About the programme
This MSc programme, launched in October 2013, is unique in its breadth and diversity, covering the most significant and recent developments in the sociologies of risk and economic life - pivotal in making sociology relevant for the modern world. Read more about what it has to offer below, and for full details about the programme including core and optional courses and how to apply follow the link in the contents panel (left) to the Prospectus page.
If you have any questions about the programme not answered on these webpages, please feel free to email our administrators or contact the teachers directly - for their details see below.
Applications are made centrally to LSE's Graduate Admissions Office, for full information about application procedure see Graduate.
Economy and Society
"Modern societies are products of the economy. From light bulbs to credit derivatives, market objects of different sorts shape our lives in varied and complex ways. Sociology has studied the interconnections between economy and society for over a century. Based on this extensive literature, in this programme we explore the diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives offered by sociology on economic life. In particular, we study four key aspects of the economy. First, we explore the connections of economic life to social institutions—from state authority and private organizations, to social classes and distributed forms of taste. Second, we analyze the embeddedness of the economy by studying the role of social networks and social capital in economic life. Third, we study the ideational nature of the economy, showing how even seemingly esoteric economic institutions are based on specific ideas about how the world should operate—ideas matter, even in the rational domain of economic calculation. Finally, we explore the role of markets in modern societies, studying how they are organized, maintained and grow to change the world."
Dr Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra
"This degree is strongly associated with the Department’s Economies Risk and Technology research cluster and students will be exposed to some of the Department’s leading research in this area through teaching, seminars and workshops. This degree programme has been designed to bring these key interests in economy, risk and society together, in a way that we believe is unique. Although sociologists have been engaged with debates about the nature of economic life and the role of economic institutions in society ever since the discipline was founded, economic sociology has been growing rapidly as a sub-field since the late 1980s and is now a thriving area of the discipline worldwide, with major networks of scholars within the discipline’s key professional associations and a healthy share of publications in its leading journals.
"Definitions of economic sociology vary. One of the earliest exponents of sociology, Émile Durkheim, defined economic sociology as the analysis of institutions relating to the production of wealth, institutions relating to exchange, and institutions relating to distribution, while Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg describe it as ‘the sociological perspective applied to economic phenomena’ (The Handbook of Economic Sociology. 2005: 3). At the LSE, we take a slightly broader view, defining economic sociology both as the study of social processes of resource creation, distribution, exchange and consumption, and as the analysis of the role of economic knowledge itself within society more generally – including its role in the social production of risk. By bringing our expertise in this area to bear on substantive interests in risk and technology, the degree will help students to explore connections between economic sociology and other important sub-fields of the social sciences, including science and technology studies which has been the source of many recent insights on the nature of economic devices and institutions."
Professor Nigel Dodd
Risk and Society
"Risk has become a new lens through which to view the world. It is an important concept in academic discussions and also in the worlds of business and government. Sociologists identified risk as a central concept in the modern world in the early 1990s and in this course we consider their theories and how they might help us to understand how risk is related to substantive changes in the worlds we inhabit and to re- conceptualisations of the dangers surrounding us. We are particularly concerned to study risk in relation to economic life broadly defined. So we focus on involuntary, manufactured risks, that is those risks resulting from enormous advances in technology, the growth of large-scale organizations and globalization. These are the by-products of legitimate and sometimes exciting new developments which carry with them unintended dangers, such as pollution, threats to worker health and safety, and the capacity to upset financial markets at great speed across the globe. Such risks affect the food we eat, the air we breathe, our health and safety at work, the stability of our economic systems and so on. It is these risks which are associated with regulation which we define broadly to encompass attempts to anticipate and manage risk which emanate from the state and also from a range of other actors associated with the economic sector and civil society."
Professor Bridget Hutter
About our teachers
Nigel Dodd is Professor of Sociology, author of The Sociology of Money (Polity, 1994), Social Theory and Modernity (Polity, 2000), and The Social Life of Money (Princeton, 2014), as well as numerous articles on the nature of money and its role in contemporary society, and the idea of money in the history of social thought. He is currently interested in the emergence of new monetary forms, such as community currencies, monies derived from social lending and P2P credit, and electronic monies such as Bitcoin. He has been actively researching sociological aspects of the euro since its inception, and is particularly interested in what the present sovereign debt crisis means for the project as a whole: will it need to shrink to a few core states, can it be reformed and even strengthened by this crisis - or might it even disappear altogether? His new book, The Social Life of Money, published by Princeton University Press, investigates the increasing empirical and conceptual diversification of money, as well as the implications of the 2008 financial crisis and their implications for the sociological investigation of money, credit and indebtedness. He is Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Sociology, and is on the editorial board of Economy and Society and the Journal of Classical Sociology. With Patrik Aspers, he is co-editor of Re-Imagining Economic Sociology, which will be published by Oxford University Press in 2015.
Nigel teaches on the core course SO425 Regulation, Risk and Economic Life, and SO469 Risk and Governance: A Sociological Approach. He also teaches on SO426 Classical Social Thought, SO427 Modern Social Thought and SO463 Contemporary Social Thought. With Keith Hart, he co-teaches on DV451 Money in an Unequal World.
Bridget Hutter is Professor of Risk Regulation at the LSE, former Director of the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation and author of numerous publications on the subject of risk regulation. She has an international reputation for her work on compliance, regulatory enforcement and business risk management. Her most recent publications include Anticipating Risks and Organizing Regulation (Editor, 2010, Cambridge University Press); Managing Food Safety and Hygiene: Governance and Regulation as Risk Management.( 2011, Edward Elgar). She is currently preparing a research monograph on Risk Regulation and Crisis with Sally Lloyd-Bostock. Bridget is regularly involved in policy making discussions, with international bodies such as the World Economic Forum and with business organizations and regulatory agencies.
Bridget teaches on the core course SO425 Regulation, Risk and Economic Life
and SO469 Risk and Governance a Sociological Approach. She is on leave in 2015 but will be teaching again in Lent Term 2016.
Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra is Assistant Professor in Sociology, read physics at UNAM, Mexico, and holds an MSc and PhD in science and technology studies from the University of Edinburgh. His work contributes to economic sociology and the sociology of markets through three lines of research. The first examines the role of infrastructures in markets by studying the dynamics of technology in finance, focusing on the evolution of automated trade execution systems between 1970 and 2010. The second case concerns the sociotechnical organization of cognition in markets and studies global art markets. Finally, the third case relates to the marketization of intangible goods by examining changes in the production of social scientific knowledge—that is, it looks at the effects of the creation of market structures within academic environments on the production of knowledge. His research, along with that of other colleagues at LSE and Edinburgh, informed the UK government’s policy on the future computer-based trading in financial markets. More broadly, his research engages with the linkages between markets, technologies, politics and expertise, re-evaluating the role and nature of markets in modern societies. He has published in several journals and across disciplines, including Economy & Society, Cultural Sociology, Journal of Cultural Economy, (sociology), Technology in Society (innovation studies) and Journal of Empirical Finance (financial economics).
Juan Pablo teaches on the core course SO425 Regulation, Risk and Economic Life, SO469 Risk and Governance: A Sociological Approach and convenes SO430 Economic Sociology and SO470 The Sociology of Markets.
Fran Tonkiss is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Cities Programme at LSE. Her research and teaching is in the fields of urban and economic sociology. Publications include Contemporary Economic Sociology: Globalisation, Production, Inequality (Routledge, 2006) and Market Society: Markets and Modern Social Theory (Polity, 2001, with Don Slater), and she is co-editor of Trust and Civil Society (Macmillan, 2000, with Andrew Passey). She is currently managing editor of Economy and Society.
Leon Wansleben joined LSE in 2014 as an Assistant Professor. His main areas of interest include economic sociology (in particular the study of financial markets), the sociology of knowledge and expertise, and political sociology. After completing a BA in Philosophy (Witten/Herdecke) and an MSc in Sociology (LSE), the first main research project he conducted for his PhD at the University of Constance was an ethnographic and interview-based study of experts in international banks. It resulted in the book Cultures of Expertise in Global Currency Markets (Routledge, 2013).
To find out more about all faculty teaching in the Sociology Department, many of whom will be teaching on optional courses available on this programme, please see our Staff Pages.
“The MSc Economy, Risk and Society was a great next step after my undergraduate studies in sociology. Not only did it guide me through the studies of risk and introduced sociological perspectives on economy. Above all, the various academic backgrounds within the course complemented the sociological view in an exciting way. This course gives the chance to understand the field of risk much more comprehensively than economics could ever do.” Johannes Zück MSc ERS, 2013-14
"Having read economics as an undergraduate, the course allowed me to reach an extraordinary understanding of theory illuminating my rather quantitative knowledge of economics. It opened up the new perspective, the alternative that I was searching for after experiencing the economists' ignorance towards the financial crisis.
"In concrete terms, it was the possibility to very much choose modules from the whole department that made this course worthwhile. Structured around a core course in general economic sociology, I was able to cherry-pick papers according to my interests rather than follow a strict structure."
Johannes Lenhard, MSc Sociology (Economic Sociology) 2011-12
“I feel I have learned a lot, particularly... from the excellent professors I had the opportunity to meet here at LSE. I came here with a very legal and to some extent plain perspective, but now I have noticed that law and lawyers (yes, I am a banking lawyer) are only a piece, and even means, within the big puzzle of regulation which encompasses a varied of different accounts such as the nature of risk.”
Maria Moreno-Sanchez, MSc Regulation 2011-12 on SO469 Risk and Governance: A Sociological Approach.