Ruth Tarlo

photograph of Ruth Read

Ruth is an ESRC-funded PhD student in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. Her research looks at issues of social justice and the employability of people with mild learning difficulties.  

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The Open Day was a great way to find out about the wealth of material and expertise on offer at the Library.

My doctoral thesis is motivated by my experience as a teacher in adult and community education, teaching Maths and English to unemployed adults, as well as my welfare advice work.

My research is intended to explore the experiences of people with mild learning difficulties who are looking for paid work, including their experiences of claiming and managing welfare benefits. I am also exploring government policy about the employability of job-seekers and the employability of people with disabilities and how well these fit with the lived realities of people with mild learning difficulties. Linking the research aims together is the concept of social justice and how frameworks of social justice might be relevant to understanding these experiences in the current policy environment.

This is a qualitative research project which will use a narrative inquiry methodology to explore the experiences of people with mild learning difficulties, and document analysis supplemented by qualitative interviews with policy-makers to examine government policy.

As well as introducing me to relevant collections, resources and expertise, the Open Day was an opportunity to meet other first-year PhD students and share ideas. I am lucky to be able to access some British Library material through the inter-library loan system at Nottingham, but I intend to use the British Library directly to access government publications, news media and to explore related theses.

Key points

  • Ruth is carrying out qualitative research into the lived realities of unemployed people with mild learning difficulties looking for work in the UK
  • She is using the British Library to access and explore UK government policy documents relating to disability, employability, unemployment and welfare benefits
  • Attending the Social Sciences Doctoral Open Day in January 2017 enabled Ruth to find out about these collections, as well as relevant digital resources and expertise


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