Dr Spooner’s research agenda aims to highlight the underappreciated role of markets, and particularly household debt markets, as sites of class conflict and inequality. Evidence since the Great Recession has questioned the traditional equity-efficiency trade-off, in highlighting the economic costs of inequality. From Covid-19 to the Cost-of-Living Crisis, failures in consumer markets are increasingly recognised as producing negative aggregate economic outcomes, as well as distributing resources regressively. This research seeks to illuminate the role of law and legal “ground rules” in underpinning regressive market distributions, and so uncovering the underrecognized contribution of law to inequality.
Dr Spooner researches in the Law-and-Society tradition, while incorporating contemporary elements of Modern Legal Realism and Law and Political Economy. He aims to explore law in its social context, and incorporates empirical approaches alongside theoretical perspectives and doctrinal critique. One research project uses qualitative methods including process tracing and content analysis to explore the political economy of bankruptcy law reform, and particularly the influence of interest groups in shaping legislation. Another project deploys quantitative methods to study aggressive debt collection techniques used by English local authorities to pursue local tax debts, finding that the most intensive debt recovery activities occur in the most deprived local authority areas.