Accessibility statement

Professor Ruth Patrick

BA, MA, PhD (Leeds)

  • Professor of Social Policy

Visit Professor Ruth Patrick's profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse her research related activities.



Areas of expertise

  • Poverty, social security and welfare reform
  • Welfare conditionality, sanctions and welfare-to-work
  • Participatory approaches
  • Qualitative longitudinal methodologies

Academic biography

My research is centred on better understanding the (dis)connect between popular and political narratives on poverty and 'welfare' and the everyday, lived experiences for those who rely on social security for all or most of their income. Over the past 15 years, I have employed participatory, qualitative and arts-based approaches to work in partnership with people affected by poverty and the inadequacy of social security systems to both document everyday experiences and - critically - to push for change. I led Covid Realities [], an online, participatory research programme, which worked with over 100 parents and carers on a low-income during the pandemic, and now lead its successor: Changing Realities []. I also led the first major, mixed-methods investigation of the impact of the two-child limit and the benefit cap on larger families [], and am currently leading a new programme investigating the relationship between devolution and social security. 

I joined the School for Business and Society in August 2018, and before that was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Liverpool. My doctoral research was completed at the University of Leeds, where I explored the lived experiences of welfare reform. I entered university as a mature student, and particularly value the skills and experiences I have gained from outside the academy. I have worked as a practitioner for Shelter and Foundation (supporting offenders with their housing needs both in custody and following release) and also have employment experiences in the think tank sector (Fabian Society / Institute for Public and Policy Research). These experiences greatly inform the work that I do now.

My current role is part-time and I combine my academic work with the parenting work of looking after my four young children




**Patrick, R. (2017). For whose benefit? The Lived experiences of welfare reform. Bristol: Policy Press.


Patrick, R. (2017) Wither Social Citizenship? Lived Experiences of Citizenship In/Exclusion for Recipients of Out-of-Work Benefits Social Policy & Society, 16(2): 293-304.

Edmiston, D., Garthwaite, K. & Patrick, R. (2017), Introduction: Austerity, Welfare and Social Citizenship, Social Policy & Society, 16(2): 253-259

Patrick, R. (2016) Living with and responding to the 'scrounger' narrative in the UK: exploring everyday strategies of acceptance, resistance and deflection, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 24 (3): 245 - 259.

Hudson, J., Patrick, R. & Wincup, E. (2016) Introduction to themed special issue: exploring 'welfare' attitudes and experiences, Journal of Poverty & Social Justice, 24(3): 215-226.

Patrick, R. (2014), Working on Welfare: Findings from a Qualitative Longitudinal Study into the Lived Experiences of Welfare Reform in the UK, Journal of Social Policy, 43(4): 705-725.

Patrick, R. (2012) ‘All in it together? Disabled people, the Coalition and welfare-to-work, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 20(3), 307-322.

Patrick, R. (2012), ‘Work as the primary 'duty' of the responsible citizen: a critique of this work-centric approach’ People, Place and Policy Online 6(1), 5-15.

Brown, K. & Patrick, R. (2012), ‘Re-moralising or De-moralising? The Coalition Government’s approach to ‘problematic’ populations: Editorial’, People, Place and Policy Online 6(1), 1-4.

Patrick, R. (2011) ‘The wrong prescription – disabled people and welfare conditionality’ Policy & Politics, 39(2), 275-291.

Patrick, R. (2011) Disabling or Enabling: The Extension of Work-related Conditionality to Disabled People, Social Policy & Society, 10(3): 309-320.

Media articles and blogs

Patrick, R. (2018), 'How to treat people on benefits with respect’ The Guardian, 7th May, p. 35.

Patrick, R. (2017), ‘How poverty makes people less likely to vote’, The Guardian, 16th May, p. 36.  

Patrick, R. (2017), 'Scotland is changing the way Universal Credit is paid to help people budget', The Conversation. 

Patrick, R. (2017), ‘Why are people reliant on welfare support in favour of curbing benefits?', New Statesman.

Patrick, R. (2017), ‘Britain’s social (in)security system: welfare conditionality and its impact on social citizenship’, LSE British Politics & Policy Blog.

Patrick, R. (2017), ‘Taking the long view: better understanding the impact of welfare reform’, Discover Society.

Patrick, R. (2016), ‘Is it really criminal to steal food when you’re destitute?’ The Conversation. 

Patrick, R (2009-2016), Columnist for Disability Now, writing a monthly column on social security, disability related issues
Patrick, R. (2015), ‘No one I’ve ever met was helped back to work by sanctions’, The Guardian, 2nd September, p. 41.

Patrick, R. (2015), The realities of living on welfare are significantly different from the government and media characterisations, LSE British Politics and Policy blog.

Book sections

Patrick, R., Mbaikaze, M. & Watson, S. (2018, forthcoming), Everyday life on benefits, in Millar, J. & Sainsbury, R. (Eds.), Understanding Social Security. Third Edition. Bristol: Policy Press.

Patrick, R. (2016), “There are quite a lot of people faking [it], the Government has got to do something really”: exploring out-of-work benefit claimants’ attitudes towards welfare reform in Fenger, M., Hudson, J. and Needham, C. (Eds.), Social Policy Review 28. Bristol: Policy Press.

Patrick, R. (2016), Experiences of Unemployment in Alcock, P., May, M., Haux, T. & Wright, S. (Eds). The Student’s Companion to Social Policy Fifth Edition, Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley.

Patrick, R. & Fenney, D. (2015), Disabled people, conditionality and a civic minimum in Britain: reflections from qualitative research in Grover, C. and Piggott, L. (Eds.) Work, welfare and disabled people: Is employment really the answer?, Bristol: Policy Press.

Land, E. & Patrick, R. (2014), SAGE Research Methods Cases: The Process of Using Participatory Research Methods with Film-Making to Disseminate Research: Challenges and Potential, SAGE Research Methods Cases, London, SAGE.

Patrick, R. (2014), Welfare reform and the valorisation of work: Is work really the best form of welfare? In Harrison, M. & Sanders, T. (Eds), Social policies, social control and behaviourism: consolidation and intensification under the UK Coalition government, Bristol: The Policy Press. 55-70.

Deacon, A. & Patrick, R. (2012), Employment in Alcock, P. May, M. & Wright, S. (Eds.) The Student’s Companion to Social Policy, Fourth Edition, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell 324-330.

Deacon, A. & Patrick, R. (2011), A new welfare settlement? The Coalition government and welfare-to-work. In: H. BOCHEL, ed. The Conservative Party and Social Policy. Bristol: The Policy Press 161-179.

Research & PhD Supervision


Current research interests 

A project to understand how recent benefit changes affect families with more than two children, combining both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Welfare reform and larger families

Tracking how families on a low-income navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and how the social security system responds.

COVID-19, families and poverty

The lived experiences of welfare reform study ESRC and now British Academy funded qualitative longitudinal research project following a small group of individuals as they lived with and respond to welfare reform.

The Poverty 2 Solutions Project

Participatory project collaborating with three groups – The Dole Animators, ATD Fourth World and Thrive Teesside – all of whom have direct experiences of poverty. Through a number of workshops, developing visual blueprints of solutions to poverty, and most recently working to develop a concrete policy ask on how better to incorporate the voices and experiences of people in poverty in policy making.

Welfare imaginaries seminar series

Sociological Review Foundation funded series of seminars on ‘welfare imaginaries’: constructing rhetoric, realities and resistance over time.

PhD supervision

Editorial board member of Journal of Social Policy & Journal of Poverty & Social Policy

Member of Oxfam’s UK Poverty Policy Advisory Group

Degree programmes and modules

BA Social Work – Dissertation Research Skills

PhD supervisors

I am always interested to hear from prospective students, with an interest in the following:

  • Poverty, social security & welfare reform
  • Representations, discourses and lived experiences of ‘welfare’
  • Employing qualitative longitudinal methodologies to better understand social policies
  • Adopting co-produced and participatory methodologies
  • Social citizenship
  • The stigma of benefits and poverty
  • Devolution and ‘welfare’
  • Welfare conditionality










Contact details

Professor Ruth Patrick
Professor of Social Policy A/C/114
School for Business and Society

Tel: 01904 321256