I am interested in the relationship between normative theory – such as political philosophy and ethics – and practice/policy related disciplines, such as international development and public policy. My current research proceeds from the claim that each can contribute to the other. Rigorous normative theory can help to usefully clarify and critique the language, values, and goals of a field of praxis such as development. Meanwhile, knowledge and insight regarding the real-world mechanisms that produce inequality, injustice, poverty, and so on can help to build more insightful normative and philosophical accounts of values such as equality, justice, and wellbeing. A particular longer-term focus is on the exploration (building on the on-going work of many others) of a critical and ‘relational’ approach to theorising social justice, and related questions of social ontology and structure/agency. More practically I am interested in social protection policy and in institutional experiments in democratisation, as well as the country-specific case of Brazil.
I am currently working for the Effective States and Inclusive Development research institute at Manchester. As part of this I am carrying out a critical meta-review of ESID’s empirical and analytical research findings regarding the drivers of and barriers to the advancement of social justice and inclusive development in developing countries. I am also organising a workshop to be held at Manchester on 1st and 2nd November 2018, ‘Rethinking social justice and the public realm: what can relational approaches offer?’.
The title of my PhD thesis (completed at Manchester in Dec 2017) was Towards a relational approach to social justice: liberals, radicals, and Brazil's 'new social contract'. As well as theoretical analysis, the argument draws on the particular context of the recent history of Brazil since re-democratisation in the late 1980s, an episode commonly narrated as a case of a 'new social contract'. This aspect gains further insight from fieldwork relating to new participatory-democratic experiments in Brazil's social assistance sector.
I am currently lecturer for the Politics, Governance and Development Policy pathway in the Development Fieldwork module. In the past I have been course tutor on the GDI masters modules 'Development as Historical Change' and 'Global Inequalities and Social Development', and the undergraduate module ‘International Development: Principles, Policies, and Practice’.
I was recently Editorial Assistant for the forthcoming Oxford University Press Oxford Handbook of the Brazilian Economy.