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Mia Gray MCRP PhD

Mia Gray MCRP PhD

University Senior Lecturer and Fellow of Girton College

Labour, economic and urban geography



  • 1997-present: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.


  • Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley
  • PhD from Rutgers University.


One of my main interests is in labour markets and the social and organisational dynamics of work. I am interested in how labour markets are shaped, structured and regulated -- and what the implications of this are for contemporary work. My research lies at the intersection of political economy and economic and labour geographies. Much of my research examines the urban politics and labour market dynamics of union organising in place. Other labour research explores processes of labour market change, geographies of organised labour, immigrant workers, aging and youth at work, underemployment, precarious work, and social networks in the workplace. I am interested in how categories of social difference like gender, race, age, and class relate to how labour is rewarded, valued and regulated in and across place.

Another important aspect of my work explores the politics of austerity. This research examines the intertwining of the economic, social and political effects on the local decisions around austerity and the shaping of the local state. This project highlights the uneven nature of the budget cuts, the political coalitions surrounding funding change, and the institutional mechanisms which promote change in policy priorities in the UK, the US, and Canada.

As part of this project, I have collaborated on an interactive play, The Great Austerity Debate, which explores the themes of austerity, precarious work, the ethics of care, and debt. The intentionally provocative play encourages audiences to explore solutions to the problems highlighted in the play. Audiences can debate the action, advise the characters, or even get up on stage and change the scene. Read more about The Great Austerity Debate.

The work on austerity is related to my long-standing interest in regional economies. In past research, I explore the regional and workplace implications of changing working patterns, identity and cultural norms; implications of austerity; and links between globalisation and regional economies.

Finally, I have been exploring the geographic implications of alternative finance, such as crowd-funding and venture philanthropy, and its effects on regional economies, labour markets, and the distribution of opportunity.

I am also an Editor of the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society which publishes multi-disciplinary international research on the spatial dimensions of contemporary socio-economic-political change. The Journal adopts a focused thematic format. Each issue is devoted to a particular theme selected by the international editorial team. The aim of the Journal is to understand the formative changes and developments associated with the new spatial foundations of today's globalizing world and examines how changes in the global economy are playing out across different spatial scales.

Further information on research is online within the Societies, Markets, States pages.

Contested Political Economy: Theory, Applications and Policy

  • My current research explores the contours of the current rounds of austerity. This projects looks at the coalitions formed around austerity cuts and the many "hidden" aspects of austerity.
  • I have been examining alternative forms of financing of business, the public sector and community projects, through work on crowd-funding and venture philanthropy.
  • I have also been examining the geographies of union growth in the low-paid service sector for over a decade. This project looks at the UNITEHERE, the union representing the hotel and restaurant workers, in different local labour markets in the US.
  • Current methodological research explores the co-production of narratives around work.


Selected publications

  • 2017 Gray, M. and Zhang, B. "Crowdfunding: Understanding Diversity" in (Martin, R and Pollard, J. eds.) Handbook on the Geographies of Money and Finance. Edward Elgar
  • 2017. Donald, B. and Gray, M. "Urban Policy and Governance: Austerity Urbanism" in (Bain, A. and Peake, L., eds.) Urbanization in a Global Context. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2016. Konzelmann, S., Gray, M. and Donald, B., 2016. Assessing austerity. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 38(4).
  • 2015. Gray, M. and Defilippis, J. "Learning from Las Vegas: Unions and post-industrial urbanisation" Urban Studies Vol 52(9) 1683–1701. DOI: 10.1177/0042098014536787
  • 2014. Gray. M. "Altering the landscape: Reassessing labour's role in Las Vegas' Hospitality Industry" in (A. Underthun and D. Jordhaus-Lier, eds) A Hospitable World: Tourism and the Organisation of Work in Hotel Workplaces.
  • 2014. Gray, M. "Educating R̶e̶e̶t̶a̶ Mia: Reflections on Producing Narratives of Work" in (eds: Castree, N., Kitchin, R., Lawson, V., Lee, R., Paasi, A., Radcliffe, S., Withers, C.) Sage Handbook of Human Geography. London: Sage.
  • 2014. Christopherson S., Gertler, M. and Gray, M. "Universities in Crisis." Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society. Vol. 7 (2): 209-215 doi:10.1093/cjres/rsu006
  • 2014. Donald, B., Glasmeir, A., Gray, M. and Labao, L. "Austerity in the City: Economic crisis and urban service decline?" Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society Vol 7(1): 3-15 doi:10.1093/cjres/rst040 .
  • 2012. M. Gray, L. Lobao, and Martin, R. "Making Space for Well-Being" Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 5: 3-13. doi:10.1093/cjres/rsr044
  • 2010. Donald B., Gertler M., Gray M., and Lobao L. "Re-regionalising the Food System?" Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 2010 3: 171-175. doi:10.1093/cjres/rsq020
  • 2009. Bigo, V. and Gray, M. "Constructing Care: For Love or Money" Review of Economic Philosophy/La Revue de Philosophie Economique 10(1): 103-124.
  • Gray, M., Kurihara, T., Hommen, L. and Feldman, J., 2007. Networks of exclusion: job segmentation and social networks in the knowledge economy. Equal Opportunities International, 26(2), pp.144-161.
  • 2007. Gray, M., Kurihara, T., Hommen, L. and Feldman, J. "Networks of Exclusion: Job Segmentation and Gendered Social Networks in the Knowledge Economy" Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal‎, 26 (2): 144-161. doi:10.1108/02610150710732212
  • 2007. Gray, M. and James, A., "Connecting Gender and Economic Competitiveness: Lessons from Cambridge's High Tech Regional Economy." Environment and Planning A. 39(2): 417-436. doi:10.1068/a37406
  • 2007. "Theorising the Gendered Institutional Bases of Innovative Regional Economies" in (Polenske, K. ed.) Innovation and Regional Growth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 2006. "Rethinking the High Tech Firm: An Activity Specific Approach to the Firm" in Michael Taylor and Paivi Oinas (eds.) Reconceptualising the Firm. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2006. Gray, M., Martin, R. and Tyler, P., "The East of England: A Nebulous Region in Transition," in Hardhill, I. ; Baker, M.; Benneworth, P.; and L.Budd (eds.) The Rise of the English Regions? London: Routledge, Regional Studies Development and Public Policy Series.
  • 2006. Hardill, I., Gray, M. and Benneworth, P. 2006. "Harnessing All a Region's Capacities: Inclusion Issues," in Hardhill, I.; Baker, M.; Benneworth, P.; and L.Budd (eds.) The Rise of the English Regions? London: Routledge, Regional Studies Development and Public Policy Series.
  • 2005. Martin, R.; Gray, M.; Tyler, P.; McCombie, J.; Fingleton, B. ; Kitson, M. ; Asheim, B.; Glasmeier, A. "Editorial: of journals, oil tankers and citation impacts: Signing-off the editorship of Regional Studies" Regional Studies 39(9), pp. 1157-58. doi: 10.1080/01402390500405094.
  • 2004. The Social Construction of the Service Sector: Institutional Structures and Labour Market Outcomes" Geoforum Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 23-34.
  • 2004. (Expanding) The Role of Geography in Public Policy, James, A., Gray, M., Martin, R., and Plummer, P. Environment and Planning A. Vol. 36, No. 11, pp1901-1906.
  • 2002 The Micro-Level Matters: Evidence from the Bio-Pharmaceutical Industry Zeitschrift fur Wirtschaftsgeographie. Vol. 46, No 2, pp. 124-136.
  • 1999 Colorado Springs: a military anchored city in transition. Gray, M. and Markusen, A. in: A. Markusen, Y-S Lee and S. Di Giovanna (eds.) Second tier cities: rapid growth outside the metropole in Brazil, South Korea, Japan and the United States. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 311-332.
  • 1999. New Jersey prospects: the pharmaceutical industry in a new age. in: J. Dunning (ed.) New Jersey in a globalizing economy. New Brunswick, NJ: Faculty of Management, Rutgers Univ. 6: 1-26.
  • 1999. Reconsidering Silicon Valley. Gray, M., Golob, E and Markusen, A. in: A. Markusen, Y-S Lee and S. Di Giovanna (eds.) Second tier cities: rapid growth outside the metropole in Brazil, South Korea, Japan and the United States. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 291-310.
  • 1999. Industrial clusters and regional development in New Jersey. Markusen, A. and Gray, M. in: J. Dunning (ed.) New Jersey in a globalizing economy. New Brunswick, NJ: Faculty of Management, Rutgers University. 4: 1-29.
  • 1998. New industrial cities:? the four faces of Silicon Valley. Gray, M., Golob E., and Markusen, A.,.Review of Radical Political Economics 30(4): 1-28
  • 1998. Industrial change and regional development: the case of the US biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Gray, M. and Parker, E. Environment and Planning A 30: 1757-1774
  • 1997. Economic development strategies for the inner city: the need for governmental intervention. Fainstein, S. and M. Gray Journal of Black Political Economy. 24(2-3): 29-38
  • 1996 Big Firms, Long Arms, Wide Shoulders: The "Hub-and-Spoke" Industrial District in the Seattle Region". M Gray, E Golob and A Markusen. Regional Studies, Vol. 30.6, 651-666.


Undergraduate and graduate courses on the political economy of austerity and the geography of labour and work.

PhD students

  • Misbah Aamir, 2015 - "Mediations between the global and local: Exploring institutional forces that influence the construction of gendered labour markets in Punjab, Pakistan" Cambridge Trust.
  • Ave Lauren, 2012 - 2016 "The rise of new migrant identities and landscapes in San Francisco" ESRC Funded.
  • Zheng Zhang, 2012- "Disintermediation, Decentralisation and Disruption? The Economic Geography of Crowdfunding for SMEs in the UK"
  • Wei-Yun Chung, 2012-2018 "The Gender Landscape of the Taiwanese Public Sector Workplace"
  • Wilson Chung, 2012. "An occupational approach to outsourcing within the context of two Chinese sports goods industrial clusters in Jiangsu province" ESRC funded.
  • Simon Coates, 2011-2014 "Post-Industrial Masculinities: The Embodied Response to Unemployment and Class Subordination" AHRC funded.
  • Noah Isserman 2008 - 2018 "A New Venture: Venture Philanthropy in a Neo-Liberal World". Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar.
  • Franz Huber 2006 - 2009 "The Social Network Foundation of Knowledge Spillovers: an Investigation of Mechanisms." Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar.
  • Karenjit Clare 2005 - 2009 "Cool, Creative and Diverse? Exploring Gender in Project-Based Advertising Work." ESRC funded.
  • Will Harvey 2004 - 2008 "U.K. and U.S. Skilled Immigration Networks: a Comparison of Biotechnology Clusters". Won the EGRG MPhil thesis prize 2005.
  • Shiri Breznitz 2003 - 2008 "The Role of the University in Economic Development: A comparison of Yale and Cambridge"
  • Andrew Currah 2002 - 2006 "Digital Effects in the Spatial Economy of Film: Software Format, the Internet and Hollywood" ESRC Funded. Won EGRG dissertation prize 2007.
  • Alan James 1999 - 2003 "Regional Culture, Corporate Strategy, and High Tech Innovation: Salt Lake City" ESRC Funded. Won EGRG dissertation prize 2004.

Potential PhD students

I tend to only take on one new student each year, so that I can give enough attention to each student. I am currently interested in the politics and economics of austerity, labour and globalisation, issues around regional and industrial culture, union change, alternative finance social networks and labour market mobility, and labour market intermediaries which function to structure local labour markets. However, I do supervise PhD students on other topics, and you're welcome to contact me directly if you think we may be a good match.

External activities

  • Keynote speaker, inauguration of International Perspectives on Development Problems and Public Policy. Department of Regional Studies, INESER. University of Guadalajara, Mexico. May 2017.
  • Co-editor of Cambridge Jounal of Regions, Economy and Society
  • Regional Studies Association,Vice Chair, Communication & Public Engagement, 2015 - present
  • Research Associate, Centre for Business Research (CBR), University of Cambridge, 2015 - present
  • Senior Research Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, 2014 - present
  • Fellow, 'Inspiring Leadership in Society'. Keynote speaker. National University of Ireland, Galway, 2012.
  • Co-editor of Regional Studies, 2003-2006, a leading journal focussing on regional issues from a multidisciplinary view.
  • Editorial Board Member for Geography Compass,, an online-only journal, 2006-07
  • Acting Director, Centre for Gender Studies , 2007-08
  • Academic Advisory Committee Member, Centre for Gender Studies, 2008-2015
  • Senior Examiner, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Cambridge, 2013-2016
  • External Examiner, University of Galway, MA Gender, Globalisation and Rights, 2011-14
  • Visiting Professor, Queen's Univeristy, Canada, 2014
  • Secretary, Economic Geography Research Group, Royal Geographic Society - Institute Bristish Geographers , 2005-08
  • Fellow, Girton College