School of Geography

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Economy, Development and Social Justice

We challenge conventional geographical and sub-disciplinary boundaries, bringing together the insights of political economy, social geography, and a hybrid economic and development geography in our work that often connects the global North, South, East and West.

View of a Mumbai slum.

Much of our work is highly collaborative, with both academic colleagues elsewhere and with a number of community groups and non-governmental organizations.

Our research is focused around four main areas:

  • Work on the geographies of production, investment and uneven development has demonstrated how the economic fortunes of British men and women in the 19th century were bound into global patterns of investment and exchange, and is exploring the accumulation of wealth in different territories of the British Empire, and intergenerational wealth transfers, state regulation and inequality in 19th and 20th century Britain (Alastair Owens). Other work in this area has shown the importance of the embedding of production networks to provide for resilience in the context of contemporary global trade liberalisation and EU enlargement, and is exploring the externalisation of the EU economy through free trade agreements and global production networks in contemporary North Africa, and the consequences of trade and economic integration for economic (in)security (Adrian Smith).
  • Research on the changing politics of work and labour relations in the global North and South is championing a new hybrid economic/development geography, and bringing the concerns of economic and political geography much closer together, through work that has examined how workplace relations help reproduce ‘everyday peace’ in Northern India (Philippa Williams), and the economic outcomes of work-life (im)balance for IT workers and firms in Ireland and the UK, and is currently exploring the potential for transferring UK call centre labour organising models to India and the prospects for socially inclusive growth in India’s new service economy. Other work has focused on the impact of sub-contracting on new forms of labour organising in London’s low wage economy, and the dynamics of London's new migrant division of labour (Kavita Datta, Jon May) with on-going research on the development and impact of the living wage.
  • Work on transnational migration is highlighting the relationships between the global North and South in relation to the ‘connectivity’ within and across communities that are transnational and diasporic (Alison Blunt), and the negotiation and subversion of transnational citizenship amongst Indians in India and the UK (Philippa Williams). Other work has explored the creation of local and transnational socio-economic and political practices developed to cope with marginalisation and financial exclusion amongst migrant groups (Kavita Datta), with on-going work exploring migrants’ philanthropic networks in post-recessionary UK (Kavita Datta), and corporate philanthropy in east London (Alison BluntAlastair Owens).
  • Research on Neoliberalism, politics and resistance has examined new forms of political organisation, and the alternative values and practices reshaping and resisting neoliberalisation, with research charting the ‘domestication’ of neoliberal economic reform by households in East-Central Europe, the re-working of neoliberal welfare reform by 3rd sector homeless service organisations (Jon May), and new forms of broad-based community organising in the UK. On-going work is examining how music can make and sustain new forms of community in east London, the rationale, development and impact of the UK government’s localism agenda on local political action and new forms of ‘post-secular’ political praxis, and the potential for more progressive forms of urban encounter.
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