We hoped to get these blog posts written and posted early-on in the project, but one thing led to another, and here’s the final post!
Hi, I’m Paul Lambert, I’m a Professor of Sociology at the University of Stirling. I do research work on topics related to social stratification and inequality, and on methodology in social statistics. Of relevance to this project, I’m particularly interested in ways of using larger scale statistical datasets to deliver quite fine-grained assessments of people’s positions in the structure of social inequality. In general this is a topic that’s attracting contemporary methodological attention – for instance the challenge of accounting for complex intersectional inequalities in survey analysis – and I’m quite optimistic that within the project we will be able to test and develop new ways of appropriately incorporating data on LGB status into a range of cross-sectional and longitudinal research analyses. Working with Camilla Barnett and Sam Mann therefore, I’m contributing to the LGBTQ+ Assets and Welfare Project by analysing UK survey datasets which capture measures of sexual identity. I’ve done a lot of work previously with the UKHLS, which is one of the datasets we’re using, and I appreciate the richness and – hopefully – authority that the large scale surveys that we are using should provide to our analysis.
One exciting feature of the current project is that a plausible measure of LGB status offers a new ‘dimension’ in the well-established fields of social stratification research where I do my own work (in the survey analysis part of the project, for purely pragmatic reasons we don’t expect to be able to measure TQ+ statuses in an effective manner, so we’re focusing this part of our project on LGB statuses). To outsiders, my own domain of social stratification research can seem quite staid, as we often use – albeit with incremental advances in sophistication – measures and methods that don’t seem to change much over many decades of analysis. For instance, broadly speaking, much of the research that I engage with only really focusses on four or five variables –three ‘big’ dimensions of ‘ascribed characteristics’, often referred to as measures of ‘class’, ‘race’ and gender; measures of consequential attainments (such as occupation, income or education, and which would include measures of welfare access, assets and debt); and lastly measures of various other things that we sometimes conceptualise as ‘background controls’. As data resources expand, it becomes more and more plausible to introduce a measure of ‘LGB’ status as another interesting but different analytical characteristic, and this immediately introduces the possibility of finding quite important new results (for instance if its patterns interact with other characteristics, or simply if its analysis reveals new inequalities that were previously under-appreciated). The nuances of establishing and communicating such evidence in terms of welfare access, assets and debt will be challenging in terms of statistical method, but are also, to my eyes, extremely promising!