Professor Aeron Davis has studied and worked in departments of Media and Communication, Politics, History, and Sociology. His research and teaching merges elements of each of these disciplines, and includes: sociology of elites and power, political communication, media sociology and journalism, promotional culture and cultural intermediaries, economic sociology and financialization.
He has conducted research at Westminster, Whitehall, the London Stock Exchange, across business and financial networks, amongst the major political parties and the trade union movement. Along the way, he has interviewed over 350 high-profile individuals working in these sectors. He has published two edited collections, over 50 other journal articles, book chapters and reports, and six books: Public Relations Democracy (MUP, 2002), The Mediation of Power (Routledge, 2007), Political Communication and Social Theory (Routledge, 2010), Promotional Cultures (Polity, 2013), Reckless Opportunists (MUP, 2018) and Political Communication: A New Introduction for Crisis Times (Polity, 2019).
In addition, Professor Davis is Co-Director of Goldsmiths Political Economy Research Centre, as well as being a member of the Centre for the Study of Global Media & Democracy, the Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre and the Media Reform Coalition. He also writes occasional pieces of journalism, think-tank and policy pieces.
Professor Davis teaches the following modules: The Structure of Contemporary Political Communications, and Campaign Skills.
Areas of supervision
Professor Davis has supervised students in the areas previously listed. Recent and current supervisees include:
- Mary Braid – Changing News and Political Discourses on Adoption
- 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
- Jón Gunnar Ólafsson – Digital Mediatization and Media-Source Relations in Iceland
- Catherine Walsh - Financialisation, the UK State and Budget Rhetoric
Professor Davis’ research has covered several areas. One of these is public relations and the interaction of PR with news journalism. His earliest studies were of corporate and trade union public relations. He 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 his first book, Public Relations Democracy (2002, MUP), and several articles in media and journalism journals. He has returned periodically to the topic, extended this work to look at the promotional professions more generally, including PR, advertising, marketing and branding. As well as teaching in these areas, he has also published a wide-ranging study, Promotional Cultures (2013, Polity).
A second ongoing area of research for Professor Davis is political communication, broadly defined. His earlier work looked at trade union and interest group campaigning. But, he has 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. His most recent book, Political Communication: A New Introduction for Crisis Times (Polity, 2019), engages with the dramatic shifts in democratic political and media systems since 2016.
A third continuing area of interest cuts across economic sociology, cultural economy and financialization. His first research on public relations looked at financial public relations and media, as well as communications more generally in the City. Later, he returned to interview fund managers and analysts operating around the London Stock Exchange. He was particularly interested in the dot.com boom and bust of 2000, with obvious implications for what happened in the 2007-08 financial crash. Since then, he has interviewed former civil servants and ministers in the Treasury and former DTI about economic policy and the financial sector, as well as 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, Professor Davis has been Co-Director of the Goldsmiths Political Economy Research Centre (PERC) with Will Davies, which seeks to explore alternative approaches to mainstream neoclassical economics. He is currently writing a book for MUP focusing on the UK Treasury and the evolution of economic policymaking since 1976.
In most of this research, there have been several linking strands. Most obvious is a continuing focus on elites, their social worlds and networks. In various ways, he wishes to explore the communications, behaviours, cognitions, cultures, discourses and organisational elements of elites and centres of power, and the implications for wider society. His interview findings are combined with larger political and economic data. This has all been put together in the book Reckless Opportunists: Elites at the End of the Establishment (MUP, 2018). He also published a co-edited (with Karel Williams of CRESC) special journal edition for Theory, Culture and Society, on Elites and Power After Financialization.
Publications and research outputs
Davis, Aeron; Fenton, Natalie; Freedman, Des (D. J.)
Davis, Aeron. 2019. Political Communication: A New Introduction for Crisis Times. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN 9781509529001
Davis, Aeron. 2018. Reckless Opportunists: Elites at the End of the Establishment. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526127280
Davis, Aeron. 2013. Promotional Cultures: The Rise and Spread of Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing and Branding. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-3983-3
Davis, Aeron. 2002. Public Relations Democracy: Public Relations, Politics and the Mass Media in Britain. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719060680
Davis, Aeron, ed. 2017. The Death of Public Knowledge? How Free Markets Destroy the General Intellect. London: Goldsmiths Press. ISBN 978-1-906897-39-0
Davis, Aeron. 2019. The Election Where Fourth Estate Journalism Moved Closer to Extinction. In: Daniel Jackson; Einar Thorsen; Darren Lilleker and Nathalie Weidhase, eds. UK Election Analysis 2019: Media, Voters and the Campaign. Poole: Centre for Comparative Politics and Media Research, Bournemouth University, p. 22. ISBN 9781910042243
Davis, Aeron and Cuonz, Daniel. 2018. Forget Neoliberalism: Its Financialization, Stupid! In: Daniel Cuonz; Scott Loren and Jörg Mettlemann, eds. Screening Economies: Money Matters and the Ethics of Representation. Bielefeld, Germany: transcript Verlag, pp. 175-186. ISBN 9783837645279
Davis, Aeron. 2017. Moving Beyond the Single Mediated Arena Model: Media Uses and Influences Across Three Arena’s. In: Peter van Aelst and Stefaan Walgrave, eds. How Political Actors Use the Media. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 167-186. ISBN 978-3-319-60248-6
Davis, Aeron. 2017. The Death of Public Knowledge Introduction. In: , ed. The Death of Public Knowledge? How Free Markets Destroy the General Intellect. London: Goldsmiths Press, pp. 1-14. ISBN 978-906897-39-0
Davis, Aeron. 2013. The Impact of Market Forces, New Technologies and Political PR on UK Journalism. In: Raymond Kuhn and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, eds. Political Journalism in Transition: Western Europe in a Comparative Perspective. London: I.B.Tauris, pp. 111-130. ISBN 978-1780766782
Davis, Aeron. 2012. Mediation, Financialization and the Global Financial Crisis: An Inverted Political Economy Perspective. In: John Banks; Dal Yong Jin and Dwayne Winseck, eds. The Political Economies of Media: The Transformation of the Global Media Industries. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1849668934
Davis, Aeron. 2011. Promotion, Propaganda and High Finance. In: Gerald Sussman, ed. The Propaganda Society: Promotional Culture and Politics in Global Context. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 251-266. ISBN 978-1433109966
Davis, Aeron. 2009. Politics, Journalism and New Media: Virtual Iron Cages and the New Culture of Capitalism. In: Natalie Fenton, ed. New Media, Old News: Journalism And Democracy In The Digital Age. SAGE, pp. 121-137. ISBN 978-1847875747
Davis, Aeron. 1999. Public Relations Campaigning and News Production: The Case of New Unionism in Britain. In: James P. Curran, ed. Media Organisations in Society. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 173-192. ISBN 978-0340720158
Davis, Aeron. 2019. Top CEOs, Financialization and the Creation of the Super-Rich Economy’. Cultural Politics, 15(1), pp. 88-104. ISSN 1743-2197
Davis, Aeron. 2018. Defining Speculative Value in the Age of Financialized Capitalism. The Sociological Review, 66(1), pp. 3-19. ISSN 0038-0261
Davis, Aeron. 2017. The New Professional Econocracy and the Maintenance of Elite Power. Political Studies, 65(3), pp. 594-610. ISSN 0032-3217
Davis, Aeron and Williams, Karel. 2017. Introduction: Elites and Power After Financialization. Theory, Culture and Society, 34(5-6), pp. 3-26. ISSN 0263-2764
Davis, Aeron and Walsh, Catherine. 2017. Distinguishing Financialization from Neoliberalism. Theory, Culture and Society, 34(5-6), pp. 27-51. ISSN 0263-2764
Davis, Aeron. 2017. Sustaining Corporate Class Consciousness Across the New Liquid Managerial Elite in Britain. British Journal of Sociology, 68(2), pp. 234-253. ISSN 0007-1315
Davis, Aeron and Walsh, Catherine. 2016. The Role of the State in the Financialisation of the UK Economy. Political Studies, 64(3), pp. 666-682. ISSN 0032-3217
Davis, Aeron. 2015. Response to Stefan Schwarzkopf’s Review Article on Promotional Cultures. Journal of Cultural Economy, 8(6), pp. 730-733. ISSN 1753-0350
Davis, Aeron. 2015. Embedding and Disembedding of Political Elites: A Filter System Model. Sociological Review, 63(1), pp. 144-161. ISSN 0038-0261
Davis, Aeron and Seymour, Emily. 2014. La Production Des Formes De Capital Médiatique Interne Et Externe: L'étrange Cas De David Cameron Au Sein Du Champ Politique Britannique. Réseaux, 187, pp. 107-133.
Davis, Aeron. 2013. Applying a Weberian Perspective to the Analysis of UK Journalism: Hacking and Leveson as Products of Organisational Rationalisation. Max Weber Studies, 13(2), ISSN 1470-8078
Davis, Aeron. 2010. Forms of capital and mobility in the political field: Applying Bourdieu’s conceptual framework to UK party politics. British Politics, 5, pp. 202-223. ISSN 1746-918X
Davis, Aeron. 2010. New Media and Fat Democracy: The Paradox of Online Participation. New Media & Society, 12(5), pp. 745-761. ISSN 1461-4448
Davis, Aeron and Seymour, Emily. 2010. Generating forms of media capital inside and outside a field: the strange case of David Cameron in the UK political field. Media, Culture & Society, 32(5), pp. 739-759. ISSN 0163-4437
Davis, Aeron. 2009. Journalist-Source Relations, Mediated Reflexivity and the Politics of Politics. Journalism Studies, 10(2), pp. 204-219. ISSN 1461-670X
Davis, Aeron. 2009. Evaluating Communication in the British Parliamentary Public Sphere. The British Journal Of Politics And International Relations, 11(2), pp. 280-297. ISSN 1369-1481
Davis, Aeron. 2007. The Economic Inefficiencies of Market Liberalization. Global Media and Communication, 3(2), pp. 157-178.
Davis, Aeron. 2007. Investigating Journalist Influences on Political Issue Agendas at Westminster. Political Communication, 24, pp. 181-199.
Davis, Aeron. 2006. The Limits of Metrological Performativity: Valuing Equities in the London Stock Exchange. Competition and Change, 10(1), pp. 3-21. ISSN 10245294
Davis, Aeron. 2006. Media Effects and the Question of the Rational Audience: Lessons from the Financial Markets. Media, Culture and Society, 28(4), pp. 603-625. ISSN 0163-4437
Davis, Aeron. 2005. Media Effects and the Active Elite Audience: A Study of Communications in the London Stock Exchange. European Journal of Communication, 20(3), pp. 303-326. ISSN 02673231
Davis, Aeron. 2003. Whither Mass Media and Power? Evidence for a Critical Elite Theory Alternative. Media, Culture and Society, 25(5), pp. 669-690. ISSN 0163-4437
Davis, Aeron. 2000. Public Relations, News Production and Changing Patterns of Source Access in the British National Media. Media, Culture and Society, 22(1), pp. 39-59. ISSN 0163-4437
Davis, Aeron. 2000. Public Relations, Business News and the Reproduction of Corporate Elite Power. Journalism, 1(3), pp. 282-304.
Conference or Workshop Item
Davis, Aeron. 2014. 'When Online Political Networks meet Off-Line Actually Existing Democracies'. In: Auckland University of Technology. Auckland, New Zealand.
Davis, Aeron. 2014. 'Elite Economics: Imaginaries, Discursive Practices and Mundane Technicalities'. In: CRESC Annual Conference. Manchester University, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron and Walsh, Catherine. 2014. 'Intra-State New Institutionalism and the Financialization of the UK Economy'. In: Elites in Our Time Conference. Goldsmiths/CRESC at Goldsmiths, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2013. 'Conflicts and Continuities: When Online Political Networks meet Off-Line Actually Existing Democracies'. In: Political Online Communications in Comparative Perspective. Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany.
Davis, Aeron. 2013. 'Industrial and Institutional Change in Brand Environments'. In: ICA Conference. LSE, London, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2013. 'Hacking and Leveson as the Outcomes of Modern Rationalised Journalism'. In: Weber and the Press Workshop. Manchester University, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 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, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2013. '‘The Sociology of Elites’ and ‘Forms of Media Capital and Mobility in Political Fields: A UK Case Example’'. In: the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Scienes Sociales. Paris, France.
Davis, Aeron. 2012. 'The Rise of Speculative Value in the Era of Financialization and Ponzi-Scheme Capitalism'. In: CRESC Annual Conference. Manchester, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2012. 'The Cultural and Communicative Disembedding of Political and Financial Elites'. In: University of Helsinki. Helsinki, Finland.
Davis, Aeron. 2012. 'Two invited papers on the subjects of news, public relations and finance'. In: University of Geneva. Geneva, Switzerland.
Davis, Aeron. 2011. 'How the Financial Media Failed the Public and Boosted Ponzi-Scheme Finance'. In: British Academy Symposium: Soothsayers of Doom. City University, London, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2011. 'The Cultural and Communicative Disembedding of UK Political Elites'. In: Royal Holloway, University of London. London, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2011. 'Media Management, Mediatisation and Mediation in Politics'. In: Oxford University. Oxford, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2011. 'A series of invited papers on the subjects of media, politics and finance'. In: University of Toulouse. Toulouse, France.
Davis, Aeron. 2010. 'Professionalization as a causal factor in financial meltdown: knowledge bases, rewards and (dis)incentives in financial and political networks'. In: CRESC Anthropology and Finance. IFS School of Finance, London, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2010. 'Professionalization in Political Parties, the New Wave of Party Leaders, and the Implications for Electoral Representation in the UK'. In: University of Auckland. Auckland, New Zealand.
Davis, Aeron. 2010. 'Foreign Policy-Making, Communication and the Embedding/ Disembedding of International Policy Networks: The Case of Iraq 2003'. In: Victoria University. Wellington, New Zealand.
Davis, Aeron. 2009. 'Political Journalists as an Interpretive Community'. In: Media in Power Workshop. University of Tampere, Finland.
Davis, Aeron. 2008. 'Politicians, Forms of Media Capital, and Mobility in the Political Field: Applying Bourdieu’s Conceptual Framework to Politics at Westminster'. In: University of Westminster. London, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2008. 'Embedding and Disembedding of Information Networks at the Political Centre'. In: ICA Conference. Montreal, Canada.
Davis, Aeron. 2006. 'The Commodification of Information in Established Financial Markets'. In: Manchester University. Manchester, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2004. 'Media Effects and the Question of the Rational Audience'. In: LSA. London, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2004. 'Spinning Money: Corporate PR and the London Stock Exchange'. In: Spin and Corporate Power conference. Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2002. 'The Impact of Financial Public Relations on the British Economy'. In: University of Westminster. London, United Kingdom.
Davis, Aeron. 2000. Public relations, political communications and national news production in Britain 1979-1999. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London