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Dr James Taylor

Senior Lecturer

James Taylor

Lancaster University

Bowland College



Tel: +44 1524 592505

Research overview

My work explores the cultural, political, and legal dimensions of economic change in Britain since the 1700s. I have published on subjects ranging from the early history of corporate governance and the regulation of commercial fraud, to the history of the financial press and cultural attitudes to advertising.

PhD supervision

I am 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 me if you would like to discuss your research plans.

Research Interests

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

My 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 my interests are economic, I examine economic questions from social, cultural, legal, and political perspectives. 

My 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 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. Our book, Invested: How Three Centuries of Stock Market Advice Reshaped Our Money, Markets, and Minds, is published in November 2022.

The second explores how the stock market came to have such a central place in British culture from the late nineteenth century. Focusing on everyday experiences, rather than financial elites, it seeks to provide a history of finance 'from below'. It examines why people invested, how they navigated the market, who they trusted, and how they imagined risk. The third strand explores gender and the stock market, focusing on the neglected history of women stockbrokers in the century before they were admitted to the London Stock Exchange in 1973.

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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