Professor Will Davies

Staff details

Position Professor in Political Economy
Email w.davies (
Phone +44 (0)20 7717 3376
Professor Will Davies

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.

Academic qualifications

  • 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.

Professional experience

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.

Featured work

  • 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.

Research Interests

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.



Davies, Will. 2018. Nervous States: How feeling took over the world. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 9781787330108

Jones, Hannah; Gunaratnam, Yasmin; Dhaliwal, Sukhwant; Davies, Will; Jackson, Emma; Bhattacharyya, Gargi; Saltus,, Roiyah and Forkert, Kirsten. 2017. Go Home? The Politics of Immigration Controversies. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526113221

Davies, Will; Montgomerie, Johnna and Wallin, Sara. 2015. Financial Melancholia: Mental Health and Indebtedness. London: Political Economy Research Centre.

Davies, Will. 2015. The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being. London: Verso. ISBN 9781781688458

Davies, Will. 2014. The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition. London: SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781446270684

Edited Book

Davies, Will, ed. 2018. Economic Science Fictions. London: Goldsmiths Press. ISBN 978-1-906897-68-0

Book Section

Davies, Will. 2020. Post-Liberal Competitions?: Pragmatics of Gamification and Weaponisation. In: David Stark, ed. The Performance Complex: Competition and Competitions in Social Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198861669

Davies, Will. 2018. The Neoliberal State: Power Against Politics. In: Damien Cahill; Melinda Cooper; Martijn Konings and David Primrose, eds. The Sage Handbook of Neoliberalism. London: Sage. ISBN 9781412961721

Davies, Will. 2017. Elites without Hierarchies: Intermediaries, 'Agency' and the super-rich. In: Ray Forrest; Sin Yee Koh and Bart Wissink, eds. Cities and the Super-Rich: Real Estate, Elite Practices, and Urban Political Economies. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 19-38. ISBN 9781137557155

Davies, Will. 2015. Spirits of Neoliberalism: 'Competitiveness' and 'Wellbeing' as rival orders of worth. In: Richard Rottenburg; Sally Merry; Sung-Joon Park and Joanna Mugler, eds. World of Indicators: the making of governmental knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 283-306. ISBN 9781316091265


Taylor, Nicholas and Davies, Will. 2021. The Financialization of Anti-capitalism? The case of the ‘Financial Independence Retire Early’ Community. Journal of Cultural Economy, ISSN 1753-0350

Davies, Will. 2020. The Revenge of Sovereignty on Government: The release of neoliberal politics from economics post-2008. Theory, Culture & Society, ISSN 0263-2764

Davies, Will. 2020. Green Populism?: Action and mortality in the anthropocene. Environmental Values, 29(6), pp. 647-668. ISSN 0963-2719

Davies, Will. 2020. Anti-Equivalence: Pragmatics of post-liberal dispute. European Journal of Social Theory, ISSN 1368-4310

Davies, Will. 2020. Succession Economics: Sustaining prosperity beyond death. Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, ISSN 2397-8341

Davies, Will. 2020. Anger Fast & Slow: Mediations of justice and violence in the Age of Populism. Global Discourse, 10(2-3), pp. 169-185. ISSN 2326-9995

Davies, Will. 2020. Coronavirus and progressive taxation. Discover Society,

Davies, Will. 2020. Society as a Broadband Network. London Review of Books, 42(7), ISSN 0260-9592

Davies, Will. 2020. The last global crisis didn't change the world. But this one could. The Guardian, ISSN 0261-3077

Davies, Will. 2019. The Political Economy of Pulse: Techno-somatic rhythm and real-time data. Ephemera, 19(3), pp. 513-536. ISSN 2052-1499

Davies, Will. 2017. Elite Power under Advanced Neoliberalism. Theory Culture and Society, 34(5-6), pp. 227-250. ISSN 0263-2764

Davies, Will. 2017. Moral Economies of the Future - the Utopian Impulse of Sustainable Prosperity. CUSP Working Paper Series(5),

Davies, Will. 2017. How Are We Now?: Real-time mood-monitoring as valuation. Journal of Cultural Economy, 10(1), pp. 34-48. ISSN 1753-0350

Davies, Will. 2016. The New Neoliberalism. New Left Review, 101, ISSN 0028-6060

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

Davies, Will. 2015. The Chronic Social: Relations of Control Within and Without Neoliberalism. New Formations, Winter, pp. 40-57. ISSN 0950-2378

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

Davies, Will. 2012. 'The Emerging Neo-Communitarianism'. The Political Quarterly, 83(4), pp. 767-776.

Davies, Will. 2012. ‘Ways of owning: towards an economic sociology of privatization’. Poetics, 20(2), pp. 167-184. ISSN 0304-422X

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

Davies, Will. 2011. ‘Knowing the Unknowable: The Epistemological Authority of Innovation Policy Experts’. Social Epistemology, 25(4), pp. 401-421. ISSN 0269-1728

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

Davies, Will. 2011. The Political Economy of Unhappiness. New Left Review, 71, pp. 65-80. ISSN 0028-6060

Davies, Will. 2010. ‘Economics and the “nonsense” of law: the case of the Chicago antitrust revolution’. Economy and Society, 39(1), pp. 64-83. ISSN 0308-5147

Conference or Workshop Item

O'Sullivan, Simon D.; Davies, Will and Hameed, Ayesha. 2018. 'Tank Book Talks (with Will Davies and Ayesha Hameed)'. In: Tank Book Talks. Tank, Great Portland Street, London, United Kingdom 18 October 2018.


Jones, Hannah; Bhattacharyya, Gargi; Forkert, Kirsten; Davies, Will; Dhaliwal, Sukhwant; Gunaratnam, Yasmin; Jackson, Emma and Saltus,, Roiyah. 2014. "Swamped" by anti-immigration campaigns.

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