Skip to main content

Waitt , Gordon R. Prof.

Head of School

  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • School of Geography and Sustainable Communities

Research Overview


  • Inequality is the connecting thread of Gordon Waitt’s research. My current work develops this interest in inequality through three strands. Each strand addresses urgent sustainability challenges:

    • Household Sustainability: This work explores the question: Who is doing the work of household sustainability? I explore this question through investigating who is involved in various everyday practices including driving, preparing meals, preserving food and making decisions about what is and is not rubbish. Everyday mundane practices are repositioned as key in household sustainability debates.
    • Fuel Poverty: Key to this work is the question: What can we learn from older low income household to address fuel poverty? Rather than positioning people as a problem that has to be fixed through energy efficiency policies, this project starts with the assumption that people are part of the solution to fuel poverty. Hence, the aim of this work is to better understand how energy is used to make places called home. Equipped with this knowledge, policy makers can more informed energy policies.
    • Urban Revitalisation: The starting point for this research is the question: How can we make regional city centre more lively places? This project sits with wider concerns that not everybody has equal access to city centres. Attention turns to how different process of discrimination and marginalisation operate through impressions, transport modes and routes or pathways.

Available as Research Supervisor

Selected Publications


Impact Story


  • <p><strong><em>Current research and multidisciplinary team:</em></strong> I am currently working as a chief investigator (CI) on a UOW Global Challenges Seed Funding project (GC), titled, ‘Microfinance and Women’s Empowerment: Bringing Transformations through Dialogic Accounting’. I am working with the following senior colleagues on this project: Vera Mackie, Senior Professor of Asian and International Studies, Faculty of Law Humanities and Arts; Professor Gordon Waitt, Head of School of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences; and, Professor Jan Wright, Faculty of Social Sciences, We also have the following external investigators: Professor Trevor Hopper, Sussex University (SU), UK; Professor Judy Brown, Victoria University of Wellington; and, Dr. Sendirella George, Victoria University of Wellington.</p><p><strong><em>Brief description of the project:</em></strong> Women’s empowerment is a key microfinance objective and is achieved by providing small loans to poor people mainly in developing countries. Notwithstanding highly publicised success stories, microfinance is controversial.<sup> </sup>Feminist and development scholars claim that promoters of microfinance often gloss over its ‘dark side’. Despite a rich academic and policy literature on microfinance, challenging questions remain – in particular, with regards to defining women’s empowerment, understanding how conventional accounting and accountability systems reinforce structural barriers that disempower women, and exploring how accounting can contribute to female empowerment. The study addresses these questions through a pilot case study with an NGO the CI has worked with for her PhD [ISDE, Bangladesh]. The study broadens the focus by working with poor women in receipt of microfinance loans and feminist activists working with ISDE’s NGO network on ‘gender mainstreaming’ and ‘non-formal education’ projects. The researchers have collaborated to develop an analytical framework drawing on insights from feminist and development studies to examine ways of transforming traditional accounting tools and the criteria for monitoring, evaluating and reporting on microfinance initiatives. We completed our data collection, and conducted thirty individual interviews, and four focus group sessions, using methods such as story-telling and video reflections. <br /><br /><strong><em>Expected Impacts:</em></strong> The research is designed to provide theoretical, empirical, methodological and policy contributions.  Theoretically, it  shows how feminist concepts can inform politicised understandings of accounting. Empirically, it  develops accounting and accountability practices that help us understand the socio-political relations (e.g. gender, class and ethnicity) that produce disempowerment and poverty.  Methodologically, it advances understanding of how to put dialogic accounting into practice. In terms of policy design, it stimulates discussions among academics, civil society groups, and policymakers regarding the potential roles of accounting in poverty reduction, good governance, and participatory development.<sup></sup></p>
  • <p>UOW research has had significant impact on rural and regional festivals in Australia and internationally, benefiting regional development policy, and influencing the work of local authorities, arts organisations, and festival bodies. The project’s unprecedented documentation of the previously undervalued extent and significance of rural and regional festivals contributed to the recognition of their importance in debates about regional development, while the individual events themselves benefited from improved management and the legitimation of their economic contribution to the rural and regional sector.<br /><br /><a href="https://research-impact.uow.edu.au/case-studies/reinventing-rural-places-the-extent-and-significance-of-rural-and-regional-festivals-in-australia/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://research-impact.uow.edu.au/case-studies/reinventing-rural-places-the-extent-and-significance-of-rural-and-regional-festivals-in-australia/</a></p>

Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


    • Volunteer tourism
    • Eco-tourism
    • Sport, gender and sexuality
    • Festivals
    • Household sustainability and ethnic diversity
    • Active transport

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Follow the Theme: Value as a More-than-Human Achievement Roy, Namita
    Doctor of Philosophy Saving Water for a Rainy Day: thinking through the materiality, agency and assemblage of water tanks and tank water in a changing climate Wilkinson, Carrie
    Doctor of Philosophy Food and Kitchens as gendered household sustainability practice in Pacific Island migrant household Campbell, Rebecca
    Doctor of Philosophy The Limits of Care: Lines, Refrains, Becomings Frazer, Ryan
    Master of Philosophy -SOC Moisture in vulnerable households: an interdisciplinary approach Pham, Vivian
    Doctor of Philosophy Perspectives on Aboriginal Country in Australia Cavanagh, Vanessa
    Doctor of Philosophy Tiny Geographies of Home: Downsizing the 'Great Australian Dream' Penfold, Hilton
    Doctor of Philosophy Reconfiguring the value of mangrove ecosystems. The social and cultural value of mangroves in Australia and Brazil in a blue carbon context. Annunciato, Drauzio
    Doctor of Philosophy The embodied dimensions of endurance cycling and the formation of gendered cycling identities Barrie, Lance

Research Overview


  • Inequality is the connecting thread of Gordon Waitt’s research. My current work develops this interest in inequality through three strands. Each strand addresses urgent sustainability challenges:

    • Household Sustainability: This work explores the question: Who is doing the work of household sustainability? I explore this question through investigating who is involved in various everyday practices including driving, preparing meals, preserving food and making decisions about what is and is not rubbish. Everyday mundane practices are repositioned as key in household sustainability debates.
    • Fuel Poverty: Key to this work is the question: What can we learn from older low income household to address fuel poverty? Rather than positioning people as a problem that has to be fixed through energy efficiency policies, this project starts with the assumption that people are part of the solution to fuel poverty. Hence, the aim of this work is to better understand how energy is used to make places called home. Equipped with this knowledge, policy makers can more informed energy policies.
    • Urban Revitalisation: The starting point for this research is the question: How can we make regional city centre more lively places? This project sits with wider concerns that not everybody has equal access to city centres. Attention turns to how different process of discrimination and marginalisation operate through impressions, transport modes and routes or pathways.

Selected Publications


Impact Story


  • <p><strong><em>Current research and multidisciplinary team:</em></strong> I am currently working as a chief investigator (CI) on a UOW Global Challenges Seed Funding project (GC), titled, ‘Microfinance and Women’s Empowerment: Bringing Transformations through Dialogic Accounting’. I am working with the following senior colleagues on this project: Vera Mackie, Senior Professor of Asian and International Studies, Faculty of Law Humanities and Arts; Professor Gordon Waitt, Head of School of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences; and, Professor Jan Wright, Faculty of Social Sciences, We also have the following external investigators: Professor Trevor Hopper, Sussex University (SU), UK; Professor Judy Brown, Victoria University of Wellington; and, Dr. Sendirella George, Victoria University of Wellington.</p><p><strong><em>Brief description of the project:</em></strong> Women’s empowerment is a key microfinance objective and is achieved by providing small loans to poor people mainly in developing countries. Notwithstanding highly publicised success stories, microfinance is controversial.<sup> </sup>Feminist and development scholars claim that promoters of microfinance often gloss over its ‘dark side’. Despite a rich academic and policy literature on microfinance, challenging questions remain – in particular, with regards to defining women’s empowerment, understanding how conventional accounting and accountability systems reinforce structural barriers that disempower women, and exploring how accounting can contribute to female empowerment. The study addresses these questions through a pilot case study with an NGO the CI has worked with for her PhD [ISDE, Bangladesh]. The study broadens the focus by working with poor women in receipt of microfinance loans and feminist activists working with ISDE’s NGO network on ‘gender mainstreaming’ and ‘non-formal education’ projects. The researchers have collaborated to develop an analytical framework drawing on insights from feminist and development studies to examine ways of transforming traditional accounting tools and the criteria for monitoring, evaluating and reporting on microfinance initiatives. We completed our data collection, and conducted thirty individual interviews, and four focus group sessions, using methods such as story-telling and video reflections. <br /><br /><strong><em>Expected Impacts:</em></strong> The research is designed to provide theoretical, empirical, methodological and policy contributions.  Theoretically, it  shows how feminist concepts can inform politicised understandings of accounting. Empirically, it  develops accounting and accountability practices that help us understand the socio-political relations (e.g. gender, class and ethnicity) that produce disempowerment and poverty.  Methodologically, it advances understanding of how to put dialogic accounting into practice. In terms of policy design, it stimulates discussions among academics, civil society groups, and policymakers regarding the potential roles of accounting in poverty reduction, good governance, and participatory development.<sup></sup></p>
  • <p>UOW research has had significant impact on rural and regional festivals in Australia and internationally, benefiting regional development policy, and influencing the work of local authorities, arts organisations, and festival bodies. The project’s unprecedented documentation of the previously undervalued extent and significance of rural and regional festivals contributed to the recognition of their importance in debates about regional development, while the individual events themselves benefited from improved management and the legitimation of their economic contribution to the rural and regional sector.<br /><br /><a href="https://research-impact.uow.edu.au/case-studies/reinventing-rural-places-the-extent-and-significance-of-rural-and-regional-festivals-in-australia/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://research-impact.uow.edu.au/case-studies/reinventing-rural-places-the-extent-and-significance-of-rural-and-regional-festivals-in-australia/</a></p>

Potential Supervision Topics


    • Volunteer tourism
    • Eco-tourism
    • Sport, gender and sexuality
    • Festivals
    • Household sustainability and ethnic diversity
    • Active transport

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Follow the Theme: Value as a More-than-Human Achievement Roy, Namita
    Doctor of Philosophy Saving Water for a Rainy Day: thinking through the materiality, agency and assemblage of water tanks and tank water in a changing climate Wilkinson, Carrie
    Doctor of Philosophy Food and Kitchens as gendered household sustainability practice in Pacific Island migrant household Campbell, Rebecca
    Doctor of Philosophy The Limits of Care: Lines, Refrains, Becomings Frazer, Ryan
    Master of Philosophy -SOC Moisture in vulnerable households: an interdisciplinary approach Pham, Vivian
    Doctor of Philosophy Perspectives on Aboriginal Country in Australia Cavanagh, Vanessa
    Doctor of Philosophy Tiny Geographies of Home: Downsizing the 'Great Australian Dream' Penfold, Hilton
    Doctor of Philosophy Reconfiguring the value of mangrove ecosystems. The social and cultural value of mangroves in Australia and Brazil in a blue carbon context. Annunciato, Drauzio
    Doctor of Philosophy The embodied dimensions of endurance cycling and the formation of gendered cycling identities Barrie, Lance
uri icon

Geographic Focus