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Ben Main

Postgraduate Research Student

Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Sociology


Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council I use participative ethnography to investigate the social relation of rent and the relational dynamics of precaritisation in London. Drawing on Burawoy, field sites are constituted as comparative, theoretical 'cases' exploring the thesis of 'rentier' capitalism, the social structures of the housing system, fractions of the ‘dominated’ and the material and generative connections of transience, precarity and commodification.

My undergraduate and postgraduate degrees are from the University of Cambridge and University of London. Previously I held the IMESS programme scholarship at UCL’s School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies for the MA in Economy, State and Society.

In 2023 I will be undertaking a UKRI PHD placement in the UK government working on issues of ‘hidden’ rent/renters. Currently, I also work with Dr Stephen Crossley on the ‘Durham Student Housing’ project a mixed method, collaborative case study into institutional, contextual and policy features and drivers of student housing in Durham. Other interests emerging from my research include ‘symbolic violence’ and thrift/money saving platforms and a sociological analysis of shoplifting.

Conference Papers
  • The selectivity's of New Zealand's pharmaceutical spending policy: incentivisation, power and societal ‘surplus’ - BSA Medical Sociology Conference, Sussex, September 2023
  • Thrift, mental health and subsistence in the cultural political economy – What role for Social Policy? Social Policy Association Conference, Nottingham, July 2023
  • Mental Health policy after austerity: discontinuities in the socio-cultural regime of crisis management? - Rising inequalities and Poverty – Politics of Lived experience, PGR conference, Durham University, Durham, March 2023
  • On Burawoy, Desmond and the extended case method in housing cases - The Lisbon Early-Career Workshop in Urban Studies, Imaginaries of inhabitation, or, the future of planetary dwelling, Lisbon, November 2023
  • ‘Jessopified-skocpolianism’: ‘sociological’ institutional insulation in state pharmaceutical spending – In Sickness and in Health Conference, Auckland, February 2024
Research Interests
  • Housing, rent, features of precarity/precarisation
  • Cultural and political sociology
  • Ethnography, extended case method, case study
  • Bourdieu, Jessop, Wacquant, Berlant

Seminar tutor (academic year 2023/24):-

  • Capitilism: History and Theory
  • Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practises Across Social Research (PG)
  • Perspectives on Polictical Economy
  • Political Theory

Seminar tutor (academic year 2022/23):

  • Contemporary Criminological Theory
  • Criminal Justice Landscape
  • Social Work in Context (PG)