Dr Jenn Lacy-Nichols will present findings from her project Commercial Determinants of Health Watch: public health monitoring of corporate political practices. This project investigates the political practices of alcohol, gambling and ultra-processed food industries in Australia. These ‘harmful industries’ shape policy and regulatory environments to serve their interests, yet little is known about the breadth and depth of their political strategies.
One of the key challenges facing research and advocacy in this space is that data is hard to access and analyse, and rarely is it as detailed or comprehensive as we would like. Considering these challenges, Jenn will discuss her approach to systematically monitoring four political strategies: lobbying, political contributions, the revolving door and using astroturf organisations.
She will reflect on her learnings thus far, including challenges in accessing and cleaning messy datasets, opportunities to link and augment datasets, using data science tools (e.g., Python), using data visualisation tools, and opportunities to influence policy.
About Dr Lacy-Nichols
Jenn is a research fellow working with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation on the Commercial Determinants of Health. Her research explores relationships between corporations, politics and health, and is motivated by a concern that a small number of powerful commercial actors and individuals control a disproportionate amount of the world's resources, and their activities often drive poor health and health inequities.
Jenn’s current program of work focusses on the development of strategies to systematically monitor commercial political practices, eg:
- Mapping Australian lobbyist registers and comparing the quality of transparency practices
- Mapping industry associations of the alcohol, gambling, food and tobacco sectors
- Linking datasets to explore the ‘revolving door’ between public servants and the private sector
- Exploring the use of data science tools (e.g., Python) to automate data collection and cleaning of ‘messy’ government data
- Developing tools to visualise and easily search commercial political practices
- Developing a framework to differentiate between commercial and quasi-commercial actors to guide conflict of interest policies, monitoring frameworks, etc.
- Policy recommendations to improve political data transparency
- Developing a ‘Public Health Playbook’ to counter the so-called ‘Corporate Playbook’
Jenn completed a DPhil at the University of Melbourne in 2019 that analysed the soft drink industry’s political strategy to position itself as ‘part of the solution’ to obesity. Her subsequent research has continued to explore the theme of corporate co-optation and the risks and limitations of corporate 'harm minimisation' strategies and efforts to involve business actors in public health governance.
About this event
This event is hosted by the Tobacco Control Research Group.
Dr Lacy-Nichols will present her research, followed by time for questions.
Refreshments will be served after the seminar.