Dr Mary Hodgson

Director of Research Team: Research

Mary leads our research and learning at The Young Foundation which focuses on the theme inequality dynamics and change-making. Mary is a trained anthropologist and experienced mixed methods researcher who has specialized in running innovative and experimental research and action projects in different sectors and has carried out UK and international fieldwork.

She joined The Young Foundation as its Head of Ethnography in Summer 2015, tasked with developing its ethnographic focus and expertise, becoming Director of Research in Summer 2016.

Before joining The Young Foundation Mary led large funded partnership interdisciplinary research projects, focused on the study of inequality, the experience of change in cities and knowledge sharing and participation between organizations and communities. They tended to use ground-breaking methods, or to be new ways of applying methods or analytical frameworks to create learning or evidence. These projects included leading a Big Lottery funded longitudinal qualitative and ethnographic four-year study of wellbeing in the private rented sector, for Shelter and Crisis. Mary has also led Research Council-funded research and digital innovation projects which experimented with innovative ways to include communities, institutions and different sectors in creating, sharing and disseminating knowledge. These included setting up a live digital archive of the changes in East London relating to regeneration and the Olympic Games, and creating community knowledge sharing projects between cultural institutions, universities and the local community to widen participation in knowledge and research. Mary was a Postdoctoral Fellow exploring the impact of the Olympics on local communities in host cities and working with activists, civil servants and community groups to help them understand more about them.

Mary has also lectured in Anthropology and has a PhD in Anthropology which explored ‘settler ethics’, how ordinary people in cities narrativised Aboriginal rights and inequality, to understand the potential for political change. Mary has also focused especially on place and housing/ homelessness and has also carried out fieldwork and research on Aboriginal-led housing regeneration, homeless shelters and activists, volunteers and philanthropists around social change and protest. Previously Mary researched on social and protest movements around land rights, reviewing different types of media and narrative representations.

Mary is a Visiting Fellow at LSE International Inequalities Institute, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Mary is also happy to be on advisory boards such as the London Prosperity Board, the ONS Social Capital Steering group and the Participatory City Advisory, and an experienced conference speaker and panelist.

Projects Mary is working on at the moment:

  • In Summer/ Autumn 2017 Mary is a Visiting Fellow at the LSE International Inequalities Institute exploring the role of counter-narratives in social change;
  • Mary is the Principal Investigator of ESRC-funded project, Bright Futures, exploring the alternative sources of resilience in industrial towns in the UK which include unions, cooperatives and alternative economic models;
  • Mary is responsible for work with Barcelona on poverty narratives around GMI implementation;
  • She is the lead QA on OpenMaker, a project exploring how to support small ‘makers’ with distributed manufacturing;
  • She is also the community ethnography lead for TRUE, an infrastructure development tool to understand city complexity.

Contact: mary.hodgson@youngfoundation.org or 020 8980 6263