Current Projects

SPERI researchers are currently working on a wide range of research projects

Food Vulnerability During COVID-19

Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the UK Research and Innovation ‘Ideas to Address COVID-19’ grant call

Led by Hannah Lambie-Mumford, this project will provide collaborative, real time monitoring and analysis of food support systems to inform food access policy and practice as the UK emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown and going forward, as the longer-term socio-economic impacts of the crisis become clearer. The project runs from July 2020 to January 2022. The research team for the is led by the University of Sheffield and King’s College London alongside colleagues from Sustain : the alliance for better food and farming and Church Action on Poverty.

Understanding the Impact of Covid-19 on Modern Slavery in Global Garment Supply Chains

Led by Genevieve LeBaron, this UK AHRC / Modern Slavery Policy Evidence Centre Project investigates Covid-19’s impact on patterns of demand for forced labour in garment supply chains and how evolving labour standards relate to broader dynamics of inequality and governance in supply chains. Conducted in collaboration with Worker Rights Consortium, it involves interviews and surveys with workers, as well as interviews with business actors and policymakers.

Restructuring Business Models and Supply Chains to Promote Fair, Equitable Labour Standards and Worker Rights in the Face of Pandemic

Led by Genevieve LeBaron, this grant seeks to bring academic research to bear on calls for systemic change in global supply chains at a strategic moment when increased public attention is focused on these issues. It is a collaborative grant with David W. Blight and Luis C.deBaca at Yale University and Jessie Brunner at Stanford University. At Sheffield, the project team involves Tom Hunt (SPERI), Perla Polanco Leal (Department of Politics), Andreas Rümkorf (School of Law), Charline Sempéré (SPERI/Department of Politics) and Remi Edwards (SPERI/Department of Politics). This project is supported by Humanity United, in partnership with The Freedom Fund.

Inclusive Growth and Development: The Multilateral and Multidimensional Challenge

Led by Colin Hayand Tom Hunt, this project reflects on the multilevel and multilateral character of the challenge of inclusive growth and aims to broaden the inclusive growth agenda beyond its typically national focus. The project involves collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Colin Hay is also working on projects on the immediate and longer-term consequences of Brexit, the political economy of globalisation and regionalisation in the wake of the global financial and Eurozone crises, and the challenge of public good provision in a context of widescale public distrust of public good providers.

Capitalising on the European Crisis: New Geographies of Economic Power in the EU

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust

Led by Scott Lavery, this project, through a series of comparative case studies analyses (i) how rival financial hubs within EU urban centres seek to ‘capitalise’ on Brexit and (ii) how industrial clusters integrated into northern EU supply chains differentially benefit from imbalances within the Eurozone. The project advances a distinctive political economy account of the changing geography of financial and industrial power within an increasingly unstable European order.

Post-Neoliberalism: Re-examining Neoliberalism in a time of Growing Illiberalism

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust

Led by Leverhulme Visiting Professor Jacqueline Best, this project will develop new research on economic liberalism, finance and economic practices. At a moment of massive uncertainty and instability, the project will re-examine neoliberalism in the context of rising illiberalism around the globe to consider how we assess the past and future of economic liberalism.

Gender, migration, and decent work: migrant women in the Ghanaian economy

Funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

Led by Global Challenges Research Fellow Ellie Gore, this project studies the relationship between gender, migration and labour exploitation in Ghana. The two-year research fellowship, which commenced in August 2019, comprises a comparative study across three sectors in Ghana: cocoa, sex work, and domestic work. The study addresses two primary research questions, examining the factors that determine migrant women workers’ vulnerability to labour exploitation, and how gender and migration shape workers’ experiences of labour exploitation. It will involve intensive field research in three regions of Ghana and will be undertaken in partnership with the Department of Sociology at the University of Ghana.

Paradigm Shifts in Economic Thought, Policy and Discourse

Led by Michael Jacobs, with postdoctoral researcher Merve Sancak, this project explores the idea of a post-neoliberal ‘paradigm shift’ in economic theory, policy and discourse. The project is examining the extent to which economic policy promoted by major national and international institutions over the last ten years has acknowledged or included elements of heterodox economic theory and goals, how far further convergence between ‘mainstream’ and heterodox economic frameworks is possible, both institutionally and theoretically, and if so, how far such convergence should go.

Migrant workers under Brexit: the case of UK agriculture

Led by Natalie Langford, this project investigates the impact of Brexit upon the UK food industry; particularly in relation to migrant and domestic workers. The project explores the ways through which changes in immigration policy affect the sector, and how business, state and civil society actors seek to shape the governance of labour in the context of shifting trade arrangements between the UK and the EU.

The Changing Nature of Social Care in an Era of Austerity: The Rise of Food Banks Across Europe

Funded by The British Academy

Led by Hannah Lambie-Mumford, this project brings together academic partners in Spain, Germany and the UK for one of the first systematic comparative studies to explore what the rise of food charity reveals about the changing nature of care for people in or at risk of poverty in contemporary Europe. The research looks at the extent to which the simultaneous rise of food banks and implementation of austerity and welfare reform policies in these countries represents a systematic privatisation and localisation of care for those in food insecurity.

G20 Legitimacy and Policymaking (G20LAP)

Funded by a European Union Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship

Led by Jasper Blom, this project will examine whether the institutional shift in global economic policymaking from the G7 to the G20 has increased its democratic legitimacy and ability to accommodate discontent with economic globalisation. The project is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme through a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (grant agreement no. 845121).

Breaking Bad: Understanding Violence at the Intersection Between Transnational Organised Crime, Community, and Masculinities in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council (Trans-National Organised Crime Cross-disciplinary Innovation Grant)

Led at Sheffield by Matthew Bishop, this collaborative research project seeks to understand how young men ‘break bad’ and turn to violence as drug trafficking intersects with exclusion in the city’s urban margins.

Reimagining Tax Through Speculative Design 

Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council Impact Accelerator Account

This collaborative project led by Liam Stanley, with Rebecca Bramall, co-produced an alternative to the UK government’s ‘Annual Tax Summary’ using a methodology informed by speculative design. The results have been published in a SPERI report, and were exhibited in October 2018 as part of the London Design Festival.
Liam Stanley is also working on a book project, After neoliberalism? Austerity, life, and death in a post-crisis world, which will contribute to our understanding of the post-crisis world by addressing the question, ‘How did we get from the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 to the nativist backlashes that characterise contemporary politics?’. A third project, Public attitudes toward ‘the undeserving rich’ (with Todd Hartman), uses novel experimental methods to examine what people find more unfair: tax evasion by the wealthy, or welfare fraud by the poor?

Stabilizing the System? New Macroprudential Political Economy in the Twenty First Century

This book project by Andrew Baker researches the comparative and international political economy of macroprudential regimes as a new form of systemic financial governance ten years on from the crisis of 2008.
Andrew Baker is also working on projects to research ‘the finance curse’ as both a real world process and a research agenda, and to research tax spillover – a new multilateral framework and policy field, that takes the form of an international moral harm convention discouraging governments from pursuing tax policies that can be harmful to other states.

Between A Rock and a Hard Place? On the Difficulties of Being the Bank of England in Post-Crisis Britain

Funded by The British Academy

Led by Andrew Hindmoor and Andrew Baker, this research project investigates the politicisation of the Bank of England.

Reglobalisation in Action

Led by Matthew Bishop and Tony Payne, this project seeks to develop further the case for seeking collectively to build a new and different globalisation, best described as ‘reglobalisation’, that is structured around new post-neoliberal ambitions and values. It considers emergent areas of public policy at the global level that could create improved global governance. The project involves collaboration with a range of other scholars, namely, Andrew Baker, Richard Murphy, Ben Clift, Te-Anne Robles, Hayley Stevenson, James Scott, Rorden Wilkinson, Erin Hannah, Adrienne Roberts, Silke Trommer and Antoine Pecoud.

The Global Governance of Offshore Development

Conducted by Tony Payne, this project explores the conflict between efforts to advance global taxation initiatives in the interests of fairness and justice and the rights and needs of small, poor sovereign states to pursue their own development in their way. It does this by researching the OECD’s approach to the existence and operation of offshore financial centres in the Caribbean.

Financialising defaults? The emergence of non-performing loan markets in Europe

Led by Caroline Metz, this project looks at the rise of defaulting debts (also called ‘non-performing loans’ or NPL) in Europe, and addresses three key questions: (i) Who are the actors and business models of the NPL market in Europe? For example, what is the role of US private equity firms as investors in European non-performing loans? (ii) To what extent are we witnessing the financialisation and marketisation of debt defaults, for instance via the EU-backed promotion of NPL sales, NPL securitisation and cross-border debt collection? (iii) How do these developments conflict with debtors’ rights?

Local currency bond markets in developing economies: Who shapes them? What drives them? Who benefits?

Funded by the White Rose Collaboration Fund

This collaborative research project is led by Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven (University of York), Annina Kaltenbrunner (University of Leeds) and Caroline Metz (SPERI), and involves a team of researchers from Sheffield (Jonathan Perraton), Leeds (Arpita Bhattacharjee, Anjelo Okot) and York (Maria Eugenia Giraudo). The project investigates the economic and political drivers of local currency (sovereign) debt markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, and looks at the effects they have on local economies (for instance in terms of the structure of the domestic financial and banking sectors, and in terms of exposure to global financial flows and foreign investments) as well as their wider social and legal implications.