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Sociology Research


Professor Brendan Burchell's first degree was in Psychology from the University of Birmingham from 1977-80. From there he went to Warwick University to take a PhD in Social Psychology, researching person perception under laboratory conditions. He then took a one-year post at The City University teaching social psychology, statistics and computing. His career took a change of direction when, in 1985, he was appointed to the Department of Applied Economics at Cambridge as a Research Officer to assist in a project entitled the Social Change and Economic Life Initiative, working collaboratively with economists, social psychologists and sociologists on a variety of aspects of labour markets and their effects on individuals. In 1988 Professor Burchell transferred from the Department of Applied Economics to take a Lectureship in the Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science.

Research Interests

The effects of labour market experiences (e.g. job insecurity, work intensification, bankruptcy, zero hours contracts, part-time work, unemployment) on psychological well-being. The social psychological effects of precarious employment and unemployment. Gender segregation, men’s and women’s life cycle and career. Emotional reactions to personal finances: “Financial Phobia”.


Graduate supervision availability and interests:

Brendan is available to supervise graduate students on topics close to my research interests, which include job insecurity, work intensity, self-employment, part-time work, job quality, decent work, zero-hours contracts, employment and migration, gender segregation, digital jobs, the future of work.

Current Doctoral students:

Vincent Hardy

Emre Irdam

Magdalena Soffia

Key Publications - Books

Burchell, B.J., Ladipo D. and Wilkinson, F. (Eds) 2002.  Job Insecurity and Work Intensification. London: Routledge pp i-xi & p1-227.

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Sparkes, M., Gumy, J. & Burchell B. (2018) "Debt." In A. Lewis (Ed) Cambridge handbook of psychology and economic behavior. Cambridge University Press.

Wood, A. & Burchell B. (2018) "Unemployment and Well-being" In A. Lewis (Ed) Cambridge handbook of psychology and economic behavior. Cambridge University Press

Burchell, B.J., Coutts, A., Hall, E., O’Higgins, N. & Pye, N (2017) "Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship" In Rising to the Youth Employment Challenge: New Evidence on Key Policy Issues, Ed N. O’Higgins, Geneva: ILO.

Burchell, B & Wood, A. (2017) "You are never Secure: UK workers in the era of Flexibility" in Svendsen, Z., & Daw, S. World Factory: The Game. Nick Hern Books.

Piasna, A., Burchell, B.J., Sehnbruch, K. & Agloni, N. (2017) "Job Quality: Conceptual and methodological challenges for comparative analysis."  In Making Work More Equal: A New Labour Market Segmentation Approach.  Eds D. Grimshaw, C. Fagan, G. Hebson, & I Tavora. Manchester, Manchester University Press.

Sparkes, M., Gumy, J. and Burchell, B. (2017), “Debt: Beyond Homo Economicus”, in A. Lewis (ed), Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour (Second Edition), pp. 198-233, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Miller, J., Brewin, C., Soffia, M., Elliott-Davies, M., Burchell, B., & Peart, A. (2021). The development of a UK police traumatic events checklist. The Police Journal.

Kroeger, F., Racko, G., Burchell, B (2021) How to create trust quickly: A comparative empirical investigation of the bases of swift trust. Cambridge Journal of Economics, Volume 45, Issue 1, January 2021, Pages 129–150

Wang, S, Coutts, A P, Burchell, B., Kamerade, D., Balderson, U. (2020) Can Active Labour Market Programmes Emulate the Mental Health Benefits of Regular Paid Employment? Longitudinal Evidence from the United Kingdom. Work, Employment and Society.

Balderson, U, Wang, S, Burchell, B., Kamerade, D., Coutts A P (2020)  An exploration of the multiple motivations for spending less time at work. Time and Society.

Brewin, C.B., Miller, J.K., Soffia, M., Burchell, B. (2020). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in U.K. Police Officers. Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Burchell B J, Coutts A P (2019) The Experience of Self-Employment Among Young People: An Exploratory Analysis of 28 Low- to Middle-Income Countries. American Behavioral Scientist, 63(2), 147–165.

Didriksen, M., Rigas, A. S., Allen, R. P., Burchell, B. J., Angelantonio, E. Di, Nielsen, M. H., … Ullum, H.. Prevalence of restless legs syndrome and associated factors in an otherwise healthy population: results from the Danish Blood Donor Study. sleep. (2017) 

Didriksen, M T Hansen, A Rigas, R Allen, B Burchell, L Thørner, K Nielsen, E Di Angelantonio, M Nielsen, Poul Jennum, Thomas Werge, Christian Erikstrup, O Pedersen, H Paarup, Henrik Hjalgrim, M Bruun, K Burgdorf, E Sørensen, Henrik Ullum, 'Comorbidities to restless legs syndrome–results from the Danish blood donor study' Sleep Medicine 40, e79 (2017)

Kamerāde D, Wang S, Burchell B, Balderson S U, Coutts A P (2019) A shorter working week for everyone: How much paid work is needed for mental health and well-being? Social Science & Medicine.

Racko, G., Strauss, K. and Burchell, B. ‘Economics Education and Value Change: The Role of Program Normative Homogeneity and Peer Influence’ Academy of Management Learning and Education. (2016) Doi:10.5465/amle.2014.0280

O'Reilly, J., Smith, M., Deakin, S. and Burchell, B. Equal Pay as a Moving Target: International perspectives on forty years of addressing the gender pay gap. Cambridge Journal of Economics (2015) 39 (2):299-317 

Sehnbruch, K., Burchell, B., Agloni, N. and Piasna, A. Human Development and Decent Work: Why some concepts succeed and others fail to make an impact. Development and Change (2015) 46 (2) 

Burchell B, Sehnbruch K, Piasna A and Agloni N (2014). The Quality of Employment and Decent Work: Definition, Methodologies and Ongoing Debates. Cambridge Journal of Economics 2014, 38: 459-477. 

Shapiro, G.K. & Burchell, B.J. Measuring Financial Anxiety. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics. (2012) 5(2) 92-103. 

Burchell, B.J., A Temporal Comparison of the Effects of Unemployment and Job Insecurity on Wellbeing. Sociological Research Online 16 (1). (2011).

Burchell, B.J., Allen, R.P., Miller, J.K., Hening, W.A. & Earley, C.J., 2009. RLS and blood donation. Sleep Medicine, (2009) 10(8), 844-849. 

Burchell, B.J. Flexicurity as a moderator of the relationship between job insecurity and psychological well-being. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society (2009) 2(3) Pp. 365-378. 

Key Publications - Other

Burchell, B., Coutts, A., Hall, E. and Pye, N. 2016. Self-employment programmes for young people: A review of the context, policies and evidence. ILO Employment Working Paper No. 198.

Burchell, B., Hardy, V., Rubery, J. & Smith, M. 2014. A new method to understand occupational gender segregation in European labour markets. Report for the European Commission. 

Smith, M., Piasna, A., Burchell, B., Rubery, J., Rafferty, A., Rose, J. and Carter, L. 2013. Women, men and working conditions in Europe, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. 

Grants and Projects

GCRF / RCUK Research for Health in Conflict (R4HC) 2018 - 2022. The political economy of health in the Arab region. CO-I and lead of the political economy of health component. 650K.

Burchell, B. ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, ‘Deepening the health and safety discourse on zero hours employment’ March 2015 – December 2015, £9,821 

Burchell, B. The Racing Foundation, ‘The quality of employment in horseracing industry’, September 2015 – August 2016, pilot funding £5,000 

Burchell, B. (PI) Self-employment programmes for young people: a review of the context, policies and evidence. International Labour Organisation (2015): £15,000

Burchell, B. (PI) A new method to analyse occupational gender segregation. European Commission (2015): £20,000

Burchell, B. (PI) Gender and working conditions. European Foundation (2012): £30,000

Burchell, B & Annor, F. Self-employment and family life: A study of workers in Ghana's informal sector. Cambridge-Africa Alborada Research Fund (2017): £6000

Research Groups & Affiliations


Pilkington Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Cambridge University (2011)

Job Title:
Professor in the Social Sciences, Chair of the Archaeology, Anthropology and Sociology Degree Committee
Professor Brendan Burchell
Full CV / Publications: