Dr Ryan Davey

Dr Ryan Davey

Visiting Fellow

Department of Anthropology

About me

Ryan Davey’s research into class inequality and debt combines anthropological political economy with the study of subjectivity. His PhD at Cambridge, completed in 2016, used ethnographic fieldwork on a housing estate in England to argue that de-industrialisation and financialisation have transformed the foundations out of which class-based identities arise. Many UK citizens today rely on consumer credit and welfare benefits to get by, which makes them vulnerable to eviction or their benefits being stopped. The power of lenders and welfare officials to administer these sanctions contributes to class inequality. This means that class-based oppression can result from inequalities in people’s relation to the means of legal coercion, and not just to the means of production. 

Previously, Ryan led a policy research project for the Royal College of Psychiatrists investigating the way frontline workers in the UK debt collection industry respond to debtors who disclose mental health problems. 

Ryan joined the LSE to conduct research on debt advice as 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’. Focusing on the changing relation between the charity sector and the consumer credit industry in Britain, his research identified new cultural models of social welfare that rely on, or encourage, financial speculation. 

His teaching includes lecturing at the LSE, two years’ undergraduate supervision in Cambridge, and co-ordinating a summer school for prospective anthropology undergraduates.


Expertise Details

England; political and economic anthropology; class; debt; subjectivity


Journal articles

Davey, Ryan. 2017. ‘Polluter pays’?: Understanding austerity through debt advice in the UK. Anthropology Today, 33(5): 8–11.


Bear, Laura, Deborah James, Fanny Malinen, and Ryan Davey. 2017. Austerity, Debt – What alternatives? LSE Works Public Lecture. link

 Davey, Ryan and Carl Packman. 2016. Wicked problems in the world of debt advice. Camthropod: The Cambridge Anthropology Podcast. www.camthropod.org


Davey, Ryan and Carl Packman. 2018. Debt advice in a time of austerity: Is it time to talk about debt cancellation? Quarterly Account: the journal of the Institute of Money Advisers, Winter 2018.