Thomas Stephens

Thomas Stephens

PhD candidate

Department of Social Policy

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Key Expertise
Labour market disadvantage. The capability approach, Welfare and work

About me

Research topic: 

Capability deprivation and labour market (dis)advantage in the UK

Thomas Stephens is an ESRC-funded PhD student at the Department of Social Policy, affiliated with the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion. He previously studied for an MSc Degree in Social Policy (Social Policy Planning) at the LSE, where he graduated with distinction and was awarded the Richard Titmuss Prize for Outstanding Performance (highest grade) and Outstanding Dissertation in 2015.

His current research builds on his MSc thesis, and looks to critique existing ways we measure labour market advantage and disadvantage in order to devise metrics which are of greater relevance to social policy research, and help us to better-understand the impact which the labour market has on people and its contribution to social exclusion. His thesis seeks to apply the capability approach to the way we understand this issue, and explore how we can better-incorporate metrics such as longitudinal labour outcomes data, jobs quality, skills, career progression prospects and capability deprivation in order to devise a more multi-dimensional understanding of labour market disadvantage.


Research interests

His broader research interests include:

  • Operationalisation of the capability approach, particularly in relation to the study of inequality
  • How a wider range of non-wage factors, including jobs quality, skills and career progression prospects, contribute to labour market disadvantage and to changes in inequality and social mobility
  • The role of gender in shaping labour market disadvantage
  • How we incorporate administrative and survey-based measures of joblessness, in order to understand the relationship between the welfare state and worklessness
  • The impact of public policy on labour market disadvantage, particularly welfare reform
  • The contribution which various factors make to labour market inequality
  • Critiques of existing labour market statistics, particularly hidden unemployment


Supervisors: Dr Tania Burchardt, Dr Kirsten Sehnbruch


Expertise details

Quantitative analysis of the Labour Force Survey and Understanding Society, the changing role of the welfare state in modern-day labour markets, unemployment in the UK, the role of different metrics in driving labour market inequality, multi-dimensional measures of labour market disadvantage.

Expertise Details

Labour market disadvantage; The capability approach; Welfare and work; Jobs quality; The contribution of work to inequality; Social exclusion and social mobility; Hidden unemployment