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FESSUD is a multidisciplinary, pluralistic project which aims to forge alliances across the social sciences, so as to understand how finance can better serve economic, social and environmental needs.


The FESSUD project was launched in response to the call from the European Commission for research proposals which would address the “changing the role of the financial system to better serve economic, social and environmental objectives”. The financial crises which became evident in 2007, and still continue, imposed major costs on the economy and society. The financial crises focused attention on the growth and pervasiveness of the financial sectors in the economy and society – some of the processes of financialisation. It raised many questions on the instability of financial systems, the need for regulation of the systems, and most of all how well (or otherwise) the financial systems served society. The FESSUD project was designed to strive for analysis and understanding of the processes of financialisation, the causes and consequences of financial crisis and to develop policy ideas and agendas which would indeed change the role of the financial system to better serve economic, social and environmental objectives.

Since FESSUD started in December 2011, developments in the European Union and elsewhere confirmed the crucial policy relevance of our focus on understanding and reforming the financial sector.  We have witnessed increasingly conflicting views about the role of central banks during crisis and about the type of fiscal and regulatory responses best suited to provide economic and financial stability. Through our broad set of questions about finance and its social and environmental usefulness, FESSUD is well placed to inform and shape these growing debates. We can give three illustrations of these debates and how FESSUD intends to make its contributions. Read more

Key features of FESSUD

  • Explores the nature of the relationship between financialisation (the processes of the growth of the importance of financial systems, finance and financial motives) and the sustainability of the financial system, economic and social development and the environment.
  • Analyses and assesses the nature of national and international financial systems and their evolution in the past three decades. The causes and consequences of the global and national financial crises starting in 2007 are thoroughly investigated.
  • Addresses the ways in which the performance of economies in the last 30 years have been dependent on the characteristics of the processes of financialisation and how financialisation has impacted on the achievement of economic, social, and environmental objectives.
  • Integrates diverse levels, methods and disciplinary traditions with the aim of developing a comprehensive policy agenda for changing the role of the financial system to help achieve a future which is sustainable in environmental, social and economic terms.
  • Develops policy agendas on the regulation of the financial sector and on macroeconomic policies which would lead to finance better serving economic, social and environmental needs. It has as a central concern to develop policy agendas which would lead to finance better serving economic, social and environmental needs.

The Work Packages of FESSUD and their objectives

Work Package 2: Comparative Perspectives on Financial Systems in the EU

Work Package 2 has involved generating a vast historical and comparative data base and carrying out a preliminary analysis of finance across the globe. The partners in the FESSUD project have carried out detailed studies of finance in nearly 20 countries, including a full range of EU countries plus Turkey, the US and South Africa for wider comparison. These studies reveal the unprecedented depth and breadth of change in financial systems over the past thirty years.

It is still early days but the raw evidence we now have confirms that the power of finance has been a remarkable force driving and feeding upon financial deregulation. At every scale – global, EU-wide, national, regional, and individual – financial deregulation has had major - if complex - effects which have often benefitted financial interests but frequently at the expense of the real economy. Read more


The FESSUD project is avowedly pluralistic and inter-disciplinary. A session at the first annual conference considered 'The challenge of interdisciplinary and pluralistic research in economics and related disciplines' with presentations by Sigrid Stagl, Ana Santos Andrew Brown, and David Spencer.

FESSUD was co-organiser with British Sociological Association of one-day conference on Understanding the financial crisis: sociology, political economy and heterodox economics’, held at British Library in London with Andrew Brown, Malcolm Sawyer and David Spencer giving presentations relating to FESSUD, pluralism and inter-disciplinarity.

The first of the FESSUD Papers is by David Spencer on ‘Integrating economics with the other human (and related) sciences: some initial considerations’.

Coming events

Financialisation and the financial crisis, FESSUD annual conference
The annual conference and associated workshops will be held Wednesday 17th to Saturday 19th October 2013. Read more

Past events