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 80
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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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    Philippine High-School Teachers' Cognition of Pronunciation Teaching
    (Jilin University, 2023-09-23) Santillan, Jennifer; Balinas, Elvira; Couper, Graeme
    This study contributes to the steadily developing global picture of teacher cognition of pronunciation teaching by presenting the perspective of the Philippine context. It surveyed teachers’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices, as well as the impact of Covid-19 on pronunciation teaching and learning. The 251 responses from junior and senior high school English teachers suggest that pronunciation teaching in the Philippines is in a relatively healthy state. Teacher education appears to prepare teachers well, especially in terms of knowledge of phonetics and phonology and confidence in their own pronunciation. Although there was learning on how to teach pronunciation, respondents indicated that more was needed. Teachers wanted their students to communicate effectively rather than have native-like accents, and most notably, intonation teaching was high on the priority list. Additionally, distance learning during Covid-19 often meant that pronunciation was neglected. The study identifies a number of areas for follow-up in-depth qualitative studies.
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    NZ’s Workplace Rules Will Change Again with Each New Government – Unless We Do This
    (The Conversation, 2023-10-30) Molineaux, Julienne Andrea; Walker, Bernard; Anderson, Danae
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    The Issues That Divide Us: Three Recent Books
    (Informa UK Limited, 2023-06-16) Nicholls, K
    This essay reviews three recent books that address a range of policy issues currently affecting politics in Aotearoa New Zealand. Dominic O’Sullivan’s Sharing the Sovereign illustrates how treaties between states and Indigenous peoples can provide the basis for power-sharing arrangements across various spheres of public policy. Paul Spoonley’s The New New Zealand outlines the profound immigration-driven demographic changes experienced in recent decades and the failures of decision-makers to adjust to this new reality. Max Rashbrooke’s Too Much Money analyses the issue of social class in New Zealand and the dangers of an apparently increasing class divide. The essay outlines some of these arguments in detail and evaluates each contribution to both scholarship and actual public policy debates as New Zealand arguably enters a more contentious political moment.
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