Image of Liam StanleyDr Liam Stanley


Contact Details
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1705
Room: G65, Elmfield Building
Feedback and Consultation Hours
Tuesday 15:30-16:30
Wednesday 09:00-10:00


Liam Stanley joined the Department of Politics in September 2014 as a Lecturer. Liam took an undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Birmingham, and a Masters degree in Cross-Cultural and Comparative Research Methods at the University of Sussex. He returned to the University of Birmingham for his ESRC-funded doctoral research on the politics of austerity. Liam was awarded his PhD in 2014.

Dr Stanley’s primary research areas are political economy and political science methodology. The former broadly entails analysing the ideas and relations that underpin the political organisation of economies. Specifically this involves researching how the public make sense of austerity, how austerity is governed in the UK and Eurozone, and new digital forms of debt resilience. The latter area concerns political science as a craft. This goes from posing answers to the most foundational questions about the sort of knowledge we can produce, to implementing innovative concrete strategies and methods of data collection and analysis.

Dr Stanley is the Department’s Recruitment Officer and the Director of the Political Economy Research Group.


I am increasingly certain that teaching is one the best ways to make an impact as a contemporary scholar. I’m not interested in passing on particular viewpoints to students, or spending seminars imparting my wisdom – some of my most cherished teaching moments have come when students challenge my own viewpoints or bring in examples I was previously unaware of. Instead, my main aim in the seminar room is to develop critical thinking through practical based learning, in order to create independent minded fellow scholars. To help do this, I am constantly trying to find ways to relate ostensibly lofty academic debates to our everyday lives. My seminars are a comfortable and lively place where students can exchange their views and critically analyse relevant core debates.

I currently teach on three modules:

PhD Supervision

I am interested in supervising enthusiastic and dedicated students on any topic within my areas of interest. I am currently supervising doctoral students on topics that include neo-liberalism in Zambia and the political economy of Cuba.


Research interests:

• Comparative and international political economy
• The politics of austerity
• Fiscal sociology and the politics of tax
• Everyday narratives of politics, the economy and the state
• Political analysis and political science methodology

I am interested in the sort of political economy research that is inclusive, multidisciplinary, and tackles big and important questions about the ideas and relations that underpin the political organisation of economies. I’m specifically interested in how these ideas and relations are contested and reproduced in everyday life. These “contests” about how the economy ought to work can legitimise certain economic policies. This is a really important – and often overlooked – part of political economic change, and I find researching it fascinating. It represents perhaps the central thread that runs through my research agenda.

My doctoral research used focus groups to study how members of the British public make sense of austerity. It analysed how spending cuts were justified in terms of ensuring the state lives within its means, and how these justifications conferred the ‘age of austerity’ a degree of legitimacy. I am now seeking to use the insights from this as the basis for a new and more ambitious project on the new politics of permanent austerity in the UK and Eurozone.

Part of this new project is a study I have recently conducted with my colleague Todd Hartman (Sheffield Methods Institute). The UK recently introduced “Annual Tax Summaries” that provide a breakdown of how taxpayers’ income tax and national insurance was hypothetically spent. In response to criticisms about the way in which “welfare” was accounted for – with some suggesting that it will reinforce negative stereotypes – will mislead citizens about their tax burden, we conducted an experimental survey to find out whether this is the case – and we found that it is. We will extend this research over the next year through our funding from the British Academu and Leverhulme Trust.

Along with Richard Jackson (Otago University), I am editing a special issue of Politics on everyday narratives in world politics. This project brings together both leading and early-career researchers from around the world who all use qualitative methods to analyse how political ideas and narratives are reconstructed on a micro-level – and what this process tells us about constructivism, legitimacy, and the power of political ideas. This project reflects my wider interest in political science methodology. This interest comes together with my political economy research in my on-going work with Amin Samman (City University) to rethink the foundations of constructivist political economy.

In the recent past, I worked on an EPSRC-funded project with Johnna Montgomerie (Goldsmiths) and Joe Deville (Lancaster) on the rise of new digital technologies of debt resilience. This research looks into how online forums are helping to tip the scales towards borrowers through providing tacit knowledge and strategies of debt resilience. I have also contributed to collaborative research on Prime Minister’s Questions.

Key Project and Grants

Paying for the Poor in Age of Austerity: A Comparative Experimental Study

Awarding Body: British Academy/Leverhulme
People Involved: Principal Investigator, with Todd Hartman (Sheffield Methods Institute) and Leonard Seabrooke (Copenhagen Business School)
Years funded for: 2015-16
£ Amount: £9,990

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • Visiting Research Fellow, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Florence (March to April 2016). 
  • The Michael K. O'Rourke PhD Best Publication Award 2014, University of Birmingham (June 2014).
  • Participant and presenter, ‘ESRC Festival of Social Science: Celebrating the Social Sciences’, The Library of Birmingham (November 2013).
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School (January to March 2013).
  • UK Economic & Social Research Council +3 PhD studentship (October 2010 to December 2013).

Full List of Publications

Key Publications

Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

• ‘Governing Austerity in the UK’, invited presentation at roundtable on doing IPE, University of Birmingham, October 29 2015.
• ‘Historicising British tax morale’, invited presentation at workshop on the institutional roots of tax compliance, European University Institute, October 8-10 2015.
• ‘The idea of austerity: an alternative history’, invited presentation to PAIS IPE cluster, University of Warwick, October 30 2014.

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