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This theme analyses and connects change to understand the behaviour of people, social groups, and organisations.

Societal and Lifestyle Shifts

Research in this theme analyses and connects change at multiple levels to understand the behaviour of people, social groups, and organisations. The theme examines the links between research and practice, as well as the health and wellbeing aspects of change.

Research in societal and lifestyle shifts unites academics from:

REF case studies

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

Exeter came 16th in the REF 2014. A number of case studies are submitted on which the University is assessed: below are those we submitted related to the Societal and Lifestyle Shifts theme.

Case studyDescription
Addressing subtle gender discrimination in the workplace
Professors Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam, working at the University of Exeter, uncovered the phenomenon of the ‘glass cliff’, whereby women tend to occupy risky and precarious leadership positions. 'Glass cliff’ has entered public discourse and informs public debate and an understanding of women’s leadership roles.
Changing thinking on regulation
Much contemporary government activity involves regulation of the economy and society. International organisations have increasingly promoted regulatory impact assessment as a tool to appraise the likely costs and benefits of regulations. Ground-breaking research by a team at the Centre for European Governance (CEG) has exposed the limitations of narrow economic approaches to regulatory impact assessment and regulatory reform.
Finding links between brain injury and social violence
In the UK prison system, new management and assessment procedures and training programmes have been developed in response to a research programme, led by Professor Huw Williams, into the high incidence of head injury in young offenders, and its association with repeat offending.
Impacting government policy on post-separation parenting
Research undertaken by Professor Anne Barlow at Exeter into cohabitation, marriage and the law has shaped, informed and influenced long-running public and policy debates in Britain over the need to reform aspects of family (property) law, in light of widespread public confusion and on-going societal shifts.
Improving our understanding of group dynamics, power and tyranny
The BBC Prison Study provided novel theoretical insights into group dynamics, leadership, tyranny, and resistance. Beyond its academic impact, it has had a profound impact on educational practices — in particular, through becoming a core study within the A-level curriculum (since 2008) — and in undergraduate studies, and on public debate and understanding of these issues — most notably by challenging conclusions derived from the Stanford Prison Experiment (one of the best known experiments in psychology).
Improving the quality of electoral administration
Researchers in the Centre for Elections, Media and Participation (CEMaP) have improved the quality of electoral administration and enhanced the quality of understanding and debate about electoral systems in New Zealand.
Informing and influencing policymakers on cohabitation, marriage and the law
Three studies by Professor Liz Trinder have helped shape national policy and informed practice on three related issues regarding arrangements for children after parental separation.

Our impact

  • Prof Huw Williams called for changes to an 80 year-old child neglect law following research into the subject. He found that neglect can lead to serious damage to the welfare of children including social, emotional and psychological problems.

    The current law only covers physical harm, which is at odds with modern understanding of neglect, including the Government’s own definition of neglect which social workers and family courts are required to use.
  • Professor of Family Law and Policy Anne Barlow has been conferred the award of Academician by the Academy of Social Sciences. The national Academy represents distinguished academics, societies and practitioners in the social sciences. Being an Academician means that a peer group has reviewed the standing and impact of their work and found it worthy of the award.

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