Social Policy Association Conference 2019

SPA Annual Conference  8th – 10th July 2019 Durham University 

Conference Theme: Securing the Future: the Challenge for Social Policy


At a time when uncertainty and social inequalities are seemingly endemic, both nationally and internationally, the challenge facing the academic community in social policy is to develop clear thinking and better understanding of these seemingly intractable problems; whilst at the same time, beginning to develop proactive programmes for progressive change. In the context of the continuing, and potentially unresolved, Brexit saga, and where the policies associated with austerity will continue to impact on communities for years to come, active and committed solution-focused debates are still of the essence, cutting across key areas of concern, such as housing and homelessness, income inequalities, gender, cultural and ethnic differences, migration, child and family policy, and violence and abuse, to name just a few.

What is the role for policy? How can it be used to reduce, or at least limit, the effects of social injustice? What is the relationship between academic insights and the ‘real world’ of policy-making and implementation? How can the academy make an effective contribution to secure positive change? Are we observers, commentators or activists?.

We are delighted to be hosting the 2019 Social Policy Association Annual Conference at Durham University. Durham is a small, but highly significant city, in terms of its historical and cultural heritage. The university has a very long tradition of engagement with key social issues, and hosts a thriving body of scholarship with an interest in policy and its impacts.

This year’s theme is ‘Securing the Future’, and we aim to bring together a wide variety of leading thinkers and progressive ideas to enable us to connect current experiences and challenges with possibilities for change and improvement in crucial area of contemporary social policy.

The conference will be held near the centre of the city, which has good transport links from all major UK cities, as well as local airports (Edinburgh and Newcastle).

For more information about the conference and to register please visit the Durham University’s conference pages


Confirmed plenary speakers:

Monday 8th July: Plenary Round Table – Race, Racism and Social Policy


Claire Alexander is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester. She has researched, written and published on issues of race, ethnicity, youth and migration in Britain for over 25 years.

Gary Craig is Emeritus Professor of Social Justice at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, Hull, UK, Honorary Professor at the University of York, UK and Visiting Professor at Newcastle University, UK. His major research interests are in ‘race’ and ethnicity, social justice, community development, poverty and inequality and local governance. He chairs the North East Regional Race Crime and Justice Research Network, co-convenes the Modern Slavery Research Consortium and is a Trustee of the Tutu UK Foundation.

Nasar Meer is Professor of Race, Identity and Citizenship at the University of Edinburgh. He was previously Professor of Comparative Citizenship and Social Policy at Strathclyde University, and a co-Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Citizenship (CCSC) at Northumbria University. He is Co-Chair of the Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) and both a Trustee and Director of Publications of the British Sociological Association (BSA).

Coretta Philips is Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, where she has worked since 2001. She is involved in teaching both Social Policy and Criminology in the department and is a member of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology. Coretta’s research interests lie in the field of race, ethnicity, crime and social policy.

Tuesday 9th July 


Ellen M. Immergut is Professor of Political Science at the European University Institute in Florence and Humboldt University Berlin, having previously held professorships at the University of Konstanz and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research interests include the impact of electoral and political competition on social policy outcomes, policy responsiveness and policy feedback effects, health politics in Europe, and the consequences of right-wing populism for social policies.  She has published on Health PoliticsPension Politics, and more generally on welfare state reform, and institutionalist theory.

Wednesday 10th July 


Daniel Béland is Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and Professor of Political Science at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). He has held visiting positions at Harvard University, the University of Bremen, the University of Southern Denmark, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Professor Béland currently serves as Editor (French) of the Canadian Journal of Sociology, Co-Editor of the journal Global Social Policy, and President of Research Committee 19 (Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy) of the International Sociological Association.