Research Associate
Cardiff University

Helen began working as a researcher with the Wales Institute of Social Economic Research Data and Methods (WISERD) in 2015.

She completed her doctoral studies (A Second Chance at Life: Labour, Love and Welfare on a South Wales Estate) at Cardiff University’s School of Social Science in 2011. The thesis examined the implications of welfare reform for mothers living in the upper reaches of the South Wales Valleys. The study charted the everyday interactions of the women with the labour market and pervasive mechanisms of street-level welfare governance.

Her research interests include class, gender, and place with a particular focus on the welfare state, and industrial relations. Helen is primarily a qualitative sociologist with an interest in ethnographic and biographical methods. She is currently working as part of a research team in the urban factory districts in India. This research focuses on the challenges facing garment workers in operationalising their labour rights at the workplace.

Trade unions and social media
This project is currently considering the potential value of an analysis of virtual patterns of trade union organisation and mobilisation and specifically the contribution of social media to the rescaling of trade unionism. This includes both: the virtual linkages of the
Research Team:
Wil Chivers (Cardiff University), Helen Blakely (Cardiff University), Steve Davies (Cardiff University), Rhys Davies (Cardiff University), Huw Beynon (Cardiff University)
Operationalising Labour Rights ESRC GCRF
This is an international research project funded by the ESRC under the remit of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). It is a collaboration between researchers at Cardiff Business School and WISERD and our partners at Cividep-India. The research is distinctive in being
Research Team:
Jean Jenkins (Cardiff University), Rhys Davies (Cardiff University), Helen Blakely (Cardiff University), Catriona Dickson (Cardiff University)
Machines, platforms and capabilities
Machines, platforms and capabilities utilises mixed methods to examine the significance of different sectors of the gig economy within local labour markets, and includes the study of co-operative alternatives to more dominant forms of platform capitalism. Start date provided
Research Team:
Helen Blakely (Cardiff University), Wil Chivers (Cardiff University), Rhys Davies (Cardiff University)
Trade unions, grass roots activism and solidarity
Trade unions, grass roots activism and solidarity uses case studies from Europe, India and the UK, to examine forms of worker representation that are directly related to the changing role of women in work and society, and associated issues of civic gain and expansion. Start
Research Team:
Helen Blakely (Cardiff University), Rhys Davies (Cardiff University), Jean Jenkins (Cardiff University), Alex Bryson (Department of Social Science, UCL)
Trade Union Membership, Associational Life and Wellbeing
Overview This project builds on previous WISERD research into geographical variations in trade union membership in Wales. (Beynon, Davies and Davies, 2012). The research programme derives from this analysis, which suggested that in South Wales collective understandings
Research Team:
Rhys Davies (Cardiff University), Huw Beynon (Cardiff University), Helen Blakely (Cardiff University), Alex Bryson (Department of Social Science, UCL), Steve Davies (Cardiff University)
Online Seminar Series Understanding Unpaid Care: insecure, hidden work and precarious lives
14th December 2021 |
Presented by Helen Blakely and Jean Jenkins. This seminar sheds lights on the realities of unpaid care in contemporary society. Through various conceptions of work we explore the societal value placed upon this form of hidden work, which is...
Seminar Book launch: Social Anthropologies of the Welsh: Past and Present
25th November 2021 |
In May 2019 Professor John Morgan, convened a joint symposium between the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), the Learned Society of Wales, The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, and WISERD. The outcome of that event is the new publication Social...
Cardiff Lunchtime Seminar The persistence of union membership in coal mining areas
1st October 2019 |
Presented by Helen Blakely and Rhys Davies , Cardiff University . This seminar is part of the Cardiff WISERD Lunchtime Seminar series. If you are an external guest, please contact us (029 2087 9338) to confirm availability of places. For further...
Conference Symposium: Family and Civil Society: across the generations
20th November 2018 |
Hosted by WISERD, this one day symposium will explore the role of the family in civil society engagement and the significance of intergenerational transmission in relation to political participation, trade unions and Euroscepticism. The day will also...
Cardiff Lunchtime Seminar Forms of ‘connective action’? Social media and the Labour Movement
10th July 2018 |
Presented by Helen Blakely and Wil Chivers, Cardiff University. This seminar is part of the WISERD Cardiff lunchtime seminar series. If you are an external guest, please contact us (029 2087 9338) to confirm space availability. For more information...
non-WISERD The UNI Leadership Summit on the Future World of Work
9th October 2017 |
Helen Blakely presented findings from ongoing work with Steve Davies to an audience of over 100 experts, activists, and academics gathered at UNI Global Union’s headquarters for the “Future World of Work Leadership Summit,” a discussion on the...
Conference 2017 International Labour Processes Conference
4th May 2017 |
Helen Blakely presented the paper “Collective memory and the labour movement: 1984-1985 Miners' Strike" The Political and Economic Influence of the Cambodian Garment Sector Employers: Old Controls, Old Battles, New Battlegrounds Jean Jenkins Singing...