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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Professor Paul Langley

Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41850
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 222

Contact Professor Paul Langley (email at


Paul Langley is Professor of Economic Geography. He joined the Department in 2011, and was previously Professor of International Relations at University of York and Senior Lecturer in Politics at Northumbria University. Paul's Departmental roles have included Programme Director for BA(Hons) and MArts Geography, and Convenor of the Economy & Culture research cluster.

Paul's research interests centre on money, financial markets, and processes of financialization. He is the author of three monographs - World Financial Orders (Routledge, 2002/2013), The Everyday Life of Global Finance (Oxford University Press, 2008), and Liquidity Lost (Oxford University Press, 2015). His research has received support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), British Academy, and European Commission.

Twitter: @_paullangley

Paul is presently researching three spaces of finance:

(1) Digital finance

Focusing on the payday loan market in the UK, Paul was Co-Investogator on a recently completed ESRC project (led by James Ash, Newcastle, with Ben Anderson, Durham Geography, see that explored how credit-debt relations are mediated through digital platforms and apps. Publicatons to date include a methodological piece on researching digital interfaces (‘Unit, Vibration, Tone’, Cultural Geographies, 2017), an account of the experimental work of interface designers ('Digital interface design and power', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 2018), and a paper interrogating how borrowers relate to payday loans as money, not as credit, debt and finance ('Indebted life and money culture', Economy and Society, 2019). 

Paul’s work on digital finance relates to his wider interests in the marketing and consumption of retail financial products and services (e.g. edited special issue, 'Consuming Credit', Consumption, Markets and Culture, 2014). It is also being pursued through on-going research with Andrew Leyshon (Nottingham University) into crowdfunding (Economic Geography, 2016, and Environment & Planning A, 2017), the FinTech sector, and the intermediary infrastructures of digital economic circulation ('Platform Capitalism', Finance and Society, 2017). 

(2) Carbon finance 

As part of REINVENT - a Horizon 2020 project with European partners and Harriet Bulkeley and Gavin Bridge from Durham Geography - Paul is investigating how new forms of carbon finance are contributing towards the decarbonization of European industrial sectors including plastics, steel, and paper. The first publication from this work is now available online early ('Pluralizing and problematizing carbon finance', Progress in Human Geography), and related work is included in aforthcoming chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Financial Geography on 'Impact investors'.

Research into carbon finance broadens Paul's long standing research interest in financialization processes that variously promise to secure life via financial logics, techniques and practices. See, for example: book-length treatments of these issues in The Everyday Life of Global Finance (OUP, 2008) and Liquidity Lost (OUP, 2015); an article on the financialization of the urban infrastructures of life (‘Frontier Financialization', Economic Anthropology, 2018); and, a forthcoming conceptual essay arguing for wide-ranging research into 'The financialization of life' (in International Handbook of Financialization, edited by Mader, Mertens & van der Zwan). 

(3) Social finance

In collaboration with colleagues from Durham Geography, Paul is Co-Investigator on an ESRC Urban Transformations Programme project (see His contribution to the project centres on researching novel forms of contemporary finance that are demarcated according to their social purpose (e.g. impact investment, social lending, community shares, crowdfunding) and which variously enable processes of urban social innovation. See, for example, Paul's article on ‘The Folds of Social Finance’ (Environment & Planning A: Economy and Space). 

This research develops from Paul’s previous work on the ambiguities of marginal and alternative spaces of finance, including subprime mortgages (Economy and Society, 2008) and, especially, ethical investment (in Abdelal, Blyth & Parson, 2010).

Cutting across his research, Paul also seeks to contribute to debates underway in economic geography and beyond by developing a broad-based cultural economy approach. This includes interests in the strengths and limitations of processual concepts common to cultural economy (e.g. marketization, valuation, capitalization, assetization), the ways in which economics can be understood to have performative and governmental power, how affective energies and sovereign techniques are mobilized in economic practices, and how the making of entrepreneurial and financial subjectivities features in contemporary neoliberal government.


Paul welcomes doctoral research students interested in working on topics that fall broadly within the remit of his research interests. He has previously supervised students who have written theses on a wide range of topics, including occupational pensions in the UK, sub-prime mortgage markets in the US and UK, ‘small states’ and ‘hot money’ in the global economy, financial stability and central banking, and the rise of the US dollar as 'world money'. He is presently supervising students researching topics that include fiscal austerity, private wealth management, urban air rights markets, and distributed ledger technology and cross-border payments.

External Supervisions

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Geographies of money and finance
  • Financialization
  • Cultural economy

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Authored book

Chapter in book

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Selected Grants

  • 2016: 2016-2020: H2020-REINVENT, European Commission