Dr Steve Rolfe

Lecturer in Social Policy

Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology Colin Bell Building, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA

Dr Steve Rolfe

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About me

About me

I'm still at a relatively early stage in my academic career, having spent 15 years working in local government prior to completing my PhD in 2016. Since then I've been doing a range of research related to housing, with a particular focus on housing outcomes for vulnerable households, and the role of organisations in providing housing and supporting tenants.

Alongside housing, I have a strong research interest in community activism and empowerment, based on my PhD and prior experience in the real world. And methodologically, I tend to use participative approaches, often with an element of mixed methods. I'm especially keen on using Theory of Change and Realist Research methods to get to the bottom of what works in different situations.

I teach across a range of social policy and housing modules. I am also the Undergraduate Programme Director for Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology.

Research (5)

My research in recent years has focused on housing outcomes, looking in particular at the ways in which housing organisations can assist vulnerable households to access and sustain housing, and to improve health and wellbeing. Building on my previous experience in local government, I am also interested in the ways in which housing relates to community regeneration and the impacts of neighbourhood on people's ability to settle and feel at home.

This fits with my broader research interests in community participation and what it delivers for individuals, communities and public services. Within this broad field I am especially interested in examining different forms of community action, issues of inequalities between and within communities, and the development of participatory democracy at a local and national level.

I am also interested in local government and public service reform more generally, which relates to my interest in policy evaluation. I have a methodological interest in the application of theory-based evaluation approaches (particularly Theories of Change and Realist Evaluation) to complex social policies and initiatives.


Stonewater - inclusive and assisted living in retirement living schemes
PI: Professor Vikki McCall
Funded by: Longleigh Foundation

Measuring the Impact of SSAFA’s Glasgow’s Helping Heroes
PI: Dr Steve Rolfe
Funded by: Forces in Mind Trust

Working together: improving housing outcomes for the ex-Services community
PI: Professor Isobel Anderson
Funded by: Forces in Mind Trust

Tenant Participation in the Private Rented Sector – Evidence Review
PI: Dr Steve Rolfe
Funded by: UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence

Housing through social enterprise- implications for tenants, housing providers and wider society (Commonhealth Project 7)
PI: Professor Isobel Anderson
Funded by: Medical Research Council

Outputs (39)


Book Chapter

McCall V, Rolfe S, Matthews P, Wallace A, Manyika G, Iafrati S, Clark C & Munro M (2022) The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UK housing policy: how do we rebuild the foundations of the ‘wobbly pillar’?. In: Jolly A, Cefalo R & Pomati M (eds.) Social Policy Review 34: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2022. Social Policy Review, 24. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 71-93. https://doi.org/10.51952/9781447365815.ch004

Project Report

McCall V, Gibson G, Rolfe S, Serpa R & Lawrence J (2022) Promoting Inclusive living via Technology- Enabled support [INVITE Lay Summary]. Longleigh Foundation. Stirling. https://www.stonewater.org/about-us/thought-leadership/invite-project/

Research Report

Rolfe S & Henderson F (2022) Glasgow's Helping Heroes: A Vital Service. SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. London. https://www.ssafa.org.uk/media/hboikdtv/ghh-main-sroi-report.pdf

Website Content

Rolfe S (2022) Preventing veterans’ homelessness in Scotland. University of Stirling Public Policy Blog [Blog post] 09.02.2022. https://policyblog.stir.ac.uk/2022/02/09/preventing-veterans-homelessness-in-scotland/

Policy Document

Rolfe S (2022) Veteran's Homelessness Prevention Pathway. Gray K (Project Leader), Nadin M (Project Member), Carruthers T (Project Member), Gavin M (Project Member), Gibson D (Project Member), Stuart J (Sponsor), Sharkey O (Sponsor) & Calvin S (Project Member) Scottish Government. Edinburgh. https://homelessnetwork.scot/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Veterans-Homelessness-Prevention-Pathway-20.1.21.pdf

Research Report

Rolfe S, Pusram A, Robertson J, Gibson G & McCall V (2021) Ageing Well With Assistive Technology: Co-producing technology solutions with older people. A scoping review of the evidence.. Longleigh Foundation/Stonewater Housing Association. Stirling: University of Stirling. https://www.housinglin.org.uk/_assets/Resources/Housing/OtherOrganisation/Scoping-review-final-published-version.pdf

Website Content

Rolfe S (2021) Building new foundations for the wobbly pillar of the welfare state. University of Stirling Public Policy Blog [Blog post] 29.04.2021. https://policyblog.stir.ac.uk/2021/04/29/building-new-foundations-for-the-wobbly-pillar-of-the-welfare-state/

Website Content

Rolfe S & McKee K (2021) The Role of PRS Landlords in Making a Rented House a Home. Housing Studies Association [blog] 04.02.2021. https://www.housing-studies-association.org/articles/276-the-role-of-prs-landlords-in-making-a-rented-house-a-home

Technical Report

McKee K, Rolfe S, Feather J, Simcock T & Hoolachan J (2021) Making a home in the private rented sector: An evidence review. SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust. Stirling: University of Stirling. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bURQzv7G6-hAuGPqNT_yVqFNIVr0KshF/view

Website Content

Rolfe S & Garnham L (2020) Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic - the central role of home. University of Stirling Public Policy Blog [Blog post] 17.06.2020. https://policyblog.stir.ac.uk/2020/06/17/coping-with-the-covid-19-pandemic-the-central-role-of-home/

Book Review

Rolfe S (2020) Peter Beresford and Sarah Carr (eds) (2018), Social Policy First Hand: An International Introduction to Participatory Social Welfare, Bristol: Policy Press, £24.99, pp. 320, pbk.. Review of: Peter Beresford and Sarah Carr (eds) (2018), Social Policy First Hand: An International Introduction to Participatory Social Welfare, Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 320. ISBN: 9781447332367. Journal of Social Policy, 49 (2), pp. 457-458. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0047279419001089



My teaching follows my research interests. Alongside teaching related to general social policy, I focus on areas related to community participation and housing wherever possible.

I'm interested in supervising PhD students in my areas of research expertise. Methodologically, I'm quite happy with anything except the purest of quantitative analysis, and I'm particularly keen on realist approaches and evaluation-focused research more widely.

Current students: Eshleman (2020-) Impacts of assistive technology on quality of life for adults with disabilities in the social care system

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