Professor Mark Davis

Professor Mark Davis


A graduate of Newcastle University, I completed both my Masters and my PhD in the School of Sociology and Social Policy here at Leeds.

My work has shaped the global study of Zygmunt Bauman’s sociology through a series of books, articles, edited collections, special issues of journals, and as senior editor of a three-volume book series of his selected writings. In 2010, I founded and then directed (until 2020) The Bauman Institute research centre at the University of Leeds.

In economic sociology, I have applied my underpinning expertise in sociological theory to grand challenge questions of economy and environment. My work applies a social relations perspective to money and finance, specifically energy research in the context of securing just and inclusive transitions to decarbonised societies. Supported by a series of research grants (see below), my work has opened up new interdisciplinary collaborations in the study of alternative finance and social innovation, specifically crowdfunding and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending for net zero economies, as captured in my latest book Crowdfunding and the Democratization of Finance (2021, Bristol University Press). You can watch the official launch event for the book by clicking here.

I enjoy communicating my research beyond the campus, via podcasts (Another Europe and The Measure of Everyday Life) and radio (Why Don’t Economists?), and my work has been featured in both national and industry media (The Financial Times, The Guardian, and P2P Finance). Much of this engagement is linked to my role in co-creating with industry partners Community Municipal Investments (CMIs) – a new model of finance for local governments to deliver their net zero infrastructure strategies. The CMI has currently raised over £3 million for such projects and is part of a UK-wide campaign led the Green Finance Institute.

Alongside my research and teaching roles (see below), I have held a number of academic leadership responsibilities at Leeds. I contributed to Faculty Research and Innovation Committee (2014-2017) and LSSI’s Steering Group (2014-2017). I co-authored the University’s ‘Social Sciences Strategy, 2015-2021’, setting research priorities and targets. I directed Building Sustainable Societies (BSS, 2013-2016), a cross-Faculty Transformation Fund programme supported by £10.68 million of research investment. I have also held roles as Admissions Leader for the School (2015-2018) and Programme Manager for the original format of the School’s MA Social and Political Thought (2010-2016).

Away from campus, I am a member of the Editorial Board for the British Sociological Association’s flagship journal, Sociology, and an evaluator of grant applications for the EC’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and Friends Provident Foundation’s ‘Fair Economy’ programme. Previously, I worked intermittently in Paris and Strasbourg as an expert advisor to the Council of Europe (2008-2011). I was also external examiner for three MA programmes at the Brussels School of International Studies (2018-2021).


  • REF2021 Impact Case Study Author
  • Founding Director of the Bauman Institute (2020-present)
  • Director of the Bauman Institute (2010-2020)

Research interests

A student of Zygmunt Bauman, my research has always been animated by grand challenge questions of economy and environment. This is expressed through my analysis in a series of books and articles of consumerism, prosumerism, alternative finance and social innovation. In each case, I interrogate the efficacy of individual market-based solutions to ostensibly shared social problems. A constant thread through all of my research is a concern for economic and environmental sustainability – ‘ethical consumerism’, ‘prosumer communities’, ‘crowdfunding for net zero’ – and the possibilities for more collective, democratic structures to deliver fairer, greener societies for all.

My on-going contribution to economic sociology is to extend the interdisciplinary scope and relevance of a ‘relational’ approach to financial decision-making (i.e. spending, saving, investing). While relational approaches are often applied to analyse micro-level financial interactions and intimacies, my work seeks to extend their application to ‘bigger questions’ of democratizing finance and securing just transitions to decarbonised societies. My research also aims to examine the implications for different areas of policy making when individual and household level financial decisions are framed as relational as well as rational, particularly in energy policy in the context of climate breakdown.

My interdisciplinary work has been supported by a successive series of external research grants totalling over £2 million:

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Sociology
  • MA Sociology
  • BA (Hons) Social Science

Professional memberships

  • Editorial Board of Sociology journal
  • BSA Climate Change Study Group
  • BSA Work, Employment and Economic Life Study Group
  • BSA Theory Group
  • Friends Provident Foundation: Programme Advisory Group

Student education

I am module convenor for the year-long module Central Problems in Sociology (SLSP2730).

I also contribute to the following modules: Sociology of Modern Societies (SLSP1200); Sociology of Climate Change (SLSP2932); States of Emergency: Social Science and the Covid-19 Pandemic (FOSS2001/3001); and at MA level Qualitative Research Methods (SLSP5308M).

I have supervised 7 doctoral students, all passing successfully, and currently supervise 4 PhD Projects:

In process:

  • 2021: Joseph Howell – Evaluating the Social Value of Innovative Finance: A Case Study of Community Municipal Investments (CMIs).
  • 2019: Karl Lukas Chakravorty-Aspelin – Democratising Finance? An Evaluation of Global Innovations in Finance.
  • 2019: Caroline Bentham – What is the significance of central bank finance for the macroeconomic consensus?
  • 2018: Sherif Youssef – Social Enterprises In-Transition: Social Welfare, Entrepreneurship and the Political Economy in the State of Cairo.


  • 2020: Dr Robert Thornton-Lee – The Anonymous Function: Assessing the historical, social, and political importance of anonymity and its function in a digital age.
  • 2020: Dr Ben Hirst – Enterprise Cultures in Higher Education and the Creative Arts.
  • 2019: Dr David Wingate – Towards a genealogy of sustainable consumption.
  • 2017: Dr Jack Palmer – What are the links between modernity and specific instances of colonial and postcolonial genocide in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa?
  • 2016: Dr Natasha Barnes – Love: A Frame Analysis – Exploring the Organization of Emotion.
  • 2015: Dr Laura Cartwright – 'Permanently Temping? -  Learning, Earning and Precarity amongst young people in Yorkshire'.
  • 2013: Dr Jasna Balorda – Genocide and modernity: A comparative study of Bosnia, Rwanda and the Holocaust.

I have hosted international PhD students since 2015, including Soares (Brazil, 2015, 2016), Alvarez (Spain, 2019), Leiva (Mexico, 2019), and Bastero (Spain, 2018). I have examined 6 doctorates, 3 internationally (Melbourne, 2017 - Andrews; Tallinn, 2018 – Aidnek; Valencia, 2020 – Leiva).

*** I welcome new applications from prospective PhD students with interesting and impactful projects in areas relevant to my own research activities ***

Research groups and institutes

  • The Bauman Institute
  • Leeds Social Science Institute

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>