Political economy

The Political Economy Research Group explores the distribution of resources through the interplay of economy, polity, society and culture across a number of different levels: from the grass-roots and local levels, through community to the nation state, to the global system and its institutions.

Our research areas

We are committed to the real world relevance of our research by addressing urgent questions on topics such as inequality and financial fragility, and through working with non-academic partners. The group is also committed to methodological pluralism and rigour, conducting problem driven research through a variety of methods and taking an eclectic approach to theories and concepts. Our group overlaps with the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) and we organise a number of events together.

The Political Economy Research Group have expertise in the following areas:

  • Banking, finance and the global financial crisis
  • British political economy and Brexit
  • Development
  • Eurocentrism
  • Europe and the Eurozone crisis
  • Food sovereignty
  • Forced labour and modern slavery
  • Global environmental politics
  • Global governance
  • Global supply chains
  • Inequality
  • Neoliberalism
  • Political economy, theory and method
  • Tax, welfare and redistribution
  • The Caribbean, The Middle East and Africa
  • Well-being


Understanding and Governing the Global Business of Forced Labour

Funding: ESRC, £275k

How and why does forced labour emerge within the global political economy? This research project investigates and compares the business models of forced labour within global agricultural supply chains led by UK-based companies, focusing on case studies of tea and cocoa. The project's partners include Yale University and the International Labour Organization.

Genevieve LeBaron

About the research

Paying for the Poor in an Age of Austerity

Funding: British Academy, £10k

The project investigates the public's willingness to support redistributive politics in an era of uncertainty and scarcity. As the gap between the top and bottom stretches wider, redistribute policies such as progressive taxation can become more challenging to implement and justify. It involves conducting survey-embedded experiments to analyse how American and British populations make sense of inequality.

Liam Stanley

Authoritarian Neoliberalism

This project addresses an important and enduring debate in political economy: how has neoliberalism remained so resilient in the face of both failure and popular opposition following the 2008 global financial crisis? Authoritarian neoliberalism provides a set of tools to analyse the role of coercive state practices in marginalizing and controlling social groups who aim to contest the status quo. The project is yeilding several outputs with many international collaborators, including an edited book and several special issues in academic journals.

Cemal Burak Tansel

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI)

Image of someone presenting at SPERI (Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute)

SPERI is an interdisciplinary research centre based in the Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences (ICOSS), at the University of Sheffield. It aims to bring together leading international researchers, policy-makers, journalists and opinion formers to develop new ways of thinking about the economic and political challenges posed for the whole world by the current combination of financial crisis, shifting economic power and environmental threat.

A number of department staff also work with and alongside the research centre, making it an an international focus for debate, discussion and policy development in relation to these challenges. SPERI builds on the activities of the University’s longstanding Political Economy Research Centre (PERC), opened by Professor JK Galbraith in 1994, and aspires now to take the work of this former centre to a level consonant with the new needs of our times.

Go to the website