I’ve worked at Goldsmiths for twenty years. It is one of the few places that I can imagine being able to develop from a PhD student working on horseracing in Newmarket, via postdoctoral projects on racehorse breeding in Kentucky, to a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship on apples, taking in the complex world of commercial gambling along the way. Fieldwork in the UK, US, central Asia, Gibraltar, and Macau has enabled me to develop my interests in uncertainty, gender, kinship, class, inequality, multispecies ethnography, public anthropology and policy.
- PhD, Social Anthropology, Edinburgh University 1999
- MPhil, Social Anthropology, Cambridge University 1995
- BA Social Anthropology, Cambridge University 1994
My most recent book, Vicious Games (Pluto 2020) explores the gambling industry's affinity with capitalism and is based on over a decade of fieldwork with gambling businesses around the world. I’ve also co-written a report about conflicts of interest in gambling research called Fair Game (2014). A lot of gambling research has focused on the consumption of gambling by individuals who are represented as vulnerable or flawed in some shared way. My approach has been to focus instead on the production of gambling by corporations and governments. This includes using participant observation to explore the introduction of products like Fixed Odds Betting Terminals which are designed to encourage extended play and legislation like the Gambling Act 2005, intended to support a growing gambling industry in the UK.
My work in gambling developed from my interest in horseracing. I’ve written two monographs, Sport of Kings (2002) and Horse People (2007), about thoroughbred breeding and racing in Newmarket and Kentucky. Using fieldwork on studs and race tracks I’ve shown how horseracing and thoroughbred breeding depend on inequalities of class and gender that are naturalised in the day to day practices of reproduction and training.
I’ve also co-edited collections of essays, with Molly Mullin, on the idea of domestication (Where the Wild Things are Now, 2007) and with Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac on new approaches to gambling research (Qualitative Research in Gambling, 2013).
Throughout my work I’m interested in how ideas about what is ‘natural’ are reproduced, whether that is through the bodies and pedigrees of elite animals, or through, for example, ‘self-help’ leaflets for so-called ‘problem gamblers’. I’m interested in how particular ways of thinking about the world become powerful, and, most importantly, in what anthropologists can do to create and promote more equitable alternatives.
Cassidy, Rebecca and Mullin, M.. 2007. Where the wild things are now: Domestication reconsidered. Berg. ISBN 1845201531
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Horse People: thoroughbred culture in Lexington and Newmarket. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801887038
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2002. Sport of Kings: kinship, class and thoroughbred breeding in Newmarket. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052100487X
Cassidy, Rebecca; Loussouarn, Claire and Pisac, Andrea, eds. 2013. Qualitative Research in Gambling: exploring the production and consumption of risk. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-65938-3
Cassidy, Rebecca and Hawkins, Ben. 2017. Interviewing key informants from the corporate sector. In: Kelley Lee and Benjamin Hawkins, eds. Researching Corporations and Global Health Governance: An Interdisciplinary Guide. London; New York: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 127-138. ISBN 9781783483600
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2016. How Corporations Shape our Understanding of Problems with Gambling and their Solutions. In: Nora Kenworthy; Ross MacKenzie and Kelley Lee, eds. Case Studies on Corporations and Global Health Governance Impacts, Influence and Accountability. London: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 9781783483570
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. Partial Convergence: Social Gaming and Real Money Gambling. In: Rebecca Cassidy; Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac, eds. Qualitative Research in Gambling Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk. London: Routledge, pp. 74-91. ISBN 978-0-415-65938-3
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. Against the Odds A Professional Gambler’s Narrative of Achievement. In: , ed. The social life of achievement. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 43-60. ISBN 978-1-78238-220-1
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. Introduction to Cambridge Companion to Horseracing. In: , ed. Cambridge Companion to Horseracing. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-10. ISBN 9781107618367
Pisac, Andrea. 2013. ‘Croupiers’ sleight of mind: playing with unmanaged ‘spaces’ in the casino industry’. In: Andrea Pisac; Rebecca Cassidy and Claire Loussouarn, eds. Qualitative Research in Gambling: Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk. London & NY: Routledge, pp. 59-73. ISBN 978-0415659383
Pisac, Andrea. 2013. Introduction. In: Andrea Pisac; Rebecca Cassidy and Claire Loussouarn, eds. Qualitative Research in Gambling: Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk. London & NY: Routledge, pp. 1-11. ISBN 978-0415659383
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. 'Aborescent culture: writing and not writing racehorse pedigrees' in Kinship and Beyond: The Genealogical Model Reconsidered. Sandra Bamford and James Leach, eds. 2009. Berghahn Books, New York. In: Sandra Bamford and James Leach, eds. Kinship and Beyond: The Genealogical Model Reconsidered. 15 New York: Berghahn, pp. 24-49. ISBN 1845458966
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. 'Zoophilia reconsidered’ (Chapter 5. Zoosex and Other Relationships with Animals). In: Hastings Donnan and Fiona Magowan, eds. Transgressive sex. 13 Oxford: Berghahn Press. ISBN 978-1-84545-539-2
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. Zoosex and other relationships with animals. In: Hastings Donnan and Fiona Magowan, eds. Transgressive Sex: subversion and control in erotic encounters. 13 Oxford and New York: Berghahn, pp. 91-112. ISBN 978-1-84545-539-2
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. 'Le pur-sang dans la course, de Newmarket au Kentucky'. In: Daniel Roche; Daniel Reytier; Nicole de Blomac and Michel Constantini, eds. A cheval! Ecuyer, amazons & cavaliers. Association pour l'academie d'art equestre de Versailles. ISBN 978-2913018037
Newall, Philip W. S.; Cassidy, Rebecca; Walasek, Lukasz; Ludvig, Elliot A. and Meyer, Caroline. 2021. Who uses custom sports betting products? Addiction Research & Theory, 29(2), pp. 148-154. ISSN 1606-6359
Djohari, Natalie; Weston, Gavin; Cassidy, Rebecca and Kulas-Reid, Ivana. 2021. The visibility of gambling sponsorship in football related products marketed directly to children. Soccer & Society, 22(7), pp. 769-777. ISSN 1466-0970
McCarthy, Simone; Thomas, Samantha; Pitt, Hannah; Daube, Mike and Cassidy, Rebecca. 2020. ‘It's a tradition to go down to the pokies on your 18th birthday’ – the normalisation of gambling for young women in Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 44(5), pp. 376-381. ISSN 1326-0200
Wardle, Heather; Banks, James; Bebbington, Paul; Blank, Lindsey; Bowden Jones OBE, Henrietta; Bramley, Stephanie; Bunn, Christopher; Casey, Emma; Cassidy, Rebecca; Chamberlain, Samuel R; Close, James; Critchlow, Nathan; Dobbie, Fiona; Downs, Carolyn; Dymond, Simon; Fino, Emanuele; Goyder, Elizabeth; Gray, Cindy; Griffiths, Mark; Grindrod, Peter; Hogan, Lee; Hoon, Alice; Hunt, Kate; James, Richard; John, Bev; Manthorpe, Jill; McCambridge, Jim; McDaid, David; McKee, Martin; McManus, Sally; Moss, Antony; Norrie, Caroline; Nutt, David J; Orford, Jim; Pryce, Rob; Purves, Richard; Reith, Gerda; Roberts, Amanda; Roberts, Emmert; Roderique-Davies, Gareth; Rogers, Jim; Rogers, Robert D; Sharman, Stephen; Strang, John; Tunney, Richard; Turner, John; West, Robert and Zendle, David. 2020. Open letter from UK based academic scientists to the secretaries of state for digital, culture, media and sport and for health and social care regarding the need for independent funding for the prevention and treatment of gambling harms. British Medical Journal, 370, m2613. ISSN 1756-1833
Djohari, Natalie; Weston, Gavin; Cassidy, Rebecca; Wemyss, Martyn and Thomas, Samantha. 2019. Recall and awareness of gambling advertising and sponsorship in sport in the UK: a study of young people and adults. Harm Reduction Journal, 16(24), pp. 1-12.
McCarthy, Simone; Thomas, Samantha L.; Bellringer, Maria E. and Cassidy, Rebecca. 2019. Women and gambling-related harm: a narrative literature review and implications for research, policy, and practice. Harm Reduction Journal, 16(18),
Nyemcsok, Christian; Thomas, Samantha L.; Bestman, Amy; Pitt, Hannah; Daube, Mike and Cassidy, Rebecca. 2018. Young people’s recall and perceptions of gambling advertising and intentions to gamble on sport. Journal of Behavioural Addictions, 7(4), pp. 1068-1078. ISSN 2062-5871
Thomas, Samantha L.; Bestman, Amy; Pitt, Hannah; Cassidy, Rebecca; McCarthy, Simone; Nyemcsok, Christian; Cowlishaw, Sean and Daube, Mike. 2018. Young people’s awareness of the timing and placement of gambling advertising on traditional and social media platforms: a study of 11–16-year-olds in Australia. Harm Reduction Journal, 15(51), ISSN 1477-7517
Knai, C; Petticrew, M; Mays, N; Capewell, S; Cassidy, Rebecca; Cummins, S; Eastmure, E; Fafard, P; Hawkins, B and Jensen, J. 2018. Systems thinking as a framework for analysing commercial determinants of health. Milbank Quarterly, 96(3), pp. 472-498. ISSN 0887-378X,
Petticrew, M; Katikireddi, SV; Knai, C; Cassidy, R; Hessari, NM; Thomas, J and Weishaar, H. 2017. ‘Nothing can be done until everything is done’: the use of complexity arguments by food, beverage, alcohol and gambling industries. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 71, pp. 1078-1083. ISSN 0143-005X
Cassidy, Rebecca; Adams, Peter; Livingstone, Charles; Markham, Francis; Reith, Gerda; Rintoul, Angela; Schull, Natasha; Woolley, Richard and Young, Martin. 2017. On gambling research, social science, and the consequences of commercial gambling. International Gambling Studies, ISSN 1445-9795
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2014. Fair game? Producing and publishing gambling research. International Gambling Studies, 14(3), pp. 345-353. ISSN 1445-9795
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2013. 'A place for men to come and do their thing': constructing masculinities in betting shops in London. British Journal of Sociology, 65(1), pp. 170-191. ISSN 0007-1315
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2012. Lives With Others: Climate Change and Human-Animal Relations. Annual Review of Anthropology, 41(1), pp. 21-36. ISSN 0084-6570
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2009. The horse, the Kyrgyz horse and the ‘Kyrgyz horse'. Anthropology Today, 25(1), pp. 12-15. ISSN 0268540X
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2008. 'Rethinking Cruelty'. Review of Just a Dog: understanding animal cruelty and ourselves, Arnold Arluke. Current Anthropology, 49(4), pp. 757-758. ISSN 00113204
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2008. Dolly mixtures: the remaking of genealogy – By Sarah Franklin. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 14(1), pp. 227-228.
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2008. Review of The Animals Reader: the essential classic and contemporary writings. Anthrozoos, 21, ISSN 0892-7936
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Blood "Bon sang me saurait mentir". Reproduction d'hommes et de chevaux Newmarket. Ethnologie Française, 37(2), pp. 233-242. ISSN 00462616
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Book Review: 'Gambling and survival in native North America' by Paul Pasquaretta. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 13(3), pp. 753-754. ISSN 1359-0987
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Review of Gambling and survival in native North America, Paul Pasquaretta. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 13(3), pp. 753-754.
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2005. ‘Falling in love with horses: the international thoroughbred auction’. Society and Animals, 13(1), pp. 51-68. ISSN 1063-1119
Cassidy, Rebecca. 2003. ‘Turf Wars: Arab dimensions to British racehorse breeding’. Anthropology Today, 19(3), pp. 13-18.
Cassidy, Rebecca and Ovenden, Niko. 2017. Frequency, duration and medium of advertisements for gambling and other risky products in commercial and public service broadcasts of English Premier League football.. Working Paper. UNSPECIFIED, SocArXiv.
Further profile content
Vicious Games: capitalism and gambling
Gambling is everywhere, on our TVs and phones, on billboards on our streets, and emblazoned across the chests of idolised sports stars. Why has gambling suddenly expanded? How was it transformed from
Fair Game: producing gambling research (co-written with Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac)
The Goldsmiths Report uses quotes from 109 stakeholders (including researchers, industry members and policy users) to explore the relationship between gambling research; and the politics of gambling l
Qualitative Research in Gambling: Exploring the Production and Consumption of Risk (edited with Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac)
Gambling is both a multi-billion dollar international industry and a ubiquitous social and cultural phenomenon. It is also undergoing significant change, with new products and technologies, regulatory
Where the Wild Things Are Now: Domestication Reconsidered (Wenner-Gren International Symposium Series) (edited with Molly Mullin.)
Domestication has often seemed a matter of the distant past, a series of distinct events involving humans and other species that took place long ago. Today, as genetic manipulation continues to break
The Sport of Kings: Kinship, class and thoroughbred breeding in Newmarket.
An ethnography of the British racing industry based upon two years of participant observation in Newmarket, the international headquarters of flat racing.
My research has informed public debate about gambling policy in the UK and been widely reported in the media including The Daily Mail, Guardian, The New Statesman, The New York Times, Nature, and The New Scientist. Fair Game was referred to in the House of Commons briefing paper on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Findings from a paper on the volume, frequency and duration of gambling adverts during broadcasts of English Premier League football were quoted extensively by members during a debate about children and gambling in the House of Lords. The same paper was used by the Labour Party to launch a review of gambling and changes in policy including the creation of a mandatory levy to fund research and a ban on gambling advertising on footballer’s shirts.
Conferences and talks
Talk at International Gambling Conference, Auckland
Interview about violence in betting shops
Grants and awards
Fruitful lives: an anthropology of apples
Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship
GAMSOC: gambling in Europe
ERC starting grant