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Dr James Taylor

Senior Lecturer

James Taylor

Lancaster University

Bowland College



Tel: +44 1524 592505

Research overview

Dr Taylor's work explores the cultural, political, and legal dimensions of economic change in Britain since the 1700s. He has published on subjects ranging from the rise of the corporation, the early history of corporate governance, and the regulation and punishment of commercial fraud, to the history of the financial press and literary representations of commerce. His latest research explores the history of advertising in Britain in the early twentieth century.

PhD supervision

Dr Taylor is keen to hear from students researching the following areas of British history - the history of advertising, shopping, and consumerism; the history of financial fraud and crime; the history of financial journalism and corporate governance; other topics linking economic, social and cultural history since 1800. Do contact him if you would like to discuss your research plans.

Research Interests

Dr Taylor's first monograph, Creating Capitalism, won the 2008 Economic History Society Prize for best first monograph in Economic and Social History; his second, Shareholder Democracies (co-authored with Mark Freeman and Robin Pearson), won the Ralph Gomory Prize for best business history book of 2012. His third, Boardroom Scandal, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. He has also published articles in several leading historical journals, including English Historical Review, Historical Journal, Historical Research, and Past & Present

His work tackles a number of overarching themes, including the relationship between morality and the market, the reliance of capitalism on the law, how trust is won, sustained, and undermined, regulation (broadly defined), and how ordinary people understand and relate to the market. Though his interests are economic, he examines economic questions from social, cultural, legal, and political perspectives. 

His current research has three strands. The first is an interdisciplinary history of financial advice since the eighteenth century, in collaboration with colleagues from the universities of Southampton, Manchester, and Edinburgh. This AHRC-funded project, which began in January 2016, provides the first thorough study of a genre of writing that has amassed a huge readership, and has had major social and economic effects, but which has remained largely neglected by historians and literary critics. The project, which tracks the genre from domestic advice manuals of the eighteenth century to modern-day blogs, considers how financial advice has actively made and remade the very markets about which it advises.

The second is a history of the rise of a mass market for stocks and shares in Britain from the late nineteenth century. It explores why people invested, how they navigated the market, and who they trusted. It has important implications for our understanding of risk, trust, markets, and technology in modern society

Finally, he is also researching the rise of advertising in early twentieth-century Britain. This project explores how advertising came to occupy a central place in national culture, affecting class, gender, and national identity, and shaping how people understood their roles as consumers and citizens.  

Current Teaching

Hist280: The Victorians and Before: Britain, 1783-1901

Hist281: Britain in the Twentieth Century

Hist343: Advertising and Consumerism in Britain, 1853-1960

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