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17 April 2023

Thesis prize awarded to King's academic

A King’s College London scholar has been awarded a prestigious prize for his doctoral thesis.


Dr Jose Tomas Labarca, a postdoctoral research associate with the Department of European and International Studies, has been awarded the 2023 Walter Bagehot Dissertation Prize for Government and Public Administration by the Political Studies Association.

The prize-winning thesis, Sovereign Debt and Economic Policy: A Relational Sociology of Debt in the United Kingdom, 1960s-1980s, was lauded by the judging panel as “impeccably-timed” and a “most-valuable and excellent contribution”.

The accolade was confirmed at the annual meeting of the association, held in March.


The judges’ citation read: “While a thesis looking at the sociology of debt in the 1960s-1980s might seem somewhat dated, in fact its research is impeccably timed. Debates around the economy of the 1970s, which much of the thesis focuses on, have become highly topical given the inflationary and debt driven pressures that face the UK currently.

“The thesis offers a welcome new take on this period, allowing fresh perspectives to come to the fore. It demonstrates originality by approaching its research questions through a relational lens, questioning the social and political processes behind the production, use and meaning of various public finance statistics. It brings together historical and relational approaches to inform its findings.

“It brings to the fore extensive new archival research to highlight the various interests involved in deciding and prioritising various public finance statistics, and their use in those debates. This leads to new insights into policymaking, and the various and shifting relationships that constituted the policy community during the period studied.

“The wider significance of the thesis’ findings is that they remind scholars of the centrality of these issues. This is important not just in historical terms, but also to contemporary debates and economic policy conflicts around debt in the UK. The thesis therefore represents a most valuable and excellent contribution to these scholarly, and practical, debates.”