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Sociology Research


Niamh Mulcahy is a Lucy Cavendish Alice Tong Sze Research Fellow and will be at CRASSH until 2022. Niamh completed a PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge in 2019, where she was also a member of King’s College. Her earlier degrees, including a BA (Honours) and MA were undertaken at the University of Alberta, in Canada.

Niamh's doctoral research considered the rise of the “financial subject”, or the “everyday entrepreneur”, in the context of widening economic inequality in the United Kingdom since the 1980s. Risk-taking is rationalised as an opportunity for greater reward: Savings are linked to market performance through investment in private pensions, unit trusts, bonds or assets such as property, while debt, when responsibly managed, can be used to ameliorate short-term periods of uncertainty. Household finance has acquired a more entrepreneurial character as a result, but this is difficult to manage for those facing problems of low income, precarious or short-term employment prospects, and with little wealth, savings, or assets to rely on. The problem of “financial exclusion”, when individuals and households struggle to access necessary financial services or make use of them within their means, therefore deepens inequality and creates new forms of precariousness. 

Research Interests

Niamh is an economic sociologist, working in the critical tradition of political economy. Her focus is on finance-led economic growth, and the financialisation of household income, as savings and income are channelled into capital markets through personal investment and debt. 

Research Projects

Niamh's current project is a funded research partnership with three local authorities, investigating the effects of financial exclusion on the life chances of indebted households. Capturing financial exclusion, as indicated by levels of indebtedness and limited engagement with mainstream financial services, will help illustrate what happens to excluded households and how they get by. This, in turn, will shed light on the type of provision at the local level that could benefit the financially-excluded. As local authorities become increasingly interested in indebted households as a result of the pressure they place on reduced welfare services, a proactive approach involving community-based solutions aimed at addressing systemic shortfalls is needed. Developing a deeper sense of financial exclusion and its regional variations is an important first step. 

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Mulcahy , N. (2016) “Workers-as-consumers: Rethinking the Political Economy of Consumption and Capital Reproduction”. Forthcoming in Capital and Class. 

Mulcahy, N. (2016) “Entrepreneurial Subjectivity and the Political Economy of Daily Life in the Time of Finance”. Forthcoming in the European Journal of Social Theory 16:4

Mulcahy , N. Review of Democracy in What State? New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Daniel Bensaïd, Wendy Brown, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière, Kristin Ross, and Slavoj Žižek. Translated by William McCuaig. Rethinking Marxism 25:4 (2013), 602 – 605.

Grants and Projects

Mulcahy, N. 2014 – 2017 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada): Doctoral Fellowship ($60,000 CAD) 

Mulcahy, N. 2011 – 2012 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada): Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Master’s Scholarship ($17,500 CAD) 

Mulcahy, N. 2011 – 2012 Walter H. Johns Graduate Fellowship (University of Alberta) ($5,184 CAD).

PhD Supervisor


2012 – 2015 Cambridge Home/EU Scholarship Scheme (CHESS) Fees Award

2012 Alberta Heritage Graduate Student Award ($3,000 CAD)

2010 – 2011 Queen Elizabeth II Master’s Scholarship ($10,800 CAD)

2010 Master’s Recruitment Grant ($2,000 CAD)

2010 Samuel M. Strong Medal in Sociology

2009 Louise McKinney Post-secondary Scholarship ($2,500 CAD)

2009 Soren Bovbjerg Memorial Scholarship ($1,300 CAD)

2009 Dr Carlo Caldarola Honours Scholarship ($450 CAD)

2008 Jason Lang Scholarship ($1,000 CAD)

2007 Jason Lang Scholarship ($1,000 CAD)

2006 Alexander Rutherford Scholarship ($2,500 CAD)

Job Title:
Junior Research Fellow, Lucy Cavendish College
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