School of Social Sciences and Public Policy

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There is a wide range of research activity in AUT's School of Social Sciences and Public Policy. The school has an active research community, with staff and postgraduate research in areas such as psychology, sociology and public policy.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 83
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    What It Means to Belong in the Global South: An Introduction to a Special Issue on ‘Wrestling With (Not) Belonging’
    (Addleton Academic Publishers, 2024) Ramirez, Elba; Sturm, Sean; Pasley, And
    This special issue is a milestone in the lead editor Elba’s ongoing search for answers that often did not even have questions about her (not) belonging in her place of birth, the Canary Islands. (Not) belonging undermines the reference points that ground answers to questions about what it means to belong. Elba faced a need to know with whom or what, where, how and why she came to be in relation, marked by her multiple senses of self and unwillingness or inability fit with the existing social categories. Her onto-epistemological journey began with frustration at critical theory’s failure to engage with the ambivalent status of the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands occupies the Global South position of a colonised territory yet had been so assimilated into the Global North that its Indigenous peoples had arguably been erased, culturally if not genetically (Ramirez & Pasley, 2022). What did it mean to be Indigenous in such a place as the Canaries, and how could Elba relate to the concept of being Indigenous there if it relied on a normalised conception of being Indigenous as being genetically related to the original inhabitants of a place, as was the case with previous Western interpretations of Canarian Indigenous histories that characterised Indigeneity relative to settler subjectivity? Wrestling with (not) belonging for Elba encompassed being both coloniser and colonised and neither: geographically African, but socio-geopolitically Spanish; and, typically, left out of the history of both the Americas and Africa, despite the history of Indigenous Canarians serving as slave labour in the Americas and the ongoing colonisation of the Canaries by various European powers (see Ramirez, this issue). Elba sought wisdom and examples in more-than-Western knowledges, and this special issue presented an opportunity for her to explore how Indigenous ways of being and knowing might enable her to (re)claim Canarian Indigeneity and to enter into coalition with those whose experiences are similarly unintelligible to Western knowledges.
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    A Necromantic Hauntology of the Void: Pasados que (Nunca) Fueron y Futuros que (Nunca) Pueden Ser in the Canary Islands
    (Addleton Academic Publishers, 2024) Ramirez, Elba
    This article is the continuation of a personal journey, wrestling with (not) belonging, which started almost a decade ago with my arrival in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It was not until I was invited to share my ‘whakapapa’ (genealogy), merely reduced to ‘Spanish’ at that point, that I started to reflect on my own identity as a Canary Islander. Through my engagement with te ao Māori (the Māori world), I started to understand and know myself in relation to the Indigenous peoples of the Canary Islands, as it allowed me to reflect on ‘(not) belonging’ and un/becoming Indigenous (see Ramirez & Pasley, 2022). Learning about the Indigenous histories of the Islands and exploring my relationships with the Canary Islands and their Indigenous histories brought up more questions than answers. The process of decolonising the Canary Islands requires reconstituting onto-epistemological understandings and engagement with the Indigenous and colonial histories of the islands, decentring these from a Eurocentric/Western narrative/lens and establishing a Canarian onto-epistemology. To do so, I diffract Barad’s (2017) void of im/possibility with Derrida’s (1995) hauntology to develop the concept of a necromantic hauntology of the void. This allows me to tend to the wound that has been left behind in the Canary Islands and engage with the im/possibilities of the in/determinacy of Canarian Indigeneity’s nothingness/ openness. This is part of my reconnection with the Indigenous Canarian inheritance (outside Western thinking) and the possibilities that pasados que (nunca) fueron y futuros que (nunca) pueden ser (pasts that were [not], futures than can [never] be) offer to revive my connections to the land, its histories and its/my Indigeneity.
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    Reactions to Macro-Level Shocks and Re-examination of Adaptation Theory Using Big Data
    (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2024-01-31) Greyling, Talita; Rossouw, Stephanié
    Since 2020, the world has faced two unprecedented shocks: lockdowns (regulation) and the invasion of Ukraine (war). Although we realise the health and economic effects of these shocks, more research is needed on the effect on happiness and whether the type of shock plays a role. Therefore, in this paper, we determine whether these macro-level shocks affected happiness, how these effects differ, and how long it takes for happiness to adapt to previous levels. The latter will allow us to test whether adaptation theory holds at the macro level. We use a unique dataset of ten countries spanning the Northern and Southern hemispheres derived from tweets extracted in real-time per country. Applying Natural Language Processing, we obtain these tweets’ underlying sentiment scores, after which we calculate a happiness score (Gross National Happiness) and derive daily time series data. Our Twitter dataset is combined with Oxford’s COVID-19 Government Response Tracker data. Considering the results of the Difference-in-Differences and event studies jointly, we are confident that the shocks led to lower happiness levels, both with the lockdown and the invasion shock. We find that the effect size is significant and that the lockdown shock had a bigger effect than the invasion. Considering both types of shocks, the adaptation to previous happiness levels occurred within two to three weeks. Following our findings of similar behaviour in happiness to both types of shocks, the question of whether other types of shocks will have similar effects is posited. Regardless of the length of the adaptation period, understanding the effects of macro-level shocks on happiness is essential for policymakers, as happiness has a spillover effect on other variables such as production, safety and trust.
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    Women’s Mental Health During COVID-19 in South Africa
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2024-01-20) Kopylova, Natalia; Greyling, Talita; Rossouw, Stephanié
    Women’s mental health vulnerability, already a concern before the COVID-19 pandemic, has been exacerbated due to social isolation and restrictions on daily activities. This paper aims to follow a cohort of women from pre - to during the pandemic to determine the change in their mental health using the PHQ-2 scale (a mental health screening tool). Additionally, we investigate whether women with depressive symptoms before the pandemic suffered similarly to those without while controlling for pandemic-related factors. Primarily, we use the Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey dataset and apply pooled ordered logit and fixed effects ordered logit models. We find that the value of the PHQ-2 scale significantly increased during the first period of the pandemic and then eased over time. Interestingly, the behaviour of the individual scale items differed over time. This result questions the internal reliability of the scale during the pandemic and the importance of analysing the scale items individually. Furthermore, being depressed before the pandemic increases the probability of ‘depressive feelings’ and does not matter for ‘anhedonia’. Other factors increasing the probability of mental health disorders are taking care of children for 13–24 h a day and living with a person who has gone hungry. In contrast, wearing a mask and living in a grant-receiving household decreases the probability. These findings inform future researchers of the unexpected behaviour of scales and policymakers of the vulnerability of women’s mental health during unprecedented times, given their vital role in increasing the well-being of future generations.
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