associated with providing a minimum budget in the capital are like those in other towns and cities in the UK, but in key areas the additional cost of living in London remains substantially above that in the rest of the UK. This is most evident in relation to housing, childcare and transport. These additional costs mean that a minimum standard of living in London costs between 15% and 60% more.
  • The cost of renting in the private sector in London remains significantly higher than in other urban areas in the UK. Although there have been some decreases in rents at the cheaper end of the rental market in London, private rents in Inner London increased by around 15% between 2014 and 2018, while rents in Outer London increased by nearly 20%. This compares to an increase of less than 10% in the rest of the UK.
  • Childcare costs continue to grow in London and are far higher in the capital than elsewhere in the UK.
  • Safety-net benefits for people living in London continue to fall substantially short of meeting minimum needs, providing less than a quarter of a minimum budget for working-age singles and about half for households with children.
  • The adequacy of safety-net benefits has deteriorated over time; in 2014 a working-age single on out-of-work benefits could cover 35% of their minimum needs, while in 2018 this support covered only 19% of a minimum budget.
  • Just over half of all children living in London (51%) are in households that have incomes below what is needed for a decent minimum standard of living, compared to 43% in the UK. Around two thirds (67%) of children in lone parent households are living below the Minimum Income Standard (MIS).
  • Around a third of pensioners living in London have incomes below MIS, compared to 16% for the UK.
  • While single working-age adults living in urban areas outside of London and working on the National Living Wage (NLW) have benefited from above inflation increases in the minimum hourly rate, those living in London have seen any gains in earnings more than wiped out through increases in other costs. In the UK outside London, a working-age single, working full-time on the NLW has around 80% of what they need to meet minimum costs; in both Inner and Outer London the same individual has under half of what they need.
  • Three-quarters of Londoners within incomes below MIS are living in rented accommodation: 1.3 million in the private rented sector and 1.4 million in social housing.
Download the PDF: MIS London Report

Communication and Media field trip to Media City BBC Studios

On Wednesday 20th February, undergraduate students and academic staff in Communication and Media went on an extracurricular field trip to the famous BBC Studios at Media City, Salford. The group, led by Professor Andrew Chadwick and Professor James Stanyer, enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at one of the world’s largest media organisations. Highlights of the trip included participating in a news bulletin, the sport and entertainment studio, and a hands-on experience in the BBC Six Music production room. The field trip provided a unique opportunity for students to learn about how the BBC’s resources have enabled it to become a globally-important media organization whose influence extends far beyond the UK.

Social and Policy Studies field trip to London

On Friday 8th March, sociology lecturers Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read and Dr Adrian Leguina took a group of students to London for a one-day field trip for their final year module Consumption, Culture and Everyday Life. The day started with a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum where students viewed collections relating to arts, craft and fashion. The trip then moved on to Borough Market where students had lunch and browsed the stalls, applying their knowledge from that week's lecture on the topic of 'food, culture and society'. Finally, the group spent time at Tate Modern and explored the varied collections of contemporary art and especially enjoyed the 'Artist and Society' gallery which included a range of art works addressing social themes like poverty, exclusion and urban life.

Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read wins award at Loughborough Academic Awards

Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read, Lecturer in Cultural Sociology and Programme Director for Social and Policy Studies, has proudly won the ‘Extra Mile’ award at the Loughborough Academic Awards, held on Thursday 16th May by the Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU).

The ‘Extra Mile’ award was created to recognise members of staff that really go that extra mile to make the academic experience, and overall student experience, enhanced whilst at Loughborough.

Students who nominated Dr Thurnell-Read commented on his ‘incredibly approachable attitude’ and ‘constant advice and support whenever it was needed’ whilst praising him for his ‘dedication to ensuring each of his students has sufficient support, personally getting to know each and every one of us and building our confidence’.

He is pictured here with his award alongside the Pro-Vice Chancellor of (Teaching), Professor Rachel Thomson.

Postgraduate Research Conference 2019

9.30 - 16.40 U.0.05, Brockington Building

Postgraduate Research Conference, showcasing PhD students from Communication and Media, Social and Policy Studies, and Politics and International Studies.

Date: Thursday 20 June

Time: 9.30-10:00 arrival and registration

Location: U.0.05, Brockington Building

Guest speaker: Iman Atta OBE, Director of TellMAMA, with a talk on Hate Crime (talk commences at 12.10).

To view the programme, please click below: 

PGR Conference Programme 2019

To book your place, click here.

All welcome.