Dr Jim Kaufman

University of Sheffield, Cities, Environment and Liveability Pathway

I completed my PhD in Social Policy at the University of Glasgow in 2017 with an ethnographic study of labour market activation and welfare conditionality. Funded by the ESRC Welfare Conditionality project this research explored everyday encounters between ‘street-level bureaucrats’ and mandatory participants in UK welfare-to-work programmes. I joined the University of Sheffield’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning in October 2018, and will be working on publications based on my doctoral research alongside impact and engagement activities with agencies in Yorkshire and Scotland.

My research brings a sociological and ethnographic perspective to bear on contemporary issues in social policy. My work has a particular focus on street-level bureaucracy, labour market activation, and welfare conditionality. I am also interested more broadly in ethnographic accounts of the state, the state in everyday life, and the role of social policy in crafting political imaginaries and expectations. My current writing projects focus on: doubt, suspicion, and uncertainty in everyday welfare encounters; the anti-sociological imagination of neoliberal paternalism; the ‘magical’ practices of work-first activation; the street-level intensification and moderation of welfare conditionality.