Associate Professor Tom Barnes

Program Director, Sociology

Dr Tom Barnes

Areas of expertise: economic sociology; employment; labour; political economy; social movements; social and political change; sociology of work; South Asia; trade unions; work

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3768-7905

HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full

Phone: +61 2 9739 2895


Location: ACU North Sydney Campus

Tom Barnes is an economic sociologist and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Australian Catholic University (ACU), in Sydney. His research primarily focuses on insecure, precarious and informal work. He is currently researching global warehouse logistics and automotive manufacturing. His recent Australian Research Council (ARC) DECRA project (2017-2019) focused on the demise of Australian automotive manufacturing and the impact on workers and communities in closure-affected regions in Victoria. He completed his PhD in political economy at the University of Sydney in 2011 and has expertise on work and economic development in India. He has written two books in this area: Informal Labour in Urban India: Three Cities, Three Journeys (Routledge, 2015) and Making Cars in the New India: Industry, Precarity and Informality (Cambridge University Press, 2018). His articles have appeared in several journals, including Journal of Sociology, Journal of Development Studies and Critical Sociology. His new project focuses on the intersection of surveillance technology, worker agency and rights in warehouse logistics.

Curriculum Vitae

Select publications

  • Books
  • Journal articles
    • Parfitt, C. and Barnes, T. (2020, forthcoming) ‘Rethinking economic security in a precarious world,’ Critical Sociology, 46(4/5)
    • Barnes, T. and Weller, S.A. (2020) ‘Becoming precarious? Precarious work and life trajectories after retrenchment,Critical Sociology, 46(4/5)
    • Barnes, T., Humphrys, E. and Pusey, M. (2018) ‘From economic rationalism to global neoliberalism? Marking 25 years since Economic Rationalism in Canberra’, Journal of Sociology, 54(1): 3-11
    • Barnes, T. (2016) ‘Industry policy in Asia: China, India and Indonesia compared’, Economic and Labour Relations Review, 27(4): 1-16
    • Barnes, T, Lal Das, K.S. and Pratap, S. (2016) ‘Incorporating labour research into studies of global value chains: Lessons from India’s auto industry,’ Global Labour Journal, 7(3): 240-56
    • Barnes, T., Roose, J.M., Heap, L. and Turner, B.S. (2016) ‘Employment, social spillovers and decent work: Challenging the Productivity Commission’s auto industry narrative’, Economic and Labour Relations Review, 27(2): 215-230
    • Barnes, T, Lal Das, K.S. and Pratap, S. (2015) ‘Labour contractors and global production networks: the case of India’s auto supply chain’, Journal of Development Studies, 51(4): 355-69

Selected projects

  • $1,375,000 (2018-23) Linkage Grant, Australian Research Council (ARC) LP170100940: ‘The impacts of industry restructuring’
    • Longitudinal study of impact of auto industry closure’s (Ford, General Motors Holden and Toyota) on workers, businesses and communities across Australia
    • Project team: Prof Andrew Beer (UniSA), A/Prof Sally Weller, Prof Julie Ratcliffe, Dr Ilke Onur, Prof David Bailey, Prof Markku Sotarauta
    • in partnership with Commonwealth Government Department of Employment, Government of South Australia Department of State Development & Department of Premier and Cabinet, Toyota Australia, GM Holden Ltd, SA Health, South Australian Council of Social Services and Anglicare SA.
  • $346,000 (2017-19) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, ARC, DE170100735: ‘Charting work, life and well-being after the auto industry’
    • Longitudinal study of impact of auto industry closure’s on workers, businesses and communities in Melbourne and Geelong
  • 8,882 (2019-20) Pilot Study: The future of work and well-being in global warehousing and logistics, National Union of Workers (Victoria) (ACU project code 904377-684)

Accolades and awards

  • 2015-16 Victorian Parliamentary Library Fellowship for comparative project on Australian and US automotive industry
  • $23,500 (2013) Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellow:
    • awarded to top five recipients of an Endeavour Research Fellowship (Commonwealth Government) each year
    • project explored the role of ‘contract labour’ in the Indian automotive components sector, focusing on employment and livelihoods in the New Delhi region
    • project conducted in partnership with the Faculty of Sociology, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi

Appointments and affiliations

  • Research fellow, Center for the Study of Citizenship, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, Sept-Nov 2015

Public engagement

Have a


Our contacts

Have a question for a specific
team? Ask the right person.

View all contacts