We are a team of researchers based out of Waterford (Ireland) dedicated to studying social welfare and unemployment. We are grateful that our research has been supported by: the European Commission, the Irish Research Council, Waterford Institute of Technology, and University College Cork. Our annual event is the Economy & Society Summer School, supported by the President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative

The Waterford Un/Employment Research Collaborative (WUERC) came into being against the backdrop of a rapid increase in the number of unemployed people in Ireland (from 4.2% to 15% between February 2006 and February 2012). The research group, comprising of colleagues in from the schools of Business and Humanities in Waterford Institute of Technology, set out to develop large scale datasets around the experience of unemployment and produced the 2015 book “The Sociology of Unemployment” published by Manchester University Press. Since the initial phase of the research the group has continued to expand its interests and now has four main areas of interest.

PEX – Understanding Unemployment in the Era of Big Data.

This branch of research is supported by a funding grant from the Irish Research Council (IRC) under the New Horizons Interdisciplinary Research Project Award.

The primary aim of the research project “Understanding Unemployment in the Era of Big Data: Exploring how data-driven theory and algorithmic knowledge can support better policy and personal decision making” is to explore how emerging analytical methods and computational tools can improve the experience of unemployment. It is a future driven stream of the WUERC project, exploring concepts like the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and its potential consequences on future work and unemployment. Taking the recent deployment of the PEX algorithm (probability of exit from the live register) by the Irish Department of Social Protection (DSP) as the point of departure, the project aims to produce data-driven models of unemployment dynamics that incorporate conventional and emerging theory on the experience of unemployment. In this way, the project aspires contribute by: Improving, broadening and strengthening the deployment of algorthmic knowledge on unemployment in Ireland and beyond; contribute to the emerging sociological and organisaiton studies work on the social life of algorthimic knowledge; contribute to the nascent field of operational algorithms, by creating an up to date tool to capture the important individual characteristics that fall outside of the scope of the PEX algorithm while making the tool assessable to those at the centre of the model.

The research will expand the WUERC project by developing a broader national and international scope with an ultimate goal of participating in a European-wide Horizon 2020 research collaborative. More information on this project can be found in the PEX tab and throughout the blog postings.

Historical Labour Markets and Welfare

Unemployment and job creation is of central importance to political life in Ireland. The growth from the 1950s hailed an economic recovery with a singular aspiration of full employment. This stream explores the genealogy of political interference in the creation of jobs and the administration of social welfare. More information on this project can be found in the Historical Labour and Welfare tab and throughout the blog postings.

Welfare Conditionality and Sanctions

This stream explores the increasing trend towards imposing conditions and sanctions on unemployed people, whether through demographics (e.g. age) or failure to find employment. Increasingly social welfare recipients note the additional challenge of responding to the demands of social welfare departments while trying to remain focused on finding paid, quality and sustainable employment. More information on this project can be found in the Welfare Conditionality tab and throughout the blog postings.

The New Labour Market

In recent times the focus of jobs and work have shifted from steady employment and jobs-for-life into boundaryless careers and precarity of employment. This stream explores entrepreneurship and innovation, new forms of work and the shifting landscape of industry. More information on this project can be found in the New Labour Market tab and throughout the blog postings.

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