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ARC funding success for Arts and Social Sciences research at Sydney

4 December 2018
Supporting research for economic and social good
Over $4 million of Australian Research Council (ARC) funding has been secured for Discovery Projects involving Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) academics.

Seventeen Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) researchers have been successful in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) grants, and will see their work funded across 13 different projects.

Addressing value creation in the service economy, rethinking internet regulation policy, and examining the notion of "the couple" in the era of marriage equality are some of the research areas that will be explored by our experts in 2019. 

The 13 projects funded by the 2019 ARC Discovery program showcase the sheer range of exciting and cutting edge research areas that Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences researchers cover.
Prof. Ariadne Vromen, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

"From the three Discovery Projects won by Economics (giving them a 50% success rate on their applications this year) to new projects in every other School - they will all make significant and novel contributions to knowledge in the national benefit, very broadly understood," said Professor Vromen.

Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula, working with Professor Paul Glimcher of New York University, says the Discovery grant will allow her to investigate well-known behavioural “biases” in probability and value perception through the lens of neurobiology. 

"I am thrilled to have received the grant. Through its interdisciplinary approach, this project will provide a novel and brain-compatible understanding of how people make decisions."

"This should deliver significant and tangible benefits by providing foundations for the “second wave” in behavioural economics."

Associate Professor Fran Collyer's project will explore how sociological knowledge has been shaped by a context of post-colonialism, multiculturalism and global capitalism to reveal how different generations of Australians have sought to make sense of society in an organised way.

"It is always exciting to be awarded an ARC Discovery grant. For a social scientist like myself, who works empirically - gathering data in the field - such funding is critical," she said.

This grant also means I can begin to build the careers of some young people, and ensure there is generational progress in knowledge about society and our history.
Associate Professor Fran Collyer

The annoucement continues the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences' ARC success with Professor David Schlosberg, Dr Alana Mann, Dr James Flexner and Dr Helena Robinson being awarded ARC Linkage Project funding earlier this year.

Details of the ARC-funded projects can be found below.

Our 2019 ARC Projects

Professor James Morley is the lead on Understanding the sources of secular stagnation.

Investigator(s): Professor James Morley, Dr Yunjong Eo, Dr Benjamin Wong.
Awarded: $317,610

This project aims to examine why long-run projections of output, inflation, and interest rates have become lower for many economies in recent years resulting in a phenomenon often referred to as secular stagnation. The project intends to develop new econometric tools to account for sources of structural breaks and stochastic trends in order to quantify the roles of productivity growth, financial shocks, demographics, and inflation expectations in driving secular stagnation. Expected outcomes include findings that will help guide macroeconomic policy responses to stagnation and new econometric tools that will support future applied research on changes in the behaviour of macroeconomic variables.

Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula is the lead on Neuroeconomic foundations of probability and value perception.

Investigator(s): Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula, Professor Paul Glimcher.
Awarded: $378,000

This project aims to investigate well-known behavioural “biases” in probability and value perception through the lens of neurobiology. This project will generate new knowledge on how the value of rewards, and the likelihood of receiving them, are incorporated in the decision-making process. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this project will be of interest to researchers from several domains of social science, which focus on how and why people make their decisions and how we could improve people’s wellbeing by improving their choices. The findings will provide insights into effective, behaviour-related policy design that aims to improve peoples’ well-being.

Associate Professor Fran Collyer will lead Knowledge-making in Australian society: Sociology and its social impact.

Investigator: Associate Professor Fran Collyer

This project aims to reveal how Australians, over several generations, have sought to make sense of society in an organised way. The project intends to draw from interviews with key scholars, archival and citation data to ascertain how sociological knowledge has been shaped by a context of post-colonialism, multiculturalism and global capitalism as well as the extent to which these ideas have contributed to, and been influenced by, policy, legislation and public debate. Expected outcomes include new evidence about the role of disciplines and contribute to the international research effort in this emerging field.

Professor Mariano Kulish and Professor James Morley will lead Fiscal policy and unemployment in an open economy.

Investigator(s): Professor Mariano Kulish, Professor James Morley, Associate Professor Francesco Zanetti.
Awarded: $349,000

This project aims to improve our understanding of the impact of commodity price changes. Over the past two decades, Australia has experienced unprecedented fluctuations in commodity prices. The fiscal position and potential of the economy depends on the extent to which commodity price changes are temporary or permanent. This project will uncover empirical regularities between commodity prices, unemployment across sectors and measures of fiscal policy. The project will build structural models of unemployment which will be estimated and used to assess implications for unemployment and budget deficits of commodity price shocks and to study the optimal design of fiscal policy. The project will benefit the conduct of economic policy in Australia.

Associate Professor Lee Wallace and Professor Annamarie Jagose will lead The Couple: Commitment and Durability in the Era of Marriage Equality.

Investigator(s): Associate Professor Lee Wallace, Professor Annamarie Jagose.

This project aims to examine the notion of the couple in the era of marriage equality. It is generally thought that couple longevity is an incontestable good socially, psychologically, and economically. The advent of same-sex marriage in Australia provides the occasion to reconsider why it is that general cultural benefits are thought to devolve from coupled intimacy alone. Rather than dismiss the value of marriage, either straight or gay, this project looks at an archive of contemporary representations in which the couple form presents as a public good in order to test the supposed connection between intimate companionship and collective thriving.

Professor Iain Gardner will lead Manichaean liturgical texts and practices from Egypt to China.

Investigator(s): Professor Iain Gardner, Dr Gunner Mikkelsen, Hon. Professor Majella Franzmann, Professor Samuel Lieu, Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams, Associate Professor Nils Pedersen, Dr Gábor Kósa.

This project aims to reconstruct the liturgical life of one of the most diverse and influential religious traditions across Eurasia, from Roman Egypt to early modern China: the Manichaeans. It investigates cultural adaptation, chronological development and unity of practice in a deeper manner that helps support the discipline of religious studies more generally. It expects to generate new knowledge through the critical editing of complex texts and the employment of emergent methodologies for an integrated, holistic understanding of community literatures in terms of lived religion. Expected outcomes are advances to methodology and the profiling of one aspect of the ancient world.

Dr Avril Alba will lead The memory of the Holocaust in Australia.

Investigator(s): Dr Avril Alba

Awarded: $172,000

This project aims to produce a cultural history of Holocaust memory in Australia. Contemporary appeals to the memory of the Holocaust in the Australian setting are typically understood to illuminate the injustice of other instances of racial persecution. This project aims to uncover this memory’s far more complex and politically potent history. Through detailed archival and cultural analysis of key moments in the development of Australian Holocaust memory, this project will probe the various political and social ends to which this memory has been applied. The project expects to generate a deep and nuanced understanding of the role Holocaust memory has played in shaping some of our most important, and enduring, national conversations.

Professor Valerie Harwood is part of a successful Discovery Project, A place-based model for Aboriginal community-led solutions.

Investigator(s): Professor Kathleen Clapham; Professor Dawn Bessarab; Professor Bronwyn Fredericks; Associate Professor Kate Senior; Professor Valerie Harwood; Professor Helen Hasan; Associate Professor Peter Kelly; Ms Marlene Longbottom.

Awarded: $498,000

This project aims to investigate the unique approaches used by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to enable community ownership of holistic health and social programs in complex community settings. Focusing on a close analysis of regional south eastern NSW, the project will produce a robust theorisation of a place-based model for Aboriginal community-led solutions to health and social issues. This project will include mechanisms for the transfer and sharing of learnings to other locations, and the early engagement of key stakeholder groups to ensure the benefits from the project are accessible and widely disseminated. The project will also provide training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.

Dr Fiona Martin and Associate Professor Timothy Dwyer are part of a successful Discovery Project, Platform governance: rethinking internet regulation as media policy.

Investigator(s): Professor Terry Flew; Dr Fiona Martin; Associate Professor Nicolas Suzor; Associate Professor Timothy Dwyer; Professor Philip Napoli; Professor Dr Josef Trappel.

Awarded: $378,000

This project aims to investigate the regulatory and policy implications of understanding global digital platforms as media companies. Responding to ongoing public concern about these companies’ self-management of online communication and social media, this project will evaluate regulatory approaches to mediating abusive, offensive, defamatory and potentially illegal digital content. The project will develop detailed recommendation for reform based on case studies in Australia, the European Union, the United States of America and New Zealand, enabling media policy makers to more effectively regulate digital media platforms to better align with contemporary public interest rationales.

Professor Penny Russell is part of a successful Discovery Project, Juries, justice and citizenship.

Investigator(s): Professor Jill Hunter; Professor Penny Russell; Professor Diane Kirkby; Dr Alecia Simmonds.

Awarded: $322,000

This project aims to expose the history of cultural and legal processes that for most of the twentieth century denied enfranchised Australian women the equal right to sit on juries. The project expects to provide new legal and historical understandings of structural gender and racial inequalities that persist today. The project will advance national and international knowledge by reconstructing the gender dynamics of historical court processes and documenting women’s struggles to overcome their exclusion. It will recover a previously unexamined aspect of legal history, and provide an important corrective to current understandings of the representativeness of Australian juries.

Associate Professor Gaby Ramia is part of a successful Discovery Project, Housing circumstances of international students in the private rental sector.

Investigator(s): Professor Alan Morris; Associate Professor Gaby Ramia; Associate Professor Shaun Wilson.

Awarded: $266,240

This project aims to investigate the housing circumstances of international students in the private rental sector of Sydney and Melbourne. Using a mixed methods approach and a new measure of precarious housing, the project intends to generate new knowledge on students’ housing circumstances, the extent of precariousness and the impacts on their wellbeing and academic experience. Expected outcomes include enhanced understanding of the housing experiences of international students across the three key post-secondary education sectors and their housing risks in a super diverse environment. This project should provide significant benefits as the high quality evidence produced should help policymakers reduce precarious housing among international students.

Professor Lisa Adkins is part of a successful Discovery Project, Value creation in the service economy.

Investigator(s): Dr David Farrugia; Professor Lisa Adkins; Dr Julia Coffey; Dr Steven Threadgold; Professor Rosalind Gill.

Awarded: $197,433

This project aims to investigate how labour performed by young people in the hospitality industry contributes to the creation of economic value. The project intends to examine the specific practices through which hospitality workers create value as well as the personal capacities and forms of identity that allow young people to become a successful part of the hospitality labour force. The knowledge gained in this project will inform current social and political debate about working conditions, wages and penalty rates in the service economy. This project will enhance growth and job creation within the service sector together with the quality of Australia’s service workforce.

Associate Professor Tess Lea is part of a successful Discovery Project, Pedalling for change: cultural geography for traffic congestion innovation.

Investigator(s): Professor Gordon Waitt; Associate Professor Tess Lea; Professor Ian Buchanan; Associate Professor Glen Fuller.

Awarded: $373,000

This project aims to offer new knowledge about why commuter cycling has failed to increase at a time when leisure cycling grows exponentially. The project seeks to provide evidence about what cycling enables people to achieve through analysis of a database of media discourses, policies and most importantly the experiences of cyclists. Expected outcomes include an enhanced understanding of cycling as response to congestion and improved policy strategies for increasing purposeful cycling in cities including moving the focus from cycling participation rates to cultures of cycling. Australia will benefit from cycling growing as a mode of transport to attenuate traffic congestion in metropolitan centres.

Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula, Professor James Morley, Dr Yunjong Eo, Professor Mariano Kulish (School of Economics), Associate Professor Lee Wallace (School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry), Professor Annamarie Jagose (Dean, Arts and Social Sciences), Professor Iain Gardner (School of Literature, Art and Media), Dr Avril Alba (School of Languages and Cultures) and Associate Professor Fran Collyer (School of Social and Political Sciences) were awarded Discovery Project funding for 2019. 

A further seven FASS academics will work on projects led by other universities within the ARC Discovery Projects and Discovery Indigenous schemes, including Professor Valerie Harwood (Syndey School of Education and Social Work), Dr Fiona Martin, Associate Professor Tim Dwyer (School of Literature, Art and Media), Professor Penny Russell, Associate Professor Tess Lea (School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry), Associate Professor Gaby Ramia and Professor Lisa Adkins (School of Social and Political Sciences).

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