The Political Economy research stream will develop existing achievements in the study of citizenship, the changing economy, employment, the role of trade unions, and the changing nature of work.

This focus reflects the work of Tom Barnes and Sally Weller on de-industrialization, retrenchment and the labour market in Melbourne and Geelong. It asks what happens to workers who are retrenched or fall out of the labour market.

These issues are obviously of interest to economists, but researchers in the Institute look at how politics influences economic development and market behaviour for example by regulating international trade. Our research looks at the social consequences of economic crises (such as the 2008-11 global financial crisis). Recent publications have examined the social causes of the rise of populist leaders and political parties in response to what are seen to be the negative consequences of globalization. Our research on the topic of de-industrialization includes a comparison of Detroit in the United States that went through a catastrophic process of economic decline following the failure of its automobile industries.

Stream leader


Dr Tom Barnes

Tom is an economic sociologist, with a background in political economy and development studies.

View Dr Tom Barnes' profile



Automotive Industry decline in Melbourne and Detroit

The project compares the decline of the automotive industries in Melbourne and Detroit while also examining the cities' reinvention.

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Other research streams


Law and Society

The ‘law and society’ perspective asks how social institutions, values and practices shape or determine the nature and operation of the law. This research stream builds on existing research into legal pluralism or the role of different legal traditions within a sovereign state.

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Social and Political Theory

Social and Political Theory

Social and political theories attempts to give answers to basic questions – what makes societies successful and how would we know? Social theory sets out to explain how the basic structures of society function - its institutions, organizations, groups, communities and so forth. Political theory attempts to analyse the state, power, authority and political parties.

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ACU Institute for Religion, Politics and Society

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