Dr Jack Newman

Research Blog

Jack Newman

This is an intermittently updated blog about my research.

Dr Jack Newman
Department of Sociology
University of Surrey

Email: jack.newman@surrey.ac.uk

Staff profile: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/people/jack-newman

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jack-Newman-2

Twitter: @jacknewmanhe


I’m a Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, based in the Department of Sociology. I’m currently working on the project ‘Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs’ (LIPSIT), which seeks to identify the institutional arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the ‘good’ management of policy trade-offs. I have previously worked at the University of Leeds, where I was awarded my MA in 2014 and PhD in 2019.


My research applies social theory to the study of British politics. Using mixed methods, I focus specifically on three main areas: devolution and local governance; conservatism and the UK Conservative Party; social policy and work. My engagement with social theory and social ontology entails an interest in the relationships between discourse, institutions, structure, and agency, primarily from a critical realist perspective. My empirical application of social theory is clearest in my 2021 paper in the journal British Politics, where I analyse the underlying ontology of Conservative Party social policy. This paper emerged from my doctoral research, which developed the approach of ‘ontological policy analysis’ and applied the approach to the UK’s post-2010 social security system.

Since 2020, I have worked on the multi-institutional LIPSIT project as a postdoctoral research fellow. Through my work on this project, my current research relates to English devolution, regional governance, and local political economy in the UK. The first academic output from this research is my forthcoming paper in the Political Quarterly on the government’s levelling up agenda, but further papers are in the pipeline with co-collaborators.

Key words: social ontology; social theory; critical discourse analysis; qualitative research; public policy analysis; British politics; social security policy; regional politics; English devolution.

The ‘Levelling Up’ Agenda of Boris Johnson’s Government: Why there might be trouble ahead

This post was originally published on The Loop, ECPR’s Political Science Blog. The research comes from a paper published in The Political Quarterly: ‘The Ambiguous Ideology of Levelling Up’. The research was part of the LIPSIT Project. Levelling up has become the centrepiece of the UK government’s vision for a post-Brexit and post-Covid Britain. It …

Cameron’s Failure Shows that ‘Levelling Up’ Needs a Coherent Theory of Change

This post was originally published on the PSA blog and in a slightly edited form on the Politics@Surrey Blog. The research comes from a joint paper with Richard Hayton in the journal British Politics: ‘The ontological failure of David Cameron’s ‘modernisation’ of the Conservative Party’. The Conservative Party’s ubiquitous ‘levelling up agenda’ has developed from …

Critical Discourse Analysis and Poststructuralist Discourse Theory

In this blog post, I outline some key differences between ‘critical discourse analysis’ and ‘poststructuralist discourse theory’, by asking how discourse relates to society and subjects. This blog is based on my recent publication: Newman, J. (2020). ‘Critical realism, critical discourse analysis, and the morphogenetic approach‘. Journal of Critical Realism. <<<HOMEPAGE || In this blog, …

What is Ontology?

<<<HOMEPAGE || In this blog, I attempt to summarise key elements of my research in a comprehensible and digestible style. If you find yourself confused, or if you want to engage in some discussion, I would be more than happy to correspond via email: jack.newman@surrey.ac.uk Ontology: “the philosophy of being and existence.”  The importance of …

Are structure and agency real?

<<<HOMEPAGE || Introduction In my recent publication in the Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, I engage with two influential approaches to the structure-agency issue: constructivist institutionalism (Hay, 2016) and the morphogenetic approach (Archer, 1995). My paper deals with numerous points of agreement and disagreement between the two approaches, but in this blog, I …

Approaching Social Analysis

<<<HOMEPAGE || Introduction In the first chapter of my thesis, Ontological Social Policy Analysis, I lay out my own ontological assumptions and my prefered analytical modelling of those assumptions. In simpler terms, I explain how I view social reality. This view is one amongst many in the social sciences, and it is therefore necessary for …

Ontological Social Policy Analysis: An Introduction

<<<HOMEPAGE || On 3rd May 2019, my doctoral thesis was passed without corrections by examiners Dave Marsh and Tim Heppell. I would like to thank Stuart McAnulla and Richard Hayton for their three and half years of dedicated supervision. The full manuscript is now available online through the following link: Jack Newman thesis – Ontological …

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started