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Department of Media and Communications

Dr Aeron Davis

Position held:
Professor of Political Communication

+44 (0)20 7717 2966

+44 (0)20 7919 7616

aeron.davis (@gold.ac.uk)


I am the Co-Director of Goldsmiths Political Economy Research Centre and Convenor of the MA in Political Comunications.

I teach the following courses: The Structure of Contemporary Political Communications, Promotional Culture and Campaign Skills

I have studied and worked in departments of Politics, History, Sociology and Media and Communications. My research and teaching merges elements of each of these disciplines, and includes: political communications (in government, political parties, corporate and pressure group/trade union settings); economic sociology, cultural economy, financialization and financial markets; the political economy of the mass media and media sociology (with particularly reference to news); promotional culture and cultural intermediaries (public relations, marketing, advertising); political sociology, social movements and civil society (from a communications perspective). I have conducted research at Westminster, Whitehall, the London Stock Exchange, across business and financial networks, amongst the major political parties and across the trade union movement. Along the way I have interviewed over 350 high-profile individuals employed in politics, business, finance, journalism, public relations, NGOs and the civil service.  I have published on each of these topics in edited collections and in 18 peer-reviewed journals in media, journalism, politics and sociology. I have also published four books: Public Relations Democracy (MUP, 2002), The Mediation of Power (Routledge, 2007), Political Communication and Social Theory (Routledge, 2010) and Promotional Cultures (Polity, 2013).

In addition, I am a member of a member of the Centre for the Study of Global Media & Democracy, the Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre and the Media Reform Coalition. I also write occasional pieces of journalism and produce think tanks and policy pieces.

Areas of supervision

I have supervised students in the areas previously listed.  Recent and current supervisees include:

  • Rod Driver - Think Tanks and Banking Regulation
  • Bong-Hyun Lee - Globalisation, Economic Power and Media in Korea
  • Jack Mosse - Economic Imaginaries, Perfomativity and Material Culture
  • Nick Sireau - Communications in the Make Poverty History
  • Catherine Walsh - Financialisation, the UK State and Budget Rhetoric

Research interests

My research has covered several areas. One of these is public relations and the interaction of PR with news journalism. My earliest studies were of corporate and trade union public relations. I was interested in questions of how PR affected news outputs and also in comparing how different organisational sectors in society interacted with news media. This resulted in my first book, Public Relations Democracy (2002, MUP), and several articles in media and journalism journals. I have returned periodically to the topic. Recently I extended this work to look at the promotional professions more generally, including PR, advertising, marketing and branding. As well as teaching in these areas I have also published a wide-ranging study - Promotional Cultures (2013, Polity).

A second ongoing area of research for me is political communication, broadly defined. My earlier work looked at trade union and interest group campaigning. But, I have also regularly looked at politicians, political parties, civil servants and political journalists. Much of this research was published in two books, The Mediation of Power (2007, Routledge) and Political Communication and Social Theory (2010, Routledge). The second of these was based on 100 interviews with politicians, officials and journalists. Findings were also published in journals of media, journalism, and politics.

A third continuing area of interest cuts across economic sociology, cultural economy and financialization. My first research on public relations ended up looking at financial public relations and media, as well as communications more generally in the City. Later I returned to interview fund managers and analysts operating around the London Stock Exchange. I was particularly interested in the dot.com boom and bust (2000) with obvious implications for what happened in 2007-08 financial crash. Most recently, I have been interviewing former civil servants and ministers in the Treasury and former DTI about economic policy and the relationship between the state and financial sector. I have also been interviewing large company CEOs about their communication, social relations and decision-making. Findings have been published in each of the above books as well as in journals of media, politics and sociology. Since 2014 I have been Co-Director of the Goldsmiths Political Economy Research Centre (PERC), a centre which seeks to explore alternative approaches to mainstream neoclassical economics.

In most of this research there have been several linking strands. Much of it has involved interviewing elite figures and investigating the social worlds and networks of those at the top of society. In various ways, I wish to explore the communications, behaviours, cognitions, cultures, discourses and organisational elements of elites and centres of power, and the implications for wider society. My interview findings are combined with larger political and economic data as well as other material (content analysis, participant observation, limited surveys). I also draw on a range of social theorists to interpret my findings. At different points I have engaged with, amongst others, Marx, Weber, Habermas, Foucault, Callon, Bourdieu, Hall, Baudrillard and Sennett.

Currently (in 2015) I am co-editing (with Karel Williams of CRESC) a special journal edition for Theory, Culture and Society on elites and power in our time, writing up articles on financialization, financial markets and top CEOs, and developing Goldsmiths PERC with Will Davies. I am also developing new book projects on the social origins of financialization and the everyday lives of contemporary elites.

Selected publications


Selected Publications:


(2013) Promotional Cultures, Polity Press

(2010) Political Communication and Social Theory, Routledge‎

(2007) The Mediation of Power: A Critical Introduction, Routledge

(2002) Public Relations Democracy: Public Relations, Politics and the Mass Media in Britain, Manchester University Press

Journal Articles

(forthcoming, 2015) Davis, A and Walsh, C ‘The Role of the State in the Financialization of the UK Economy’ in Political Studies

(2014) ‘Response to Stefan Schwarzkopf’s Review Article on Promotional Cultures’ in Journal of Cultural Economy, online version in 2014, print in early 2015

(2014) ‘Embedding and Disembedding of Political Elites: A Filter System Model’ in Sociological Review, online version in 2014, print in early 2015.

(2014) with Emily Seymour, ‘La Production Des Formes De Capital Médiatique Interne Et Externe: L'étrange Cas De David Cameron Au Sein Du Champ Politique Britannique’ in Réseaux, No. 187, pp 107-133

(2013) ‘Applying a Weberian Perspective to the Analysis of UK Journalism: Hacking and Leveson as Products of Organisational Rationalisation’ in Max Weber Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2

(2010) with Emily Seymour, ‘Generating Forms of Media Capital Inside and Outside the Political Field: The Strange Case of David Cameron’ in Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp 1-20

(2010) ‘New Media and Fat Democracy: The Paradox of Online Participation’ in New Media and Society, Vol. 12, No. 5, pp 745-61

(2010) ‘Forms of Capital and Mobility in the Political Field: Applying Bourdieu’s Conceptual Framework to UK Party Politics’ in British Politics, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp 202-23

(2009) ‘Evaluating Communication in the British Parliamentary Public Sphere’ in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp 280-97

(2009) ‘Journalist-Source Relations, Mediated Reflexivity and the Politics of Politics’ in Journalism Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp 204-219

(2007) ‘Investigating Journalist Influences on Political Issue Agendas at Westminster’, Political Communication, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp 181-99‎‌

(2007) ‘Economic Inefficiency of Market Liberalisation: The Case of the London Stock Exchange’, Global Media and Communication, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp 157-78

(2006) ‘Media Effects and the Question of the Rational Audience: Lessons from the Financial Markets’ in Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp 603-625

(2006) ‘The Limits of Metrological Performativity: The Case of Valuations in the London Stock Exchange’ in Competition and Change: The Journal of Global Business and Political Economy, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp 3-22

(2006) ‘The Role of the Mass Media in Investor Relations’ in Journal of Communications Management, Vol. 10, N0. 1, pp 7-17

(2005) ‘Media Effects and the Active Elite Audience: A Study of Media in Financial Markets’ in European Journal of Communications, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp 303-326‌

(2003) ‘Whither Mass Media and Power? Evidence for a Critical Elite Theory Alternative’ in Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 25, No. 5, pp 669-690

(2000) ‘Public Relations, News Production and Changing Patterns of Source Access in the British National Press’ in Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 22, No. 1 pp 39-59

(2000) ‘Public Relations, Business News and the Reproduction of Corporate Elite Power’ in Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp 282-304

Book Chapters

(2014, forthcoming) ‘Financial Insider Talk in the City of London’ in Murdock, G and Gripsrud, J eds. Money Talks, Intellect

(2013) ‘The Impact of Market Forces, New Technologies and Political PR on UK Journalism’ in Kuhn, R and Nielsen, R eds. Political Journalism in Transition: Western Europe in Comparative Perspective, IB Taurus

(2011) ‘Promotion, Propaganda and High Finance’ in Sussman, G ed. The Propaganda Society: Promotional Culture and Politics in Global Context, Peter Lang

(2011) ‘Mediation, Financialization and the Global Financial Crisis: An Inverted Political Economy Perspective’ in Winseck, D and Jin, D eds. The Political Economies of Media: The Transformation of Global Media Industries, Bloomsbury

(2010) ‘Media and Politics: An Overview’ in James Curran and Michael Gurevitch eds. Mass Media and Society, 5th Edn, Arnold

(2009) ‘Politics, Journalism and New Media: Virtual Iron Cages and the New Culture of Capitalism’ in Fenton, N ed. Futures of the News, Sage‎(2008) ‘Public Relations’ in Franklin, B ed. Pulling Newspapers Apart, Routledge

(2008) ‘Investigating Cultural Producers’ in Pickering, M ed. Research Methods for Cultural Studies, Edinburgh University Press

(2006) ‘Spinning Money’ in Miller, D and Dinan, W eds., Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy, Pluto Press

(2005) ‘Placing Promotional Culture’ in Curran, J and Morley, D eds., Media and Cultural Theory, 2nd Edn., Arnold, pp 149-163

(2003) ‘Public Relations and News Sources’ in Cottle, S ed., News, Public Relations and Power, Sage, pp 27-42

(1999) ‘Public Relations Campaigning and News Production: The Case of New Unionism in Britain’ in Curran, J ed., Media Organisations, London, Arnold, pp 173-192

(1999) with Curran, J et al, ‘Media Organisations in Society: Central Issues’ in Curran, J ed., Media Organisations, Arnold, pp 19-65‌

Papers Given (selection)

Invited Paper (Nov 2014) ‘When Online Political Networks meet Off-Line Actually Existing Democracies’, at Auckland University of Technology

Invited Sub-Plenary Paper, Davis, A (Sept 2014) ‘Elite Economics: Imaginaries, Discursive Practices and Mundane Technicalities’ at CRESC Annual Conference, Manchester University

Davis, A and Walsh, C (May 2014) ‘Intra-State New Institutionalism and the Financialization of the UK Economy’, paper delivered at Elites in Our Time Conference, Goldsmiths/CRESC at Goldsmiths

Invited Workshop Paper (Sept 2013) ‘Conflicts and Continuities: When Online Political Networks meet Off-Line Actually Existing Democracies’, for Political Online Communications in Comparative Perspective, at Freie Universitat Berlin

Invited Workshop Paper (June 2013) ‘Industrial and Institutional Change in Brand Environments’ at ICA Conference, LSE, London

Invited Workshop Paper (May 2013) ‘Hacking and Leveson as the Outcomes of Modern Rationalised Journalism’ in Weber and the Press Workshop, Manchester University

Invited Workshop Paper (April 2013) ‘Media as a Communicative Space for the Cooptation of Non-Financial Stakeholder Elites into Financialization’, in Economics in the Public Sphere Workshop, Cambridge University

Two Invited Papers (April 2013) ‘The Sociology of Elites’ and ‘Forms of Media Capital and Mobility in Political Fields: A UK Case Example’ at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Scienes Sociales, Paris

Conference Paper (September 2012) ‘The Rise of Speculative Value in the Era of Financialization and Ponzi-Scheme Capitalism’ at CRESC Annual Conference, Manchester

Invited Paper (May 2012) ‘The Cultural and Communicative Disembedding of Political and Financial Elites’, University of Helsinki, Finland

Invited Papers (January 2012) Two invited papers on the subjects of news, public relations and finance, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Invited Conference Paper (December 2011) ‘How the Financial Media Failed the Public and Boosted Ponzi-Scheme Finance’, British Academy Symposium: Soothsayers of Doom, City University

Invited Paper (March 2011) ‘The Cultural and Communicative Disembedding of UK Political Elites’ Royal Holloway, University of London

Invited Conference Paper (March 2011) ‘Media Management, Mediatisation and Mediation in Politics’, Oxford University

Invited Papers (February 2011) A series of invited papers on the subjects of media, politics and finance, University of Toulouse, France

Invited Conference/Workshop Paper (Oct 2010) ‘Professionalization as a causal factor in financial meltdown: knowledge bases, rewards and (dis)incentives in financial and political networks’, CRESC Anthropology and Finance, IFS School of Finance, London

Invited Paper (April 2010) ‘Professionalization in Political Parties, the New Wave of Party Leaders, and the Implications for Electoral Representation in the UK’, University of Auckland

Invited Paper (April 2010) ‘Foreign Policy-Making, Communication and the Embedding/ Disembedding of International Policy Networks: The Case of Iraq 2003’, Victoria University, Wellington

Conference Paper (May 2009) ‘Journalist-Source Relations, Mediated Reflexivity and Politics’ International Communication Association (ICA), Chicago

Key Note Paper (April 2009) ‘Political Journalists as an Interpretive Community’ and Key Respondent at Media in Power Workshop, University of Tampere, Finland

Invited Paper (Dec 2008) ‘Media Capital and Mobility in the Political Field’, ICS, Leeds University

Invited Paper (Nov 2008) ‘Politicians, Forms of Media Capital, and Mobility in the Political Field: Applying Bourdieu’s Conceptual Framework to Politics at Westminster’, University of Westminster

Conference Paper (May 2008) ‘Embedding and Disembedding of Information Networks at the Political Centre’ ICA Conference, Montreal, Canada

Conference/Workshop Paper (May 2006) ‘Financial Markets and Rational Herds’ in ‘New Actors and Financial Networks’, ESEMK Workshop, London

Invited Paper (Mar 2006) ‘The Commodification of Information in Established Financial Markets’, Manchester University

Invited Paper (Dec 2004) ‘‘Media Effects and the Question of the Rational Audience’ at LSE

Conference Paper (Nov 2004) ‘Spinning Money: Corporate PR and the London Stock Exchange’ at Spin and Corporate Power conference, Glasgow

Invited Paper (Dec 2002) ‘The Impact of Financial Public Relations on the British Economy’ at University of Westminster

Conference Paper (Mar 2000) ‘The Rise and Impact of Corporate Public Relations’ at Political Studies Association conference, LSE

Content last modified: 06 Feb 2015

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