Karel Williams

Some information about me


  • I originally published as a cultural historian of the nineteenth century with the book Pauperism to Poverty and afterwards diverted into team work on present day capitalism. Over the past 15 years I have led a permanent and productive research team which has developed a distinctive approach to business analysis. This work initially focused on manufacturing and specifically on car assembly including classic work on how Henry Ford built the Model T. After 2000, articles on shareholder value and on the new economy opened a new phase of work on financialization which has, since the financial crisis, been developed with high profile work on banking and the financial sector. Major publications include  two books on Financialization and Strategy ( 2006) Financialization at  Work ( 2008) plus public interest reports such as The Alternative Banking Report ( 2009) and CRESC working paper 75 on the national business model which are both available on the cresc.ac.uk web site .


Working Paper

Refereed Journal Papers


Remaking capitalism


  • Thu, Oct 7th 2010 - Fri, Oct 8th 2010

    Before the current crisis, anthropologists studying finance attracted relatively little attention; academic research on finance was dominated by financial economics (mainstream and behavioural), and a variety of social studies approaches that were strongly influenced by science and technology studies. Neither of these left much room for anthropological concerns with the social and relational aspects of finance, nor the means by which finance became somehow unquestioned and self-evident, both conceptually and as a practice. The recent financial crisis has opened out the debate considerably as commentators and academics alike scrambled to try and explain the events, which seemed to be simultaneously entirely predictable and entirely unexpected. This has provided a much larger audience for those interested in how we might differently understand what finance does and how that becomes economically destabilising, socially divisive and difficult to reform.

    The aim of this workshop is to bring two key anthropological concerns with finance (the relational aspects and the unquestioned self-evident characteristics of finance) together with others who have different perspectives and expertise to develop and share their views. The intention is not to combine different approaches but to bring them into relation, on the model that CRESC has followed. The hope is that the workshop will lead to the special issue of a journal or, given the diverse disciplines involved, an edited book that can encompass these different perspectives. In either case, the workshop is intended to begin the conversation; the subsequent text will try to draw out some fresh ideas and conclusions as a result of that effort.

  • Thu, Feb 10th 2011

    A round table debate at the House of Commons organised by the New Political Economy Network in association with CRESC.

  • Mon, Jun 6th 2011

    In this CRESC workshop practitioners responsible for implementing Big Society initiatives will be joined by political commentators and academics to debate its challenges and promises from many positions.

  • Wed, Jun 27th 2012

    With the UK threatened by the euro zone crisis, struggling to find a way out of the current economic slump and running a huge trade deficit, politicians want to rebalance the economy towards production and tradable goods. Most of the proposals tabled relate to building high tech sectors, while little attention is being paid to the mundane, price sensitive items of everyday consumption which we often import – items like pork and bacon. To address this issue CRESC is hosting a seminar on supermarket business models, supply chain dynamics and industrial policy for renewal.