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Sociology Research


Dr May Hen-Smith holds a PhD at the University of Cambridge, Jesus College. She read economic sociology in the Department of Sociology. She is a fiscal sociologist and socio-legal researcher interested global tax issues and the digital economy. She is interested in tax, tech, regulations affecting the digital economy, and offshore financial centres. She is also working on a 10-year longitudinal study of women in offshore and onshore financial centres. May is actively involved in all aspects of international research and dialogue on anti-corruption, taxation, tax research in the social sciences, and fiscal anthropology of tax. She is interested in all things tax: 1) How it makes people behave, 2) How industries are formed around interpretation of it, and 3) How in the pursuit of 1) and 2) can influence the culture of indigenous populations.

She specializes in the study of a wide range of economic phenomena using ethnographic inquiry and qualitative research methods. Her current project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), Leverhulme Trust (UK) and Isaac Newtown Trust (UK), is called "Follow-the-technology". It is a 3-year study which follows the experiences of start-ups and established tech companies as they navigate through the economic systems which generate their value and the regulatory systems which constrain their growth.

Her previous research (2011-2021) looked at the technical role of offshore financial centres in the global financial system. She spent ten years conducting fieldwork in the Cayman Islands and other metropolitan financial centres and has conducted extensive ethnographic research and interviews amongst the finance and legal professionals who live and work there.

Research Interests

Tax, technology, distributed ledgers, cryptocurrencies, cloud computing, ethnography, economic sociology, economic anthropology, socio-legal studies, law & society, offshore finance.

Research Projects

Follow-the-technology: tax, value and nexus issues in the digital economy Funders: Leverhulme Trust, Isaac Newton Trust

“Trans-Atlantic Platform: Recovery, Renewal and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World” - Post-doctoral researcher for Canadian PI. PIs: Kristin Surak (LSE), Allison Christians (McGill), Afton Titus (Cape Town),
Precious Ndlovu (Western Cape). Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), Economic and Social Research Council (UK), National Research Foundation (South  Africa


Tax policy, political sociology

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Hen, H. M. (2018). Sub-elites as fiduciary gatekeepers of global elites: a fiscal anthropology of the Cayman Islands offshore financial centre. In S. Chauvin, P. Clegg and B. Cousin (Eds.) Euro-Caribbean Societies in the 21st Century: Offshore Europe and its Discontents. Routledge.

Key Publications - Other

De Cogan, D. & Hen, M (2018). Book Review: Building Trust in Taxation (2017). Edited by Bruno Peeters, Hans Gribnau and Jo Badisco. Cambridge Law Journal, 77(3). (Book review, 2 pages)

Hen, M. (2017). The appeal of tax! Journal of Money Laundering Control,
20(1). (Editorial commentary, 2 pages)

Hen, H. M. (2010). Intellectual Property Policies for Canadian Universities. Centre for Policy Research for Science and Technology. Vancouver, British Columbia. Simon Fraser University: or

PhD Supervisor

Research Groups & Affiliations


Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship "The Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship is a highly prestigious, fiercely competitive, post-doctoral award for researchers who are near the start of their career."

Isaac Newtown Trust Research Fellowship Fellowship in support of Leverhulme Trust Fellowship holders

TaxCOOP 35 Leaders of the Future in Tax "A distinguished recognition program for the most promising young tax policy enthusiasts who passionately contribute to the advancement of taxation and tax justice. Laureates selected for their academic and professional commitment and their potential to shape the international tax system":

Job Title:
Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow, Jesus College