The Impacts of the Global Economic Downturn on Communities and Poverty in the UK

Economic shocks in the form of record rises in food and fuel prices followed by financial crisis and recession have driven home the significance of global economic interdependence for people around the world. These economic crises have confirmed a sense of global connectedness at a time of high concern about the impacts of climate change, epidemics, and conflict.

With its open economy, economic power and historical connections to other countries, the UK has been prominent in recent global policy debates and action, such as the 2009 G20 meeting. But what does global economic interdependence mean for UK citizens and communities? How have global economic crises affected poor people and communities at home?

These questions emerge in a context in which the United Nations and other international organisations have mounted a range of efforts to assess and analyse the impacts of global downturn on developing countries. There has also been discussion and analysis of the macroeconomic and business implications for the UK. There has been less attention to date to what these shocks mean for people and communities in the UK, and to thinking about the wider implications of global economic interdependence for UK citizens and communities.

Project Aims 

This project aims to contribute to filling this gap. Researchers from the IDS, the Universities of Sussex and Manchester, and the Rural Community Network in Northern Ireland, plan to work with selected UK communities to conduct research into the experiences of global economic crises.

The focus will be on tracing how global shocks have been transmitted through to different communities and groups, on how global and local connections and resources mediate responses to these shocks, and on how globalisation affects people’s and organisational responses to these crises. Working with selected communities in locations in Newhaven, East Sussex, Oldham, Lancashire and rural Northern Ireland, the research is designed to be participatory, qualitative and rapid; it will build on local knowledge and capacities, drawing on existing research and data where possible.

The research will also link up to a network of crisis impact research in developing and middle income countries, enabling it to draw out emergent themes and connections that cut across contexts in relation to the experience of downturn in a global economy.

While modest in its scope, the research should add value in two ways. First, by producing findings that can inform local policy debates, such as the different ways that crises have been experienced particularly by people on low incomes, which could inform decisions about public spending in a context of imminent cuts. To ensure relevance to local debates, the researchers plan to take their lead from local organisations and representatives in identifying focus issues. Second, the findings will be analysed to identify wider issues for policy, practice and research around what global economic integration means for poverty and communities in the UK.

These wider issues may include:

  • how global social connections are shaping UK community responses to shocks (e.g. as senders of migrant remittances or investment capital)
  • implications for global-local linkages in civil society mobilising
  • and issues related to the global economy such as attitudes towards multi-lateralism, migration, aid and economic nationalism.

Project details

start date
11 February 2010


In partnership with
Joseph Rowntree Foundation

About this project