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Personal profile

Research interests

asylum seekers and social policy; welfare state; labour law; socio-economic rights; political economy; cosmopolitanism; intersectionality

Katie's research centres on forced migration, labour law and the welfare state. She hold's a PhD from Northumbria University which was awarded in 2015. She has worked on two external research projects for the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Both projects centred on the State's compliance with human rights obligations with particular focus on welfare reform and the immigration detention of children.

Katie has presented her research at national and international conferences and has contributed to journals such as the Industrial Law Journal, Economy and Society, and the Journal of Social Welfare and Family LawKatie’s new research project focuses on the political economy of state organised forms of work including prison labour, workfare, community payback and labour within immigration detention.

In addition to co-editing the inter-disciplinary 'Futures of Work' blog, Katie is a trustee for the Bristol City of Sanctuary charity and a working group member for the Sanctuary Scholarships team at the University of Bristol.

Twitter: KatieBales2

Selected Media Contributions

Bales, K and Anderson, B (2 August 2018) ‘Refugees must be given access to University’ Times Higher Education Magazine https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/refugees-must-be-given-access-university

Bales, K (7 February 2018) ‘A growing need for Sanctuary Scholarships: Lessons learned from the University of Bristol’ Association of Commonwealth Universities Blog https://www.acu.ac.uk/about-us/blog/sanctuary-scholarships-university-bristol

Bales, K, Bogg, A, Ford, M, Novitz, T, Russell (27 February 2018) ‘Why the idea of ‘good work’ in a gig economy remains a distant ideal’ The Conversation https://theconversation.com/why-the-idea-of-good-work-in-a-gig-economy-remains-a-distant-ideal-92117

Bales, K and Maybin, L (2 August 2017) ‘Paid work’ or underpaid labour? The labour exploitation of detainees within immigration detention’ Discover Society http://discoversociety.org/2017/08/02/paid-work-or-underpaid-labour-the-labour-exploitation-of-detainees-within-immigration-detention/

Bales, K (2 August 2016) ‘Immigration enforcement in the Byron aftermath: The legal limits of what can be required from employers’ University of Bristol Law School Blog http://legalresearch.blogs.bris.ac.uk/2016/09/the-byron-aftermath-the-legal-limits-of-what-can-be-required-from-employers/

Bales, K (9 December 2015) ‘The Immigration Bill is bad news for families’ Open Democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/katie-bales/immigration-bill-is-bad-news-for-families

Selected Conference Contributions 

  • ‘State enforced forms of unfree labour and the need for collective action’ Socio-Legal Studies Association, University of Bristol Law School, Bristol, 27th-29th March 2018
  • ‘Exploitation and coercion of a captive immigrant workforce: Labour in immigration detention’, 11th Pan European Conference on International Development: "The Politics of International Studies in an Age of Crises", Barcelona, Spain, 13-16 September 2017
  • ‘Dehumanisation by design: the ‘essential living needs’ of asylum seekers in the UK’, 11th Pan European Conference on International Development: "The Politics of International Studies in an Age of Crises", Barcelona, Spain, 13-16 September 2017
  • ‘Unfree labour in UK detention centres’, Law and Society Association - Walls, Borders, and Bridges: Law and Society in an Inter-Connected World, Mexico City, 20th to the 23rd June 2017
  • 'The growth of nationalism within social policy: A case study of the asylum support system', Social Policy in the Spotlight, Social Policy Association, Belfast Metropolitan College, Belfast, 6-8th July 2015 
  • 'Us and Them: The exclusionary impact of 'New Nationalism' upon the social rights of asylum seekers in the UK', Law's Promise and Law's Pathos, Law and Society Association, Seattle, 28-31st May 2015 
  • 'One step forwards and two steps back? The regression of social rights for asylum seekers in the UK', Making sense of social rights, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, 16-17th June 2014 (Invited Contribution)
  • ‘Intersecting Identities and Asylum Support: unnecessary boundaries?’, Law on the Edge, jointly presented by the Canadian Law and Society Association and the Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1- 4th July 2013
  • ‘Asylum Seekers and the Welfare State: A Social Dystopia?’, Critical Legal Studies Conference, Stockholm, 14-16th September 2012


Structured keywords and research groupings

  • PolicyBristolSocialChangeAndDiversity
  • Perspectives on Work
  • Gender Research Group
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol
  • LAW Centre for Law at Work


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