Professor Rebecca Cassidy

Staff details

Professor Rebecca Cassidy






r.cassidy (

I am a social anthropologist working on fruit, particularly apples and orchards.

I'm currently working on a project about growing fruit, supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. In the past I have worked on horseracing, and gambling. I'm interested in multispecies relationships, political ecology, uncertainty, gender, kinship, class, inequality, public anthropology and policy.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD, Social Anthropology, Edinburgh University 1999
  • MPhil, Social Anthropology, Cambridge University 1995
  • BA Social Anthropology, Cambridge University 1994

Research interests

I’m interested in ideas about what is ‘natural’ and how they are curated, refined, reproduced, whether that is through the bodies and pedigrees of elite animals and fruits, or through ‘self-help’ leaflets for so-called ‘problem gamblers’. In my work I ask how particular ways of thinking about the world become powerful.

My most recent book, Vicious Games (Pluto 2020) explored 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 dangerous products and flawed policies by corporations and governments.

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 lives of racehorses, stable workers, jockeys and trainers.

I’ve also edited collections of essays, with Molly Mullin, on the idea of domestication (Where the Wild Things are Now, 2007) with Claire Loussouarn and Andrea Pisac on new approaches to gambling research (Qualitative Research in Gambling, 2013) and about horseracing (Cassidy 2013).

Grants and awards

2020: Fruitful lives: an anthropology of apples
Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship

2010: GAMSOC: gambling in Europe
ERC starting grant

Publications and research outputs


Cassidy, Rebecca. 2007. Horse People: thoroughbred culture in Lexington and Newmarket. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801887038

Cassidy, Rebecca and Mullin, M.. 2007. Where the wild things are now: Domestication reconsidered. Berg. ISBN 1845201531

Cassidy, Rebecca. 2002. Sport of Kings: kinship, class and thoroughbred breeding in Newmarket. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052100487X

Edited Book

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, ed. 2013. Cambridge Companion to Horseracing. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107618367

Book Section

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


van Schalkwyk, May C I and Cassidy, Rebecca. 2024. How we can solve the crisis in UK gambling policy. British Medical Journal, 2024(384), q16. ISSN 1759-2151

van Schalkwyk, May C I; Cassidy, Rebecca; Blythe, Jenny and Ovenden, Niko. 2023. Health Above Profits – We Need a New Gambling Act. Critical Gambling Studies, ISSN 2563-190X

Knai, Cécile; Petticrew, Mark; Capewell, Simon; Cassidy, Rebecca; Collin, Jeff; Cummins, Steven; Eastmure, Elizabeth; Fafard, Patrick; Fitzgerald, Niamh; Gilmore, Anna B; Hawkins, Ben; Jensen, Jørgen Dejgård; Katikireddi, Srinivasa Vittal; Maani, Nason; Mays, Nicholas; Mwatsama, Modi; Nakkash, Rima; Orford, Jim F; Rutter, Harry; Savona, Natalie; van Schalkwyk, May C I and Weishaar, Heide. 2023. The case for developing a cohesive systems approach to research across unhealthy commodity industries. BMJ Global Health, 6(2), e003543. ISSN 2059-7908


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. SocArXiv

Cassidy, Rebecca; Loussouarn, Claire and Pisac, Andrea. 2014. Fair Game: producing gambling research. Project Report. European Research Council, Goldsmiths University of London.

Professional projects

My work on gambling 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.

Media engagements

2014: Interview, Thinking Allowed, BBC Radio 4
Interview about masculinity in betting shops

2013: Interview, Voice of Russia
Interview, Counting the cost of gambling

2002: Interview, Thinking Allowed, BBC Radio 4
Interview about horseracing

Conferences and talks