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Themes/Clusters


ID houses a number of dynamic research clusters, in some cases organised around themes and problems, and in other cases around research methods.

ID staff have also created formal Research Centres, with major funding and an institutional presence. Many individuals’ work falls into 2 or more, allowing ~30 researchers to sustain 8 vibrant clusters, 2 centres, and 3 cross-departmental initiatives. 

Research Clusters

Comparative Political Economy of Development (CPED)

CPED is one of the larger research areas, examining phenomena within and across countries, at the intersection of political science and economics, with colleagues usually rooted in one or the other. Some of this research is primarily quantitative, other work is primarily qualitative, and much features fully blended methodologies. CPED colleagues organize the bi-weekly Land Politics and Development seminar jointly with UCL, the Comparative Politics/Comparative Political Economy seminar (joint with LSE Government, International Relations, and the European Institute), and the international Working Group on African Political Economy. A few examples of current research are: property rights, land tenure and territorial politics in Africa; instrumental incoherence in institutional reform; the politics of intellectual property; long-run effects of institutions and inequality on development in Colombia; and urbanisation and ethnicity in Africa.

CPED research is published in top journals across economics, political science, and development studies, as well as books with prestigious university presses. Recent examples include the Review of Economics and Statistics, International Studies Quarterly, Public Choice, Comparative Politics, World Development, the British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Development Studies, Politics & Society, and Studies in Comparative International Development, as well as Cambridge and Oxford University Presses.

Inclusive Economies (IE)

This revamped group, strengthened with the arrival of two new colleagues, seeks to deepen analytical understanding of the recent inclusive turn in development policy. IE run a joint biweekly seminar with Anthropology focusing on inclusivity in markets, finance, social protection, and ICT engagement with the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’. Some examples of current research are: the financialization of social protection in India; taxation and the informal economy; trajectories of hybrid governance in Africa; and the role of ICTs in employment and healthcare in India.

IE research has been published in a range of journals in Development Studies, Anthropology, African Studies, and other fields. Recent examples include: African Affairs, Development and Change, European Journal of Development Research, Journal of Development Studies, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Journal of Cultural Economy, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Signs, Social Science and Medicine, and World Development, as well as Stanford University Press and Routledge.

Development Economics (DE)

DE has flourished during the last decade, growing from one to four colleagues. Research employs large, sometimes bespoke databases and state-of-the-art quantitative methods, as well as experimental and quasi-experimental methods, to investigate issues of applied micro and macroeconomics, and economic policy. Current research topics include: infrastructure and growth; the dynamics of private sector development in LDCs; economic costs of bureaucratic corruption; state-building in DR Congo; colonisation and long-run development in Latin America; welfare programmes and labour markets in middle-income countries; and VAT efficiency in developing countries.

DE research is published in top journals across economics, economic history, development studies, and the natural sciences. Recent examples include the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Economic History, World Development, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and PLOS ONE.

Environment and Development (ED)

This is a new cluster that achieved critical mass with the arrival of a colleague in 2016. ED research is both qualitative and quantitative, focusing on diverse issues ranging from global environmental governance and the discourse of contested debates, to national environmental movements and policy-making, to the microeconomics of deforestation. Current research topics include: landscape approaches to environmental governance; livelihood transitions, risk and environmental resilience in Myanmar and Nepal; the role of BASIC countries (Brazil, China, India, South Africa) in climate negotiations; and adoption of wind and solar power in Brazil and South Africa.

ED research is published in prestigious journals across geography, political science, environmental economics, and development studies, as well as books with top university presses. Recent examples include Global Environmental Change, Public Administration, Comparative Politics, World Development, Global Policy, Conservation and Society, Political Research Quarterly, Development and Change, and the Journal of Development Studies, as well as Duke, Cambridge, and the University of British Columbia presses.

Health and Development (HD)

Health and development is a priority area in which the department and School are making large, long-term investments. It is also a transformed group, greatly strengthened by the arrival of five new colleagues between 2014 and 2020. HD research is enthusiastically multidisciplinary, integrating anthropology, demography, and political science, and typically employing a blend of quantitative and qualitative methods. Current research topics include: health care finance and universal health coverage; COVID-19 and abortion; HIV/AIDS; adolescent access to contraception and safe abortion in sub-Saharan Africa; female genital mutilation; migrant and refugee health; population and food supply; and pharmaceutical markets in developing countries.

HD research is published in prestigious journals across public health, development studies, demography, medicine, and sociology, as well as books with prominent university presses. Recent examples include Social Science and Medicine, the Lancet, Population Studies, World Development, Health Policy and Planning, Population and Development Review, PLOS One, the British Medical Journal, Journal of Development Studies, Research Policy, Studies in Comparative International Development, as well as Cambridge and the Open University Presses.

ICTs and Development (ICTD)

ICTD research analyses the extraordinary penetration of computers and mobile devices across developing (and developed) societies, focusing on agriculture, industry, business services, healthcare, education, and humanitarianism. Recent advances in digital payment systems, mobile platforms and biometric identifiers have opened up important new research avenues into the political economy of big data, as well as the digitisation of social welfare schemes and public policy platforms. Current research projects include: ICTs and governance reform; ICTs and primary healthcare; and the increasing integration of ICTs in global economic infrastructures and business processes.

ICTD research is published in specialist ICTD journals as well as development studies, economic geography and information systems journals. These include Development and Change, Economic Geography, Information Technology for Development, Information Technologies and International Development, Oxford Development Studies, Journal of Development Studies, Social Science & Medicine, Transactions of the British Geographers, and Information Systems Journal.

International Political Economy of Development (IPED)

IPED research applies classical insights from international political economy to the systemic analysis of cross-national institutions and international development. It reminds us that all the issues studied in development occur in the context of – and are often shaped by – broader global interactions. Current topics of research include: the politics of multilateral institutions; dynamics of North-South trade agreements; global and regional politics of intellectual property; patterns of international inequality; South-South development finance; and international constraints on national development strategies.

IPED research is published in prominent journals across political science, history, international relations, and development studies, as well as books with the most prestigious university presses. Recent examples include International Studies Quarterly, Review of International Political Economy, Studies in Comparative International Development, and World Development, as well as Princeton and Oxford University Presses.

Humanitarianism and Conflict (HC)

HC focuses on the politics of humanitarianism and the dynamics of contemporary conflict, building on the department’s long-term engagement with these themes, which have established it as a leading centre of the study of complex emergencies, forced displacement, international criminal justice, and all aspects of humanitarian action. Members of the department have published extensively on such topics, and are currently doing research in war-affected areas. Over the past 20 years, the department has convened a series of large-scale research programmes, including the Crisis States Research Programme, the Justice and Security Research Programme, and the Conflict Research Programme.

Current research includes work on the International Criminal Court, humanitarian protection, post-war reconstruction, protection of civilians, gender-based violence, ethnographic work on refugees, the manipulation of ‘emergency’ within Western democracies, and critical evaluation of the evolution and practice of humanitarian institutions and ideas. The group publishes in journals like Health and Conflict, Disasters, Social Science and Medicine, the Lancet, Politics and Governance, Stability, Civil Wars, and the Journal of Refugee Studies, in addition to numerous books and reports.

Cross-Departmental Initiatives

Global Health Initiative

ID is a founding member of the Global Health Initiative, an interdepartmental unit established to increase the coherence and visibility of global health research across LSE. GHI supports interdisciplinary engagement and promotes the application of LSE-style rigorous social science research to emerging global health challenges. Two ID colleagues sit on GHI’s steering committee.

Latin America and Caribbean Centre

ID is also a founding member of the Latin America and Caribbean Centre, which serves as a focal point for LSE’s research and public engagement with the region. The Centre supports faculty from nearly every department across the School whose research is principally focussed on or relevant to the region. Research expertise covers themes on which Latin America and the Caribbean has been at the forefront of the social sciences and humanities, such as democratisation, citizenship and human rights, decentralisation and governance, violence, inequality and inclusionary initiatives for women, indigenous groups and youth.

Middle East Centre

The LSE Middle East Centre builds on LSE's long engagement with the Middle East and North Africa and provides a central hub for the wide range of research on the region carried out at LSE. The Middle East Centre works to enhance understanding and develop rigorous research on the societies, economies, politics and international relations of the region. ID staff are associates and have been involved in projects run by the LSE Middle East Centre, as well as sitting on the centre’s academic committee.