Friendly Welfare: The Politics and Practices of Care in Northern England

Emily Wilson, Comparative Human Development

Emily Wilson’s dissertation entitled “Friendly Welfare: The Politics and Practices of Care in Northern England” analyzes voluntarism and volunteer labor across multiple contexts in Northern England, a region that has been devastated by ongoing austerity measures starting with the 2010 economic crisis. Based on twelve months of combined in-person and virtual ethnographic and archival research conducted with multiple charitable organizations across the cities of Manchester, Leeds, and the region of East Yorkshire, her dissertation tracks the experiences of charity staff, volunteers, and social care recipients as they negotiate relations of care amidst continuous budget cuts, program closures, and ideological suspicion of the state. Moving among the multitude of environments in which volunteer care is enacted, including the private sphere of the home, public meeting halls and event spaces, door-knocking campaigns, and organizational events and meetings, Friendly Welfare analyzes the national volunteer economy in Northern England, and the constant making and unmaking of ad hoc situations of care. 


Emily Wilson is a PhD candidate in Comparative Human Development. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Michigan, where she specialized in social policy, organizational management, and housing and homelessness. She has been the recipient of multiple fellowships including a National Science Foundation (NSF) doctoral dissertation completion fellowship, a Society for Psychological Anthropology (SPA) Lemelson Fellowship, and a Center for International Social Science Research (CISSR) Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph field research award.