AQMeN International Conference: Rediscovering inequalities: exploring the interconnections between crime, education and urban segregation

This event took place on 26-27th October 2016 at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, University of Edinburgh.

You can view the presentations from the keynote speakers at this event here.

You can also view the plenary sessions in full via the AQMeN YouTube channel.

The aim of the conference was to offer a forum for researchers, policy makers and practitioners to discuss and debate contemporary issues about the nature and impact of inequalities which arise in a variety of interconnected policy contexts. Conference papers  considered 3 main themes:

Measuring the extent and impact of inequality
Identifying the causes of inequality
The impact of austerity on inequality: challenges and possibilities

Rediscovering inequalities:

The primary focus of the conference was ‘rediscovering inequalities’. We aimed to do this by moving away from narrow discussions about wealth and income and broadening the focus to conceptualise a wider range of causal processes and social contexts in which inequalities develop and flourish.

The conference title reflects the three primary areas of research undertaken by the AQMeN research centre; however, we were keen that the content of the conference reflects inequalities in its widest sense and across as broad a range of disciplinary areas as possible.

Inequalities can be concentrated and clustered in individuals and places. Therefore, the conference was focused on rediscovering the impact and outcomes of multiple forms of inequality at a range of levels – from citizens to communities, cities to continents.

We aimed to examine the profile of inequality across a range of protected equalities characteristics – including race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and faith – and to understand the consequences of different forms of inequality on the least powerful members of society taking account of health, wealth, poverty and a range of other vulnerabilities.

The discussion sought to tackle the problem of why some groups fare less well than others and to identify innovative and creative solutions, especially in an era of severe financial constraints on public sector finance.

Specifically, the conference focused on an evidenced-based approach to understanding and addressing inequalities. We wanted to showcase new and emerging evidence around inequalities, examine the implications for policy reform in an era of austerity and identify future directions for policy and research.

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Robert Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University

Professor Richard Wilkinson, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School.

Professor, Jan Jonsson, Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford University

Professor George Galster, Clarence Hilberry Professor of Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

Professor Yossi Shavit, Tel Aviv University

Conference themes:

We invited all disciplines, especially those with a connection to crime, education and urban segregation, to submit abstracts for papers on the following broad thematic areas:

Theme 1 – Measuring the extent and impact of inequality

Inequality can be defined, and therefore measured, in a range of different ways. Under this theme, we invited papers that consider different ways of conceptualising, defining and measuring the extent and implications of inequality. This could include examining differences between groups and places that are inherently problematic, analysing how to compare inequalities effectively at different spatial scales or considering temporal stasis or change in how inequality manifests itself over time. We also invited papers that consider issues about: how to measure inequalities; how to summarise differences; how to define what is being measured and compared; and how inequalities are represented. Papers that considered how to visually represent inequalities in ways that don’t misinform were welcomed.

Theme 2 – Identifying the causes of inequality

Isolating and identifying the causes of inequality is essential in tackling these endemic problems. This session aimed to go beyond the description of patterns of inequalities to focus on the factors and processes by which inequalities are created and reproduced. Papers were invited which explore the influence of individual, family, neighbourhood and institutional factors (such as schools, labour markets and welfare regimes) on a range of outcomes. We were especially interested in papers which explore the interactions between different factors (including a wide range of protected characteristics and vulnerabilities) in determining and shaping various forms of inequality. Papers which highlight the contribution of longitudinal analysis to explaining inequalities and new and innovative methodological developments in identifying causal relationships were also encouraged.

Theme 3 – The impact of austerity on inequality: challenges and possibilities

Successful public service delivery in the 21st Century involves doing more with less; meeting rising public expectations with fewer resources. This presents a significant burden for agencies with responsibility for managing public services that deal with the consequences of various type of inequality. Under this theme, we invited papers that consider the challenges posed by financial constraint and significant public sector reform on inequalities from any of a range of dimensions, such as education, health, criminal justice and welfare. We also invited papers that discuss the positive opportunities, for example through better partnership working and systems of governance, which may provide innovative and creative solutions to address the problems caused by inequalities or opportunities to narrow equality gaps. Papers that focus on the development of interventions to ameliorate inequalities in crime, health and urban segregation were particularly welcomed and were fed into the final panel session.

This conference was aimed at:

• Researchers (including PhD students) who are working in any disciplinary area, such as health, housing, environmental studies, justice and education, where there are clear examples of inequality; or who are developing methods for measuring, testing, evaluating or visualising inequality and its impact.

• Policy-makers and practitioners who work in areas of service delivery or policy development, such as policing, health services, community planning, schools, travel and transport, where any form of inequality impacts directly on individuals or communities which comprise their key client groups.