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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Nathan Coombs

Nathan Coombs
Dr Nathan Coombs
Lecturer in Economic Sociology, Sociology Senior Personal Tutor, Deputy School Academic Misconduct Officer
6.10 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 6508259
Research Interests
Sociological Theory, Financial Markets, Social Studies of Finance, financial regulation, History of Political Thought, Economic Sociology, Social theory

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • By appointment but generally Wednesday 3-5pm (during term time)

Research Profile

Nathan Coombs is a lecturer in Economic Sociology whose research brings a science studies perspective to bear on financial regulation and central banking. His work combines social theory with a fine-grained empirical approach to open up regulatory black boxes and interrogate expertise, accountability and legitimacy in financial governance. He has published articles in Economy and Society, The British Journal of Sociology, International Review of Economics Education, The European Legacy, Theory & Event, and Journal of Political Ideologies, among others. He is a founding co-editor of the journal Finance and Society (2014-). His first book was published by Edinburgh University Press: History and Event: From Marxism to Contemporary French Theory (2015). He is writing a second book, The Performance of Financial Stability, which places Plato, Goffman and Callon into dialogue to unravel the paradoxes of scientific authority in financial stability governance.

Teaching (2020/21)

Course organiser and co-lecturer: Digital Markets and Society PGSP1146

Course organiser and co-lecturer: Economic Sociology: Theories and Enquiries

Course organiser: Sociology 1B: The Sociological Imagination: Private Troubles, Public Problems SCIL08005


PhD in Political Theory, Royal Holloway, University of London

MSc in International Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

BSc (hons) in Economics and International Development, University of Bath

Selected Publications

(see full list of publications on Google Scholar)


Coombs, N. (2015) History and Event: From Marxism to Contemporary French Theory, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

[reviewed in Science and Society, Radical PhilosophyMarx & Philosophy Review of Books and Political Studies Review]

Research articles

Coombs, N. (2020) Rethinking the macroprudential policy shift through actor-network theory, working paper.

Coombs, N. (2020) What do stress tests test? Experimentation, demonstration and the sociotechnical performance of regulatory science, The British Journal of Sociology, 71(3): 520-536.

Coombs, N. and Frawley, A. (2019) The value in 'value': An exercise for pluralising economics instruction, International Review of Economics Education, 30: 1-11. 

Coombs, N. (2016) What is an algorithm? Financial regulation in the era of high-frequency trading, Economy and Society, 45(2): 278-302. [featured in The Regulatory Review]

Coombs, N. (2016) Did Lenin refound Marxist dialectics in 1914?The European Legacy, 21(1): 1-18.

Coombs, N. (2014) Speculative justice: Quentin Meilassoux and politicsTheory & Event, 17(4).

Coombs, N. (2011) The political theology of red ToryismJournal of Political Ideologies, 16(1): 79-96.

Coombs, N. (2010) Nomological disputation: Alain Badiou and Graham Harman on objects, Speculations: A journal of speculative realism, 1(1): 135-144.

Book chapters

Coombs, N. (2020) Financial regulation. In: Borch, C. and Wosnitzer, R. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Critical Finance Studies, 137-153. Abingdon: Routledge.

Coombs, N. and van der Heide, A. (2020) Financialization as mathematization: The calculative and regulatory consequences of risk management. In: Mader, P., Mertens, D. and van der Zwan, N. (eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization, 358-68. Abingdon: Routledge.

Coombs, N. (2016) Underlabouring for science: Althusser, Brassier, Bhaskar. In: Malik, S and Avanessian, A. (eds.) Genealogies of Speculation: Materialism and Subjectivity since Structuralism, 271-99. London: Bloomsbury.

Review articles and reviews

Coombs, N. (2021) Review of: The Asset Economy by Adkins, Cooper and Konings. Sociology, forthcoming.

Coombs, N. (2017) Macroprudential versus monetary blueprints for financial reformJournal of Cultural Economy, 10(2): 207-216.

Coombs, N. (2017) Bringing financial regulation back down to earthWork, Employment and Society, 31(1): 197-200.

Other publications

Coombs, N. (2016) What is an algorithm? Financial regulation in the HFT eraAutomated Trader, Issue 41 Q4: 14-18.

Cameron, A., Coombs, N. and Samman, A. (2015) For a post-disciplinary study of finance and society, Finance and Society, 1(1): 1-5.


Donald Trump, Dodd-Frank and the politics of academic critique, SPERI comment, 29 February (2017)

Clamping down - on the Bank of England's stress test, Socializing Finance, 2 December (2016)

Research grants

'Governing Financial Algorithms: A Social Study of Regulation and Compliance', Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship Scheme, 2014-17.

Professional Service

I am a founding editor of the academic journal Finance and Society (launched in 2015) and was previously an editor of the Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies (from 2009 to 2015). 

I am willing to anonymously review manuscripts in my areas of expertise.  I have reviewed for Political Studies, The European Legacy, Journal of Political Ideologies, Security Dialogue, Science, Technology and Human Values, Science and Technology Studies, Information, Communication and Society, Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, and Oxford University Press.

Research Supervision

I can act as a supervisor or in an informal mentoring role on projects concerning social and political theory, economic sociology, science and technology studies, and the social studies of finance.

If you are interested in being supervised by Nathan Coombs, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Politics; PhD in Science and Technology Studies; PhD in Sociology; MSc (R) Politics; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Social Policy; MSc (R) Sociology