CeMoRe Centre for Mobilities Research Lancaster University
CeMoRe, Department of Sociology, Bowland North, Lancaster University, LA1 4YT, UK
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Dr David Tyfield

Dr David Tyfield

Co-Director (Communications), Reader

Lancaster University
United Kingdom

Location: Bowland North


Centre for the Study of Environmental Change
Lancaster Environment Centre

PhD Supervision Interests

I am currently supervising:
- LI Jianmin: Corporate governance in China (with Prof Michael Kraetke)
- Stephen Jackson: Rhetorics and scandal regarding climate change (with Prof Tim Dant)
- CHEN Liu: Return migration and guanxi in China (with Prof Andrew Sayer)

I would be interested in proposals for doctoral students in the following areas:
- Political economy of science, technology and innovation, particularly regarding the life sciences and/or climate change
- Cultural political economy, governmentality and innovation
- Mobilities innovation
- Low-carbon transitions
- Science, technology and innovation in China
- Cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan sociology
- Philosophy of social science, especially regarding issues of critical realism

Current Teaching

In 2013/14 I am teaching the following courses:

In Lent term:

- SOCL332 'The Chinese Century?'

In Summer term:

- SOCL930 'Policy, Publics and Expertise' for the Masters programme in Science Studies (with Prof Brian Wynne)

Research Interests

Current Research Activities

My current research develops my interests in the normative dimensions of the processes of knowledge production and their interaction with issues of global cultural political economy, especially regarding critical analysis of the emergence of a globalised "knowledge-based" economy, climate change and the rise of China.  I am particularly interested currently in issues regarding innovation, inequality and advanced liberalism.  This has two threads:

1) Low-Carbon Socio-Technical Systems Transition in China, especially regarding automobility and agri-food.

From January 2014, I will be leading a work package within Prof Ulrich Beck's ERC project on 'Methodological Cosmopolitanism - In the Laboratory of Climate Change', based at Ludwigs-Maximilien University in Munich, on cosmopolitan low-carbon innovation regarding electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage (CCS) of coal emissions.

From December 2013, I am Co-I and lead project coordinator on the ESRC project 'Low Carbon Innovation in China - Prospects, Politics and Practice', and leading the Research Package on urban electro-mobility.  This project is in collaboration with colleagues at CeMoRe, Lancaster University (Prof John Urry, Dr Dennis Zuev); STEPS Centre, Sussex University (Dr Adrian Ely, Dr Sam Geall); SOAS (Dr Frauke Urban); Tsinghua University (Dr Yu WANG); Tsinghua University Graduate School, Shenzhen (Dr Ping LI); and the CAS Centre for Agricultural Policy (Dr Yiching SONG).

2) The Cultural Political Economy of Research & Innovation - following the argument of my book (2 Volumes, Routledge, 2012), 'The Economics of Science - A Critical Realist Overview' I continue my interest in the interaction between changing practices of R&I and a changing political economy.  Based on a Lancaster University Early Career Small Grant (2011-13), this has involved workshops on the 'Political Economy of Research & Innovation' in both Lancaster (October 2012) and at York University in Toronto (December 2013).  Further annual workshops in this series are in the process of being planned (to be held in the US, EU and China).

Current Editoral Work

I am the Book Reviews Editor for Science as Culture. For information on books available for review, see: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/tyfield/SaCbookreviews.doc


Before starting my PhD, I studied Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology at Oxford and the Philosophy of Social Sciences at LSE. I also qualified as a solicitor, working in London and Brussels in various areas of corporate and commercial law, including intellectual property law and EU competition law. Bringing together these interests, I began my PhD in the Philosophy and Sociology of Science at Exeter in 2003. My research was based across two institutions: the Centre for Philosophy of the Social Sciences and the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis), the sister-centre of Lancaster's CESAGen.

My thesis was a multidisciplinary examination of the dramatic changes to the funding of science, especially the biosciences, that have occurred since 1980 including the growth of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in scientific research. This has been accompanied by a global strengthening of IPRs under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation's TRIPs agreement. By examining how TRIPs came to be signed, a theory for the (critical) realist examination of the economics of science is elaborated. This includes concerted attention to the role and importance of philosophical/ontological reflection in the development of social scientific theory. The project thus engages with work in the philosophy of science, science & technology studies, innovation economics, international relations (particularly regarding IPRs), critical theory and cultural political economy.

Additional Information

Administrative Roles

From March 2014 - and specifically from July 2014 when I will be relocating to Guangzhou - I am Director of the International Research & Innovation Centre for the Environment (I-RICE), a joint initiative between Lancaster Environment Centre and the CAS Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry (GIGCAS).  I-RICE is a platform for international and inter-disciplinary research on the 'grand challenges' of the environment.

From 2013, I am a Director (Communications) for the Centre for Mobilities Research, one of the four Lancaster University Research Centres.


The Demise of Capitalism?: Lessons from an Entropic Perspective on the Current Crises - Review of Robert Biel (2012) 'The Entropy of Capitalism'

Tyfield, D. 01/2013 In: Journal of Critical Realism. 12, 1, p. 112-128 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Transportation and low-carbon development

Tyfield, D. 7/03/2013 Low carbon development: key issues. Urban, F. & Nordensvärd, J. (eds.). London: Routledge, (Key issues in environment and sustainability).

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Cosmopolitan communities of climate risk: conceptual and empirical suggestions for a new research agenda

Beck, U., Blok, A., Tyfield, D. & Zhang, J. Y. 01/2013 In: Global Networks. 13, 1, p. 1-21 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Theorizing the Bioeconomy: Biovalue, Biocapital, Bioeconomics or...What?

Birch, K. & Tyfield, D. 05/2013 In: Science Technology & Human Values. 38, 3, p. 299-327 29 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


The Economics of Science – A Case Study in the Contribution of Ontology

Tyfield, D. 07/2012

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper

Greening China’s ‘Cars’: Could the Last be First?

Tyfield, D. & Urry, J. 09/2012 Lancaster: Lancaster University

Research output: Working paper

A Cultural Political Economy of Research and Innovation in an Age of Crisis

Tyfield, D. 06/2012 In: Minerva. 50, 2, p. 149-167 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Food systems transition and disruptive low carbon innovation: implications for a food security research agenda.

Tyfield, D. 07/2011 In: Journal of Experimental Botany. 62, 11, p. 3701-3706 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

The economics of science: a critical realist overview. Volume 1.: Illustrations and philosophical preliminaries

Tyfield, D. 11/11/2011 London: Routledge. 248 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook


Low-carbon innovation in China – introduction to the special issue

Tyfield, D. & Jin, J. 2010 In: Journal of Knowledge-based Innovation in China. 2, 3

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

Game-changing China: lessons from China about disruptive low carbon innovation.

Tyfield, D., Jin, J. & Rooker, T. 06/2010 London: NESTA, 52 p.

Research output: Working paperOther

Neoliberalism, intellectual property and the global knowledge economy.

Tyfield, D. 2010 The rise and fall of neoliberalism: the collapse of an economic order?. Birch, K. & Mykhnenko, V. (eds.). London: Zed, p. 60-76 17 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

Low carbon China: the role of international collaboration.

Tyfield, D. & Wilsdon, J. 29/10/2010 Sustainable reform and development in post-Olympic China. Yao, S., Bin, W., Morgan, S. & Sutherland, D. (eds.). London: Routledge, 224 p. (Routledge Studies on the Chinese Economy).

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

Cosmopolitan China?

Tyfield, D. & Urry, J. 2010 In: Soziale Welt. 61, 3-4, p. 277-294 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Low-carbon disruptive innovation in China.

Tyfield, D. & Jin, J. 2010 In: Journal of Knowledge-based Innovation in China. 2, 3, p. 269-282 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Low carbon China: disruptive innovation and the role of international collaboration.

Tyfield, D. & Wilsdon, J. 01/2009 Nottingham: University of Nottingham, 33 p.

Research output: Working paperOther

Raging at imaginary Don-Quixotes: a reply to Giraud and Weintraub.

Tyfield, D. 2009 In: Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics. 2, 1, p. 60-69 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

The importance of the 'international collaboration dividend': the case of China.

Tyfield, D., Zhu, Y. & Cao, J. 11/2009 In: Science and Public Policy. 36, 9, p. 723-735 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

A Surplus of 'Surplus'?

Tyfield, D. 2009 In: Science as Culture. 18, 4, p. 497-500 4 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Cosmopolitan China: Lessons from International Collaboration in Low-Carbon Innovation

Tyfield, D. & Urry, J. 2009 In: British Journal of Sociology. 60, 4, p. 793-812 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Low carbon innovation in China

Tyfield, D. 29/10/2008

Research output: Other contribution

Collaboration not Confrontation: low carbon China and the role of international collaboration

Tyfield, D. 11/2008 In: China-Britain Business Review.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

The impossibility of finitism: from SSK to ESK?

Tyfield, D. 2008 In: Erasmus Journal of Philosophy and Economics. 1, 1, p. 61-86 26 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Enabling TRIPs: The pharma-biotech-university patent coalition.

Tyfield, D. 2008 In: Review of International Political Economy. 15, 4, p. 535-566 32 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Philosophy and Green Economics: An Introduction

Tyfield, D. 2006 In: The Green Economist.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Chasing fairies or serious ontological business: tracking down the transcendental argument.

Tyfield, D. 12/2006 Contributions to social ontology. Lawson, C., Latsis, J. S. & Martin, N. (eds.). London: Routledge, 320 p. (Routledge Studies in Critical Realism).

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

  • UK-China Networks of Low Carbon Innovation

    01/07/2007 → 30/04/2010
    Tackling climate change is demanding international collaboration in innovation, yet there are significant constraints on such collaborations. This project is examining low carbon partnerships between ... Read more»


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