School of Social and Political Science

Dr Liz McFall

Job Title

Chancellor's Fellow

A photograph of Liz McFall

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Street (Address)

21 George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)



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.

Research interests

Research interests

I am currently lead investigator on ‘COVID Arcadia: Socio-Material Adaptations and the Role of ‘Digital Affective’ premises in a Pandemic City’ part of the Data-Driven Entrepreneurship Beacon Programme supported by the Scottish Funding Council. Together with postgraduate researchers Kath Bassett, Idil Galip, Addie McGowan and Elif Buse Doyuran the project is tracing the responses of independent service retailers in Edinburgh to the Covid pandemic. We investigate these adaptations using digital ethnographic methods that combine an analysis of the role, affordances and interplay across both material and digital premises and platforms from Reddit to Instagram, and analysis of ‘massive, passive, behavioural data’ using target hashtags reflecting on Edinburgh during the various phases of lockdown.

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:

Works within

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
McFall L, Meyers G, Hoyweghen IV. Editorial: The personalisation of insurance: Data, behaviour and innovation. Big Data and Society. 2020 Nov 26;7(2).
Jenningros H, Mcfall L. The value of sharing: Branding and behaviour in a life and health insurance company. Big Data and Society. 2020 Sep 10;7(2):1-15.
Moats D, McFall L. In search of a problem: Mapping controversies over NHS (England) patient data with digital tools. Science Technology and Human Values. 2019 May 1;44(3):478-513.
Mcfall E. Personalizing solidarity? The role of self-tracking in health insurance pricing. Economy and Society. 2019;48(1):52-76.
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.
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.
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
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
Cochoy F, Deville J, McFall L. Markets and the arts of attachment. 1 ed. London: Routledge, 2017. 210 p.
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.
McFall L. What's changing cultural economy? Journal of Cultural Economy. 2015 Feb 18;8(1):1-15.
McFall L. Devising Consumption: Cultural Economies of Insurance, Credit and Spending. 1 ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014. 212 p. (CRESC: Culture, Economy and the Social).
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
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.
Cochoy F, Giraudeau M, McFall L. Performativity, economics and politics: an overview. Journal of Cultural Economy. 2010 Sep 4;3(2):139-146.
Mcfall L. Pragmatics and politics: the case of industrial assurance in the UK. Journal of Cultural Economy. 2010 Sep 4;3(2):205-223.
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 JM-G, 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.
Mcfall L. The disinterested self: The idealized subject of life assurance. Cultural Studies. 2007 Jun 18;21(4-5):591-609.
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
McFall L. Advertising: A cultural economy. SAGE Publications Inc., 2004. 224 p.
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