An independent forum for academic debate on the challenges faced by contemporary society

The People, Place and Policy Annual Conference

About the conference

The People, Place and Policy (PPP) Annual Conference will take place on Wednesday 6 July 2022. In its 9th year, the conference will be hosted in Sheffield by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University.

The conference brings together researchers, policy makers and practitioners for a one-day event that showcases emerging research related to contemporary debates within all aspects of social policy. This includes a focus on a wide range of social concerns, including – economic development and labour markets, poverty, the welfare state, the voluntary and community sector, social exclusion, housing, sustainability, transport, health and social care, energy and environment.

The 2022 conference theme

Breaking down barriers: increasing inclusion across society

Societies are increasingly divided and existing inequalities are becoming ever greater, with more and more people at risk of being left behind. People across all life stages are experiencing exclusion from society: from the 4.3 million children in the UK currently living in poverty (a third of all children) to those aged 65 and over who make up 79% of those who do not access the internet and are therefore at risk of exclusion from an increasingly digital world. The Covid-19 pandemic has only served to further exacerbate these issues.

Research and practice continue to examine issues of exclusion and propose ways to address them; helping to promote more inclusive societies. This may be through giving a voice to marginalised and disadvantaged communities shut out from access to safe housing or providing evidence to underpin the potential to deliver more inclusive economies. It can also include the co-designing research that places the user at the heart of the process or research that supports just transitions to net zero.


The draft conference programme has now been announced. A final version will be published prior to the conference.

Keynote speaker

We are pleased that Prof. Ellen Helsper of the London School of Economics will be delivering the keynote address at the 2022 conference. Prof. Helsper is a Professor of Digital Inequalities, and her research focuses on the links between social and digital inequalities. Recent projects have included work on digital skills; and connected cities and inclusive growth.


Network and neighbourhood effects in exacerbating and overcoming digital inequalities

During the pandemic society had no choice but to race at an accelerated speed towards digitisation and the consequences of inequalities in access to and use of digital technologies became excruciatingly clear. Those who did not have the opportunity or ability to engage with Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) were excluded from opportunities that allowed others to access resources and maintain greater levels of wellbeing during difficult times. Academic research into the causes of digital inequalities has focussed on the links between historical inequalities in economic, social and cultural resources between individuals from different backgrounds and how these determine their access to digital opportunities. Solutions to tackling digital inequalities have, therefore, focussed on guaranteeing access to (cheap) devices and connectivity, skills training, and making sure content is available that is relevant to all.

However, it has become increasingly clear that these individualistic approaches are failing to provide a satisfactory explanation or have the desired effect in practice. The incorporation of network and neighbourhood effects theories into thinking about socio-digital inequalities might offer an answer. This talk will discuss how the social and digital environments that people grow up, live, study and work in shape their perceptions of what ICTs can, should be and are used for and what the benefits and risks are of engaging in the digital world. Using quantitative and qualitative data from projects that map inequalities around the world I will argue that a change in perspective is needed that takes a more collective, localised approach to understanding the causes (and the consequences) of digital inequalities.

Register for the conference

Delegate fees are £50 (or £30 for students), which includes lunch and refreshments during the day. To book your place please visit the conference booking page.

Venue and travel information

The conference will be held at Sheffield Hallam University’s City Campus. Please see the University’s travel pages for information on how to get to the campus and the accommodation pages for suggested hotels.

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Key dates

  • Call for abstracts deadline:
    16 March 2022
  • Programme announced:
    30 April 2022
  • Deadline to book your place:
    17 June 2022
  • The 2022 Conference:
    6 July 2022


If you require further information or have specific questions about the conference please contact

Past events