Economies, Risk and Technology

Intellectual Focus

This cluster combines our distinctive expertise in the sociology of economic life and risk regulation with our capacity in science, technology and society. Our interests in economic sociology range from sociological studies of money itself (where Dodd’s work has highlighted Neitzsche’s contributions alongside Simmel’s and reflected on the significance of the current financial crisis, notably with his work on the laundering of money), through the regulation of the risks generated by economic life (Hutter's work on anticipating and managing risks), to the socio-technical organisation of markets (through Pardo-Guerra’s studies of the automation of the London Stock Exchange and recent work on art markets). Slater’s work brings together interests in actor network theory to develop new perspectives on the cultural economy of new technology in different parts of the global south. These interests in the technological dynamics of social change intersect with Wajcman’s studies of the impact of mobile communications on the speeding up of social relations and in Savage’s interests (supported through extensive grants from the ESRC) in the relationship between new research methods, technical change and class formation. Our interest in Science and Technology Studies is represented in the work of Friese (in her studies of the remaking of ‘nature’ in the context of developments in cloning methods and infrastructure of zoos), Thompson (in her studies of how the stem cell debate involve the rise of a “procurial” bio-economy).

Through Hutter’s role as Director of CARR and as Professor in Risk Regulation, this cluster is associated with the ESRC Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) which had core funding from the ESRC from 2000 to 2010. CARR was established to define and bring about a new field of study, namely risk regulation studies. This built on the study of regulation as a dimension of government, drawing on the legal and political sciences, and on sociological and management perspectives on issues in risk and risk management. CARR’s research has focused on different organisational and institutional settings and comparative work on risk regulation has been conducted across a variety of dimensions, including the public–private sector divide, different domains and also different countries. Its broad comparative remit is perceived as increasingly valuable in relation to practitioners and other users who tend to be domain-focused. Between 2008 and 2010 it hosted 16 conferences and lectures and 17 workshops, and two public debates. The appointment of Stark to work in CARR as Centennial Professor in 2013, as well as Hutter’s affiliation, testifies to the ongoing significance of sociological research to its concerns. Ursula Henz brings in capacity in the sociology of the family with particular interests in the study of fertility, homogamy, stepfamilies, intergenerational relationships, informal caregiving, fatherhood. Patrick McGovern is an expert in economic sociology, especially the sociology of work and labour markets, and in international migration, especially the employment and social mobility of immigrants in Britain and the US.

Key members of cluster

  • Nigel Dodd, Professor of Sociology: sociology of money; theoretical conceptions of economic life; European monetary integration and the euro; the interface between money and markets; alternative and complementary monies (the future of money).
  • Carrie Friese, Associate Professor in Sociology: sociology of health and illness; science, technology and medicine studies; social studies of reproduction and genetics; animal studies.
  • Ursula Henz, Associate Professor in Social Research Methods: sociology of the family with particular interests in the study of fertility, homogamy, stepfamilies, intergenerational relationships, informal caregiving, fatherhood; employment, especially women’s employment and work-life balance; social inequality, especially through educational careers; the life course.
  • Bridget Hutter, Professor of Risk Regulation at LSE: research interests are in the broad area of the sociology of regulation and risk governance; the regulation of economic life; organisational risk management and social control; risk regulation, resilience and natural disasters; risk regulation and crisis; and risk regulation in China.
  • Patrick McGovern, Associate Professor (Reader) in Sociology: Economic sociology, especially the sociology of work and labour markets. Changes in the employment relationship, including the impact of new employment practices on traditional forms of inequality at work. International migration, especially the employment and social mobility of immigrants in Britain and the US.
  • Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, Assistant Professor in Sociology: sociology of markets, with an emphasis on the role of culture, technology and expertise in markets; social studies of finance; economic sociology; science and technology studies; sociology of innovation.
  • Don Slater, Associate Professor (Reader) in Sociology: theories of consumer culture and market society; economy and culture; technology and economy; new media, development and poverty reduction.
  • Charis Thompson, Professor of Sociology: science and technology studies, transnational feminisms, bioethics, science and society.
  • Fran Tonkiss, Professor of Sociology: urban economies and inequalities; markets and marketization; trust and social capital; economic globalization.
  • Judy Wajcman, Professor of Sociology: sociology of economic life; science and technology studies; sociology of information and communication technologies; gender theory; and organizational analysis.

Linked Master's programme

The Department offers the MSc Economy, Risk and Society, covering the most significant and recent developments in the sociologies of risk and economic life. The Department also has a critical mass of expertise in science and technology studies, and offers a course on Technology, Culture and Power.

Doctoral students

About a quarter of the research students registered in the Sociology Department are primarily working on core concerns of this cluster such as employment and the professions, money, social entrepreneurship, creative industries policy, risk and regulation and globalization. Many of these are funded by UK and non-UK funding councils. Although these students are not currently grouped into a research seminar, there have been student-organized economic sociology seminar series in the past, and we are currently seeking funding for a more formalized seminar programme beginning next session.

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