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Research Team

watson_mat_17.jpgThe Principal Investigator on the 'Rethinking the Market' project is Matthew Watson. I am Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. As befits the award of an ESRC Professorial Fellowship, I have sole responsibility for ensuring the successful completion of all aspects of the underlying project. Nonetheless, I am seeking to build additional capacity within my specialist subject field of International Political Economy around the questions that animate both this specific project and my research interests in general. My intention, then, is to build a team to outlast the lifetime of my Fellowship so that further progress can be made in establishing historical, history of ideas and historiography approaches more centrally within IPE.

In an attempt to promote this sort of work amongst early career cohorts, I am seeking to incorporate both PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows into the wider intellectual orbit of the project. I am always looking to extend my project team still further. I remain happy to help sponsor applications for both PhD studentships and Postdoctorial Fellowships nature if they directly complement the programme of work I am undertaking for my Professorial Fellowship.

 

PROJECT-FUNDED PhD STUDENTS

jack_copley.jpgJack Copley started his programme in October 2014 on an ESRC studentship as one of my project-funded students and is co-supervised by Ben Clift. His thesis is entitled, 'The Roots of Financial Expansion in Productive Stagnation: A History of British Financialisation'.

His Synopsis: Despite the frequent extolling of financial market efficiency in mainstream economics and party political rhetoric, there is a growin​g body of social science literature linking the expansion of finance to the stagnation of the productive sector. However, there is no clear consensus on which direction, if any, causality runs between these two phenomena and, therefore, of how financial and productive markets interact with one another. My research advances an archival methodology to explore this puzzle. Focusing on the critical period of the 1970s and 1980s, my thesis examines the archives of British state, financial and nonfinancial corporate institutions in order to determine the extent to which actors experienced the profitability crisis as an external pressure to facilitate financial market growth. This will provide new insights into a period when the Keynesian orthodoxy was being torn asunder, forcing actors to reassess their understandings of the nature of markets, in a desperate attempt to discover a successful growth strategy. As such, my thesis will not only illuminate functional linkages between stagnation and financial expansion, but will explore how ideas about market instability have historically been dismantled and reconstituted in the context of political and economic turmoil. Find me on academia.edu.

 

Javi MorenoJavier Moreno Zacares started his programme in October 2014 on an ESRC studentship as one of my project-funded students and is co-supervised by Chris Clarke. His thesis is entitled, 'Rethinking the Spanish Bubble: A Political Economy of Urbanisation, Housing and Financialisation'.

His Synopsis: My research focuses on the Spanish housing bubble, seeking to extract the implications of this case for our understanding of the social construction of the market. The case of Spain is particularly interesting given the active role that state and political parties took in sustaining the inflation of the bubble via clientelist dynamics, the result of a longer history of speculative dynamics in the land and housing markets, which were incubated in the 1960s under a fascist dictatorship. I rely on a historicist method to destabilise traditional conceptions of the market as a stable realm that can be explained through the lens of abstract logics of development. Instead, I seek to trace the path-dependent outcomes of political and social conflicts, as well as the diffusion of practices and discourses, to understand the making of the land and housing markets in the second half of the 20th century.

 

PROJECT-LINKED PhD STUDENTS

Fabian PapeFabian Pape started on the '1' year of his '1+3' programme in October 2017 on an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership scholarship and a University of Warwick PAIS PhD studentship. His thesis is provisionally entitled, 'A Genealogy of Liquidity Regulation in the United States and Great Britain'. I co-supervise him with Chris Clarke.

His Synopsis: My research focuses on the political space opened up by the conceptual ambiguity of the term ‘liquidity’. Amongst policymakers and the economics profession, there is very little agreement about what liquidity actually means. Instead, we often encounter it as a metaphor. For example, we are told that during the crisis, markets that were previously ‘awash with liquidity’ suddenly ‘dried up’. But how exactly do central bankers make sense of the policy challenges associated with liquidity if the concept itself remains so elusive? To address this question, my research traces the genealogy of liquidity regulation as a governmental problem from the Great Depression to the global financial crisis. Zooming in on the experiences of the United States and the United Kingdom, I argue that different conceptualisations of liquidity are underpinned by different politics, each generating calls for very different forms of intervention in the economy. More specifically, I ask how different political judgements and interpretative practices feed the diagnosis and negotiation of liquidity crises, legitimate specific courses of actions and economic discourses at the expense of others, and become incorporated into a coherent narrative of monetary governance.

 

Guillaume BeaumierGuillaume Beaumier started his programme in January 2017 on an Erasmus Mundus GEM-STONES studentship. He is co-supervised between the Universities of Warwick in the UK and Laval in Canada, as well as having a six-month internship with McKinsey in Brussels. I am his Warwick supervisor and Jean-Frédéric Morin is his Laval supervisor. His thesis is entitled, 'Governing E-Commerce as a Complex System'.

His Synopsis: My research explores how regulatory issues arising from the development of e-commerce are being governed. In doing so, I question the European Union's ability to shape the ‘rules of the game’ in a complex international environment. I furthermore examine how interactions between public and private regulations are influencing each other.

Through this work, I argue that international political economy scholars should go further than recognise the inherent complexity of the international realm and adopt the analytical tools put forward by complexity theory. I expect that this theoretical approach will allow me to produce an original contribution to the academic research being done on both e-commerce and global governance. It should notably contribute to critically reappraise the extensive use of neoliberal economic principles in the study of international political economy.

 

Leo SteedsLeo Steeds started his programme in October 2015 on an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre studentship and is co-supervised with Stuart Elden.

His Synopsis: In recent years responses to a broad range of environmental issues, from climate change to conservation, have frequently been phrased in terms of the need to create markets for environmental 'goods'. Such schemes, heralding from the tradition of neoclassical economics, have frequently been shown to be problematic when put into practice. My research seeks to offer a critique of market-based approaches to environmental degradation by questioning the historical conditions of possibility of conceptualising the natural world as external to the sphere of economy. To do this, I interrogate economic thought of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in order to understand the conceptions of nature which informed the development of the modern notion of economy. I am particularly interested in the significance of land as a central category in eighteenth century economic thought, and its subsequent decline as a concern of economists through the nineteenth century. The research highlights the problematic nature of conceiving environment in terms of economy, and points to a need to re-think conventional notions of the market economy if we are to make progress on the most pressing environmental issues of today.

 

Lorenzo 2Lorenzo Genito started his programme in October 2014 on a University of Warwick Development and Alumni Relations Office studentship and is co-supervised with Ben Clift. His thesis is entitled, 'The Political Economy of Sovereign Bond Spreads: How Numerical Thresholds have Mediated Political Transitions in Italy'.

His Synopsis: The objective of my research is twofold. On the one hand, I explore the role played by key bond market actors during the Eurozone crisis, with a particular focus on central counterparty (CCP) clearing houses. On the other hand, I seek to understand the political consequences that common assumptions on the functioning of the bond markets had in mediating a political transition in Italy during the crisis. My study contributes to the 'Rethinking the Market' project by attempting to answer question Number 1: which meaning of ‘the market’ has come to dominate political discourse? I intend to answer this question by looking at the extent to which generalisations about bond market behaviour have facilitated a change of government: from Silvio Berlusconi to Mario Monti, from democracy to technocracy.

 

Daivd Yarrow

David Yarrow started his programme in October 2014 on an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre studentship and is co-supervised with Ben Clift and Christopher Holmes of King's College London. His thesis is entitled, 'Progress Beyond Growth: Situating the Market in Post-Crisis Statistical Reform'.

His Synopsis: My research investigates the political agenda to reform GDP and national accounting which has emerged since the financial crisis. In particular I study post-growth statistical initiatives by the UK government, the EU and the OECD. I locate these trends within a wider questioning of growth as the central development paradigm following the financial crisis, with governance institutions and NGOs increasingly interested in developing statistical evidence about the broader dimensions of economic ‘progress’, sustainability and the good life. Drawing on the ideas of Karl Polanyi, I examine how ideas about the nature of the economy and its relationship with society are evolving as a result of these initiatives, and the role market ideology plays in mediating these dynamics. I am interested in the implications of these developments for the prospects of a post-growth political economy with a broader vision of livelihood at its core.

 

RECENTLY COMPLETED PROJECT-LINKED PhD STUDENTS 

Andrew ClementAndrew Anzur Clement successfully defended his PhD at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in November 2017. He conducted his doctoral research between 2014 and 2017 within the framework of the Erasmus Mundus GEM School double degree programme at the ULB and Warwick. He was co-supervised by Amandine Crespy at ULB. His thesis is entitled, 'An Integration of Discord: How National Identity Conceptions Activate Resistance to EU Integration in the Popular Press Discourses of Poland, Spain and Great Britain'.

His Synopsis: I am a political scientist with research and teaching interests relating to EU studies and communication studies. More specifically, I focus on the relationship between national boundaries and identity conception. My doctoral research centres on the complex interlinkages between national identity and interests, as they relate to attitudes towards European integration in the context of the Union's single market for persons. The findings showed that the manner in which identity influences interest perception causes the news media to emphasise events that seem deviant or threatening. The resulting narratives could stand to create moral panics within national societies. These narratives innately suggest the 'proper stance' one should take if an apparent threat is to be resolved. I have published articles in the Eastern Journal of European Studies and East European Politics and Societies that begin to showcase my thesis findings. In future research, I plan to focus on prospects for the construction of common identity through analysing mass-mediated discursive constructions of 'Europe' as a common space for movement in relation to its outsides.

 

Lauren TookerLauren Tooker is an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick. She completed her PhD in 2017 on an Erasmus Mundus GEM School studentship under co-supervision between Warwick and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She was co-supervised at Warwick by Lena Rethel and at the ULB by Firouzeh Nahavandi. Her thesis is entitled, 'Ordinary Democracy: Reading Resistances to Debt after the Global Financial Crisis with Stanley Cavell’s Ordinary Language Philosophy’. Lauren passed her PhD without corrections.

Her Synopsis: I am a political economist focused on the everyday politics of finance, with research and teaching interests in cultural economy, ethics, and the finance-security relation. My doctoral research explored how people are dissenting from market relations of debt in the wake of the global financial crisis. It showed how debt is being reshaped as a collective ethical and political bond, even as it remains an individual bind, by people acting
within and against the vulnerabilities wrought by financialisation and longer histories of injustice. My latest research examines the contemporary turn to digital technologies and data politics to secure financial relationships between citizens and the state.

 

Lisa TilleyLisa Tilley began a three-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Queen Mary University of London in September 2017, having previously held a Newton-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Warwick. She started her PhD programme in October 2012 on an Erasmus Mundus GEM School studentship under co-supervision between Warwick and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She was co-supervised at Warwick by Lena Rethel and at the ULB by Firouzeh Nahavandi. Her thesis is entitled, 'The Condition of Market Emergence in Indonesia: Coloniality as Exclusion and Translation'. Lisa passed her PhD without corrections following her examination in January 2017.

Her synopsis: My research explores the interrelations between regimes of difference, physical space, and the extension of (and resistance to) market forms of life. This work has taken shape through my research encounters in Indonesia as well as through an engagement with postcolonial and decolonial theory. Within decolonial thought, broadly conceived, attention is paid to forms of difference (racial, cultural, aesthetic, ethical, epistemic) and to the temporal and hierarchical organisation of these forms of difference. My work considers the role of these constructed hierarchies in processes of commodification (especially of knowledge, land, and labour), and related processes of dispossession. My fieldwork in Indonesia has taken place in terminable sites (urban slums and rural settlements) and has revealed how spatial relations underpin ways of being – such that displacements and dispossession can provoke ontological translations within social groups.

 

Filip BrkovicFilip Brkovic started his programme in October 2011 on an Erasmus Mundus GEM School studentship under co-supervision between Warwick and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He was co-supervised at the ULB by Jean Luc De Meulemeester. He passed his PhD without corrections in December 2015. His thesis is entitled, 'An Assessment of Possibilities for Stronger Inclusion of Upper-Middle-Income Economies in the Fairtrade System - Case Study Serbia'. Exceptionally sadly, Filip died suddenly just one month after his succesful viva.

His Synopsis: My PhD research is focused on the Fairtrade system and how market regulation through the Fairtrade price has the potential to reshape the market experience of poor and marginalised agricultural producers. This is a form of private governance that mimics some of the broader social structures of neoliberalism whilst at the same time challenging a number of neoliberal political logics. In this way it holds distinct possibilities for creating a fairer global economic system and more just outcomes within the sphere of international trade. However, to fully exploit this potential, I argue, it is necessary for more attention to be paid to the group of upper-middle-income economies of the Global North that are currently excluded from the Fairtrade system as producers. I use the example of Serbia as one of these producer-excluded countries to challenge the current limits of the Fairtrade system and to show how the capacity of that system to influence market outcomes would be extended through the development of a Fairtrade-like system on the national level.

 

toby_pforr.jpgTobias Pforr is currently a Research Fellow at University College London following two successful stints as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick and a year as an Institute of Advanced Study Early Career Fellow. He started his PhD programme in October 2011 on an Erasmus Mundus GEM School studentship under co-supervision between Warwick and Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli di Roma. His co-supervisor at LUISS was Sebastiano Maffettone. His thesis is entitled, 'Meaning Construction and the Socialisation of Economic Ideas: An Autobiographical Approach'. He is currently an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick.

His Synopsis: My research conceptualises the production and transmission of economic knowledge and ideas in contemporary Anglo-Saxon societies. In comparison to the fully formed economic agents of standard economic theory, actual persons need to learn what it means to act economically and to envision themselves within a variety of different markets. This learning process continually takes place through multiple, overlapping, and often contradictory processes of socialisation and internalisation. My work explores a number of dimensions to such processes and their consequences for individuals. One dimension concerns the role of economics courses at university; another the role of popular culture (novels, films, and magazines) in fostering and subverting particular economic ideas; yet another connects these issues to Johan Galtung’s theory of violence. In each of these instances I analyse what the concept of the market might be taken to mean. Contrary to the widespread opinion that the concept of the market simply refers to the place of exchange, I demonstrate that it has in fact a number of very different meanings. Different commentators often employ the term with different meanings in mind without being aware that this is the case. The result is that many disagreements about what markets are and how they function are simply misunderstandings about what a person is trying to say. A first step towards a better public debate about the nature and goals of economic systems should therefore be an awareness of what the concept of the market means in different cases and of how to talk clearly about it.

 

nick_taylor.jpgNick Taylor is currently a Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, attached to the ESRC-funded Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity. Before that, he held an Early Career Fellowship in the Institute of Advanced Study at Warwick. He started his PhD programme in October 2011 on an ESRC 1+3 studentship and was co-supervised by Ben Clift. He passed his PhD without corrections in December 2015. His thesis is entitled, 'Perspectives on the Social Question: Poverty and Unemployment in Liberal and Neoliberal Britain'.

His Synopsis: My doctoral research focuses on historical and contemporary perspectives of poverty and unemployment in liberal and neoliberal Britain. It looks at the transition to neoclassical economics from classical political economy and the development of understandings of unemployment among policy-makers in the late 19th century and early 20th century, as well as the contemporary era of ‘workfare’. The aim is to show how economic understandings of poverty and unemployment exist alongside, and are even underpinned by, particular moral understandings of the poor and unemployed. Assumptions about the behaviour of particular economic subjects and understandings of economics as a science are thus open to normative contestation. It is a call to think beyond the language of the market, of supply and demand, to consider how the unemployed subject is constituted. Interesting parallels emerge between the strategies of today's government and its Victorian predecessors in the way in which individuals are inserted into market relationships through disciplinary means.

 

VISITING PhD STUDENTS

rune_moeller_stahl.jpgRune Møller Stahl is a PhD student from the University of Copenhagen under the supervision of Ben Rosamond who visited Warwick in 2015. His thesis is entitled, 'The Role of the Economics Profession in Liberalisation and Economic Reform from the 1970s to the 2000s'.

His Synopsis: My research is focused on the way in which economic ideas gain influence in the policy world, and how relations of power, networks and social forces are shaping the way we conceive of the economy. As such, my research is situated at the crossroads of the fields of International Political Economy and the History of Economic Thought. My PhD project is focused on the role of the economics profession in the turn towards neoliberalism in Denmark and United Kingdom in the period since 1970, and the interaction between developments in economic science and wider social and political developments. The focus of the thesis is especially on the ideological and legitimating function that macroeconomic theory plays in the political world, and on the institutions that connect the academic world to the state and private sector, and functions to transmit and translate ideas from one sphere to the other. Find me on academia.edu or the University of Copenhagen for more.

 

David AdlerDavid Adler is an MPhil student from the University of Oxford under the supervision of Ben Ansell. His thesis is entitled, 'As Safe as Houses: The Political Origins of Housing Bubbles'.

His Synopsis: Housing booms and busts are a defining feature of the contemporary global economy. Yet the literature has paid scant attention to their political dimensions. My research focuses on the case of the United Kingdom, where house prices surge to historic highs, enriching a class of landlords and owner-occupiers while leaving the rest behind in what has become known as 'Generation Rent'. As this bubble inflates, the risks to the economy and all of its participants intensify. Yet Britain’s politicians continue to introduce pro-cyclical interventions, offering 'Help to Buy', selling off the last remaining Housing Association stock, and squeezing social renters with a Bedroom Tax. My research focuses on this political puzzle, asking how regulators, landlords, renters and other stakeholders make sense of this crisis. Using a mix of qualitative methods, I examine how the historical effort to construct a 'property-owning democracy' in Britain continues to drive pro-inflationary policies today—and what this might mean for the looming crash ahead.

 

PROJECT-LINKED EARLY CAREER FELLOWS

Caroline Kuzemko (2)Caroline Kuzemko holds a two-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Future Research Leader Fellowship which she began in October 2016, in addition to being an Assistant Professor in International Political Economy in the Department of Politics and International Studies. Her project is entitled, ‘Power Distributions: Local Authorities, Sustainable Energy, and Devolution’.

Her Synopsis: One notable aspect of the current UK political economy of energy is the movement towards greater decentralisation, which is evident with regard to both political authority and also in the increasing embrace of sustainable energy. In a break from decades of privatisation and centralisation of energy local public authorities are becoming increasingly involved in providing sustainable energy services. At the same time, many are also applying for and securing devolution deals. Some research argues that decentralising energy can be vital in securing popular acceptance of sustainable energy transitions, partly through greater civic participation, whilst others argue about the ‘power of the local’ to deliver better-attuned services and to enhance democracy. This research project will critically examine such claims through a close analysis of sustainable energy policy and practice in five UK local authorities as well as of the various contexts within which they operate. The focus will be on exploring and explaining: how sustainable energy projects are shaped by local and national political processes, including devolution; how local energy policy choices relate to existing energy institutions and infrastructures; and what capacities local authorities have to act in the area of sustainable energy and why.

 

Chris ClarkeChris Clarke holds a three-year Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship which he began in September 2014, in addition to being an Assistant Professor in Political Economy in the Department of Politics and International Studies. His project is entitled, 'Prospects for a Relational Finance: The Political Economy of Peer-to-Peer Lending in the UK'.

His Synopsis: Building on my previous research on the history of economic ideas and the politics of financial markets, my project examines an emerging form of finance that claims to be more responsible and democratic than the mainstream: peer-to-peer lending. Advocates of this so-called ‘social lending’ emphasise the benefits of removing big banks from the lending equation. Such benefits are often highlighted as part of efforts to ‘rethink’ how financial markets operate. Online P2P lending firms facilitate the process of financial intermediation by directly connecting individual savers and businesses to individual borrowers and other businesses who want to borrow money. In ways not usually found in opaque financial markets, the platforms can be used to generate lender/borrower awareness not only of one another’s financial needs but of one another in distinctly human terms. This form of intrinsically social lending can therefore be viewed as a novel experiment in making borrowers known ‘relationally’ rather than simply as a reflection of a ‘rationally’ calculated credit rating score. How, I ask, and to what extent, might P2P lending prove to be more responsible, that is socially useful, and more democratic, that is locally controlled, than traditional forms of financial intermediation? Find out more here: peeringintofinance.com.

 

joel_china_plate.jpgJoel Lazarus held a one-year Independent Social Research Foundation Independent Scholar Research Fellowship which he began in April 2015 and ended in April 2016. He is now an independent researcher. His project is entitled, 'Reviving our Sociological Imagination'.

His Synopsis: My 'Reviving Our Sociological Imagination' (ROSI) project brings together critical approaches to pedagogy, political economy, financial anthropology, and cultural studies in an attempt to catalyse and facilitate a process of democratic public praxis in which people across the UK and beyond are encouraged and supported to come together to learn about and debate the nature of our market society today and to respond to its consequences. The plan is to produce a television drama series called 'The Floor' based on the trading floor of an investment bank, in addition to a ROSI website and a collaboratively-written book. All of this will be produced in collaboration with bank staff, scriptwriters, filmmakers and academics. The website and book will give viewers the conceptual and theoretical tools to analyse the drama on a deeper level. Viewers will then be encouraged to debate their ideas both online and in local 'book club' style groups. The first step on this road in my first year (funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation) is to develop a concept and practice of what I call 'democratic television' – the democratisation of both the production and consumption of television that this project seeks to espouse.