I switched to studying social policy from philosophy when I by chance came across Peter Townsend’s The Last Refuge in the university library. I was transfixed by its horrifying descriptions of elderly people living in former poor law institutions in the 1960s. I was attracted to social policy because I wanted to change society.
When I came to York I did studies of the social needs of the over 80s, families with handicapped children and became involved in the Child Poverty Action Group. With other students from the Department we opened a welfare rights stall in York market. I also briefly followed a political career as a York City Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate but I found I could achieve more through research.
I established the Social Policy Research Unit which still undertakes research mainly for government. I enjoy quantitative research most and have investigated the problems of lone parents, non resident fathers, child well-being and families living in poverty using sample surveys of the population. I now mainly do secondary analysis of large sets of data to investigate child poverty and child well-being. I should be retiring but cannot seem to give up! I now spend a lot of time working as a consultant to UNICEF.
Role in Department
Jonathan is a Professor of Social Policy
Areas of expertise
- Family change
- Poverty/social exclusion
- Comparative research
- Child wellbeing
- Social security policy