Dr Katy Goldstraw

Light bulb filled with coins, with many coins on the table.

Building on ISR’s critically acclaimed Coronavirus Blog Series, this is the first in a new ISR blog series tackling the Cost of Living. The Blog Series will be entitled ‘Creative Ideas and Innovative Solutions to the Cost of Living Crisis’, and follows on from the ISR External Advisory Group Meeting, which hosted a knowledge sharing workshop with members of the ISR external advisory group.

Universities are spaces of reflection and of knowledge production, dissemination and creativity. In fact, it could be argued that the duty of universities is to nurture creative thinking, to offer philosophical safe spaces for innovation and to seek solutions to what feels like an un-solvable era of the perma-crisis (Turnbill, 2022). Thus the knowledge sharing workshop discussed what can ISR do, in partnership with the External Advisory Group, to co-create ideas and practical solutions to address the Cost of Living.

The ISR workshop on the co-creation of practical solutions to the cost of living was a move to facilitating a street based epistemological space. If street level bureaucrats (Lipsky, 2010; Rowe 2012) develop policies on the ground, this workshop was an attempt to develop solution focussed street level epistemology (Hardin, 2006) around solving the cost of living crisis. For without involving the knowledge gained from the experience of grassroots VCS groups, who know in precise and distressing detail the impact the cost of living is having on people, epistemic justice (Fricker, 2007) cannot be achieved. Without creating spaces for street level epistemology, to develop grassroots solutions, the solution to the cost of living crisis will remain driven by the politics of Westminster.

The aim of our ISR workshop was to offer some creative, ideas and knowledge sharing space  reflecting the role of Universities as philosophical spaces and spaces of big ideas. We asked members to think about a practical solution. Some gave examples of existing work that is successful, others suggested something new that they felt would work but was as yet untested. The workshop as creative and set around what, where, who might solve the cost of living crisis and why the concept might work. Ideas were shared from macro solutions to the housing crisis, to micro solutions to offering practical help around food and heat.

So in the next phase of the ISR blog, we are asking you to reflect on the impact of the cost of living through your own epistemological lens. To discuss the impact on your own research constituencies, and to debate potential solutions. We look forward to receiving your pieces.

Dr Katy Goldstraw is Chair of the ISR External Advisory Group and Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care at Staffordshire University.


Fricker, M., 2007. Epistemic injustice: Power and the ethics of knowing. Oxford University Press.

Hardin, R., 2006. The street-level epistemology of trust. Organizational trust: A reader, pp.21-47.

Lipsky, M., 2010. Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public service. Russell Sage Foundation.

Rowe, M., 2012. Going back to the street: revisiting Lipsky’s street-level bureaucracy. Teaching Public Administration30(1), pp.10-18.

Turnbill, N (2022) Permacrisis: what it means and why it’s word of the year for 2022 (11.11.22) https://theconversation.com/permacrisis-what-it-means-and-why-its-word-of-the-year-for-2022-194306