Students Staff

Academic Staff

Dr Linsey McGoey

Position in departmentPGT Director
Staff positionReader
Academic support hoursPlease email me for an appointment; I can usually meet on Monday or Friday during term time.

I am a social theorist and an economic sociologist. My work is centred on developing new conceptual frameworks for understanding the political value of ignorance and the unknown. Currently, I've been carrying out research on the politics of large-scale philanthropy, with particular attention to the rise and social implications of the new paradigm called 'philanthrocapitalism.' My book, No Such Thing as a Free Gift (Verso, 2015), was described as 'path-breaking' by Naomi Klein, and chosen as a book of the year by inequality expert Danny Dorling.

This interview, carried out by Marc-Olivier Deplaude and Nicolas Larchet, gives a good overview of my research interests. Transcripts available in French and English. For a short clip featuring my views on the new philanthrocapitalism, see this BBC World News interview

I am on the Editorial Board of Economy and Society, and the Editorial Advisory Board of Finance and Society, and have held visiting fellowships at the Brocher Foundation, the LSE's Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation; and MaxPo, the Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies. My research has featured on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed; the New Books Network; and Canada's CBC news. I aim to reach a general, non-academic readership in my work, publishing in Fortune, Guardian, Open Democracy, The Times, and Jacobin.

Current research

Research interests
  • Social theories of knowledge and ignorance
  • Economic sociology 
  • Global health governance
  • Human rights-based approaches to health and development
Teaching responsibilities

Current PhD Students:
Eduardo Goncalves; David Lee; Daniela Boraschi; Amy Dickens. 



McGoey, L. (forthcoming, 2018) The Unknowers: How Elite Ignorance Rules the World (London, Zed).

McGoey, L. (2015) No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy (London and New York, Verso).

  • 'Highly recommended' by Choice magazine. 
  • See reviews in the Times Higher Education; Maclean's; Fast Company; Financial Times; Wall Street Journal; Kirkus; New Republic and the Guardian.  

Gross, M. and McGoey, L (eds) (2015) Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies (London, Routledge).

  • Discussed in The New York Times here; and the Washington Post here

McGoey, L (Ed) (2014) An Introduction to the Sociology of Ignorance: Essays on the Limits of Knowing (London: Routledge).  

Selected publications  

McGoey, L. 2017  'Bataille and the Sociology of Abundance' Theory, Culture and Society,

McGoey, L. 2016 ‘The Elusive Rentier Rich'  Science, Technology and Human Values, 

McGoey, L. 2014 "The Philanthropic State: market-state hybrids in the philanthrocapitalist turn." Third World Quarterly. 35(1): 109-125.

McGoey, L. 2014 “Valeur de l’ignorance dans les controversies scientifique and éthique’ in Albertine, C. and Pujol, J-L (eds), Stratégie, Ignorance et Methode Scientifique dans les Débats’ Insitut National De la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), 978-2-7380-1367-8.

McGoey, L. 2012 Strategic unknowns: towards a sociology of ignorance. Economy & Society 41(1): 1-16.

McGoey, L. 2012 "The Logic of Strategic Ignorance." British Journal of Sociology 63(3) 553-576.

McGoey, L. 2012 "Philanthrocapitalism and its critics." Poetics. 40(2): 185-199

Davies, W and McGoey. 2012 "Rationalities of ignorance: On financial crisis and the ambivalence of neo-liberal epistemology." Economy and Society, 41(1): 64-83.

McGoey, L, Walhberg, A and Reiss, J. 2011 The Global Health Complex. (Introduction, Special Issue of BioSocieties).

McGoey, L. (2011) “Police reinforcement: the anti-politics of organizational life.” In Reading Rancière, Eds Paul Bowman and Richard Stamp. Continuum.

McCoy, D. and McGoey, L. (2011) Global Health and the Gates Foundation – In Perspective. In Partnerships and Foundations in global health governance, Eds Owain Williams and Simon Rushton, Palgrave. 

McGoey, L. 2010 "Profitable failure: Antidepressant drugs and the triumph of flawed experiments." History of Human Sciences, 23(1), pp/ 58-78.

McGoey, L. and Jackson, E. 2009 "Seroxat and the suppression of trial data: Regulatory failure and the uses of legal ambiguity." Journal of Medical Ethics, 36(2), pp. 107-112.

McGoey, L. 2009 "Pharmaceutical Controversies and the Performative Value of Uncertainty." Science as Culture, 18(2), pp. 151-164.

McGoey, L. 2007 "On the will to ignorance in bureaucracy." Economy and Society, 36(2), pp. 212-235.


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