Students explore the political economy of the Weinstein scandal and #MeToo movement

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The Weinstein scandal sent shockwaves through Hollywood in 2017 and led to thousands of people sharing stories of sexual harassment, abuse and violence in the workplace through the #MeToo hashtag.

But how should we understand the Weinstein scandal? And what does the scandal mean for the economy?

As part of the Postgraduate Research Experience Programme in Political Economy (PREPPE), the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) offered four Global Political Economy MA students the opportunity to explore the impacts of the scandal alongside researchers Dr Liam Stanley, Dr Ellie Gore and Professor Genevieve Le Baron.

Dr Ellie Gore, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, said: “It came about from a seminar that Liam ran and he felt that the kind of discussions and the quality of analysis in that seminar was really exceptional, and that the content of those discussions would lend themselves to being worked up into an academic paper.”

Remi Edwards, one of the PREPPE research students, said: “When Liam said that he thought it would be interesting to try to take this a bit further and create a novel contribution that brought the idea of scandal, sexual violence and the economy together then I just really wanted to get involved.”

Over the course of a year, the four students (Sylvie Craig, Remi Edwards, Sophie Wall and Tom Watts) investigated a number of questions and issues that emerged out of the scandal and the subsequent #MeToo movement including the links between consent, violence, gender, power and labour.

As well as publishing a blog series on the scandal and leading an academic seminar on the subject, the students co-wrote an academic paper with SPERI researchers that will be submitted to a journal later this year.

Student Sophie Wall said: “Working with Liam and Ellie was a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into the world of academic research.”

Sylvie Craig, said: “We got to work alongside people that had plenty of research experience and they were willing to share that experience in terms of research techniques, the process of publishing a paper which as student you don’t really get to know.”

Tom Watts said: “From the PREPPE project, I’ve taken the ability to build on what I’ve learnt in the MA. It’s given me more confidence in my own research abilities.”

Dr Liam Stanley, Lecturer in Politics, said: “For me, PREPPE has been a really rewarding experience. Intellectually, I think the kind of areas we’re going in have been genuinely fascinating and interesting and will contribute to debates.

“But it’s also been very rewarding working with a group of very, very talented students. I hope that they’ve gained experience of working in an academic environment, working alongside academics and a sense that they feel more comfortable and confident working in such an environment.”