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Economic and Political Sociology

Economic and political sociology is one of the core research strengths of Cambridge Sociology. We have many research students working on aspects of economic and political sociology and we welcome applications from prospective PhD and MPhil students wishing to work in this area. Academics undertaking research in economic and political sociology at Cambridge include the following:

Michael Mann, an Honorary Professor and Director of Research in the Department, continues to develop his path-breaking work on the theory of power and in historical and comparative sociology. The final two volumes of his magnum opus The Sources of Social Power focus on the periods from 1890 to 1945 (vol. 3) and on 1945 to the present (vol. 4), exploring the interconnections between capitalism, nation-states and empires, including the sole remaining empire in the world today - the United States. He teaches a graduate class on war and militarism and works with graduate students and final-year undergraduates.

Goran Therborn is developing a highly original theoretical account of the social structures of 'planetary society', its major civilizations, its historical waves of globalization, its family-sex-gender systems, and its pathways to modernity. He is currently working on two new projects: first, a reassessment of inequality as a socio-cultural order that stunts human lives, reducing our capabilities to function as human beings, our dignity and our sense of self, as well as causing millions of people to die prematurely; and second, an analysis of the rise of capital cities as embodiments of cultural history, concentrations of human sociability and built manifestations of power.

Lawrence King is Professor of Sociology and Political Economy in the department. A major part of his research concentrates on the socio-economics of the transition to capitalism in Eastern Europe - focusing on privatization and foreign investment. In addition to the study of the political economy of postcommunism, he has a variety of publications and an active research agenda on the political economy of public health. This project has as its goal the bringing together of the type of variables, analyses and methods used in political economy with public health research. He has extended this research from the postcommunist world to Latin America and India.

Mihály Fazekas is a postdoctoral researcher in the department. His research looks at quality of government and corruption in public spending and law making, with particular focus on government favouritism in public procurement in Europe and beyond. His new large-scale research project collects, processes and releases contract-level public procurement data for 35 European countries while also developing indicators for transparency, corruption risks and spending efficiency. This work is expected to unlock new research horizons in economics, political science, and sociology with about 30% of public spending across Europe available on a transaction level.

Thomas Jeffrey Miley's research interests include nationalism, language politics, identity politics, immigration, religion and politics, regime types, and democratic theory. He has published extensively on nationalisms and nationalist conflicts in Spain. This work focuses on how competing nationalist imaginaries are channelled, fostered, and/or marginalized in competitive party politics in the democratic political arena. He is also working on a comparative project on migration politics in the European Union. In all of his work, he is concerned to illuminate the dynamics of collective mobilization within the democratic process.

Brendan Burchell's research interests centre on employment and how individuals' experiences of labour markets impacts upon their well-being. The effects of job insecurity and work intensity have been major themes in his work, and he has also studied (using both quantitative and qualitative methods) unemployment, working conditions, part-time work and gender segregation. His interests also extend to international comparisons of labour markets and the quality of employment to examine how the effects of labour market conditions are moderated by national differences in welfare regimes, policies and regulation.

Hazem Kandil's work examines military-security institutions and revolutionary movements. In his doctoral research, he analyzed how power struggles between the military, security, and political institutions shaped regimes in Egypt, Iran, and Turkey. His current research explores the sociopolitical ramifications of various military conscription regimes across history--a project that draws on military and political sociology to uncover how the social organization of violence impacts political life. He also studies intellectual movements, with a special focus on the Muslim world.

Manali Desai's research encompasses the areas of state formation, political parties, social movements, development, ethnic violence, and post-colonial studies. Her book State Formation and Radical Democracy in India, 1860-1990 (2006) is a historical analysis of the emergence of two different welfare regimes in India where social democratic parties have ruled consistently since independence. The book teases out the 'relative autonomy' of politics in the making of welfare regimes, given different traditions of state formation in colonial (and post-colonial) India, and uses several comparative cases including Brazil and Sweden to discipline the analysis.

Silvia Pasquetti's research examines the role of law-enforcement, military, and humanitarian agencies in group formation and emotional relationships among subordinated people. It compares profiles of solidarity, morality, and politics among Palestinian citizens of Israel living as urban minorities in an Israeli city and Palestinian refugees living in a West Bank camp.