Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Dr Mark Davis

Associate Professor of Sociology

I came to Leeds as an MA student in 2000 and stayed to pursue my PhD here. I am now Founding Director of the Bauman Institute and Director of Building Sustainable Societies.

I worked intermittently in France as an Expert Advisor to the Council of Europe from 2008 to 2011 to help to develop the first Charter of Shared Social Responsibilities, presented to Members of the European Parliament in Brussels in March 2011 and adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 22 January 2014

I work as a consultant on conceptual and policy issues with centre-left think tanks in the UK, principally Compass, New Economics Foundation, and more recently Positive Money. I have also established close research partnerships in the ‘democratic finance’ business sector.

On 18 November 2010, I became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

Research Interests

My primary research focus is in the sociology of money, markets and morality as understood by Georg Simmel and Zygmunt Bauman, with a particular focus upon the social consequences of consumerism, financialization and marketization in neoliberal societies. I am interested in the capture and translation of the social world into economic interests, specifically how human freedom is reduced to market choice and how extreme levels of indebtedness is reconciled with the challenge of creating fairer, more resilient, and more sustainable societies around the world.

I am currently PI on a number of externally-funded research projects, examples of which include:

SLED – Social Impacts of Local Energy Developments (2013-2017)

Working with Dr Katy Wright, this research project is using the proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (TLSB) renewable energy development as a case study to explore the role of communities in energy developments, and the social and economic impact of local energy infrastructure.  We are using the idea of resilience as a way to conceptually frame the impact of large-scale infrastructure developments on localities, and to explore the role of local communities, both in terms of consultation and community benefit.  A key aim is to explore the potential role of the private sector in contributing to, or undermining, local forms of resilience, and to develop insights into good practice for community involvement and community benefit.  We have also critically engaged with policy and practice in the field of community resilience, and worked to develop a model of resilience which enables engagement with the ways in which local resilience is shaped by different actors operating at different levels of analysis.

FITTER – Financial Innovation Today: Towards Economic Resilience (2015-2016)

A decade of global financial turmoil has thrown open major questions around traditional banking, lending and the international money markets. One response to this has been the emergence of ‘democratic finance’ models such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and community debenture schemes – ostensibly founded on more moral grounds. Organisations operating in the alternative finance arena suggest that these can each be inclusive instruments of social change, delivering the power of money back to the public. They point to their capacity to contribute to sustainable business growth and prosperity which can in turn foster greater social cohesion and tackle rising inequalities.

But do they work, for whom and why? This new project, funded by Friends Provident Foundation establishes an urgent need to understand the viability and desirability of these schemes, their potential social and ethical impact – and their possible benefits.


The teaching I offer at Leeds is research-led and blends theoretical enquiry with the practical analysis of everyday life. I am Programme Manager for the two postgraduate courses offered by the Bauman Institute: MA Social and Political Thought and MA International Social Transformation 

Below are the specific modules I offer at different levels:

Postgraduate Courses
MA Contemporary Social Thought
MA Liquid Sociology

Undergraduate Courses
Sociology of Consumerism (Level Three)
Sociological Thinking (Level One)

I also offer guest lectures across the curriculum in my areas of research interest.

PhD Supervision

I am currently involved in supervising the following research projects:

  • Robbing us of our taxes? The emergence of the welfare state and contemporary attitudes to welfare provision in the UK, Rebecca Taylor (ESRC 1+3, Start Date: September 2015)
  • Putting creativity to work in the British art school, 1962-1997, Benjamin Hirst (ESRC 1+3, Start Date: September 2014)
  • What are the links between modernity and specific instances of colonial and postcolonial genocide in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa?, Jack Palmer (University of Leeds Research Scholarship, Start Date: September 2013)
  • Towards a genealogy of sustainable consumption: its representation and problematisation in semiotic discourse, Mr. David Wingate (University of Leeds Research Scholarship, Start Date: September 2013)
  • Permanently Temping? -  Learning, Earning and Precarity amongst young people in Yorkshire, Laura Cartwright (Frank Stell Research Award, Start Date: September 2011)
  • Is there a space for ‘love’ within discussions of intimate citizenship?, Natasha Barnes (University of Leeds Teaching Scholarship, Start Date: September 2010)


  • Genocide and modernity: A comparative study of Bosnia, Rwanda and the Holocaust, Jasna Balorda (University of Leeds Research Scholarship, Submission Date: October 2013)

I am keen to receive applications from promising research students in any of the following broad areas:

  • Economic Sociology/Social Economics
  • Sociology of Money/Finance
  • Neoliberalism
  • Zygmunt Bauman

Key Publications

Recent Publications

Davis, Mark (ed.) (2013) Liquid Sociology: Metaphor in the Writings of Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Davis, Mark (2013) ‘Hurried Life: Rethinking Time and Technology in the Consumer Society’, Thesis Eleven, 118, 1: 7-18.

Davis, Mark (2011) ‘Bauman’s Compass: Navigating the current interregnum’, Acta Sociologica, 54, 2: 183-194.

Davis, Mark (2011) ‘Shared social responsibility as a key-concept in managing the current interregnum’, Towards a Europe of shared social responsibilities: challenges and strategies, Trends in Social Cohesion, No. 23. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, pp. 81-101.

Davis, Mark (2011) ‘From Individualism to Interdependence: A Basis for Shared Social Responsibility’, Towards a Europe of shared social responsibilities: challenges and strategies, Trends in Social Cohesion, No. 23. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, pp. 103-113.

Davis, Mark & Tester, Keith (eds) (2010) Bauman’s Challenge: Sociological Issues for the Twenty-First Century. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Davis, Mark (2010) ‘For Zygmunt: Three Notes'Theory, Culture & Society Online.

Davis, Mark (2008) Freedom and Consumerism: A Critique of Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. Reviewed in the Times Higher.

Davis, Mark (2008) ‘Bauman on Globalisation: The Human Consequences of a Liquid World’, in Michael Hviid Jacobsen & Poul Poder (eds) The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman: Challenges and Critique. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, pp. 137-153.

Research Income

2015    Friends Provident Foundation

(PI) Financial Innovation Today: Towards Economic Resilience (6 months), Value: £30,000.00

2014    Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd

(PI) Investment in fixed-term Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Community Resilience (24 months), Value: £105,000.00

2012    Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd

(PI) Investment in fixed-term Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Community Resilience (24 months), Value: £97,000.00     


2010    University of Leeds Campaign Fund

            Philanthropic Gift to the Bauman Institute, Value: £85,000.00

2010    Adam Mickiewicz Institute (IAM), Warsaw, Poland, Support for the Audio-Visual Archive, the Bauman Institute Collection, Value: £15,000.00

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