School of Social and Political Science

Dr Liz McFall

Job Title

Chancellor's Fellow

A photograph of Liz McFall

Room number


Street (Address)

21 George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

My research focuses on three main areas, insurance, market studies and cultural economy. Recent research focuses on big data-driven innovations in insurance and insurtech, cities and civic planning, and especially the connections between the two. This includes investigating the role insurance companies have played in shaping the built environment through their property investment and development work.  

I am currently working on the project 'Supporting local acceleration in Granton through inclusive, data driven and participatory engagement' funded as part of the ERCS's local acceleration pilot scheme.  

Keywords: Sociology of markets, insurance and finance, consumption, welfare and healthcare payment systems, planning city futures and civic participation. 

I'm interested in supervising students working to develop projects in any of the research areas described above. If you are interested in being supervised by me, please see the links below (opening in new windows) for more information:


I am primarily a sociologist of markets and have a particular interest in dull or difficult markets. In the past this has involved research on the historical practices of advertising and marketing, particularly of doorstep financial products targeted at the poor including industrial life insurance and credit vouchers. More recently, my research has focused on big data-driven innovations in insurance and insurtech on the one hand, and on cities and civic planning, on the other. 

My most recent publications are:

Editorial: The personalisation of insurance: Data, behaviour and innovation; with Ine Van Hoyweghen and Gert Meyers 

The value of sharing: Branding and behaviour in a life and health insurance company; with Hugo Jeanningros, Big Data and Society

Personalizing solidarity? The role of self-tracking in health insurance pricing. Economy and Society

Books include Markets and the Arts of Attachment (2017) co-edited with Franck Cochoy and Joe Deville, and the monographs  Devising Consumption: cultural economies of insurance, credit and spending (2014) and Advertising: a cultural economy (2004). I am also joint Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cultural Economy.

Having spent many years at the Open University, I have an appetite for teaching and thinking across a variety of media. This resulted in the founding of  AWED, an informal collective that make films and installations exploring the orchestration of civic sentiments and data techniques most recently Closes and Opens: a history of Edinburgh’s Futures.

Works within

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
McFall L. Life funds, urban development, and the experimental practices of financial sociology. British Journal of Sociology. 2023 Oct 9. Epub 2023 Oct 9. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.13057
Henderson J, Galanos V, Escobar O, Mcfall L, McGowan A, Bassett K et al. Community Leadership in North Edinburgh: Report from the Knowledge Exchange Labs 2022. Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh, 2023. 32 p.
Maynard T, Baldassarre L, De Montjoye YA, McFall L, Óskarsdóttir M. AI: Coming of age? Annals of Actuarial Science. 2022 Mar;16(1):1-5. Epub 2022 Jan 19. doi: 10.1017/S1748499521000245
McFall L. Insurance, insurtech, and the architecture of the city. In Booth K, Lucas C, French S, editors, Climate, Society and Elemental Insurance: Capacities and Limitations. 1st ed. London: Routledge. 2022. p. 201-218 doi: 10.4324/9781003157571-20
Slater D, Nixon S, McFall L. Strategic ambiguity: A roundtable on cultural economy and consumer culture. Journal of Cultural Economy. 2021 Aug 6. Epub 2021 Aug 6. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2021.1958901
McFall L, Meyers G, Hoyweghen IV. Editorial: The personalisation of insurance: Data, behaviour and innovation. Big Data and Society. 2020 Nov 26;7(2). Epub 2020 Nov 26. doi: 10.1177/2053951720973707
Jenningros H, Mcfall L. The value of sharing: Branding and behaviour in a life and health insurance company. Big Data and Society. 2020 Sept 10;7(2):1-15. doi: 10.1177/2053951720950350
McFall L. Individualising solidarities. In Van Hoyweghen I, Pulignano V, Meyers G, editors, Shifting Solidarities: Trends and Developments in European Societies. Palgrave Macmillan. 2020. p. 119-125 doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-44062-6_6
Moats D, McFall L. In search of a problem: Mapping controversies over NHS (England) patient data with digital tools. Science, Technology, & Human Values (ST&HV). 2019 May 1;44(3):478-513. Epub 2018 Oct 11. doi: 10.1177/0162243918796274
Mcfall E. Personalizing solidarity? The role of self-tracking in health insurance pricing. Economy and Society. 2019;48(1):52-76. Epub 2019 Mar 19. doi: 10.1080/03085147.2019.1570707
McFall L, Moor L. Who, or what, is insurtech personalizing? persons, prices and the historical classifications of risk. Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory. 2018 Aug 29;19(2):193-213. doi: 10.1080/1600910X.2018.1503609
Umney D, Nelms TC, O'Brien D, Muniesa F, Moor L, McFall L et al. On brutal culture. Journal of Cultural Economy. 2017 Nov 2;10(6):556-568. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2017.1387804
McFall L, Cochoy F, Deville J. Introduction: Markets and the arts of attachment. In Cochoy F, Deville J, McFall L, editors, Markets and the Arts of Attachment. 1 ed. London: Routledge. 2017. p. 1-21 doi: 10.4324/9781315696454
McFall L, Deville J. The market will have you: The arts of market attachment in a digital economy. In Cochoy F, Deville J, McFall L, editors, Markets and the Arts of Attachment. 1 ed. London: Taylor and Francis Inc. 2017. p. 108-131 doi: 10.4324/9781315696454
Cochoy F, Deville J, McFall L. Markets and the arts of attachment. 1 ed. London: Routledge, 2017. 210 p. doi: 10.4324/9781315696454
Cooper M, McFall L. Ten years after: it’s the economy and culture, stupid! Journal of Cultural Economy. 2017 Jan 9;10(1):1-7. Epub 2017 Jan 9. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2016.1267026
McFall L. What's changing cultural economy? Journal of Cultural Economy. 2015 Feb 18;8(1):1-15. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2014.988670
McFall L. Devising Consumption: Cultural Economies of Insurance, Credit and Spending. 1 ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014. 212 p. (CRESC: Culture, Economy and the Social). doi: 10.4324/9780203147870
McFall L. 'Which half?' Accounting for ideology in advertising. In Maclaran P, Saren M, Goulding C, Elliott R, Caterall M, editors, Critical Marketing: Defining the Field. 1 ed. London: Routledge. 2012. p. 125-138 doi: 10.4324/9780080549767
Mcfall L. A 'good, average man': calculation and the limits of statistics in enrolling insurance customers. Sociological Review . 2011 Nov 1;59(4):661-684. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2011.02033.x
Mcfall L. Pragmatics and politics: the case of industrial assurance in the UK. Journal of Cultural Economy. 2010 Sept 4;3(2):205-223. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2010.494124
Cochoy F, Giraudeau M, McFall L. Performativity, economics and politics: an overview. Journal of Cultural Economy. 2010 Sept 4;3(2):139-146. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2010.494116
McFall L. ‘The rules of prudence’: Political liberalism and life assurance in the nineteenth century. In Clark GW, Anderson G, Thomann C, von der Schulenburg JMG, editors, The Appeal of Insurance. University of Toronto Press. 2010. p. 127-150
McFall L, Dodsworth F. Fabricating the market: The promotion of life assurance in the long nineteenth-century. Journal of Historical Sociology. 2009 Feb 18;22(1):30-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6443.2009.01341.x
Mcfall L. The disinterested self: The idealized subject of life assurance. Cultural Studies. 2007 Jun 18;21(4-5):591-609. doi: 10.1080/09502380701278970
McFall L. The culturalization of work in the 'new' economy: An historical view. In Jensen TE, Westenholz A, editors, Identity in the Age of the New Economy: Life in Temporary and Scattered Work Practices. USA: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2004. p. 9-33 doi: 10.4337/9781845423445.00008
McFall L. Advertising: A cultural economy. SAGE Publications Inc., 2004. 224 p. doi: 10.4135/9781446215418
Woodward K, Goldblatt D, McFall L. Changing times, changing knowledge. In Goldblatt D, editor, Knowledge and the Social Sciences: Theory, Method, Practice. 2 ed. Taylor & Francis. 2004. p. 115-141 doi: 10.4324/9780203392201-9
McFall L, Du Gay P. Consuming advertising: Consuming cultural history. In Miles S, Anderson A, Meethan K, editors, The Changing Consumer: Markets and Meanings. 1 ed. Routledge. 2001. p. 74-89