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, the decent work agenda, and wider changing trends in the world of work. I have recently completed a PhD on the UK Living Wage, with a focus on both the workers who benefit from it and on the employers who voluntarily adopt Living Wage rates, and have a research background which ranges from the implications for the world of work of the emergence of the gig economy, to the stigmatisation of social security support claimants across the UK welfare state. At present I am working with CERIC colleague Dr David Robertshaw on an international project exploring the impact of digitalisation on employment support services in the UK and Australia, alongside Dr Jo Ingold of Deakin University, and funded by the Digit Research Centre.

I have previously worked as a researcher at the International Labour Organisation, Geneva, where my research focused on the development of non-standard forms of employment, and how better to extned social protections to gig economy workers. Beyond academia, I currently hold a Labour Market and Policy Research Officer position at the Employment Related Services Association(ERSA), where my work has a particular focus on youth unemployment and the strategies by which it can be effectively alleviated across the UK.

Throughout my doctoral research I held the role of PhD Network Coordinator for the British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA), 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 period of leave from my doctoral research 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, to the role and impact of increasing forms of digitalisation in the employment support sector.

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), 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 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 for both employers and their workforce;
  • A particular emphasis on the impact that being paid the Living Wage has on low-paid workers within these organisations;
  • An exploration of the evolution of the UK Living Wage campaign in recent years, and the Living Wage Foundation’s increasing embrace of the wider decent work agenda;

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, the continued evolution of the decent work agenda, 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