COVID and Care Research Group

The Covid and Care Research Group are building a conversation between policy makers and the UK population over issues of disadvantage and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Illustrations by www.maggie.li

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in the UK, regardless of race, class, gender or region. However, this impact has been and will be more severe for some communities than others. Those who are losing out from the covid-19 pandemic in terms of health, mortality and economic losses, are both communities who have historically experienced poverty, inequality of opportunity and discrimination over the past decades of austerity policy in the UK; and communities facing new challenges and insecurities. However, they are also communities who have come together to support each other in new and improvised ways as a result of the crisis. We see this as a moment of great rupture for our society, and believe that this rupture can present opportunities to overcome social and economic divides as we are led out of crisis. We hope to identify the communities who are disadvantaged by the covid-19 pandemic and accompanying policy?, to understand the ways they are responding to the crisis, and to support them on the path to recovery.

If you would like to contribute to our group, as a researcher, policy maker or member of the public, please get in touch with Nikita Simpson at n.simpson@lse.ac.uk

Our Reports

We produce a range of outputs aimed at academic, public and policy-making audiences. 

Our main findings report presents key findings from a 6-month ethnographic study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on disadvantaged households and communities across the UK. This research involved in-depth interviews and multiple surveys with people across communities in the UK, with particular focus on a number of case studies of intersecting disadvantage. Crucially, our research has found that government policy can improve adherence to restrictions and reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic on disadvantaged communities by placing central importance on communities, social networks and households to the economy and social life. This would be the  most effective way to increase public trust and adherence to Covid-19 measures, because it would recognise the suffering that communities have experienced and would build policy on the basis of what is most important to people - the thriving of their families and communities.

Read an excutive summary

Read the full report

We also produce and contribute to policy briefs and reports for the government and other stakeholders regularly. Some include:

A rapid research report on ‘A Good Death’ during the Covid-19 pandemic produced in April 2020.

Read the full report
 
We are presenting the findings of our report in a series of articles published on the LSE Covid-19 blog:

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/covid19/2020/10/29/covid-and-care-how-a-stacked-care-system-could-help-places-like-hackney/

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/covid19/2020/10/29/covid-and-care-how-to-make-job-support-schemes-better/

About us

The Covid and Care Research Group are a collective of anthropologists, primarily from the London School of Economics. We draw on a range of methods such as ethnography, network analysis, citizen science and participatory research to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the networks of care that animate social life for people across the UK.  We explore issues related to gender, ethnicity, race, class and regional inequality. Our research group is collaborative in approach, and works with other disciplines, policy makers, community leaders and community groups across different locations to gain insights into these issues and to generate policy solutions and support local community initiatives.

Meet the Team

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Professor Laura Bear [Principal investigator]

Professor Laura Bear (PhD University of Michigan) specialises in the anthropology of the economy, infrastructures and time. Her cross-disciplinary work rooted in anthropology has led Bear to take up positions as a board member in the editorial collective of Economy and Society; LSE International Inequalities Institute and ESRC Rebuilding Macroeconomics Research Network. Her current research focusses on the unequal effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on vulnerable UK communities and emerging practices of the public good. 

 

Deborah James

Professor Deborah James FBA [Co-investigator]

Deborah is a specialist in the anthropology of South and Southern Africa, and has begun research at some sites in the UK. Her work, broadly political and economic in focus, has recently focused on questions of indebtedness in both settings. Her book Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South Africa (Stanford University Press, 2015) explores the dynamics surrounding South Africa's national project of financial inclusion—dubbed "banking the unbanked"—which aimed to extend credit to black South Africans.

 

Nikita Simpson

Nikita Simpson [Co-investigator and research coordinator]

Nikita is our lead research coordinator and co-investigator of the ‘Innovations in Care’ project. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, and is completing her thesis on mental health, economic inequality and gender in Northern India. She also currently works with the SHM Foundation, leading participatory research and co-design for their Zumbido program; and supporting grassroots mental health innovation through the Ember initiative. She brings this expertise to our research, leading our work on mental health and participatory policy-making.

 

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Dr Fenella Cannell 

Dr Fenella Cannell is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the LSE. She is a specialist in Southeast Asian anthropology, and has also conducted research on kinship and religion in the United States. She is contributing to the project a particular expertise on the role of faith-based organisations and SMEs in community support provision during the pandemic.

 

Nicholas Long

Dr Nick Long

Nick is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the LSE. His research explores issues related to identity, political life, moral experience, and psychotherapy, with a particular focus on Indonesia. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Nick has been investigating various aspects of life under lockdown through his involvement in the ‘Innovations in Care’ project as well as by leading a comparative study of lockdown experiences in the UK and New Zealand. He has a particular interest in the ways social networks might self-organise to contain the spread of coronavirus, the viability of ‘social bubbles’ policies, and the lessons the UK can learn from New Zealand

 

Insa Koch

 

Dr Insa Koch

Insa is Associate Professor and Director of the Anthropology and Law Programme at the LSE. She has been researching issues of inequality and class for the past decade, including with respect to housing, welfare, the criminal justice system and politics. Her book Personalizing the State is an ethnography of state-citizen relations in austerity Britain and won this year's book award by the Socio-Legal Studies Association.

 

Rebecca Bowers

 

Dr Rebecca Bowers

Becky is a post doctoral researcher within the Department of Anthropology. Her research focuses on gender, financialisation, poverty and inequality. Her doctoral thesis explored how real estate speculation shapes intersecting forms of inequality for migrant female construction workers in Bengaluru (‘India’s Silicon Valley’) and how women work on familial projects of permanence to counter precarious urban employment and residence.

 

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Dr Megan Laws

Megan is leading the citizen science and participatory mapping components of the ‘Innovations in Care’ project, alongside Mapping for Change. She is a fellow in the Department of Anthropology, and her research is on experiences of doubt and uncertainty and how these shape redistributive practices in Namibia and other parts of southern Africa. She is also currently a senior researcher at ExCiteS, an interdisciplinary research group at UCL who work with marginalised communities to develop geo-spatial technologies that can be adapted to local needs.

 

Teo Zidaru Barbulescu

 

Dr Teodor Zidaru-Bărbulescu

Teo is a former PhD student and currently an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the LSE Department of Anthropology. His research explores trust and religious faith in Kenyan economic life, and includes a concern with machine-learning and artificial intelligence technologies. Within the ‘Innovations in Care’ research group, he conducts interviews and contributes to analysis on a range of themes, with a particular focus on data-intensive responses to the pandemic.

 

Jordan Vieira

 

Jordan Vieira

Jordan recently defended his PhD thesis in the LSE Department of Anthropology. Using a conceptual framework that focuses on issues of time, his work examines the convergences and social impacts of financialisation, austerity policies, and everyday neoliberal logics on the heavily-gentrified Isle of Dogs in London. Jordan has conducted interviews for the initial ‘Good Death’ report, contributed to the analysis of survey data, and is working on building an East End case study to compare across other regional impact reports.

 

Anishka Gheewala Lohiya

Anishka Gheewala Lohiya

Anishka is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at LSE. Her current interest is the changing landscape of prayer across diasporas, specifically in Hindu sects, though with a wider interest in religion more broadly. Exploring themes such as play, learning religion and universality of categories, her other interests include the relationship between the environment and religion and notions of care and care-giving. Her fieldwork was in Gujarat, India and Leicester, UK where she spent much time doing anthropology and eating Indian food.

 

Jaskiran Kaur Bogal

 

Jaskiran Kaur Bhogal

Jaskiran is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. Her research explores how and why Sikhs perform their faith in the public sphere, primarily by focusing on education, youth, community and social groups. For the ‘Innovations in Care’ project, she has carried out interviews primarily with Sikhs in the Midlands. She has also contributed to analysis of survey data, with a particular interest in how BAME and faith communities are responding to the pandemic.

 

Catherine Whittle

Catherine Whittle

Catherine is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology studying contemporary Christianity, conservation and climate activism in Kenya and the UK. For the ‘Innovations in Care’ project, she has carried out interviews with people around England and contributed to analysis of survey data, with a particular interest in how faith communities are responding to the pandemic, and the impact on children, education, and those with additional needs and disabilities.

 

Caroline Bazambanza

 

Caroline Bazambanza

Caroline graduated from the LSE with a BA in Social Anthropology in 2019. In 2020, she is returning as a PhD candidate studying the intersections of race, welfare and embodiment with a focus on black women's reproductive lives. As part of the research team, Caroline conducts interviews primarily with mothers from across the UK, looking particularly at new regimes of care and responsibility upon women as primary caregivers during the pandemic.

 

Alice Pearson updated

Alice Pearson

Alice Pearson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, researching undergraduate economics education. She has also worked as a Research Associate examining how the Bank of England’s network of Agents assemble understandings of the economy during Brexit uncertainty, including for policy-makers. For the ‘Innovations in Care’ project, she has conducted interviews with people in the North East of England and contributed in particular to analysis of livelihoods. 

 

Johannes Lenhard

Dr Johannes Lenhard

Johannes is the Centre Coordinator at the Max Planck Cambridge Centre for the Study of Ethics, Economy and Social Change. His current main research project concerns the ethics of venture capital investment fieldwork for which has taken him to San Francisco, New York, London and Berlin. He continues to work to understand the survival of homeless people better, a concern that he wrote his PhD about with a geographical focus on Paris and London. His current project in this research strand looks at a new form of housing for homeless people, modular homes. For the ‘Innovations in Care’ project, he has carried out interviews with some of his contacts in the homelessness sector in the UK.

 

Farhan Samanani

Dr Farhan Samanani

Farhan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, and an Honorary Research Associate in Human Geography at the University of Oxford. He has collaborated in this project by sharing insight on the impact of COVID-19 on parents of young children and early-years service providers in Oxford, and through his research with a national network of community organisations, with significant representation from BME, migrant and low-income communities.

 

Olivia Vicol

 

Dr Olivia Vicol 

Olivia is co-founder and Director of the Work Rights Centre, a charity dedicated to employment justice. A trained anthropologist, Olivia became interested in labour rights during her doctoral study of Romanian migrants working in London's informal sector.  In the Covid and Care Research Group, Olivia's biggest contribution has been to themes related to economic life. Drawing on interview research and months of participant observation with frontline caseworkers, she documents the inequalities generated by a wage-centred project of redistribution -  which left furlough at the discretion of employers, while allowing gig economy workers to crash into the much thinner safety net of Universal Credit.

 

Milena Wuerth

Milena Wuerth 

Milena Wuerth graduated in 2020 with a BA in Social Anthropology from the LSE. She is a research assistant, contributing primarily to the analysis and visualization of survey data. During her undergraduate degree, she conducted fieldwork in South London and Oregon, USA, exploring themes from embodied knowledge to sanctuary-based activism.

We are supported by a number of associated researchers including:

-          Eileen Alexander

-          Michael Angland

-          Naseem Jivraj

-          Jonah Lipton

 

Our Values

Our research group is guided by the following values:

Collaboration: We believe in building a collaborative and supportive research group environment that strives to ensure all voices are heard; and guidelines for authorship, acknowledgement and ownership are agreed in a way that both allows a strong collective voice, and space for individual research trajectories. 

Right to Care: We are guided by a belief that everyone has the right to care across the life-course, no matter their position within society.

Embeddedness:  We hope to embed ourselves in and connect ourselves across communities, and understand the range of needs and interests within them so we are able to truthfully represent the complexity of life during and after this pandemic.

Engagement: We hope to produce research outputs that are accessible, timely and rigorous for public, policy and academic audiences.

Independence: We will remain independent from the interests of government or other third parties so as to produce balanced and ethical research programs.

Our Work

Surveys

We have run a number of UK wide, and regionally specific surveys to understand how people are living and caring for one another under lockdown conditions.


Ethnographic Studies

Our team of researchers have deep links to communities across the UK. We’re working to understand the impact of the pandemic on their networks.


Citizen Science and Policy Labs

As a research group, we are committed to expanding participation in research outside the bounds of academic circles by drawing upon the methods and tools adopted in the field of Citizen Science

Together with a range of partners, we are working with local councils, community organisations, and general members of the public (especially young people who have been further disenfranchised by the pandemic) within different regions across the UK to gather and analyse data on networks of care; on political, economic, or environmental issues as they play out in particular areas, and on innovations or policy recommendations as they emerge from the bottom up. 

This work involves engaging members of the public in mapping their networks and issues in their areas, in drawing up and distributing survey questions and carrying out ethnographic interviews in their communities, and in hosting policy labs in which different stakeholders come together to raise concerns and pose policy solutions to present to government. 

We are committed to principles of data sovereignty. We follow the principles set out by the European Citizen Science Association, and the ethical guidelines set out by the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK & Commonwealth.


 

Reports and Publications

We work toward publications for a range of audiences from timely policy briefs for local and national government; to accessible public engagement pieces; to detailed academic reports and publications.