Just Society


The Just Society pillar covers a variety of themes related to trade, micro-finance and governance in developing countries. Researchers within this pillar are actively engaged in investigating the development and evolution of social, economic and political institutions in the global South. Research interests encompass concepts such as: state power and state building, democratization, the role of culture in these processes, self-determination and sovereignty, and the role of the colonial heritage. An important part of this pillar is dedicated to studying the role and efficiency of NGOs and development aid agencies in such contexts. Particular attention is given by our researchers to the strategic orientation of NGOs, their accountability, and the political economy of such organizations. Moreover, we also focus on capacity of both state institutions and civil society to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and build an inclusive and responsive post-2015 development framework.

Topic 1: Institutions, Governments and development


There exists compelling evidence on the role of governments in achieving development goals and in channelling development aid. The quality of governments is reflected in the quality of institutions (political, economic, …) both at the national and sub-national level, and this in turn determines the nation’s and regions’ capacity to tackle development-related problems, such as poverty, sanitation, education, or women’s empowerment. It is therefore essential to understand the processes leading to nations’ sovereignty and state building (Olivia U. Rutazibwa, Petros Sekeris). Our research also focuses on the process of democratization (Ben Garner, Petros Sekeris, Nora Siklodi), on the role of government and civil society, and on their role in formulating development policies (Carl Adams, Ben Garner). Among the various tools at the disposal of governments, our researchers give particular attention education (Mustafa Ozer, Siwaphon Phromwong), technology (Carl Adams), and market reforms (Ifeanyichukwu Nworie).

Topic 2: Fair Trade


As a business model, balancing the demands of being ‘in and against the market’ has challenged and gripped Fair Trade. From the early 1990s, Fair Trade has developed from being an activist-led campaign interest, to become a popular and engaging customer value proposition. The primary device in promoting the market for Fair Trade has been the success of the FAIRTRADE Mark. However, our research reveals that, historically, Fair Trade’s success as a ‘consumer movement for change’ needs to be understood and recognised as highly contingent on its connection to wider social networks (Matthew Anderson). What emerges from detailed archive research is the significant role played by civil society organisations as intermediaries - linking producers, businesses and consumers. In the global South, the main challenges for Fairtrade certification focus on questions of governance, representation and community impact, and the implications for developing a distinct and effective Theory of Change (Chiranjeewa Atapattu).

Topic 3: Micro Finance Institutions


Microfinance has been one of the primary tools in development policies in the last decades. The provision of formal financial services, including business loans, to low income populations in developing countries is believed to have an impact on the poor households’ income and well-being, and is considered to be a powerful instrument to reduce poverty. Thus, microfinance programmes have been attracting funds from differentiated sources from international donor agencies to individuals around the world through crowdfunding platforms.

There are a broad range of research questions associated with the sector both from the supply side (funders, microfinance institutions) and the demand (clients). Presently the DSG researchers are focusing on two main areas: crowdfunding in microfinance (Joe Cox, Thang Nguyen) and accountability of the microfinance institutions, namely questions related with measurement methodologies and communication of the outcomes and impact of their programmes (Joana Afonso, Michael O’Connor, Andy Thorpe).


Pillar Lead:  Petros Sekeris - Principle Lecturer in Economics (Economics and Finance)

Academic Staff:

1. Matthew Anderson – Senior Lecturer (Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management)

2. Carl Adams - Principal Lecturer (School of Computing)

3. Andy Thorpe – Associate Dean (Research), Professor of Development Economics (Economics and Finance)

4. Angela Crack - Senior Lectuer (School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies)

5. Ben Garner - Lectuer in International Development Studies (School of Languages and Area Studies)

6. Karen Middleton - Senior University Tutor (Marketing and Sales)

7. Olivia U. Rutazibwa – Lecturer in International Development and European Studies (School of Languages and Area Studies)

PhD Students:

1. Babatunde Olawoorehuman rights-based approach to aid and development effectiveness in partnerships between International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs) and Southern partners.

2. Chiranjeewa Atapattu - Fair Trade and Community Development in Sri Lanka.

3. Siwaphon Phromwong – The impacts of education on poverty and income inequality in Thailand.

4. Joana Afonso - microfinance and poverty  alleviation .

5. Ifeanyichukwu Nworie - The economics of electricity reform in developing countries: an estimated econometric and political economy approach

6. Mustafa Ozer - The causal effect of education on health: School reform in Turkey.