The Policy@Sussex initiative

Policy@Sussex is a bridge between policy relevant social science research across several departments of the University of Sussex and the policy makers, influencers and shapers who act on evidence. A strong interdisciplinary approach and rigorous academic research offers innovative insights on current policy challenges.

Read more about Policy@Sussex and follow us on Twitter: @Policy_Sussex

Posted in About Policy@Sussex

A Guide to Implementing the Law on Anti-social Behaviour

By Dr Stavros Demetriou
Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 gives a significant magnitude of discretion to local enforcement agents to decide what counts as anti-social behaviour and how to implement their powers. The 2014 Act was designed to be flexible and to enable local agents to tackle a range of local issues. However, this flexibility can result in the inconsistent implementation of the law and allow local enforcement agents to use these measures as a means of indirectly criminalising certain kinds of behaviour whilst targeting specific social groups. To prevent this, it is important to ensure that these measures are used appropriately and target only behaviour that really has a negative effect on other people’s quality of life.

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Posted in Equality and Diversity, Society and Education, Uncategorized

If data are the ‘new oil,’ how can their value be shared fairly?

Some reflections on the EC High Level Expert Group Report on the impact of digital transformation on labour markets

Professor Maria Savona
Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex

Digital transformations are creating great opportunities but also challenges for modern labour markets. Supporting and steering transformations while reducing disruption is a pertinent policy challenge. While discussions must address the technological anxiety and declining working conditions associated with advances in AI and automation, they should also consider how digital transformations could reduce unemployment and underemployment, and increase prosperity and inclusion at the European level.

To explore possible solutions to these policy challenges, the European Commission in September 2018 convened an expert group on the impact of the digital transformation on EU labour markets. The group included experts from the public and private sector, alongside a few academics. The HLG convened over five monthly meetings that provided opportunities to cross-fertilise our own expertise. I was able to share the results of our ESRC SDAI project (TEMPIS) on the effects of technological innovation on employment and self-employment in the UK’s local labour markets and discuss our views on making innovation more inclusive. We were asked to think outside the box, providing ground-breaking policy recommendations based on empirical evidence – no mean feat! These have fed into a final report, released on 8 April 2019 and discussed in Brussels at the High-Level Conference on the Future of Work.

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Posted in Equality and Diversity, Technology and Innovation, Uncategorized

Think talking on your hands-free while driving is safe? Think again

The RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign reported that drivers using phones caused 2263 crashes between 2013 and 2017. However, most such campaigns focus on hand-held mobile phone use rather than hands-free. Research carried out by Dr Graham J. Hole (University of Sussex) with Dr Gemma F. Briggs and Dr Jim A. J. Turner (Open University) reveals overwhelming evidence that – contrary to popular assumption – driving while having a phone conversation using hands-free technology is no safer than using a hand-held phone.

Over 80% of studies into phone use have now shown significant performance degradation, with hands-free phone use causing the same dangerously high levels of distraction as hand-held phone use. Drawing from their own research, as well as numerous studies by other academics and public bodies, this policy brief debunks some common misconceptions around the safety of hands-free phone use, and examines some potential solutions for tackling the problem.

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Posted in Society and Education, Technology and Innovation

Evaluating public policies in Africa

In 2014, the African Union adopted the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024). The first 10-year part of the Union’s longer-term Agenda 2063, 2019 marks the strategy’s halfway point, and an opportune time to take stock and evaluate its performance so far. However, the STISA-2024’s original timeline did not incorporate a mid-term evaluation.

Dr Chux Daniels (SPRU) has been working with the African Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI) and other key stakeholders to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework, which will be used to gather and analyse key data from STISA-2024’s first five years of implementation. In this policy brief, Dr Daniels outlines the strategy’s priority areas and objectives, why an M&E framework is necessary, and presents key considerations and recommendations for its development.

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Narrating blood – the impact of hidden blood-related conditions

Blood disorders – such as anaemia, menstrual disorders and HIV/AIDS – are often ‘hidden’ from view, to both those who suffer from and those who treat them. They are complex health issues, often perceived in terms of weakness or stigma, especially in poor, rural, urban and migrating populations.

A new international network at the University of Sussex, led by Professor Janet Boddy (School of Education and Social Work), Dr Hayley MacGregor (Institute of Development Studies) and Professor Maya Unnithan (Department of Anthropology), aims to bring together international and national research expertise to establish a set of analytic and methodological instruments to address the social, economic and health burden of hidden blood-related conditions such as anaemia in lower- and middle-income countries. The research will initially focus on Bangladesh, India, Ghana and the UK, and is the subject of a new research brief: ‘Narrating blood – the impact of hidden blood-related conditions’.

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Posted in Equality and Diversity

Son preference in the UK

Pre-natal sex selection – the attempt to control the sex of offspring before birth – is a contentious issue. In 2012, concerns arose that prenatal sex-selective abortions were occurring in the UK, and since then the topic has been on the parliamentary and public health agenda.

A new ESRC-funded project, outlined in this research brief, is investigating generational shifts in family dynamics with regards to son preference and gender roles among families of Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani origin in the UK. The research involves Prof Maya Unnithan and Dr Ben Kasstan (University of Sussex) and Dr Sylvie Dubuc and Dr Bernice Kuang (University of Reading).

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Posted in Society and Education

Forecasting with fishers to save lives at sea

Accurate, accessible and timely marine weather forecasts are of crucial importance in planning and conducting fishing safely around the world, yet this essential information is not easily accessible to artisanal fishers from the South-West Coast of India, and as a result there are persistently weather-related accidents resulting in loss of earnings, equipment and sometimes life.

A new policy brief explores why incidents relating to adverse weather conditions are still so commonplace on the South-West Coast of India, and suggests ways these incidents could be reduced. The brief is based on research by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Sussex, who studied two fishing villages in the district – Anchuthengu and Poonthura – between February and September 2018.

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Posted in Society and Education

Accelerating the adoption of Electric Vehicles in Europe

A new policy brief by the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) Director Professor Benjamin Sovacool and Aarhus University colleagues Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens and Lance Noel looks at the barriers to the spread of electric vehicles (EVs) and makes recommendations to policymakers, industry and car dealerships on how to speed up EV uptake.

The report, based on a study published in Nature Energy in May 2018, identifies car dealerships and sales personnel as major obstacles to the spread of EVs due to sales personnel misinforming customers or not mentioning EVs at all. The researchers document that a lack of knowledge on EV specifications and taxation schemes, as well as the lack of incentives to sell EVs are key factors influencing slow EV sales. Read more ›

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Posted in Energy and Environment

How does the political economy influence the evolution of science funding in sub-Saharan Africa?

Despite increasing understanding that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is important for achieving economic growth and reaching development goals, STI in sub-Saharan Africa still suffers from research policy, management and funding challenges. A new policy brief, based on research led by Professor Joanna Chataway (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit), explores the economic and political context in which Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in sub-Saharan Africa function, the challenges they face and how these can be overcome.

The Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) was set up to support SGCs in fifteen sub-Saharan countries. The research examined SGCs in five case study countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Senegal. The brief investigates the recurring key themes and issues which were evident across case studies such as the role of governments, human resources and the private sector. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Tensions and Care in Moderation Work: Insights from the online platform ‘Care Opinion’

Dr Dimitra Petrakaki (Department of Business and Management) has released a policy brief exploring the moderation of patient feedback on the online platform ‘Care Opinion’. The brief presents results from in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with twelve employees of Care Opinion in 2017.

Care Opinion offers patients the chance to share their experience of healthcare encounters with peers and to feedback to healthcare providers. Patients’ feedback takes the form of a story that is moderated prior to being published on the platform and subsequently becomes publically available. The moderation process involves patient stories being tagged with keywords and given a score to assess their level of criticality. Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education