Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Dr Katy Wright

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My research interests focus primarily on ways in which the responsibilities of the public to participate in civic, civil and political life are shaped, and on various strategies used to ‘activate’ and ‘responsibilise’ citizens to act in particular ways.  I am also interested in how forms of social solidarity emerge and change over time and how this relates to broader patterns of formal and informal engagement, and processes of socioeconomic change. My research has used a qualitatively driven mixed methods approach to critically engage with policy and practice across a range of substantive areas including community engagement, disability and employment, human rights education, Corporate Social Responsibility, and unpaid care. 

Currently, I am involved in research which critically engages with the concept of community resilience, and looks at how resilience is used in policy and practice.  Using a proposed £1billion tidal lagoon development in South Wales (Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay) as a case study, the research is using resilience as a way to conceptually frame the impact of large-scale infrastructure developments on localities, and to explore the role of local communities, both in terms of consultation and community benefit activities.  A key aim is to explore the potential role of the private sector in contributing to, or undermining, local forms of resilience, and to develop insights into good practice for community involvement and community benefit. 

My previous research has involved working with a range of public, private and third sector organisations, including UNESCO; the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP); local and national voluntary sector organisations; local authorities in Wales and England; the Royal College of General Practitioners; and sector skills organisations.  I am a member of the Leadership Board for Care Connect, the HEIF-funded Social Care Innovation Hub, and of the Realism Leeds network.  I am committed not only to disseminating findings and insights through traditional academic routes, but also through direct engagement with public, private and third sector organisations.  For example, in 2013 I was a guest speaker at the Manchester City Council Management Conference on Community Engagement and Empowerment, and am currently involved in developing workshops on community engagement with Tidal Lagoon Power (a private sector renewable energy company).  I have also participated in several public events and debates, and acted as a judge in the regional finals of the Institute of Ideas ‘Debating Matters’ competition in 2015.

I am involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in the School of Sociology & Social Policy, including supervision of undergraduate dissertations, and have delivered research training for PhD students across the Faculties of Arts and Humanities.  I developed materials for the Community Research Academy established by Care Connect, and act as supervisor for research interns for the Care Connect hub.     

Key Publications

Journal Articles

  • Wright KJ (2015) “Lived realities of local community: Evidence from a qualitative case study in Leeds”, Social Policy and Society. [Accepted]

    Repository URL [eprints.whiterose.ac.uk]

    This article draws on case study research of a low-income neighbourhood in Leeds to explore experiences of and attitudes towards place-based community. Through tracing social relations in the neighbourhood over time, from the early twentieth century to the present day, the ways in which community is embedded in everyday activities and social interactions, and the social impact of socioeconomic change on local neighbourhoods, is demonstrated. It is argued that the relentless and nostalgic focus on local communities as an idealised form of social solidarity has meant that the reasons why place based community has declined over time have been overlooked. The article challenges the assumption that social fragmentation on neighbourhood levels necessarily indicates antisocial trends or a lack of a sense of duty towards others, and draws attention to the constraints people face in developing relationships with others. Questions are raised about the viability of top-down attempts to shape social relations in particular ways.

  • Wright KJ; Wigfield A; Burtney E; Buddery D (2013) “Assisted Living Technology in social care: workforce development implications”, Journal of Assistive Technologies. 7.4: 204-218.

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to look at the implications of the increasing use of Assisted Living Technology in the social care sector and to assess the implications for the workforce in terms of job roles, skills, knowledge, training, and support. Design/methodology/approach – A mixed methods approach was used, through a quantitative electronic survey of staff working in social care (as well as some health care) organisations in England, and three qualitative case studies of local authorities. Findings – The research shows that the organisations involved in delivering Assisted Living Technology, the types of Assisted Living Technology being introduced, and the way in which it is being delivered, have implications for job roles and the skills and knowledge needed by staff. The associated training and workforce development similarly varies across the social care sector; it is ad hoc, disparate, and provided primarily by individual employers or by suppliers and manufacturers. Research limitations/implications – There is a need for a standardised Assisted Living Technology workforce development approach which can be used across the social care sector. Practical implications – The varied nature of Assisted Living Technology providers and delivery models presents a challenge to the development and implementation of a standardised programme of workforce development. Originality/value – This paper presents the results of new empirical research arising from a quantitative and qualitative study of the workforce development implications of Assisted Living Technology in the English social care sector.


  • Wright K (2013) Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay: Community consultation and local perceptions of the proposed development. Bauman Institute, University of Leeds.

  • Wigfield A; Wright KJ (2012) Supporting Carers in General Practice: An evaluation. CIRCLE, University of Leeds.

  • Wright K (2010) Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of the Literature. Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Philosophy & Religious Studies.

  • Marsh J; Brooks G; Wright K; Hughes J; Ritchie L; Roberts S (2005) Digital beginnings: Young children’s use of popular culture, media and new technologies. Literacy Research Centre, University of Sheffield.

    This report presents the findings of a study which took place from September 2004 to July 2005. The study explored young children’s (aged from birth to six) use of popular culture, media and new technologies in the home through a survey of 1,852 parents and carers of children who attended 120 individual maintained and non-maintained early years settings in England. A total of 524 early years practitioners who worked in 104 of these settings were also surveyed in order to determine their attitudes towards children’s use of popular culture, media and new technologies and to explore how far they planned for their use in the communications, language and literacy curriculum of the foundation stage. The study also included an evaluation of the success of action research projects which took place in nine of the maintained and non-maintained early years settings. These projects were undertaken in order to identify the impact of interventions in which aspects of popular culture, media and new technologies were introduced into the communications, language and literacy curriculum of the foundation stage.

© Copyright Leeds 2015