Calum Carson

Calum Carson



ESRC scholarship


Masters in Social Research (School of Sociology, University of Leeds) BA in Political Studies (School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds)


I am primarily interested in issues of income inequality, in-work poverty, and changing trends in the world of work. I am currently undertaking doctoral research on the impact of the campaign for the Real Living Wage in the UK, on both the workers who benefit from it and on the employers who voluntarily adopt Living Wage rates. The dual aims of the project are to make a substantial and in-depth contribution into furthering academic knowledge of the Living Wage in Britain, and in providing employers considering implementing it with a more comprehensive guide to both the costs and benefits of its adoption.

Since beginning my doctoral research I have held the role of PhD Network Coordinator for the British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA), both independently and collectively organised and managed several academic conferences, and as a founding member helped to create the World of Work interdisciplinary research network. In 2016 I took a break from my own project to take up a position at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on research surrounding non-standard forms of employment and the implications of the growth of precarious work within the gig economy. I have acquired research experience outside of my own thesis on several other research projects, ranging from an exploration of worker resistance within the platform economy to partnerships between employers and trade unions in helping workers develop new skills. 

Prior to my doctoral studies I completed a Masters in Social Research at the School of Sociology, University of Leeds (Distinction), supported by a HEFCE scholarship for promising young scholars from low-income backgrounds. During my Masters I took a particular interest in growing rates of in-work poverty in Britain, and the continued demonisation of social security claimants through both media discourse and public policy.

I continue to hold the role of Editorial Manager for the academic journal Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy (ASAP), working with Professor John Stillwell of the School of Geography, University of Leeds, and am a trustee board member and vice-chair of a local charity that specialises in providing welfare and legal support for at-home workers. Outside of academia, I am also a keen photographer.

Supervisors: Kate HardyGabriella Alberti, Mark Stuart 


Living Wage; Wage inequality; Income inequality; In-work poverty; Corporate Social Responsibility; CSR; Wealth inequality; Platform economy; Employment relations; Organisational Impact

Thesis synopsis

Quick summary:

  • A case study research project exploring Living Wage employers' experiences of adopting and implementing the Living Wage for their organisations, and the implications of these decisions; 
  • A particular emphasis on the impact that being paid the Living Wage has on low-paid workers within these organisations.

Aims and objectives of this research:

  • To highlight the impact that receiving the Living Wage has on low-paid workers;
  • To significantly contribute to the evidence base that demonstrates the positive benefits of public and private sector employers adopting the Living Wage for their employees;
  • To provide an insight into the inception and evolution of the Living Wage campaign as a response to rising rates of in-work poverty in Britain today.

Socioeconomic issues being explored through this research:

  • The considerable rise and ongoing growth of in-work poverty in Britain today, and the Living Wage as a response to this phenomenon;
  • The evolution of the Citizens UK/Living Wage Foundation campaign for the Living Wage;
  • Debates surrounding corporate social responsibility and ethical forms of employment. 


Research interests

I am passionate about issues affecting the world of work and employment at both macro and micro levels, including challenges faced by workers at the lower end of the income scale, moves away from the traditional employment relationship, and the continued growth of new forms of insecure and precarious employment exemplified by the gig economy. I have also developed a keen interest in the evolution of the platform economy, and the necessity of ensuring that the workers operating within it have sufficient social protections in place to enable them to afford a decent standard of living.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change