I completed an ESRC project on The transition to a sustainable bio-economy: innovation and expectations. This project, which ran from October 2007 to 2010, compared different trajectories of innovation in Brazil, Europe and the USA, using the IEP approach. Faced by global climate change, depleting petro-chemical resources and energy insecurity, a major industrial transformation in energy and materials is at an early stage of transition. This transition poses challenges to the governance of the economy unique in the history of industrial societies.
From 2010 to 2013, I have been engaged in the ESRC funded Sustainable Practices Research Group, and its programme of research on low carbon housing, heating and cooling, changing food habits and water use in the home. In this programme, I have been running a comparative and historical project on drinking and domestic water provision in Europe (the UK, Germany, and Italy), Delhi, Taiwan and Mexico City. This work has addressed key economic sociology questions on public and private appropriation, the qualities of water, and the trajectories of water provision within different environmental contexts. Researching water has been a useful way of analysing sociogenic sustainability crises as emergent and varied consequences of these different trajectories.
Visit the SPRG website at http://www.sprg.ac.uk/
I have recently been awarded an ESRC Professorial Fellowship “The food-energy-climate change trilemma: developing a neo-Polanyian analysis”
The world is facing three unprecedented challenges: anthropogenic climate change, the depletion of finite energy and material resources, and a growing population with increasing and changing demand for food. These three problems are deeply interconnected in ‘the food-energy-climate change trilemma’. Researching the different trilemma trajectories as they develop in Brazil, Europe, the USA and China provides a way of analysing the varied interactions between socio-economies, their environmental contexts, and their command over finite resources such as land, water, and fossil energy.
This project will run from January 2014 to December 2016, with a Senior Research Officer and an ESRC Doctoral Studentship.
The over-arching theme integrating my work across these research projects has been the development of a neo-Polanyian ‘instituted economic process’ approach to understanding of capitalist economic institutional variation and evolution as multi-modal, embracing the state, market and non-market dynamics. The new development of this approach is to understand the interactions between political economies, natural environments, and finite resources as a major dynamic of historical variation, including the sociogenesis of sustainability crises.
Google Scholar Profile: http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=5OyTu1oAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao
Selected recent papers
2013 'Marx's Economy and Beyond' a paper by Mark Harvey and Norman Geras available at http://normblog.typepad.com/files/meabpdf.pdf
2013 'Drinking-water and drinking water. Trajectories of provision and consumption in the UK, Delhi and Taiwan' CRESI Working Paper http://repository.essex.ac.uk/2472/
2013 ‘Capitalism: restless and unbounded? Some neo-Polanyian and Schumpeterian reflections’ Harvey, M. and McMeekin, A. Economics of Innovation and New
Technology, Special Issue in honour of J.S. Metcalfe.
2012 ‘Rudderless in a sea of yellow: the European political economy impasse for renewable transport energy’ Harvey, M. and Pilgrim, S., New Political Economy,
2011 ‘The new competition for land: food, energy and climate change’, Food Policy Journal, Harvey, M. and Pilgrim, S. 36, S1, 40-51.
2010 ‘Battles over biofuels in Europe: NGOs and the politics of markets’ Pilgrim, S. and Harvey, M. Sociological Research Online, 15, 3, 4.
Described as ‘a wonderful study of contemporary capitalism as mirrored through the tomato’ (Richard Swedberg), this book used the incredible history of the tomato from 1860 to the present to research and analyse major transformations in the organisation of the economy. Pioneering the growth of mass production for mass consumption, the rise of supermarkets, confrontations over genetic modification, the ‘fabrication of nature’ by innovation, all feature as significant episodes in this narrative. The book represents the first development of the ‘instituted economic process’ approach.
Following a series of scandals and crises, especially BSE and GM, the issue of trust in food became a major issue in Europe. Based on an EU funded research project comparing Italy, Portugal, Britain, Norway and Denmark, we argue that huge and surprising variations in levels of trust – with the UK consumers showing the highest trust – can only be understood by an institutional and societal analysis. ‘Triangular affairs of trust’ between consumers, market provisioners, and state regulators provide the key to understanding societal variation.
The ‘great divide’ between public and private knowledge in capitalism is an unstable frontier at the core of contemporary economic transformations. Based on research in the USA, Europe and Brazil into the cutting-edge of biological science and technology, this book presents a novel framework for understanding this historically shifting fault-line.
Over the last quarter century, major controversies have accompanied the dramatic developments in biological science and technology. Would private marketable knowledge dominate over the new public domain or vice versa? Surprisingly, the dynamism and expansion of the public domain, and new forms of differentiation and interdependence between public and private economies of knowledge, now characterise the landscape. This book represents a further development of the IEP analytical framework for understanding the shifting ‘great divide’ in capitalist economies of knowledge.
‘This superb book examines what determines whether a body of knowledge is public or private. …What the authors have to say is important and fascinating, and makes for a great read.’ Richard R. Nelson.
The work of Karl Polanyi has gained in influence in recent years to become a point of reference to a wide range of leading authors in the fields of economics, politics, sociology, and social policy. This edited volume is a reflection on Polanyi’s contribution combined with new strands of work, both theoretical and empirical, inspired by Polanyi’s insights. It gathers together key contributions from the first ever workshop on the work of Karl Polanyi held in the United Kingdom. This was opened by Kari Polanyi-Levitt, who also has written the Introductory Foreword.
Drawing on comparisons between his turbulent times and our own in order to understand their contemporary relevance, Polanyi’s work is situated in the intellectual and political contexts of his life in Europe and the USA. Several of the contributions develop Polanyian ideas in relation to contemporary capitalism. In a critical spirit, other contributions in the volume substantially transform his concept ‘instituted economic process’ in considering a broad range of contemporary socio-economic change: markets for mobile telephony, call centre operations, and European labour markets.
Downloadable introductory chapter (PDF document)
Qualities of Food. Manchester University Press. (2004). Edited by Mark Harvey, Andrew McMeekin and Alan Warde
In this book, the complexity and the significance of the foods we eat are analysed from a variety of perspectives, by sociologists, economists, geographers and anthropologists. Chapters address a number of intriguing questions: how do people make judgments about taste? How do such judgments come to be shared by groups of people? What social and organisational processes result in foods being certified as of decent or proper quality? How has dissatisfaction with the food system been expressed? What alternatives are thought to be possible? The multi-disciplinary analysis of this book explores many different answers to such questions. The first part of the book focuses on theoretical and conceptual issues, the second part considers processes of formal and informal regulation, while the third part examines social and political responses to industrialised food production and mass consumption. Qualities of food will be of interest to researchers and students in all the social science disciplines that are concerned with food, whether marketing, sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, human nutrition or economics.