Ben Baumberg Geiger

I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) at the University of Kent, and also involved in the the University of Kent's Q-Step centre (which I helped found and co-directed until Sep 2016). I am also a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice. For the first part of my career I was just called 'Ben Baumberg' - the 'Geiger' was added in March 2016.

I have a wide range of research interests, currently focused on:

  • Disability, the workplace, and the benefits system (see Disability page);
  • Attitudes around benefits and 'scroungers' (see Social Attitudes page); and
  • The relationship between evidence and policy (see Other page).

A complete list of all my academic publications, non-academic writing, qualifications and positions is available here. If you're interested in studying at Kent then look at our postgrad and undergrad pages; I'm also very happy to co-supervise research students on any of my research interests - information on PhD bursaries at Kent is available here, and just send me an email if you want to explore this.

Getting in touch

I'm always happy to hear from potential collaborators / research students, or from people who are just interested in my research. You can email me at b dot b dot g..ger at kent dot ac dot uk (click here to see a spambot-protected email address in plain English), or get in touch via Inequalities. To hear about any new research/writing, then follow me on Twitter, my Google Scholar profile, or academia.edu. I also write occasional articles at the blog Inequalities that I set up (with others) in 2010, and more frequently at my current project blog about disability, benefits and work, Rethinking Incapacity.

Latest updates

Does conditionality for disabled benefit claimants work?

I recently submitted an article on conditionality/sanctions for disabled benefit claimants, summarising the evidence on both implmentation and impacts. I don't usually put up papers at the point that I submit them, but there's a policy debate around this at the moment and the deadline for responses to the Government's Green Paper consultation is 17th Feb - so I thought I'd put it up here as a resource for people writing submissions. (Readers should bear in mind that this is not yet peer-reviewed etc). I'll put the final paper up on the website as soon as it's accepted for a journal, but in the meantime the draft paper is available at here.

Benefit myths LSE working paper

17/10/2016 - A new working paper on 'benefit myths' has just been released as part of the CASEpaper series from LSE's Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (my home during my PhD, so it's great to finally publish something in the working paper series!). You can read the paper here, while the web appendices and web tables are available in a .zip file here.

Does drinking make you happy?

1/5/2016 - While the pleasure of drinking is often central to public debates about alcohol policies, there is a near-silence in academic research about it. In a new paper in the journal Social Science & Medicine, I look at the link between drinking and happiness in two ways - (i) whether years in which you drink more and years in which you are more satisfied with life (using the British Cohort Study), (ii) and whether moments in which you drink are moments in which you are happier (using innovative iPhone-based data). You can read the full paper here.

New papers published

25/4/2016 - I've just updated the publications tab on the website, which includes new papers (plus free pre-print versions and supplementary materials) for my recent papers in Social Science & Medicine, Journal of Social Policy, and advance notice of a couple of papers in press.

Secondment to Department of Work and Pensions

21/9/2015 - Following up the Demos report below, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have brought me in on secondment part-time to feed in evidence on incapacity assessments in other countries. This means that temporarily I won't be blogging at Rethinking Incapacity, but normal service will be resumed in summer 2016! You can read more here.

Rethinking the Work Capability Assessment report launched

13/3/2015 - The first report from my Rethinking Incapacity project is launched today as a Demos report. It's called 'Rethinking the Work Capability Assessment', is co-authored with Clare Bambra, Kayleigh Garthwaite and Jon Warren at Durham, and is based on a review of how other countries assess incapacity. You can find the report - and also the new Rethinking Incapacity blog! - at www.rethinkingincapacity.org.

The stigma of claiming benefits

20/11/2012 - Is there a stigma to claiming benefits? If so, why, and does it matter? In a nutshell, these are the questions that I am looking at in a collaborative project with Kate Bell and Declan Gaffney, funded by the charity Elizabeth Finn Care, who run the advice line/website Turn2us. The project isn't that big, but despite this we're squeezing in a new survey, an unusually deep media analysis, analysis of existing data, and a few focus groups. You can also the report itself, a quick note on a figure used in a Guardian article, and the appendices to the report.

Aside from our one-page summary in the report itself, you can also read short blogs on several different bits of the report - we've written on perceived fraud in the benefits system (on Inequalities), the role of the media (on the New Statesman blog, and a longer version here), and how benefits stigma is misunderstood (on LSE Politics & Policy). Other people have written about the report in the Guardian (including on their Datablog), and the TUC's Touchstone blog (also reposted on Liberal Conspiracy).

One part of this that some people seemed to have found useful is our 'mythbusting' briefing (mainly a fantastic job by Declan), building on our earlier version for Red Pepper (version with footnotes). I'm currently developing my thoughts on this, with another paper focusing on this hopefully coming out later in 2013.

Non-academic writing

1/7/2012 - Other than near-weekly posts on the Inequalities blog, I'm occasionally writing for other blogs - the full list is available here, but the one that drew most attention was Let's all be open about what we earn on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog. In this, I argued that one of the reasons that people are relatively relaxed about inequality is that we don't tell each other what we earn. [In the interests of disclosure and not being a complete hypocrite, I'm now on about £46k. Also, for anyone wondering about the role of political ideologies in research, my views are covered here].

Comments and critiques are always welcome - this is what blogging is for!