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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Arjen van der Heide

Arjen van der Heide
Arjen van der Heide
Sociology School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Social Studies of Finance, Economic Sociology, Insurance markets, Science and technology studies, Financial regulation, Sociology of Quantification, Political Economy, Life Insurance, Sociology of Knowledge

PhD research

Evaluation Practices In UK Life Insurance, 1950s-Present

My PhD research focuses on the historical transformation of the evaluation practices of UK life insurance companies with a specific focus on the role of financial economics. Financial economics emerged since the 1950s as a new academic discipline that has had a significant impact on how financial market actors behave. Less well understood, however, is how financial economic knowledge has been appropriated in fields of expertise that have a markedly different history such as that of the actuarial profession. This research thus investigates how financial economic expertise was received and appropriated by various “evaluation cultures” in UK life insurance. The research has two major components: first, I seek to explain the factors that shaped the turn to financial economics in actuarial science. Second, I examine the consequences of this turn in relation to changes in the organisation of UK life insurance, with a specific emphasis on its financialisation.  


Donald MacKenzie

Iain Hardie


MscRes. Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology, Cum Laude (Maastricht University)

Bsc. Economics and Business, with specialisation in Economics (University of Amsterdam)

Bsc. Political Science, with specialisation in Public Policy and Governance (University of Amsterdam)

Peer-reviewed publications

van der Heide, Arjen, Alix Rufas, and Alexandra Supper. 2016. "Doctoral Dissertation Defenses: Performing Ambiguity Between Ceremony and Assessment." Science as Culture 25 (4): 473-495.

Book Reviews

"Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics." (2017) Acta Sociologica, 60 (2): 191–193. 


2017 - Honourable Mention, Internet Thesis Prize, for master dissertation: 'Money Matters: Disentangling Materiality in the Social and Political Life of Bitcoin'

2016 - Economic and Social Research Council +3 Studentship

           - Graduate School of Social and Political Science Special Award