I started my academic career at the University of Leeds, first as an MA student in Politics (graduating with distinction in 2014), and then as a PhD researcher in British politics and social policy (passing without corrections in 2019). In my doctoral thesis, I developed an innovative approach to policy analysis, mapping the underlying assumptions of the UK’s social security reforms, with a particular focus on theories of change and ontological contradictions. The thesis received a Recognition of Research Excellence from the University of Leeds and was nominated for Thesis of the Year in the Department of Politics and International Studies.
From 2016 to 2020, I worked at the University of Leeds as a Tutor in Politics and Sociology, leading seminars, lectures, and modules, including a PhD-level research methods module. I joined the University of Surrey in July 2020 as a Research Fellow on the project ‘Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs’ (LIPSIT). The project seeks to identify the institutional arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the ‘good’ management of policy trade-offs. I am currently researching the role played by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Industrial Strategies in the delivery of increased productivity, inclusive growth, and environment sustainability.
Affiliations and memberships
My research is best summarised as three ‘layers’.
(1) The most abstract layer entails an interest in social ontology, epistemology, social theory, critical realism, and the philosophy of the social sciences.
- Newman, J. (2019). ‘Morphogenetic theory and the constructivist institutionalist challenge’. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. 49(1): 106-126.
(2) The middle layer concerns the theory and practice of social research, particularly critical discourse analysis, policy analysis, social network analysis and the application of realist ‘meta-theories’.
- Newman, J. (2020). ‘Critical Realism, Critical Discourse Analysis and the Morphogenetic Approach’. Journal of Critical Realism.
(3) The empirical layer of my research is focused primarily on British politics and public policy, with particular interests in social security policy, the UK Conservative Party, and regional politics.
Newman, J. and Hayton, R. (forthcoming). ‘The ontological failure of David Cameron’s ‘modernisation’ of the Conservative Party’. [Accepted for publication].
Newman, J. (forthcoming). ‘The ontological assumptions of the Universal Credit reforms’. [Under review].
Local Institutions, Productivity, Sustainability and Inclusivity Trade-offs (LIPSIT) is an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded collaborative project. The aim of the project is to identify institutional and organisational arrangements at the regional level that tend to lead to the ‘good’ management of policy trade-offs associated with increasing productivity, and to make recommendations based on this.
Recommendations will cover:
- Changes to the way national and regional policy makers operate within the current system of institutions and organisations
- Modest changes to that system that policy makers responsible for the design of the system are likely to accept, and
- More radical changes to that system that could be adopted in the future.
If policy makers act on these recommendations this will lead to strengthened institutions and thus to improved regional and local productivity. Ultimately this should lead to an improvement in the UK’s productivity record.
My approach to teaching puts the experimentation with ideas at the heart of student learning. I seek to create an inclusive and supportive environment within which students can test their ideas, think reflexively about their own assumptions, and feel able to shift and develop their position. In 2017, I was awarded Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, and was nominated for the Leeds Positive Impact Award. I am currently working towards a HEA Fellowship.
The interdisciplinary nature of my research is reflected in my range of teaching expertise. In recent years, I have taught early modern and 20th century political theory, British politics and political marketing, introductions to sociology and the sociology of work, and the philosophy and methods of political science. My module leadership roles have included an undergraduate British politics module, a PhD-level research methods module, and a module for medical students on the Politics of the NHS.