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Families and Food in Hard Times
£1,054,567, European Research Council Description Families and Food in Hard Times is a European Research Council (Starting Grants, 2013) funded study based at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education. Food poverty in the global North is emerging as an urgent social and moral concern, increasingly recognised as a central issue in the field of health inequalities in industrialised countries. With widening income disparity in Austerity Europe and ‘the end of cheap food’, these effects are being exacerbated. The study applies a mixed-methods international comparative case study design to understand the causes and consequences of food poverty and their relationship to social structures and public policies in three European countries. The research design provides for ‘a contrast of contexts’ in relation to conditions of austerity, focusing on Portugal, where poor families with children appear to have been most affected by economic retrenchment, the UK, which is experiencing substantial cuts in benefits to poor families, and Norway which, in comparison with most societies, is highly egalitarian in terms of income and has not been subject to austerity measures. The specific objectives of the study are: (1) to examine and compare the extent of food insecurity in Portugal, the UK and Norway by conducting secondary analysis of international quantitative data (EU-SILC and HBSC); (2) to explore and compare the experiences, perspectives and understandings of children and young people (aged 11-15 years) and parents in low-income families in rural and urban areas in Portugal, the UK and Norway, by applying a range of in-depth qualitative methods; (3) to develop the methodology in this area through the use of a multi-method comparative research approach; (4) to inform the intervention and advocacy work of NGOs, policymakers and practitioners by engaging with them in relation to the study’s findings at various stages of the research. The research team based at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, comprises Dr. Rebecca O’Connell (Principal Investigator), Professor Julia Brannen, Dr Abigail Knight, Gavin McGregor, Charlie Owen and Antonia Simon. Penny Mellor provides administrative support. Professor Elizabeth Dowler, University of Warwick, is Chair of the Advisory Group. The total budget for the project is €1,370,854.
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