Dr Tom Lavers

Lecturer in Politics & Developmt

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Research interests

Comparative political economy, state-society relations, politics of social policy, agrarian change, politics of land, Ethiopia, Rwanda

Current research interests include:

  • The politics of social protection. As part of the Effective States and Inclusive Development research centre (ESID) I have been leading a research project on the politics of social protection in Africa. The first phase focused primarily on the decision making process leading to the adoption and evolution of social assistance and health insurance schemes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia (see the project page here). In the second phase of work, we will be examining the politics of implementation, with a particular interest in the ways in which implementation is shaped by variation in state-society relations. Case studies will include: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda.
  • The political economy of land. My research on land to date has focused on Ethiopia, considering how the government has attempted to use land for multiple political, economic and social objectives and the tensions between these objectives in practice. This has led me to look at a range of issues related to land including, smallholder agricultural productivity and extension services, food security, commercial agricultural investments (here, here, here and here), land registration, gender in/equality in land access and ethnic federalism.
  • The politics of labour regulation.I am currently extending my work on the politics of social protection to examine the politics of labour regulation, focusing on the ways in which state capacity and the commitment of political elites shape labour law and patterns of compliance.
  • Ideas and state legitimacy. Through my work with ESID, I have been working on the role of ideas in political analysis, considering both how policy ideas travel between and take root in particular national contexts, but also how ideas shape perceptions of state legitimacy in contexts of rapid socioeconomic transformation.


Research and projects