Policy options for housing in Auckland


Project code: ART023

Disciplinary Area

Sociology

The social consequences of the Auckland housing market have now become publicly recognised as one of the central issues facing the city and indeed the entire country. This project will seek first to assess the present social impact of the Auckland housing market. This will be done by synthesising the existing sociological literature on the question along with the most recent journalistic, governmental and non-governmental reports on the Auckland housing market.

The second part of the project will be to catalogue the possible policy options for housing in Auckland. This will involve both the policy options advanced by all political parties and also those advocated by non-governmental organisations advocating change in housing policy. The synthetic work of this second part will organise and categorise the options that are on the table presently in Aotearoa, as well as identifying gaps in these proposals that come to light through international comparison on housing policy.

The third part of the project will be to assess the social costs and benefits of each of the proposed policy options. This will involve weighing the social impact that each policy options has on the different interest groups impacted by the Auckland housing market, both presently and in the future. This will form the basis for clarifying what evidence-based considerations of reform of the Auckland housing market would mean for the region and the country.

 

Scholar’s Work

The first four weeks of the work of the summer scholar will be in compiling an up to date, complete and comprehensive record of governmental and non-governmental reports on the Auckland housing market over the past five years. This will be supplemented by the supervisor’s guidance on the sociological literature on housing policy and on the social impact of housing options in Aotearoa.

The next three weeks, which will build on the first stage, will involve documenting and categorising existing policy options and comparing these with international policy settings. This will involve working closely with the supervisor and other researchers in the sociology disciplinary area who are working on housing to create a comprehensive picture of policy options.

The final three weeks will involve social cost and benefit analysis of the various options. This stage will involve working most closely with the supervisor in preparing a report that comes to concrete conclusions regarding the social advantages and disadvantages of each possible policy option. This will result in the the release of a report that will be published by the think tank Economic and Social Research Aotearoa, and media releases and public presentation of the results of the research.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The researcher must be:

1.   Well organised and able to use their time effectively;

2.   Have the ability to analyse and synthesise result from the research of others;

3.   Have understanding of sociological research methods;

4.   Preferably have a preliminary understanding of housing markets (in Auckland or elsewhere), through independent research of sociology coursework;

5.   Have an awareness of social consequences of economy policy and the differential relations of power that these involve;

6.   Have a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and an awareness of the historical contestation over land in Aotearoa.

Top

Social Science, Energy and Infrastructures: A Mapping Exercise


Project code: ART030

Disciplinary Area

Sociology

On an ever-intensifying urban planet facing global warming, “peak everything”, and potential mass extinction, the question of how to live sustainably in cities assumes world-historical significance. The World Economic Forum (2016) predicts that 60% of the anticipated urban area required by 2030 still needs to be built, the infrastructure costs of which will be USD 3.7 trillion per year to 2050. Sociologists have focused on city life but ignored the very things which make it possible. Modern existence is sustained by uninterrupted energy supplies and complex infrastructures. Yet as recently as 2013 Allan Mazur wrote: ‘There is no sociology of energy’. The broader social sciences fare little better; Stephen Graham and Colin McFarlane’s (2014) work claims to be the first to describe the everyday use and politics of urban infrastructures. Adequate and sustainable energy provision to ever-larger urban centres looks to be one of the planet’s greatest challenges. How are we to do this? What sort of world do we want? This project maps social scientific interventions into this area. The intention is to find out what social scientists are saying about energy and infrastructures, to look at the contributions they make and the potential barriers to them doing so.                                                                

Scholar’s Work

The primary task of the Scholar will be to conduct a mapping exercise of social science writing on energy and infrastructures. In other words, they will be expected to conduct: 1) an in-depth literature search and, 2) a comprehensive literature review. This entails finding relevant literature (books, articles, chapters, policy documents, blogs, technical reports, etc.) and extracting key points, themes, connections and suggestions for future research. The literature review will take the form of a short written report (approximately 3000 words). For the purposes of this work “social science” is used in the broadest sense to mean those disciplinary perspectives that are able to shed light on the cultural, social, economic and political aspects of energy and infrastructures. The basic intention is to apprehend the current state of knowledge in these fields. The mapping exercise can be reduced to a single question: what does the social scientific study of energy and infrastructures look like? In order to answer this a number of other questions must also be asked, including: How do social scientists conceptualise energy and infrastructures? How do they recommend they be studied? What are their key theoretical tools? What are their sites of research? What are the field’s major preoccupations? Who are its main thinkers? What are their key findings?        

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The Scholar will need a strong grounding in the social sciences, preferably (but not necessarily) in Sociology. The applicant should be highly motivated and able to conduct independent research. The main skill requirements are the ability to source and make sense of relevant literatures. In other words the applicant should be competent in conducting literature searches, they should be able to reference appropriately, and have the ability to summarise and present information in a thorough, clear and concise manner. Knowledge of literatures in one or more of the following - Science and Technology Studies, social theory, urban life and environmental sustainability - would also be advantageous. 

Top

Legal Highs, Moral Panics And Vigilantism: An Examination of Northern Ireland and New Zealand


Project code: ART031

Disciplinary Area

Sociology

Supervisor

Claire Meehan

The media is powerful establishment in framing and reacting to matters of criminal justice. By highlighting sections of reports to make them newsworthy to audiences, the media has significant power over what and how information is supplied. Media sensationalism and bias has been well recognised and debated, especially in relation to young people’s drug use. By distorting levels of risk posed to drug users, and wider society, the media has increased public fear of drug use and users, and immortalised a lack of comprehension of the context surrounding drug use. The term ‘moral panic’ has long been associated with drug use, the perceptions of it as a social problem, and the ramifications it presents for policy. The literature highlights successive drug panics, which have focused on cannabis in the 1930s, amphetamines in the 1950s, glue sniffing in the1960s, crack cocaine in the 1980s, ecstasy in the 1990s and potentially legal highs at present. It is in this broader theoretical context that this research project seeks to explore the issue of legal highs, moral panics and vigilantism in Northern Ireland and New Zealand. This Summer Scholarship will form a thematic content analysis of media, which will be submitted as a manuscript.

Scholar’s Work

1.     Complete a literature grid on drug panics;

2.     Examine case studies of Northern Ireland and New Zealand will be examined to assess whether there is a relationship between media reporting of legal highs and vigilante violence;

3.     Conduct thematic content analysis of media reporting in Northern Ireland and New Zealand to establish the tone and themes the media used when reporting on legal highs;

4.     Offer reflections on thematic content analysis;

5.     Assist in the coding and interpretation of data;

6.     Assist in the identification and development of major themes, and supporting evidence for these ideas, that could serve as the basis for journal articles;

7.     Write a substantive literature review;

8.     Maintain frequent contact with the principal researcher, who will clarify aspects of the research process

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

1.     Strong analytical skills;

2.     Ability to conduct systematic literature reviews;

3.     Be able to take a consistent and systematic approach in the course of analysing online media;

4.     A conceptual knowledge of qualitative research methods would be beneficial;

5.     Strong knowledge of Criminology, in particular, moral panics, legal highs and vigilantism;

6.     Comfortable with the topic area

It would also be beneficial, but not essential, if the Summer Scholar has practical experience of utilizing research methods

Top

Young people’s consumption of online pornography


Project code: ART032

Disciplinary Area

Sociology

Supervisor

Claire Meehan

Pornography is defined as material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement. Pornography can take various forms such as written, visual or graphic drawings. A common vehicle for accessing pornography is the internet and we know that 30 per cent of all internet bandwidth is used for pornography. Websites containing film receive 450 million unique visitors each month. When combined, Netflix, Amazon and Twitter get 316 million visitors. This is reflected in the youth population. Studies in Europe, Australia and the United States suggest that up to 88% of males aged 15+ viewed pornography within the last year. Alongside the increase in expose to mainstream pornography, pornography has become increasing more violent and sexist in nature. This has far reaching implications for educators, health providers and policymakers. It is in this broader theoretical context that this research project seeks to explore the issue of young people’s consumption of pornography. This Summer Scholarship will form part of a meta-analysis and review of research, as well as the formulation of an application for an Oakley Mental Health Foundation (Youth Fund) Grant.

Scholar’s Work

1.     Complete a literature grid on pornography genres;

2.     Complete a literature grid documenting young people’s consumption of these types of porn;

3.     Conduct thematic content analysis of blog postings;

4.     Offer reflections on thematic content analysis;

5.     Assist in the coding and interpretation of data;

6.     Assist in the identification and development of major themes, and supporting evidence for these ideas, that could serve as the basis for journal articles;

7.     Conduct a joint staff seminar series presentation with the principal researcher;

8.     Maintain frequent contact with the principal researcher, who will clarify aspects of the research process

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

1.     Strong analytical skills;

2.     Ability to conduct systematic literature reviews;

3.     Be able to take a consistent and systematic approach in the course of analysing online media;

4.     A conceptual knowledge of qualitative research methods would be beneficial.

5.     Strong knowledge of Criminology, in particular, the dark web, pornography and cybercrime;

6.     Comfortable with the topic area

It would also be beneficial, but not essential, if the Summer Scholar has practical experience of utilizing research methods

Top

Greening University Campuses: Food Issues


Project code: ART044

Disciplinary Area

Sociology

Supervisor

Manuel Vallée

This project is foregrounded in the premise that universities hold tremendous potential for transforming society. Beyond their significant ideological impact, these institutions exert a significant ecological impact, through the resources it consumes, the waste it creates, and the pollution it generates through its activities. For this reason, many institutions have pursued innovations to lower their ecological impact, and this project aims at identifying the institutions that have progressed the furthest on food issues, documenting their achievements, and comparing them to institutions that haven’t progressed as much, in order to elucidate factors that impede social change as well as those that foster it. In turn, the results from this research will be shared with the University of Auckland community, which includes students, teachers, and professional staff. Schools to be examined include the University of Auckland and overseas institutions (mostly North America, with one or two from Australia and UK), though my hope is that we will be able to add more NZ institutions to the analysis.

Scholar’s Work

Each week I will provide the Summer scholar key questions to guide their efforts, and they will be asked to produce a summary by the end of the week, which we will then discuss in weekly meetings. The project will be divided into four stages, with the first geared towards compiling information about what universities have achieved to lower their ecological footprint vis-à-vis FOOD issues. This will include identifying the schools that have provided leadership in this area, identifying what specific programs they have rolled out, the year they rolled it out, and the impact it has had on the institution’s footprint. The second part of the project will consist of compiling the information into an excel database. The third will consist of tracking variation between the universities and writing up the results, while the fourth will focus on providing a preliminary explanation for the variation.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

I am looking for six things: 1) a student with solid research skills, which includes being able to use research tools (i.e. internet and library resources) to find relevant information; 2) someone who is organized and knows how to organize vast amounts of information in a database (such as excel); 3) somone who has very good to excellent writing skills, who will be able to accurately describe the findings each week; 4) someone who is a self-motivated and has personal initiative; 5) someone who has an active interest in the research project; and 6) someone who has taken my environmental sociology course.

Top

Shifting policy, shifting attitudes? Public opinion on the role of government


Project code: ART046

Disciplinary Area

Sociology/COMPASS (Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences)

Project Description

Do New Zealanders support social impact bonds, privatised social housing and new social obligations for benefit recipients that favour private and individual responsibility? Or do they continue to hold government responsible for ensuring the well-being of all citizens?

These questions are just some that will be answered by analysing data from the 2016 International Social Survey Programme, which involves over 40 countries and runs modules on different topics each year. In 2016, the ‘Role of government’ survey module aligns closely with previous work that Humpage has conducted on public attitudes towards the welfare state over time. She will be able to update the ISSP data analysed in her 2015 book to assess whether recent changes in welfare policy have shaped public attitudes. Both Humpage and Milne have also been able to add new questions on: 1) very recent policy innovations (social impact bonds, privatised social housing and social obligations) and 2) the role of referendums (including the recent flag referendum) in policy decision-making. The former will extend Humpage’s work, while the latter will allow Milne to further develop a new area of research that he initiated with the 2015 ISSP survey.

Scholar’s Work

1.         Conduct basic statistical analyses of the ISSP data under the expert guidance of Milne and in collaboration with Humpage. This will likely take some training and practice, building marketable skills that are sought after by employers.  A simple report of basic tables from the survey that focus on government/welfare issues will be produced and later placed on the COMPASS website so researchers anywhere can access the data.

1.             Conduct more specific analyses (including bivariate and multivariate analyses and multinomial regression) on key questions that relate to recent welfare policy changes in collaboration with Humpage, providing Humpage with detailed data that will allow her to explore differences in responses depending on the ethnicity, age and political orientation of respondents.

2.             Undertake a focused literature review under the guidance of Humpage that will update her  existing knowledge of the international literature on public attitudes to the welfare state as well as provide new information on how new policies (such as social obligations and social impact bonds) have been implemented elsewhere. 

 

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

Potential scholars should:

1.         Be interested in social policy/welfare state issues and preferably have taken a university course or have some other experience which means they have some basic knowledge of the New Zealand policy context.  It is desirable but not necessary that the scholar also has some background in Maori Studies or related field to inform an analysis of ethnic differences in attitudes towards the welfare state.

2.         Have either some basic statistical skills or a willingness to learn these in an intensive training environment under the guidance of Dr Milne.  Note that it is possible to pick these up relatively quickly and a desire to learn is more important than experience in this area.

3.         Be willing to work both collaboratively with two supervisors but also to work independently when required.

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

Top