SYNOPSIS: The research publications of the author have as their focus a coherent concern
with risk behaviours and the management of the personal and social
problems underpinning these forms of behaviour, including policy responses
within the changing context of welfare. This has formed the common core of
both his academic and professional research activities, and is reflected in his
These inter-related themes have formed key motifs in the author's work:
vulnerability, risk and resilience in socially excluded groups and
communities; social policy responses, including prevention strategies and
forms of health and welfare provision; shifts in the context for welfare,
especially in state-voluntary sector relations; and the development of
conceptual and methodological approaches to improve our understanding of
these problems and our responses to them, applicable in both UK and
In this critical review, he describes and explains the development of these
motifs, illustrating how a consistent and focused body of knowledge has been
assembled and articulated in his research publications. It is contended that
this has influenced both theory and practice in social policy, particularly in
relation to the fields of health promotion, health care and social work. This
reflective account embraces theoretical themes, methodological approaches,
empirical settings and applications, and impact and influence of the research.
In order to improve our understanding of these problems and responses to
them, this research has entailed the development of conceptual approaches.
This includes an interest with the construction of social problems such as
"vulnerability" and "risk" among socially excluded groups and communities
and the evolution of responses to these issues. In addition, a focus of critical
attention is social explanation and particularly concepts of the "middle
range", which include the management of personal welfare, risk, resilience
and vulnerability. A key endeavour has been the development of
intermediate concepts that allow for purchase on particular social issues, of
the sort contained in the author's Risk, Resilience and Vulnerability Model.
Emphasis is given to some of the methodological innovations that have been
developed in the course of the author's research. In terms of qualitative
techniques, he pioneered the development of the Facilitated Discussion
Group Method. This approach allows for the facilitation of perspectives of
vulnerable and excluded individuals, enabling them to discuss their issues,
including risk behaviours. Participatory research approaches have also been
developed, for example, among disadvantaged groups in the context of the
UK and Eastern Europe.
The empirical settings and applications of the research as contained in his
publications are held up for consideration. The contention is that the
application of middle range concepts, such as the management of personal
welfare or risk, can be relevant whatever the context, though some tailoring in
their application to specific circumstances may be required. Therefore his
work has included a
range of related empirical contexts and research
populations, though there is a particular concern with disadvantaged groups
and communities, in both UK and international contexts.
IMPACT AND APPLICATIONS:
A major achievement of this research and associated publications has been
their impact on policy and practice in health and social services, as well as on
theoretical and methodological development in the field of social science. This
impact has occurred at three key levels - the theoretical, the methodological
and the empirical. Numerous examples are provided, particularly of the
impact of this research upon social policy organisations in relation to risk.
International examples have also been included, touching on the author's
work in Europe, especially Eastern Europe.