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Alice Evans

Alice Evans

Alice Evans


Lecturer in the Social Science of Development


Room: Bush House North East Wing, Room 5.06






Research interests

Alice Evans researches inequality, social change and global production networks – as outlined below.

(1) Inequality

A contemporary challenge is inequality. This paper illustrates why ideas matter, and how they can change over time. Inequalities are reinforced when they are taken for granted. But this can be disrupted when marginalised people gain self-esteem; challenge hitherto unquestioned inequalities; and gain confidence in the possibility of social change. Slowly and incrementally, social mobilisation can catalyse greater government commitment to socially inclusive economic growth. This is illustrated with ethnographic research from Latin America, where income inequality has recently declined. Future efforts to tackle inequality might harness the power of ideas: tackling ‘norm perceptions’ (beliefs about what others think and do); publicising positive deviance; and strengthening social movements.

(2) Social Change

Female labor force participation is rising across the world. But men's share of unpaid care work has not increased commensurately. Why is this? Alice argues that rising female labour force participation has been triggered by a shift in interests: worsening economic security, increased opportunity costs, and the growth of new sectors. By seeing women in socially valued domains, people have come to regard women as equally competent and deserving of status. However, few people see men sharing care work - since this mostly occurs in private spaces. Accordingly, many assume that such practices are neither common nor socially accepted. These norm perceptions give men self-interested reasons to shun housework. These findings have been published in AnnalsDevelopment & Change; Geoforum; Gender, Place and CultureJournal of Southern African Studies; Gender & Development; and Development.

Support for gender equality is also increasing more rapidly in cities. Urban residents are more likely to support gender equality in education, employment and leadership than their rural compatriots. This holds even when controlling for age, education, employment, income, and access to infrastructure. In the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Alice argues that cities can catalyse gender equality because they: (1) raise opportunity costs; (2) increase proximity to services; and most crucially (3) amplify exposure to alternatives.

People living in interconnected, heterogeneous, densely populated areas are more likely to see women in socially valued, masculine domains. Seeing women mechanics, breadwinners and leaders increases people’s confidence in the possibility of social change: inspiring others; catalysing further experimentation; generating a positive feedback loop. Seeing women mechanics, breadwinners and leaders increases people’s confidence in the possibility of social change. This catalyses further experimentation, and generates a positive feedback loop. This process is much slower in rural Africa. Rural remoteness and homogeneity curb exposure to alternatives, dampening confidence in the possibility of social change, deterring deviation.

In brief, social change accelerates when people see that others are changing. So, to fortify ongoing progress, we need to increase exposure to positive deviance – whether it is more effective, responsive governance; successful activism; or more egalitarian practices.

 (3) The Global Politics of Decent Work

Alice is writing a book on "The Global Politics of Decent Work". She is researching why governments come to improve working conditions in global production networks. This comparative political study incorporates qualitative research in France, The Netherlands, Brussels, United Kingdom, Vietnam, and Bangladesh .

In "Patriarchal Unions = Weaker Unions? Industrial Relations in the Asian Garment Industry”, Alice illustrates how norm perceptions of acquiescent women and assertive men generate patriarchal and authoritarian trade unions. Feeling unheard, many women disengage from unions. This weakens the collective power of labour: 

Alice has also written on "The Politics of Pro-Worker Reforms in Vietnam". This paper explores the drivers of pro-worker reforms in Vietnam. It investigates interactions between domestic and international priorities, pressures and processes. It shows how commerce, trade deals, aid, and geopolitics strengthened support for higher wages, social dialogue, and freedom of association. Strikes have disrupted Vietnam’s garment industry and alarmed the Government of Vietnam: triggering concerns about regime legitimacy; amplifying support for reform. Manufactures are also keen resolve strikes, smooth productivity, and propitiate reputation-conscious buyers. Reform was also incentivised by TPP’s stipulation of Freedom of Association, together with economic and geopolitical incentives to join TPP. By contrast, donor-supported pilots do not appear to have motivated reform. Though they are still important: providing a space for reformists to explore new ideas; iteratively adapt; garner evidence of what addresses their priorities; with which they can persuade anxious colleagues. None of these forces are deterministic. They merely stimulate debate, authorise experimentation and are used by coalitions to push for reform. By tracing the politics of pro-worker reforms, Alice draws attention to drivers often overlooked by donors: strikes, commerce and trade deals. Alice also offers constructive suggestions on how to scale-up pilot programmes, so as to create positive synergies with large-scale pressures for change.


Journal articles

Evans, A. (Forthcoming) 'Amplifying Accountability by Benchmarking Results', Development Policy Review.

Evans, A. (2017) 'Patriarchal Unions = Weaker Unions? Industrial Relations in the Asian Garment Industry', Third World Quarterly. 38:7, 1619-1638.

Evans, A. (2016) 'The Decline of the Male Breadwinner and Persistence of the Female Carer: Exposure, Interests, and Micro-Macro Interactions', Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 106:5, 1135-1151.

Evans, A. (2016) '"For the Elections We Want Women!": Closing the gender gap in Zambian politics', Development and Change 47:2, 388-411.

Evans, A. (2015) 'Gender Sensitisation in the Zambian Copperbelt'Geoforum 59, 12-20.

Evans, A. (2015) 'History Lessons for Gender Equality from the Zambian Copperbelt, 1900-1990', Gender, Place and Culture 22:3, 344-362.

Evans, A. (2014) '"Women Can Do What Men Can Do": The causes and consequences of flexibility in gender divisions of labour in Kitwe, Zambia'Journal of Southern African Studies 40:5, 991-998.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Co-education and the Erosion of Gender Stereotypes in the Zambian Copperbelt', Gender & Development 22:1, 75-90.

Evans, A. (2012) 'World Development Report 2012: Radical redistribution or just tinkering within the template?', Development 55:1, 134-137.

Chant, S. and Evans, A. (2010) 'Looking for the One(s): Young love and urban poverty in The Gambia', Environment and Urbanization 22:2, 353-369.


Book chapters

da Corta, L.; Darko, E.; Evans, A.; Kayunze, E.; Shepherd, A. and Tarmo, T. (2013) 'Hidden Hunger in Rural Tanzania', in Flora Kessy, Oswald Mashindano and Andrew Shepherd (eds.) Translating Growth into Poverty Reduction (Oxford: African Books Collective).

Evans, A.; Kessy, F.; Luvanda, E.; Scott, L. and Shepherd A. (2013) 'Taking the Plunge on Social Assistance in Rural Tanzania: assessing the options', in Flora Kessy, Oswald Mashindano and Andrew Shepherd (eds.) Translating Growth into Poverty Reduction(Oxford: African Books Collective).

Evans, A. (2010) 'Sexuality, Poverty and Gender amongst Gambian Youth' for Sylvia Chant (ed.) The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).


Book reviews

Evans, A. (2011) Development in an Insecure and Gendered World: The relevance of the Millennium Development Goals, edited by Jacqueline Leckie (2009, Farnham: Ashgate), Gender, Place and Culture 18:5, 708-710.


Additional outputs

Evans, A. (2016) ‘How can we tackle abuse in the global garment industry?’, The Conversation

Evans, A. (2016) ‘More women are running the world, so why aren’t more men doing the dishes?’, The Conversation

Evans, A. (2016) ‘The politics of inclusive development’, LSE Review of Books, reposted by From Poverty to Power.

Evans, A. (2016) ‘‘For the Elections We Want Women!’ Political Studies Association, Women & Politics Specialist Group, and reposted by Africa at LSE.

Evans, A. (2015) ‘Book Review: Women and Power in Postconflict Africa by Aili Mari Tripp’, LSE Review of Books.

Evans, A. (2015) ‘What can we learn from Mexico’s tax on fizzy drinks?’, From Poverty to Power.

Evans, A. (2015) 'Academic Research - stories you don't get to hear'Africa at LSE.

Evans, A. (2015) 'Why is Support for Gender Equality Mainly Growing in Urban Areas?', From Poverty to Power.

Evans, A. (2014) 'At last, some evidence on the national impact of the MDGs'From Poverty to Power.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Does Gender Sensitisation Work?', Open Democracy and reposted on Africa at LSE.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Holding Up Half the Sky: How Zambia's Women went from Housewives to Breadwinners'Think Africa Press.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Men's Historical Dominance of Zambian Politics'Democracy in Africa.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Gender Inequalities in Zambia and the Legacy of British Colonialism'Africa at LSE.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Ending Child Marriage: Tackling stereotypes through quotas and motivating governments through regional peer review'Africa at LSE.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Co-education is Undermining Gender Stereotypes in the Zambian Copperbelt'Africa at LSE.

Evans, A. (2014) 'Media Exposure, Familiarity and Trust'Field Research Method Lab.

Evans, A. (2012) 'Lessons from the Effective Promotion of Maternal Health in Zambia'Africa at LSE.

Evans, A. (2011) 'Banca Mondiale 2012, Le Donne Nella Corrente', InGenere (29/12/2011) (Rome: InGenere).

Evans, A.; Shepherd, A. and Wadugodapitiya, D. (2011) 'Social Assistance and the 'Dependency Syndrome'', CPRC Policy Brief No. 22 (London: Chronic Poverty Research Centre).

Evans, A.; Zohir, S.; Harun, A.; Farid, N. and Huq, I. (2008) 'Implementation of Policies for Reducing Chronic Poverty in Bangladesh', Background Paper (London: Overseas Development Institute).


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