Haydn Shephard

Thesis title:

‘Always-and-everywhere-embedded’ markets: Explaining the longevity of neo-liberal labour markets


The role of the third sector in the modern economy is a topic of dispute. Research indicates that through generating community-led solutions to long-term social problems the third sector has relieved the UK state of a portion of its welfare responsibilities, but how this fits with broader fiscal and economic changes remains underexplored. This thesis will examine the role of the third sector, and its non-governmental and non-profit-making historical equivalents, in stabilizing of self-regulatory and highly flexible neo-liberal labour markets.This central research question contains three broad aims. Firstly, to explain the longevity of neo-liberal labour market policies in the UK today and in the past, characterised by lower state welfare to push employer-led flexibility, the drive for lower labour costs and acceptance of job insecurity through increased labour market participation. Secondly, to explore the third sector as quasi-state, extra-market support structure which contains the contradictions of neo-liberal labour markets from outside the market and its explicit policy. Using Polanyian underpinnings, my research will look at market and society not as continually separated and re-introduced to one another through regulation, but as settling into new interactions and creating different complementarities. This leads, finally, to contribute to the conceptual development of international political economy by supplying empirical substantiation for the Polanyian claim that markets and society are never separate but are continually reciprocally constructed.

First supervisor:

Christopher Holmes


13 – Politics, Public Policy & Governance