Dr Sarah Marie Hall

Reader in Human Geography

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Research interests

My research interests span the following themes:

  • gender and feminist theory
  • families, friendship and intimacy
  • austerity, crises and economic change
  • ethics, care and social reproduction
  • consumption 
  • everyday life
  • ethnography, oral histories, creative and feminist methodologies

Other research

Research Projects

Austerity and Altered Lifecourses, 2021-2025 (funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship)

More info coming soon!

Lived Experiences of Childbearing in Contemporary Austerity, 2019-2020 (funded by an ISRF Political Economy Fellowship)

Integrating feminist, political economy and geographical approaches, particularly drawing upon theories of reproductive rights, justice and social reproduction, this project explore the everyday realities of people for whom austerity has had a significantly impact on their current and future family lives. The project utilises oral history and future interviews to engage with real-life experiences of socio-economic barriers, the findings of which are anticipated to provide fresh insights about the relationship between reproduction and contemporary austerity. You can read more on the project here, and in recent papers in Area and Soundings.

Methods for Change, 2020-2021 (with Drs Ali Browne, Amy Barron, Laura Pottinger, Ulrike Ehgartner and Jonny Riston, funded by a Research England ASPECT Grant)

Methods for Change seeks to amplify methodologies developed by social scientists to research pressing societal issues, and to make a case for their wider application beyond academia. The project collates innovative and transformative social science methods, and demonstrates how they could be used to create change in diverse, non-academic contexts. Reflecting on cutting edge research within the social sciences and humanities at the University of Manchester and Aspect partner institutions, the project translates these methods into written, audio-visual and creative guides to be shared with industry, business, the charity sector and a range of academic and non-academic stakeholders. See our webpage for more information, or get in touch with us!

Learning from 'left behind' places: everyday hopes and fears for the future after Brexit in England, 2019-2020 (with Prof. Edwards and Drs Evans, Harries and Smith, funded by an ESRC Governance After Brexit Grant)

This project investigates how residents of four urban areas in England think about Brexit and its consequences. It studies their hopes, aspirations and anxieties about the future after Brexit and is focused on four electoral wards in three English cities. These are places where large post-industrial, social and economic changes, together with government policies of austerity, have contributed to experiences of marginalisation and exclusion amongst many residents. They have been identified in social scientific, political and media accounts as 'left behind' places. My sub-project is based in Gorse Hill, Greater Manchester, and with community researchers we have developed a podcast on 'Everyone's Got an Opinion on Brexit'. More on the project here.

Everyday Family Life in Austerity, 2012-2015 (funded by a Hallsworth Fellowship, University of Manchester)

A study exploring the impact of austerity on everyday family life, with a focus on familial and intimate relationships (especially gender, class and intergenerationality). The project involved a longitudinal ethnography with families in Greater Manchester. Writing projects include recent papers in TransactionsProgress in Human GeographyGeoforum, Social & Cultural Geography, Gender, Place & Culture, Area and Geography Compass, and a co-edited collection (with Dr. Anthony Ince, Cardiff Uni) entitled 'Sharing Economies in Times of Crisis: Practices, Politics and Possibilities' in the Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy series. The book Everyday Life in Austerity came out in 2019 with Palgrave-MacMillan as part of their Geography series and Family & Intimate Lives series. I won the PSA Inaugural Jo Cox Prize 2017 for this project.

The Everyday Austerity Exhibition was the culmination of this research. Ethnographic accounts were turned into a series of original drawings by North-West zine maker Stef Bradley, exhibited alongside field notes, sound-bites, and collected materials to ‘lift the lid’ on austerity. This unique multi-sensory exhibition first opened to the public in July 2016, and then embarked on a year-long Ten Borough Tour of Greater Manchester, visited by thousands of people across the region and beyond. Check out the website for more information, including the Everyday Austerity zine, and follow #livedausterity on twitter.

Working-Class Youth Voice and Inter-generational Justice in Manchester’s Devolution, 2016-2018 (with Dr Laura Pottinger, University of Manchester; funded by ESRC IAA)

Local campaigns, such as Powerhouse Pioneers led by Manchester’s leading Youth Engagement Charity, RECLAIM, have raised concerns about the audibility of young people's voices in the Northern Powerhouse. They highlight that ensuring young people are at the centre, rather than the periphery, of discussions about the Northern Powerhouse and Manchester's Devolution is one way in which equitable social change and inter-generational justice may be achieved. This project involves ethnographic and participatory research, and will produce an in-depth evaluation of campaigning activity, and a series of resources including a toolkit, manifesto and film each created in collaboration with young people. Our most recent paper from the project includes a piece co-written with Team Future in Local Economy.  

Gender, Race, Disability and Austerity, 2016-2018 (with the Women's Budget Group and Dr Laura Pottinger, University of Manchester; funded by Barrow Cadbury Foundation)

The project sets out to provide, for the first time in the UK context, evidence of the distributional impact of austerity policies by income, gender, ethnicity and disability and, crucially, at their intersection. This will combine qualitative and quantitative research to provide a comprehensive assessment of the distributional impact and lived experience of austerity policies on BAME women since 2010. The qualitative research involves a collaboration with BAME service providers and BAME women in Coventry and Manchester. I am responsible for the Manchester-based research, partnered with Dr Laura Pottinger and RECLAIM, involving knowledge-exchange, participatory methods and in-depth interviewing. As well as feeding into the final report, the research will be used as the basis for a short animated film to disseminate the findings to wider audiences. Our project report was launched in Parliament in October 2017 and can be found here.

Unpacking the personal and political potential of cookery classes in low-income communities, Manchester, 2017-2018 (with Cracking Good Food and Laura Pottinger, Megan Blake, Christian Reynolds, Wendy Wrieden, Susannah Mills; funded by N8 AgriFood partnership)

Being taught cookery skills can empower individuals to be imaginative, resourceful and healthy in their food creations, although limited research explores the material, social and relational benefits. Taking the case of community cooking classes, this project unpacks the impacts and potential of social cooking for those from low-income backgrounds. Partnered with Cracking Good Food (CGF) Manchester, and a novel interdisciplinary team across three UK institutions (Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield), the project is based in two of Manchester's most deprived areas – Moston and Old Moat.

Live-in-guardians: informal housing in the contemporary city, 2013-2015 (with Prof. Mark Jayne, Cardiff Uni; Strategic Investment Research Funding)

This project takes a detail look at live-in-guardians schemes across Europe, which have emerged and grown as a response to contemporary urban housing and economic crises. Research for this study was undertaken in Amsterdam, Dublin, London, and New York, involving in-depth interviews with live-in-guardian companies and key stakeholders including local authorities and housing charities, as well as property owners the ‘live-in-guardians’. We have provided evidence to the London Assembly Housing Committee based on this research. Additional papers reporting findings from this project include an article in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, and others are in preparation/ review: watch this space!

Exploring and Articulating Ethics in Consumption: A Multi-Method Analysis, 2006-2010 (funded by ESRC 1+3 Open Competition Award)

Applying feminist theories of care ethics, gendered labour and moral responsibilities, and involving two years of ethnographic research with families, interviews with companies and research in schools, this project explored ways of understanding consumption as an everyday ethical practice. To date, papers from this project have been published in Environment and Planning A, Area, Geoforum, Local Environment, Mobilities, Social & Cultural Geography and the Journal of Economic Geography, as well as a number of book chapters. Work from this project has also been awarded a number of prizes, including: Giorgio Rota Best Paper Award Winner 2012; Economic Geography Research Group PhD Best Thesis 2012; Ede & Ravenscroft Prize 2009; and Economic Geography Research Group Best Masters Thesis 2008.



Research and projects