A talk by Dr Mark Davis, Associate Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of the Bauman Institute, University of Leeds.
A sociologist of economic life, Dr Davis is interested in the relationships between money, markets and morality. In particular, his research focuses upon the blurring of the modern distinction between State, Market and Civil Society and seeks to understand how processes of financialization are impacting upon the lived experiences of different social groups. Recently, he has co-produced a research agenda with the UK’s Alternative Finance movement – across government, business and progressive campaign organizations – that offers a sociological challenge to conventional economic interpretations of money and finance through the lens of “disruptive innovation”.
Dr Davis worked intermittently in France as an Expert Advisor to the Council of Europe (2008 – 2011) to develop the first Charter of Shared Social Responsibilities, adopted by the Committee of Ministers in January 2014. He continues to work as a consultant on social and economic policy with UK think tanks, chiefly Finance Innovation Lab, New Economics Foundation, and Compass, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), interested in the Citizens Economic Council and Inclusive Growth Commission initiatives, and has appeared in two independent documentary films linked to his research: The Trouble with Being Human These Days (2013) and Money: A Confused User’s Guide (2015). In 2010, Dr Davis founded the Bauman Institute, an international research and teaching centre established at the University of Leeds in recognition of sociologist Professor Zygmunt Bauman, a world-renowned intellectual and a famous resident of North Leeds from 1971 until his death in January 2017.
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 ‘alternative finance’ – ostensibly founded on more moral grounds. Organisations operating in the alternative finance arena suggest that they 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 growth and prosperity, which can in turn foster greater social cohesion, tackle rising inequalities, and provide greener infrastructure. But do they work, for whom and why? And who is leading this ‘quiet revolution’ in finance? Drawing upon recent research with both innovators and investors in the alternative finance sector, Dr Davis’s talk will address these important questions and assess the potential for a new form of truly ‘democratic finance’.