About me and my research

On this page, you can find out more about me and scroll down to read about the Politics of Parking research project.

Photo of Vera Kubenz, a white woman mid 30s with short brown hair and a pansexual pride lanyard

About me

My name is Vera Kubenz and I am Postgraduate Researcher (PhD student) registered at the University of Birmingham. My supervisors are Dr Harriet Clarke, Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite, and Dr Ash Stokoe.

I am myself disabled and a Blue Badge holder. I use a walking stick and frequently experience confrontations in public spaces, in particular parking spaces. I am particularly interested in everyday, mundane experiences of disablism and how they add up over time to affect disabled people’s wellbeing and sense of self.

I am a second-career researcher, having returned to research a decade after completing my Masters. During this time, I was engaged in disability activism, particularly in trade unions. I am hoping that my research will both create academic knowledge about disability but also have practical application in helping to campaign for a better and more nuanced understanding of the discrimination and oppression faced by disabled people in everyday life.

You can find out more about me on my University of Birmingham student profile or follow me on Twitter @Vera_Kub.

A sign reading "Blue Badge holders only" with a wheelchair symbol and a P parking symbol

About my research

I am carrying out my research as part of my PhD programme at the University of Birmingham. The Politics of Parking runs from September 2021 to September 2025. I am working with an advisory group of disabled people with Blue Badges to make sure my research addresses disabled people's lived experience, concerns, and priorities.

The project aims to document 1) the kinds of encounters that take place in Blue Badge bays, and 2) how disabled people navigate or manage these encounters, and the impact this has on them. The research will take place in two stages to answer the following research questions:

Stage 1: Mapping encounters

Stage 2: Navigating encounters

In Stage 1, I used an online survey to ask Blue Badge holders about the encounters they have had, and also did a content analysis of how Blue Badges have been covered in national newspapers. This stage will run from January 2023 to August 2023.

In Stage 2, I am currently interviewing 15-20 Blue Badge holders in detail about their encounters and their strategies for navigating them. This stage runs from September 2023 to August 2024.

The final year will be spent on analysing data, writing my thesis and a policy report, and I am hoping to gain funding to co-develop a Blue Badge board game.