Institutional Studies (formerly CIS) was established in 1970. It has a distinctive approach to policy analysis, evaluation and institutional effectiveness and a long history of researching policies and practices related to urban regeneration in East London, crime, poverty, inequality, community and voluntary organisations.
Institutional Studies is a well-established research theme dedicated to improving policy, management and practice through research.
We specialise in research on, and with, organisations which exist to solve social problems or improve conditions. We work with organisations from all sectors who wish to improve their performance or to experiment with new ways of working, through action research and evaluation research. At present our main interest is with Third Sector organisations, including social enterprises.
We are committed to working across institutional and disciplinary boundaries, both within the University of East London and beyond, so as to apply research-based knowledge to tackling injustices, inequalities and the harmful consequences of institutional policies and actions.
Using a Popperian approach we treat institutions, policies and practices as trial solutions to social problems; analysing and testing their formulation and their effectiveness (Burgess 2002).
We see theories as concrete propositions to be practically tested, first in the real world of critical discussion – does a proposition to solve a problem stand up as an idea? – and then in the real world of practice: what’s the evidence about how well the problem has been solved? Theories are not to be proved right, but to be proved wrong, and revised, and problems re-formulated. This approach, we believe, can help in research across a range of contexts, and situations involving widely differing characteristics.
We draw on collaborative and participatory methods for working in and with - often marginalised - communities and the ‘subjects’ of research, and we engage in action learning and organisational development for helping improve policy, management and practice. Through these methods, we can involve plural modes of evidence and be inclusive of the knowledge and experience of participants.
- Tottenham Thinking Space - Alice Sampson and Heather Price (Psycho-Social Research Group, UEL)
Our action research is intended to contribute to the development of this initiative.
- Attitudes to extremism, and experiences and responses to extremism in the London Boroughs of Redbridge and Greenwich
Alice Sampson, Lara Frumkin (School of Psychology), Yang Li (Centre for Geo-Information Studies, UEL), Anthony Richards (School of Law and Social Sciences), Sancha Cadogan-Poole (research assistant CSJC)
This study explores the influence of local conditions on community attitudes and experiences towards extremism through interviews with statutory agencies, community organisations and community leaders, as well as local residents in the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Redbridge. The intention of this research is to inform local policymakers about appropriate prevention strategies.
- Fight for Peace Academies in London and Rio – their progress and impact
Alice Sampson and Maria Rita Villela (PhD student, Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro)
This ongoing evaluation involves working with staff and young people to assess the progress of Fight for Peace Academies which are located in East London, UK,and Complexo da Maré, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fight for Peace aims to offer real alternatives for young people to crime, drug trafficking and violence by engaging them in boxing and martial arts, education, giving them opportunities to access formal work, by promoting a culture of peace, and giving young people the skills to be youth leaders.
- Hackney Marsh Partnership: future directions
Alice Sampson, Max Weaver (visiting research fellow CSJC), Yang Li (Centre for Geo-Information Studies, UEL)
This research, funded by Hackney Marsh Partnership, draws on census data from the last 20 years, an analysis of community assets of the organisation and interviews with key users and stakeholders, as well as other local multi-purpose organisations, to assess possible future directions for this multi-purpose community anchor situated in a disadvantaged area of East London.
- New institutions, technology and welfare reform using internet mediated research
Alice Sampson and Louisa Hernandez (research fellow CSJC)
The purpose of the study is to better understand how to systematically use internet mediated research now there is the wealth of online data available for analysis, and following the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, making online data collection an even richer place for gathering primary data. This internet-based study explores how joint ventures between local authorities and private companies are delivering traditional services such as housing repair services and advice-giving, and responding to ‘anti-social’ behaviour and non-payment of rents, for example.
- Food banks, community food centres, and urban agriculture
Alice Sampson, Myrto Tsilimpoundi, Angie Voela, CSJC, and Darryl Newport and Paula Vandergert, Institute of Sustainability, UEL
This scoping study aims to establish closer links between community organizations, food producers and food banks to create access to the production and consumption
of good quality fresh food at affordable prices for those who are living in poverty. The intention is to explore the possibilities of working together to develop a long-term initiative.
The research involves interviews with those running food banks in East London, with food co-operatives and social enterprises, community organisations with food growing projects, local authorities, and private companies.
- The exposure of students to payday lenders
Alice Sampson, Timothy Hall, Sancha Cadogan Poole, research assistant CSJC
This research aims to find out how many students at the University of East London have taken out a payday loan and the effect this has on their studying, health, and relationships. The research includes a survey of students using self-completion questionnaires and face-to-face interviews with students who have used payday loans.
The purpose of the study is also to develop alternative solutions for students who run out of money to enable them to avoid using payday loans, and to find out how students in debt due to crisis borrowing might best be supported.
- Credit unions: are they an alternative to payday lenders?
Alice Sampson, Timothy Hall, Sancha Cadogan Poole, research assistant CSJC
Credit unions often have a limited life span and this study aims to gain a better understanding of what types of credit unions are best suited to offer students sustained support. Through a review of the literature, mapping of credit unions in London, and interviews with senior managers of credit unions, this study will identify models of ‘good practice’.
The Institutional Studies theme (formerly Centre for Institutional Studies) has a distinctive approach to policy analysis, evaluation, and institutional effectiveness.
We work collaboratively with clients, combining theoretical analysis with practical and empirical work which provides insight into the workings of voluntary organisations and social action. This approach is combined with teaching to inform and develop organisations and those who work in them.
Our funders include: the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, European Social Fund, Department of Education and Science, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, the Leverhulme Trust, Local authorities in London, Voluntary and Community Sector organisations.
You can download copies of our Commentary Series, Research Reports, and Essays, from the lists below.
Institutional Studies Previous Research - Publications
These reports are findings from studies undertaken prior to the renaming of the Centre. These reports are also available from the University of East London's institutional repository.
- Fight for Peace in Rio and London – assessing their progress and impact.
Summary report: November 2012, by Alice Sampson and Maria Rita Vilella.
- An independent evaluation of Vital Regeneration’s Create + project.
Summary report: March 2012, by Emma Ahmad and Alice Sampson. 2012.
- Evaluation of Drug Prevention Communications Project for Young People
Brian McDonnell, Sonja Nissen and Alice Sampson - ISBN 1-902494-50-4 (PDF 862KB)
- Working with Repeat Users of the Youth Criminal Justice System
Rosina Knight - ISBN 1-902494-51-2 (PDF 507KB)
- Barking and Dagenham’s Children’s Fund: initial research findings
Sonja Nissen and Alice Sampson - ISBN 1-902494-52-0 (PDF 593KB)
- New Deal for Communities Youth Inclusion Programme: early outcomes in West Ham and Plaistow
Julia Selman - ISBN 1-902494-53-9 (PDF 1.3MB)
- Making A Difference: the progress of Haringey Children's Fund programme 2003 - 2005
Emma Ahmad, Becky Rice & Alice Sampson - ISBN 1-902494-54-7 (PDF 491KB)
- Report of the Implementation of Fight For Peace in East London, 2007 - 2008
Rebecca Madgin - ISBN 1-902494-55-5 (PDF 1.4MB)
- Summary Report of the Haringey Children's Fund programme, 2001 - 2008
Dr. Rebecca Madgin & Alice Sampsom - ISBN 1-902494-56-3 (PDF 1.4MB)
- Progress of the Haringey Participation Project
Alice Sampson and Julia Selman-Ayetey - ISBN 1-902494-57-1 (PDF 504KB)
- Barking & Dagenham Children's Fund: Early Outcomes Report
Sonja Nissen, Becky Rice, Alice Sampson & Julia Selman - ISBN 1-902494-58-X (PDF 1,251KB)
- The Fight for Peace Academy UK: An Independent Assessment
Alice Sampson - ISBN ISBN 1-902494-59-8 (PDF 5.60MB)
- Creating and maintaining a healthy Stratford City: Principles and practices for success
Alice Sampson, Angela Harden, Allan Brimicombe, Marcello Bertotti, Shahana Lais, Gail
Barrow-Guevera, Ilona Boniwell, Hipolina Joseph, Kevin Sheridan, Faye Adams-Eaton, Patrick Tobi, Yang Li - ISBN ISBN 1-902494-60-1 (PDF 13,112KB)
- Jon Griffith ‘Social enterprise under New Labour and beyond: many good ideas with the potential to become a disaster. ‘ 2012
- Alice Sampson ‘Community-based performing arts and young people’s transitions into adulthood: developing policies for young people.’ 2011
- Alice Sampson ‘The 2012 Olympic Games at Stratford: the latest East London regeneration initiative considered.’ 2011
- N. Dharmaindra, M. Lorentzen, R. McEune, K. Oakley, A. Sampson ‘The value of community based performing arts organisations for young people. Preliminary findings.’ 2009
- Three Victorian Fictional Images of Volunteering - John Wyatt, University of East London, July 2008 - Presented at Voluntary Action History Society Third International Research Conference, University of Liverpool, 16th-18th July 2008