The Troubled Families Programme: ‘dipstick’ policy-making?

I gave a presentation recently to some MA students on the use and misuse of academic research and evaluation ‘evidence’ in the Troubled Families Programme and thought the slides and links might be of interest to other. The presentation, which includes a number of hyperlinks to original sources and is full referenced, can be accessed by clicking on the image below.

Front slide

In the presentation I try and briefly highlight how research has been used, on both sides of the debate, in previous constructions of the underclass thesis, before moving on to highlight how research has effectively been misused and misrepresented throughout the development of the ‘troubled families’ narrative and the accompanying government programme.

It’s a theme I’ve explored before, in a post for Discover Society here, a working paper on how the government was deliberately misunderstanding troubled families and in the recent Centre for Crime and Justice Studies briefing paper here.

The main reading I recommended for students before the lecture is below:

Bailey, N. (2012) Policy based on unethical research,

Gregg, D. (2010) Family intervention projects: a classic case of policy-based evidence, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies Available at

Levitas, R. (2012) There may be ‘trouble’ ahead: what we know about those 120,000 ‘troubled’ families, PSE UK Policy Response Series No. 3 Available at’Trouble’%20ahead%20(Levitas%20Final%2021April2012).pdf

If anyone wants any more information, or if anything isn’t clear in the presentation slides, please feel free to get in touch.

Best wishes,


Ten of the best – journal articles on families

The Families, Relationships and Societies journal, published by Policy Press, is offering free access to the ten most read articles from 2015, for the month of February only.

These are normally only accessible to subscribers or subscribing institutions (usually universities) and I know there are a few people who read this blog who aren’t in academia and who might be interested.

There are some superb papers in there which have been very helpful to me in my work (one on neuroscience by Wastell and White and one on the continuing significance of the concept of ‘family’ by Edwards and Gillies immediately spring to mind) and my first published article has also managed to sneak in there as well.

The full list of papers available can be accessed here

Best wishes,


Whatever happened to ‘social’ security?

I’ve done a blog post for a project at Teesside University exploring the Uncertain Futures that young people on Teesside face.

The post examines the government’s recent rhetoric around ‘security’, how they are best placed to ‘secure our future’ and the portayal of Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘threat’ to our national security. It asks the question why, then, we don’t hear much about ‘social security’ these days.

There is also a very interesting one day conference being organised at Teesside University on Precarious places, precarious lives on 19 May 2016. More info about this can be found here and a flyer for the event can be found here

Best wishes,