Current Research Students

  • Janin Bredehoeft
  • Matthew Costa
  • Valentina Curcetti
  • Huon Curtis
  • Dennis Feher
  • Tansel Guclu

Elizabeth Humphrys
Elizabeth Humphrys
Biography Elizabeth has a BA in public policy (Deakin), a Grad Certificate (Social Inquiry) (UTS) and Masters of Arts (Research) (UTS). Her Masters thesis examined the impact of the 9/11 terror attacks on the global justice movement. In 2013 Elizabeth was awarded a WZB/Sydney Fellowship at the Social Science Research Centre Berlin. She is a founding editor of Interface Journal and co-convenor of The Australian Sociological Association’s Sociology of Economic Life thematic group.

Elizabeth has worked as a tutor and lecturer in the Department of Political Economy and at Macquarie University, and in 2013 received a Dean’s Citation for Excellence in Tutorials. Before commencing her PhD Elizabeth oversaw student complaints and misconduct for the University of New South Wales and was an investigator for the NSW Ombudsman. She has also conducted research and policy development for non-government organisations.

Degree PhD
Supervisors Dr Damien Cahill; Dr Bill Dunn (associate)
Commenced August 2011
Full or part time Full-time
Thesis topic Neoliberal Economic Transformation & the Australian State: The Implementation and Impact of the Prices and Incomes Accord
Abstract Elizabeth’s PhD examines neoliberal transformation. Her research focuses on the development and implementation of the Australian Labor Party and Australian Council of Trade Union’s Prices and Incomes Accord (1983-1996), asking how, and on what basis, the Accord was part of neoliberal change in Australia. The thesis explores the role of labour in the roll-out of neoliberalism, and the Accord is examined as a key mechanism through which labour actively participated in the construction of neoliberalism. Elizabeth is interested in how subaltern groupings become incorporated in to state centred political projects, and asks how Antonio Gramsci’s conceptions of the integral state and hegemony can assist in understanding this.


  • Humphrys E, Rundle G and Tietze T (Eds) (2011) On Utoya: Anders Breivik, Right Terror, Racism and Europe, Elguta Press: London.

Book Chapters:

  • Humphrys E (2014) ‘The Primacy of Politics: Stilwell, the Accord and the Critique of the State’, in Susan Schroeder and Lynne Chester (eds), Challenging the Orthodoxy, Springer-Verlag: Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Humphrys E (2013) ‘Organic Intellectuals and the Australian Global Justice Movement: The Weight of 9/11’, in Colin Barker, Laurence Cox, John Krinsky and Alf Nielsen (eds), Marxism and Social Movements, Brill: Leiden.
  • Humphrys E and Tietze T (2012) ‘The Science Cannot Save Us’, in Jeff Sparrow and Antony Loewenstein (eds), Left Turn, Melbourne University Press: Melbourne

Journal Articles:

  • Humphrys E (2013) ‘Global Justice Organising in Australia: Crisis and Realignment after 9/11’, in Globalizations, Vol 10, No 3.
  • Humphrys E (2012) ‘The Birth of Australia: Non-Capitalist Social Relations in a Capitalist Mode of Production’, in Journal of Australian Political Economy, Vol 70.
  • Humphrys E (2009) ‘Thinking and Theorising About Activism: Who and How’ in Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol 1, No 2, pp. 166-179.

Other Journal Contributions and media:

  • Humphrys E & Tietze T (2014) ‘Qantas and job losses: the reality of union decline must be faced’, The Guardian, 5 March.
  • Humphrys E (2013) Review of ‘Labour and the Politics of Empire: Britain and Australia, 1900 to the Present’ (by Neville Kirk), Reviews in Australian Studies, Vol 7, No 4.
  • Humphrys E (2013) ‘Within or Against the State’, Jacobin Magazine, 7 August,
  • Humphrys E (2012) ‘Your ‘Terrorists’, Our ‘Lone Wolves’: Utøya in the shadow of 9/11’, in Journal of International Relations Research, Vol 1, pp. 72-80.
  • Humphrys E (2012) ‘From Global Justice to Occupy Everywhere’, Overland Journal, Special Supplement, January 2012.
  • Humphrys E & Tietze T (2011) ‘The Carbon Price Debate as Smokescreen for Inaction’, ABC The Drum Opinion, 9 June.

Norachit Jirasatthumb
Norachit Jirasatthumb
Biography Norachit has a Bachelor degree in economics from Srinakarinwirot University, Thailand. He completed MA (economics) at Chulalongkorn University where his in-depth interest in political economy and heterodox economics was developed. He read and wrote his MA thesis in the philosophical topic about postmodernist critique on the notion of economic rationality which then was revised and published by Vibhaza Press. After MA graduation, Norachit began his academic career by working as a lecturer in department of economics, Khon Kaen University. He taught there for three years and was awarded the university’s scholarship to pursue his PhD at University of Sydney. His field interests include Marxian economics, Social Structure of Accumulation Theory, Cultural Political Economy, the Thai Concept of Sufficiency Economy, and Thai Economy.
Degree PhD
Supervisors Joy Paton; Stuart Rosewarne
Commenced 2011
Full or part time Full-time
Thesis topic The Thai Concept of Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) and Thai Capitalism
Abstract The aim of this project is to make an assessment of the relationship between the idea of Sufficiency Economy and Thai Capitalism. SEP has become an important cultural concept in Thailand, developed by the King, and promoted by his surrounding network of monarchy. The project will investigate 1) how SEP has become a constitutive element of Thailand’s social and economic institutions and 2) the impact of SEP’s institutionalisation on the performance of accumulation of Thai capitalism.

This project will provide a much needed critical engagement with the concept of SEP. The potential scholarly contribution of the project is twofold. First, it will expand the currently small body of knowledge on the Thai economy in the era of SEP from a critical political economy perspective. Second, it will make an original conceptual contribution to political economy through its model of theoretical integration, bringing together Social Structures of Accumulation theory with Cultural Political Economy for application in a new geographical area and social context, that of Thailand and with some revisions of interconnected institutions – social structure of accumulations (and the interplay of the SEP in each of them).

(both in Thai and English since 2011)

Book Chapter and Conference Paper:

  • Norachit Jirasatthumb. 2014. Institutionalization of the Thai Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) and a Critical Assessment. Paper presented in ENITS Scholarship Research. Institute of Thai Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand..
  • Norachit Jirasatthumb. 2014. Sufficiency Economy Philosophy toward the pathway of Economic Imaginary: re-shaping and revival of Thai rural agrarian sector?. Paper presented in 12th International on Thai Studies Conference. University of Sydney, Australia.
  • Norachit Jirasatthumb. 2013. “Political Economics under the shadow of Political Economy: a critical essay”. In Chatthip Nartsupha (ed.), With Love Volume 1: Philosophy and Content of History and Social Sciences. Sangsan Press. Bangkok. (in Thai)

Articles in Magazines and Newspaper:

  • Norachit Jirasatthumb. 2012. “Long Live the King: Will Thailand’s SEP be a White Elephant?” in GLOBE Magazine (issue 5, 2012). The University of Sydney Union.
  • Columnist of Bangkok Business Newspaper (Krunthep Dhurakit) from 2008 – present (in Thai)

Minh Duc Luu
Minh Duc Luu
Biography Minh Duc has a BA in International Relations at the Academy of Diplomacy, Hanoi and an MBA at the City College, London, and a graduate certificate in Public administration at the ANU. Before coming to Sydney, he had more than 10 years of working experience in foreign-invested companies and as an economic policy analyst at the Central Institute for Economic Management, a leading policy think-tank of the government in Vietnam. His research interests were corporate governance, business environment and competitiveness, private sector development, M&A, CSR, Social enterprises. In 2009, he was awarded both of the Chevening Fellowship (for Economic governance and reform at the University of Bradford), and Australian Leadership Awards (at the Australian National University). He commenced the Doctoral program in 2014 with the Australian Awards Scholarship. His current interests include political economy, institutionalism, the role of the state in the economy, SOE privatisation.
Degree Doctor of Social Sciences
Supervisors Joy Paton and Gavan Butler
Commenced 2014
Full or part time Full-time
Thesis topic
Abstract The reform of the state-owned enterprises (SOE) has been a significant challenge for Vietnamese government’s efforts to restructuring the country economy for more than two decades. This is actually a typical case of a developing country in transition from the central-planning economy where the SOE used to account for the whole formal business sector. In fact, this was also a period when the SOE reform by privatisation had been largely debatable worldwide. Though, being initiated by the conservative government in the UK since early 1980s, the privatisation then has been introduced into the developing nations regardless of their distinctive conditions. As a result, on the one hand it is known that the privatisation outcomes have been mixed, on the other hand, the debate over the question of why and how to privatise have been quite controversial. However, while the neoliberal philosophies behind the privatisation have been proved to have little empirical evidence and obtain low level of effectiveness for the SOE in particular and the economy as a whole; it is increasingly perceived that the factor of country-specific institutions should be taken into account during each privatisation process.

From this institutional economic perspective, I intend to make an enquiry to answer two research questions as follows: (i) what does the effectiveness of the SOE reform by privatisation (equitisation) mean? (ii) what determinants leads to the effectiveness as identified? The method of case study is expected to be used, including surveys, participatory observation and in-depth interviews.


Research paper:

  • Social Enterprises in Vietnam- Concepts, Context and Policies, (co-author), CIEM, BC and CSIP, Hanoi 2012.
  • The Evolution of Vietnamese Industry, (co-author), Working paper WP/2014/076, Learning to Compete, UNU-WIDER and Brookings Institute, 2012.
  • Competitiveness of Exporting Firms in Vietnam, (co-author), CIEM and Asia Foundation, Hanoi 2011.
  • Vietnam Competitiveness Report 2010, (co-author), CIEM- Asian Competitiveness Institute (LKY School, NUS) Singapore – Harvard Business School, Hanoi 2010.

Magazine and Trade Journals:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility: How much is enough?, Saigon Economic Times (Weekly), Vol. 45, 10/2008
  • Company: for- profit or citizenship?, Saigon Economic Times (Weekly), Vol. 44, 10/2008
  • Economic Reforms in China and Vietnam: a brief comparison, (co-author), Economic Management Review, Vol. 17, 2007
  • Merger and Acquisition (M&A) from a Corporate Governance Perspective: concepts, international best practices and current situation in Vietnam, Economic Management Review, Vol. 15-16, 2007.
  • National Brands needs to avoid irrationalism routes, Saigon Economic Times (Weekly), Vol. 37, 9/2007

Presentation at International Workshops:

  • Social Innovation in Vietnam, the International Workshop on Social innovation and its role in a modernized Vietnam, CIEM- the British Council, Hanoi 1/2013.
  • Recent Developments on Corporate Governance in Vietnam, Presentation at APEC Seminar on Advancing good corporate governance by promoting utilization of the OECD principles of corporate governance, Senior Official Meeting 1, Catalogue number:2011/SOM1/EC/WKSP1/008, Washington D.C., 3/2011.

Claire Parfitt
Claire Parfitt
Biography Claire has a BCom/LLB (UNSW) and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (College of Law, Sydney). She practiced industrial and anti-discrimination law before moving to the trade union movement as a researcher and campaigner. She has worked for Australian and international trade unions and the environment movement on various campaigns related to labour rights, food sovereignty and climate change.

She completed a Master of Arts (Research) at the University of Sydney exploring the political economy of agriculture, biotechnology and intellectual property law, before beginning her PhD.

Degree PhD
Supervisors Dick Bryan, Michael Rafferty
Commenced 2014
Full or part time Full-time
Thesis topic Workers' capital; ethical investment ; ethics as risk
Abstract My thesis will critique ethical investment initiatives, with respect to workers' capital or superannuation / pension funds. It is situated in emerging debates regarding financialisation of the global economy in recent decades, alongside literature on corporate governance and ethics. The project seeks to extend that literature by examining the role of workers and households in managing environmental, social and governance risks, as well as economic ones, through their dual roles as employees and investors. This has implications for class relations and governance, as well as for progressive political strategy.

In particular, the thesis will review the ways in which business ethics have been codified into law in various jurisdictions, and how those obligations have been translated into business and investment practice. Analysis of these processes will explore the possibilities and limitations of ethical investment through the tensions and contradictions that arise.


Peer-reviewed publications

  • Parfitt, C. and Robinson, D. F. forthcoming, 2015. "Trade-related intellectual property : Implications for the global seed industry, food sovereignty and farmers' rights" in Handbook on the globalization of agriculture, Edward Elgar, London, United Kingdom.
  • Parfitt, C. 2014. “How are genetic enclosures shaping the future of the agrifood sector?” New Zealand Journal of Sociology. Vol 28, No 4 pp.33-58

Other publications

Conference presentations

  • Parfitt, C. 2015. "Responsible Investment: Why now?" International Initiative for Progress in Political Economy Conference, Leeds, UK.
  • Parfitt, C. 2015. "The history of ethical investment", Re-thinking Intellectual History Conference, Sydney, Australia.
  • Parfitt, C. 2014. “The (false?) promise of workers’ capital”. Historical Materialism Conference, Sydney, Australia.
  • Parfitt, C. 2013. “New enclosures in agriculture shaping the future of the agrifood sector”. The Royal Geography Society Conference, London, UK.
  • Parfitt, C. 2013. “Genetic enclosures in agriculture: Farmers becoming propertied workers”. Global Studies in Asia and Oceania, Network for Critical Studies in Global Capitalism Conference, Brisbane Australia
  • Richards, C. and Parfitt, C. 2012. “The People’s Food Plan: Consolidating the food justice movement”. Australasian Agrifood Research Network Conference, Massey, New Zealand.
  • Parfitt, C. 2012. “How are genetic enclosures shaping agrifood futures?” Australasian Agrifood Research Network Conference, Massey, New Zealand.
  • Parfitt, C. 2012. “Are farmers becoming contractors for Monsanto? The impact of genetic enclosures in agriculture”. Historical Materialism Conference, Sydney, Australia.

Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers
Biography Toby Rogers graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Political Science from Swarthmore College. After college he worked in program development and community organizing for a variety of economic and social justice advocacy organizations. He helped set up a job training center and led a successful federal lobbying campaign on behalf of the Center for Employment Training. Next, he set up the public policy think tank, Working Partnerships (U.S.A.), for the South Bay Labor Council and led the successful campaign to limit corporate tax breaks in Silicon Valley. Then, he served as the communications director for the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and was one of the architects of the successful campaign to change the church constitution to allow LGBT ordination. He earned a master’s degree from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. There he served as both a researcher and a graduate student instructor for former U.S. Labor Secretary, Robert Reich. Subsequently, he taught Gender Studies in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Political Science in southern California. Toby is the recipient of an Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship from the Australian government.

Degree PhD
Supervisors Martijn Konings
Commenced 2014
Full or part time Full-time
Thesis topic "Toward an Intersubjective Political Economy"
Abstract What is intersubjectivity? Where does it come from? What causes it to increase? What causes it to decrease? Are there ways to set up political, economic, and/or social rules so as to increase healthy intersubjectivity? By the same token, what is domination? Where does it come from? What causes it to increase? What causes it to decrease? Are there ways to set up political, economic, and/or social rules so as to decrease domination? And is there a relationship between intersubjectivity and domination? Key figures in political economy, psychoanalysis, social psychology, critical theory, and feminist political theory all have different answers to these questions. In this thesis I will take the best elements from these different traditions in order to assemble a new theory of intersubjectivity and domination that resolves some of the contradictions between these different approaches.


Jeanette Sheridan
Biography Jeanette has a Masters of Political Economy (University of Sydney), Masters of Management (University of Western Sydney), and is a Registered Nurse. She has worked in the Public Health sector at a State and Regional level, in a variety of positions including as a Clinician, Health Service Manager, Health Service Planner, Manager of Research Development and Policy, and as a Director of Community Health, of Clinical Operations, and of Clinical Strategy, Governance and Innovation. In 2009 Jeanette was awarded an Individual Partnership Award from the University of Western Sydney for her contribution in establishing a University Clinical School in Western Sydney at Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospital.
Degree Master of Arts (research)
Supervisors Dr Lynne Chester
Commenced 2013
Full or part time Part-time
Thesis topic Has the throughput of patients in publicly-funded health facilities and the distribution of patients between such facilities, changed since the introduction of Activity Based Funding?
Abstract This research is designed to examine the impact of Activity Based Funding on the throughput and distribution of patients in publicly-funded health services, within the context of the political, economic and social construction of markets in which health care is provided in Australia.

Hitherto, the method of allocation of resources in publicly-funded health services has not been efficient, nor has it been effective in reducing inequity in the distribution of health services or in meeting the health needs of the population. In an attempt to remedy that situation, in 2010 the Commonwealth government introduced Activity Based Funding, which users an average ‘most efficient price’ to calculate the funds allocated for publicly-funded health services which are provided by Local Health Districts in New South Wales,.

The specific research question answered is: Has the throughput of patients in publicly-funded health facilities and the distribution of patients between such facilities, changed since the introduction of Activity Based Funding? To answer this question a case study of two Local Health Districts was conducted, and five years of data which includes all inpatient and emergency presentations in hospital facilities was analysed: 3 years before, and 2 years after, Activity Based Funding was introduced.

  • Boyages, S. Sheridan, J. Close, G. 1999. Beyond evidence-based guidelines to implementation: A model for integrating care for people with diabetes. Journal Quality Clinical Practice.

Conference Presentations / Workshops

  • Research Innovation Centre for Health at Blacktown / Mt Druitt Hospital. 2008. Sydney West Area Health Service, Chief Executive Innovation Forum.
  • Relationships between medical schools and teaching hospitals in Australia. 2007. Fourth Scientific Meeting of Indonesian Medical Education, Padang, Indonesia (with Zelas, P.).
  • Invited contributor to a Management Development Workshop. 2006. Sydney West Area Health Service.
  • Invited contributor to a Seminar on Change Management. 2005. Master of Medical Education Program, University of Sydney.
  • Emergency Department Research Results. 2002. The Queensland Health Research and Development Conference.
  • Integration: the Politics of Information. 1999. The Australian Public Health Association Conference. (with Lyle, D. Boyages, S. Clarke, R. Clay, L.).
  • A hypothetical: who owns the information. 1998. Diabetes Integrated Care Beyond the Year 2000 Conference. (with Clay, L. Lyle, D. Boyages, S.).
  • Students as real carers, not just spectators: a new paradigm for education? 1997. Workshop held at the ANZAME Silver Anniversary Conference, Melbourne. (with Clarke, R).
  • Accounting for Health - the cost of diabetes. 1998. Platform presentation to a Seminar "Diabetes Integrated Care: Beyond the Year 2000", NSW Health Department, Sydney. (with Clarke, R. Tracey, E. Boyages ,S.).
  • Workshop on Community Development in Health Promotion, sponsored jointly by the Public Health Association and the Australian Community Health Association, Sydney. 1989. The Wallsend / Shortland Health Advisory Group. (with Clarke, R).
  • A panel discussion : caring for the chronically ill. 1988. Australian College of Health Service Executives Annual Conference, Maitland.

Poster Presentation

  • Sheridan, J. 1998. DIAB-CODE, a method of disease staging for people with diabetes. Australian Diabetes Association Conference.

Matt Withers
Matt Withers
Biography Matt Withers holds a BA in Government and International Relations and MA in Political Economy, both obtained at the University of Sydney. His research concerns patterns of migration-(under)development in South Asia, specifically exploring experiences of temporary labour migration in Sri Lanka, their relationship with structures of underdevelopment and their intersectionality with economies of ethnicity, gender and class. More broadly, his work seeks to make theoretical contributions by reconciling neo-Marxist interpretations of migration development with diverse and contextually-specific experiences of neoliberalism in the Global South.
Degree PhD
Supervisors Elizabeth Hill and Stuart Rosewarne
Commenced 2013
Full or part time Full-time
Thesis topic
Abstract South Asia's integration amongst the lower tiers of a (re)globalising world economy has overseen one of the largest episodes of temporary labour migration in human history, with great swathes of low-skilled and domestic workers leaving the subcontinent as cheap and exploitable contract labour for the nouveau riche oil-economies of West Asia. Sri Lanka typifies this experience, with the onset of its own economic liberalisation triggering an exodus of migrant labour that has steadily congealed into a dominant livelihood strategy for households, the largest source of foreign earnings for the economy and an in situ spatial fix for foreign capital. While foreign capital clearly benefits from access to a reserve army of cheap and exploitable labour, the developmental implications of remittances at national and household levels are far more ambiguous. This research examines Sri Lanka's experience of migration-development to contest dominant policy-level assumptions of a mutually beneficial 'triple-win' between migrant households, migrant-sending countries and immigrant-receiving countries. It establishes the macroeconomic precarity of Sri Lanka's remittance economy by scrutinising interrelated processes of structural underdevelopment and neoliberalisation that have facilitated – and are reinforced by – a dependency on temporary labour migration. Beyond this, the thesis confronts the fictitious commodification of Sri Lankan migrants as homogeneous 'migrant heroes' and seeks to re-embed their lived experiences within diverse economies across localised contexts. Doing so reveals a spectrum of experiences shaped by social topography and tempered by individual circumstance, but collectively gravitating towards one-off, transient or wanting benefits from migration.


Journal Articles and Conference Papers

  • Withers, M. and Biyanwila, J. (2014). Patriarchy, Labour Markets and Development: Contesting the Sexual Division of Labour in Sri Lanka. IIM Kozhikode Society and Management Review. 3 (1).
  • Withers, M. (2014). Place, Practice and Pretence: A Topography of Temporary Labour Migration. Presented at the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies Conference. Stanford University, USA.

Book Chapters

  • Withers, M. (2014). Reimagining Dependency: an Ode to Unpopular Economics. In V. Gunasekara and R. Alles (Eds), You May Say I'm a Dreamer, (pp. 71-77). Colombo: Centre for Poverty Analysis.

Feature Articles

  • Withers, M. (2014). A Continuum of Ethnic Violence in Sri Lanka: Aluthgama and the Buddhist War Machine. Sydney Globalist.
  • Withers, M. (2011). Is Chinese Growth Sustainable? Conspicuous Assumption: The University of Sydney Student Journal of Political Economy. 2.
  • Withers, M. (2011). Perpetuating Abjection: War and the Narrative of Sacrifice. ARNA: The Journal of the University of Sydney Arts Students Society.

Matt Costa
Matt Costa
Biography Matt Costa has worked as an economic policy adviser in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and as an adviser to the Council of Australian Governments Reform Council. He holds first class honours degrees in law and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and is admitted as an Australian lawyer.

His research focuses on historical and contemporary developments in rent theory.

Degree PhD
Supervisors Martijn Konings (supervisor) Mike Beggs (associate supervisor)
Commenced 2013
Full or part time Full-time
Thesis topic
Abstract Matt’s thesis seeks to explicate the role of rent in contemporary capitalism and the role of rent theory in economic discourse. It analyses past and contemporary paradigms of rent, interpreting rent theory as a longstanding project which seeks to distinguish unjust privileges from justifiable economic interests. Rent theory seeks to identify and quantify rents, uncover their social and economic consequences and isolate systems and processes that (re)produce rentier-interests.

Matt’s thesis uses a rent theory approach to shed light on tendencies within contemporary capitalism, including neoliberalization and financialization.

It argues that rent theory provides economics with a means of confronting anxieties about economic justice, and imagining economic systems that better reflect our normative judgments.