Dr Mark Davis
- Position: Associate Professor of Sociology
- Areas of expertise: Economic Sociology; Social and Environmental Impact of FinTech, Crowdfunding, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies; Money, Credit and Debt; Consumerism.
- Email: M.E.Davis@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 7117
- Location: 12.42 Social Sciences Building
- Website: Twitter | LinkedIn | ORCID
After completing my doctorate at Leeds in 2006, I was appointed to my first full-time academic post in 2008. In 2010, I founded and have since directed the Bauman Institute research centre alongside my appointment as Director of Building Sustainable Societies, one of the University's flagship Transformation Fund projects (2013-2015). From 2019, I am External Examiner for the MAs in International Development, International Political Economy, and Political Strategy and Communication at the Brussels School of International Studies.
I lead a programme of research at Leeds that starts from the principle that what we do with our money matters. How and where we decide to spend, borrow, save, and invest makes a material difference to the type of social world that we are creating for ourselves and for future generations. If we want a radically different world to the one that we see around us – if we want the world to be fairer, more equitable, and more sustainable – then we are going to have to do radically different things with our money.
My research draws upon the analysis of consumerism developed during Professor Zygmunt Bauman's long career at Leeds, but extends it in a new direction via insights from economic sociology (specifically where money comes from and how it organises social life, as variously expressed in the work of Lisa Adkins, Nina Bandelj, Nigel Dodd, Mariana Mazzucato, Mary Mellor, Anne Pettifor, and Viviana A. Zelizer).
Initially, I worked on the concept of "responsible consumption" during my appointment as an Expert Advisor to the Council of Europe (2008-2011), when I worked intermittently in Paris and Strasbourg to co-create the Charter of Shared Social Responsibilities. Through this early phase of research, I began to see that simply 'shopping less' overlooked the fundamental significance of how we borrow, save, and invest the resources we have access to.
The extension of my research focus 'beyond consuming', therefore, has led me to evaluate the social impact of 'post-crash' financial innovations that promise to put citizens at the heart of new tech-enabled systems of trust with regards to money, e.g. Crowdfunding, DLT-enabled Cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin), and FinTech. This transdisciplinary research agenda has been supported by grants from EU Horizon 2020; EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions; UK Government departments; Charities; and, Industry commissioning independent academic research (further details below). Currently, I am working on a transdisciplinary project with colleagues in Faculty of Environment's Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) on the concept of prosumerism (2018-2021), specifically how innovative financing and business models can support the EU’s green energy transition.
I am committed to ensuring the policy and industry relevance of my research. I am the author of the report 'Financing for Society: Assessing the Suitability of Crowdfunding for the Public Sector', which was submitted to UK Government in March 2019 as the first evidence base for opening up crowdfunding as a new model of finance for public bodies. I have also submitted evidence to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to inform changes to their regulation of crowdfunding platforms; lobbied government on crowdfunding industry standards; and assessed the social impact of Nationally-Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). Since 2008, I have also worked as an expert consultant to UK policy think tanks and civil society groups, including Compass, Finance Innovation Lab, FinTech North, and New Economics Foundation.
I enjoy debating aspects of my research with the public, either at regional knowledge exchange events such as the Leeds Salon, or via the media. I have appeared in two independent documentary films (The Trouble with Being Human These Days, 2013; Money: A Confused User’s Guide, 2015), have given recent interviews on regional radio and to the press; and recorded an LSSI Short for the University.
- Founding Director of the Bauman Institute
- UG and PG Admissions Tutor (2015-2018)
- Director of Building Sustainable Societies (2013-2015)
I am currently evaluating financial innovations that promise to enhance opportunities for citizens to deliver socially-beneficial outcomes by doing different things with their money, e.g. Crowdfunding, DLT-enabled Cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin), and FinTech. This transdiciplinary research programme is supported by the following grants:
2018-2021 EU Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Actions (Social Sciences and Humanities Support for the Energy Union)
- (Co-PI) Prosumers for the Energy Union: Mainstreaming active participation of citizens in the energy transition (with Dr Steve Hall, 36 months), Value: €348,000.00.
2018 UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
- (PI) Financing for Society: Crowdfunding Public Infrastructure (with Dr Laura Cartwright, 12 months), Value: £369,999.00
2017-2018 Horizon 2020 / Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (Individual Fellowship)
- (PI) FUSION: The Effects of Financialization on employment and wealth distribution in the UK and Spain (with Dr Matide Masso, 12 months), Value: £97,727.40
2015-2016 Friends Provident Foundation
- (PI) Financial Innovation Today: Towards Economic Resilience (with Dr Tim Braunholtz-Speight, 12 months), Value: £60,723.44
2015 Energy Systems Catapult Ltd
- (Co-I) Alternative Finance Opportunities for Green Energy (with Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, CCAF; 3 month tender), Value: £5,280.00
2014 Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd
- (PI) Building Democracy? Exploring community consultation in Nationally Significant (Energy) Infrastructure Projects (with Dr Katy Wright, 24 months), Value: £105,000.00
2012 Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd
- (PI) Social Impacts of Local Energy Developments (SLED): A case study of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (with Dr Katy Wright, 24 months), Value: £97,000.00
- PhD Freedom in the English-language Writings of Zygmunt Bauman
- MA Sociology (Leeds)
- BA Hons Social Science (Newcastle)
My teaching within the School focuses upon the broad areas of consumerism; capitalism, democracy and global finance; economic sociology and political economy; modern sociological theory; and philosophy of social science.
I am interested in supervising undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students who are enthusiastic and self-motivated to study in any area relevant to my own programme of research activities.
Research groups and institutes
- The Bauman Institute