Will Davies is a political economist with particular interests in neoliberalism, history of economics and economic sociology. His work explores the way in which economics influences our understanding of politics, society and ourselves, themes which he has addressed in two books, The Happiness Industry: How the government & big business sold us wellbeing (Verso, 2015) and The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, sovereignty & the logic of competition (Sage, 2014).
He is Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Centre, which explores critical, cultural and political perspectives on economic life, and Convener of the BA in Politics Philosophy & Economics. He is currently a Co-Investigator in the ESRC-sponsored Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity. Prior to doing his PhD, Will worked in public policy for think tanks including Demos and the Institute for Public Policy Research.
He writes regularly for a range of non-academic publications. These have included The Atlantic, The New Statesman, openDemocracy, Prospect and Chronicle Review.
- PhD in Sociology – Goldsmiths, University of London – 2009
- MA in Modern European Philosophy – University of Essex – 1999
- BA in Social & Political Sciences – University of Cambridge - 1998
Will teaches two undergraduate modules: Issues in Cultural & Political Economy (1st year) and Liberal Government & Power (3rd year). He is also Senior Tutor for 1st and 2nd year undergraduates in Politics.
Before joining Goldsmiths in 2014, he worked at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick; the Centre for Mutual & Employee-Owned Business, University of Oxford; and the Institute for Science Innovation & Society, University of Oxford.
Areas of supervision
Will is currently supervising two PhDs: one exploring neoliberalism as an ‘imaginary’ of contemporary culture and another analyzing the ideas surrounding the ‘limits to growth’, and the philosophical implications of sustainability.
Will sits on the editorial advisory boards of Journal of Cultural Economy, Renewal and the Goldsmiths Press. He has published a series of policy reports on the topic of employee ownership and co-operatives, including Reinventing the Firm (Demos, 2009), and continues to contribute to policy debates on ownership and corporate governance.
- The Happiness Industry: How the Government & Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing (Verso, 2015)
- The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty & The Logic of Competition (Sage, 2014)
- The Emerging Neocommunitarianism – Political Quarterly 2012 (Winner of the Bernard Crick award)
- The Political Economy of Unhappiness – New Left Review 2010
Media appearances, grants and awards
Will has been a Co-Investigator on a number of ESRC-funded research projects. These include ‘Interrogating the Dashboard’ (2014-16) looking at the rise of real-time indicators in everyday life; ‘Go Home! Mapping Immigration Controversies’ (2013-15) on recent government immigration campaigns; ‘Spaces of Evidence’ (2014-16) a seminar series critically examining randomised control trials.
Dr Will Davies' research explores how we have come to understand and govern economic practices in the way that we do. To explore this, he draws on a combination of history of economics, the work of Michel Foucault, the pragmatist sociology of Luc Boltanski and related traditions of cultural and critical theory. His concern in all of this is the question of how political and philosophical issues have been excluded from everyday economic practices, and how they might be reintroduced, for critical and transformative purposes. He is especially interested in the history of neoliberalism, and more recently in how mental wellbeing has become an economic policy issue. In order to consider how economic institutions can be constructed differently, he has also carried out research on co-operatives and alternative economic practices.
Financial Melancholia: Mental Health and Indebtedness
Davies, Will; Montgomerie, Johnna and Wallin, Sara. 2015. Financial Melancholia: Mental Health and Indebtedness. London: Political Economy Research Centre.
The Happiness Industry: How the government and big business sold us wellbeing
Davies, Will. 2015. The Happiness Industry: How the government and big business sold us wellbeing. London: Verso. ISBN 978-1-78168-845-8
The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty & The Logic of Competition
Davies, Will. 2014. The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty & The Logic of Competition. SAGE. ISBN 978-1446270684
The return of social government: From ‘socialist calculation’ to ‘social analytics’
Davies, Will. 2015. The return of social government: From ‘socialist calculation’ to ‘social analytics’. European Journal of Social Theory, 18(4), pp. 431-450. ISSN 1368-4310
The Chronic Social: Relations of Control Within and Without Neoliberalism
Davies, Will. 2015. The Chronic Social: Relations of Control Within and Without Neoliberalism. New Formations, Winter, pp. 40-57. ISSN 0950-2378
'When is a market not a market? ‘Exemption’, ‘externality’ and ‘exception’ in the case of European State Aid rules'
Davies, Will. 2013. 'When is a market not a market? ‘Exemption’, ‘externality’ and ‘exception’ in the case of European State Aid rules'. Theory Culture & Society, 30(2), pp. 32-59. ISSN 0263-2764
‘Ways of owning: towards an economic sociology of privatization’
Davies, Will. 2012. ‘Ways of owning: towards an economic sociology of privatization’. Poetics, 20(2), pp. 167-184. ISSN 0304-422X
‘Economics and the “nonsense” of law: the case of the Chicago antitrust revolution’
Davies, Will. 2012. ‘Economics and the “nonsense” of law: the case of the Chicago antitrust revolution’. Economy and Society, 39(1), pp. 64-83. ISSN 0308-5147
‘Rationalities of ignorance: on financial crisis and the ambivalence of neo-liberal epistemology’
Davies, Will and McGoey, Linsey. 2012. ‘Rationalities of ignorance: on financial crisis and the ambivalence of neo-liberal epistemology’. Economy & Society, 41(1), pp. 64-83. ISSN 0308-5147
‘Knowing the Unknowable: The Epistemological Authority of Innovation Policy Experts’
Davies, Will. 2011. ‘Knowing the Unknowable: The Epistemological Authority of Innovation Policy Experts’. Social Epistemology, 25(4), pp. 401-421. ISSN 0269-1728
Economic advice as a vocation: symbioses of scientific and political authority
Davies, Will. 2011. Economic advice as a vocation: symbioses of scientific and political authority. British Journal of Sociology, 62(2), pp. 304-323. ISSN 0007-1315
"Swamped" by anti-immigration campaigns
Jones, Hannah; Bhattacharyya, Gargi; Forkert, Kirsten; Davies, Will; Dhaliwal, Sukhwant; Gunaratnam, Yasmin; Jackson, Emma and Saltus,, Roiyah. 2014. "Swamped" by anti-immigration campaigns.