Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation

Part of Department of Sociology

A group of protestors holding placards in a public demonstration on the streets of New York.

We are interdisciplinary, global and comparative in scope, addressing big issues facing the world today.

Our Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation (CRESI) highlights transformation processes of socio-economies, both contemporary and historical.

We provide a space for the development of a shared set of theoretical and empirical interests, encouraging dialogue between different perspectives and approaches in order to advance the field of economic sociology.

On the basis of our breadth and range of research interests, our combination of economic sociology and political and cultural economy, our interest in the multi-modality of capitalist economies, and a strong focus on consumption and innovation, we have developed a distinctive identity.

A strong feature of our research culture is the global reach of our research, and an approach that is both historical and comparative. International collaborative research in Europe, USA, South America and the Asia Pacific are established areas of our research.

What we do

Our research areas

CRESI is the home of economic sociology at Essex, carrying out pathbreaking research on economic sociology, economic justice, and the political economy of economic inequalities. We have a strong interest in critically challenging regimes of power that compound wealth concentration and perpetuate different forms of racial capitalism and worker exploitation. Our centre is led by scholars who have made pioneering contributions to the political economy of corporate power, critical scholarship on global philanthropy, feminist political economy, the sociology of power and ignorance, cultural economy, and political anthropology. Our research interests include the following:

  • the finitude of earth's resources (land, water, energy)
  • human rights and economic justice
  • feminist political economy
  • welfare regimes and pensions
  • racial capitalism, slavery and forced labour, historical and contemporary
  • the pharmaceutical industry
  • work and employment
  • gender budgeting and fiscal sociology
  • economies of knowledge and epistemic injustice.

We emphasize the value of collaborative research within the Department of Sociology, as well as interdisciplinary research with researchers and staff in other parts of the University. We have close links to the Human Rights Centre, the Centre for Discourse and Ideology Analysis (CIDA), the Essex Business School, the Essex South Asia Research Network (ESARN), and Health and Human Sciences.

CRESI hosts regular seminars featuring internationally renowned speakers and guests, as well as facilitating visiting student and professorial research visits from scholars across the world. Many of our webinars and events are organised in close collaboration with student groups, including the Essex Students’ Union, the Black Social and Political Society (BSPS), and a student-led webinar on resource use and democracy in Bolivia. 

Our theoretical approaches

A number of different theoretical approaches and substantive areas of focus are strongly represented within the Centre. These include:

  • Network theory and science and technology studies (STS)
  • Feminist political economy
  • Political ecology
  • Global justice, reparations and mutual aid
  • Human rights theory, racial justice and economic justice
  • Post-Marxist theory
  • Urban and political anthropology
  • Neo-Polanyian approaches
  • Sociology of consumption
  • Economic history
  • Cultural economy and history
  • Bazaars and popular economies

Through our research, our regular seminars, and conferences, we stimulate dialogue between these approaches, contributing new insights to research on global economic inequality, global philanthropy, tax justice, racial capitalism, urban economics and political anthropology, and economies of care.

Our history

CRESI was established by Founding Director Professor Mark Harvey in 2007. Professor Harvey is the author of numerous influential books, including, most recently, Inequality and Democratic Egalitarianism: 'Marx's Economy and Beyond' and Other Essays (2018, authored with Norman Geras). With his strong research focus on political economy, the circulation of global commodities, and theories of economic justice, Professor Harvey positioned CRESI to play an important role in national and international discussions about efforts to combat growing global economic inequality and environmental degradation. As Emeritus Professor at the University of Essex, Professor Harvey remains an involved and inspiring presence at CRESI. 

In 2017, Professor Linsey McGoey became Director of CRESI, with Dr. Katy Wheeler as Deputy Director.

New book release:

A new book by Professor Linsey McGoey has been released. Entitled The Unknowers - How Strategic Ignorance Rules the World, the book has been described as an intriguing investigation into knowledge and power.


1 February 2021: CRESI Director Linsey McGoey published an article on global financial trading and the GameStop controversy with the London Review of Books.

3 December 2020: CRESI Director Linsey McGoey gave a webinar with Northwestern University’s Weinberg Center for International and Area Studies on Billionaires, Viruses & Vaccines: Private Philanthropy in the Fight against COVID.

5 November 2019: The Role of Philanthropy in Sustainable Development

5 October 2019: What is 'strategic ignorance'? 

19 June 2019: Philanthrocapitalism, Economic Inequality, and the Rise of Rich-to-Rich Giving

24 October 2015: No Such Thing As a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy 

15 October 2015: Philanthrocapitalism: Does It Help Or Hinder?


We hold a regular series of seminars and workshops to develop our research culture. These create a space for discussion of ongoing research, and allow you to test out research ideas in a friendly and supportive environment.

To view all upcoming CRESI events, please visit our Departmental events calendar

Students sitting in a lecture theatre
Want to view all upcoming CRESI events?

The Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation host regular seminars, conferences and events throughout the year. To view all upcoming events organised by the Centre, visit the Departmental events calendar.

Visit the Departmental events calendar

Working paper series

Our working paper series is internally refereed and a central vehicle for the dissemination of our research. It aims to achieve rapid and wide dissemination of the achievements arising from the full range of our research projects, as well as provide a route to publication for doctoral students. Since it has been established, it has a record of high levels of downloads across the world.

  • Click here to visit our research repository and browse our working paper series


Doctoral students

CRESI staff are recognised experts in their fields and are frequently asked to give advice to national government departments, local authorities, NGOs and commercial organisations. Projects have included advice on business strategies, masterclasses and workshop sessions as well as contributions to steering boards and reviews of evidence.

The Centre provides a focus and magnet both for existing PhD students currently supervised by staff in the Department of Sociology, and for attracting new students. The series of seminars and workshops will assist the development of a research culture and identity around economic sociology. By stimulating interaction and enhancing the cohesion of a substantial part of the Department’s research activity, we provide a forum for developing research agendas. We encourage you, as a doctoral student, to get involved in our research projects, giving you the opportunity to participate directly in the core research of the Centre. You will be very much ‘part of the team’ of a already supportive research environment.

A block of flats
Get in touch
Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Department of Sociology University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 873049