We do high quality research into the character of contemporary inequality, socially innovative practices to create change, and to learn from people’s attempts to improve the world they live in. We want to change the way people think about society’s most pressing problems, who can solve them, and the possibilities there are for change, too.

We’re unique for being an independently accredited research institute with the ability to put our insights into action. We research on action, and we lead research as action too. This involves leading work on the theory and practice of social innovation, particularly that which is community-led; place-based ethnographic work on the character and experience of inequality; storytelling and narrative work with communities, and advocacy.

We’re distinctive for prioritising ethnographic and deep qualitative work rather than number crunching, although we do some of that too. We like to get to the nub of an issue, and see systems, inequality dynamics and their impacts and viewpoints in context, not in isolation. We like to hear from unusual suspects about what they’re doing to take action, and we think everybody should have equal ability to tell their stories. We’re also unusually practical; we get out and about rather than hiding behind our desks. We find this gives us a richer sense of what people value in their lives and of what works in practice. And it means we’re often the first to spot emerging trends and fresh ideas for shaking things up.


To find out more about our research and evaluation, please get in touch with Dr Mary Hodgson, Director of Research at