Black and white photo of tenants in Borough of Islington during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two musicians stand on their balconies with guitars while two young boys look out from a window above them.

Framing a social policy crisis: Evidence use in private rented sector policymaking during the pandemic

On 25 May, we welcome Alex Marsh* (University of Bristol) and Chris Foye (University of Reading) to SKAPE as part of our seminar series.

Crises, particularly in their initial phases, can cause substantial epistemic disruption. Crises can instantaneously render existing data obsolete and can outpace established processes of administrative data collection, analysis and reporting. Consequently, policymakers can lack any meaningful evidence base to inform policy, but may nonetheless feel compelled to act. This opens a space for organisations to acquire significant influence if they can provide data offering a credible representation of what is going on. Drawing on diverse literatures, this paper focuses on the influence of survey data gathered on behalf of non-governmental organisations within the English private rented sector policy community during the 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on key informant interviews and discourse analysis, it explores how actors involved in the policymaking process used these data to frame tenants’ and landlords’ circumstances and behaviour and desirable policy responses in ways that aligned with their own organisational objectives. In doing so, we aim to shed light on the role such interventions can play in shaping housing policy.

This SKAPE seminar will take place online via Zoom (for link details, please email the Co-Directors – if you are already a member/associate member of SKAPE, you will receive a Zoom link two days before the start of the event).


Cover photo credit: Matthew Wheeler on Unsplash


May 25 2022


11:30 am - 12:30 pm


Online - Zoom