Ryan Davey completed his PhD in social anthropology in 2015 at the University of Cambridge. His work combines anthropological political economy with the study of subjectivity. His doctoral research, which was based on ethnographic fieldwork on a housing estate in the south of England, focused on the relation between social class and debt in England. It explored ways in which class is formed through subjects’ optimistic responses to the potential for coercive forms of legal sanction, in the areas of consumer debt, tenancy and motherhood. Previously, he led an applied research project for the Royal College of Psychiatrists investigating the way frontline staff in the UK debt collection industry responds to debtors who disclose mental health problems. He has also carried out ethnographic research with the psychiatric survivor movement in London, focusing in particular on “survivor research,” an emergent set of knowledge practices in which psychiatric survivors and service users produce research based on first-hand experience.
Ryan joined the LSE in October 2015 to conduct research on debt advice in England. His research will focus on the changing relation between the voluntary sector and the market in the field of debt advice. This forms part of a collaborative ESRC-funded project headed by Professor Deborah James, entitled ‘An ethnography of advice: between market, society and the declining welfare state’.
He taught undergraduates in supervisions in Cambridge for two years, on a course on Political Economy and Social Transformation. He also co-ordinated a summer school for prospective anthropology undergraduates and has worked as a freelance workplace trainer.