Current Research

My research is currently focused on three broad areas:

  • I am concerned with a number of connected issues in economic sociology, including those of self-interest and personal identity, the so-called 'collective action problem', principal-agent relations, and more generally the character of market exchanges, especially in terms of power relations and institutions. Overall, this research is directed to exploring the benefits to sociological theorizing of critical engagement with recent developments in economic science.
  • I am also researching aspects of social relations and organization in mainland China. In particular I am interested in guanxi, its modes of governance and regulation and the ways in which it adapts to changing societal circumstances; in family structure, including the way it changes as a consequence of internal migration; and in patterns and processes of inequality, especially related to privileged access to political resources.
  • My continuing research on Max Weber's oeuvre and the issues it raises for sociological theory and analysis is currently directed to Weber's account of Chinese 'mentality' and especially its relationship with the prospects of capitalist development, as outlined in The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism.


I will supervise PhD students in any area of study incorporating aspects of my current research interests described above as well as related themes in the sociology of China, sociological theory, and economic sociology.