Zaad Mahmood

Associate Professor

My research interests include political economy focusing on policy reform, capital-labour- interaction, changing nature of work and its politics and political participation. My research interests traverse the debates on globalisation, neoliberalism, state, labour regimes, business systems, political parties and democratic participation. Drawing on my training in politics and critical studies my research carefully examines the deep and complex linkages between structural factors (macroeconomy, global interdependence), institutional legacies (institutions of governance, laws, policies), political actors (parties and interest groups) and subjective positions (individuals, citizens) through the lens of political economy.

The courses that I teach at present or have taught previously share and build upon my interest and extensive training in political economy, labour and Indian politics. In Presidency University,  I offer and teach courses on foundations of political economy, Global Political Economy and India’s Political Economy. The former was designed as an undergraduate level introduction to major theories of state- market interaction while the latter courses are postgraduate courses to explore Indian politics through the lens of political economy. In addition, I also teach research methods and Indian Politics.  At the Oxford Department of International Development, I convened the History and Politics of Development course and my teaching focused on questions of State and Development in the Global South. I examined the idea of the state as an actor of development by problematizing the conception of the state; unpacking the dimensions of state actions and elaborating the competing theoretical frameworks to explain state behaviour.

My monograph Globalization and Labour Reforms: The Politics of Interest Groups and Partisan Governments (Oxford University Press, 2017) examines the variations in labour policy as well as labour market outcomes under conditions of globalisation. Engaging with debates on Globalisation and labour, Policy autonomy, Varieties of Capitalism, Welfare state, Neo-Institutionalism, it examines labour policy and market variations through a comparative study of sub-national states of India. Through a historical institutional framework, the book contends that labour policy variation can largely be explained through partisan governments and political competition in the sub-national states. The outcome of labour market is conditioned by the dynamics between interest groups and the government embedded in specific political economy. The research is mixed method connecting qualitative and quantitative data.

My latest book Limits of Bargaining: Capital, Labour and the State in Contemporary India (Cambridge University Press, 2019) analyses the modalities of capital-labour negotiations in the context of economic liberalisation through a combination of ethnographic interviews, surveys, and textual reading of collective bargaining agreement. The book illustrates the everyday interactions between labour, management, competing trade unions that shape bargaining processes and outcomes and highlights the limits as bargaining remains endogenous to the interplay of the market, technology and the institutions of the state. The book is the outcome of a sponsored research by Indian Council for Social Science Research on Trade unions in Urban Labour Markets.

My current research engages with two distinct but important contemporary themes, specifically the debates on the changing nature of work and political participation. The research on the changing nature of work resonates the theme of capital and labour but from the analytical anchor of ‘work’. The rise of the platform economy has accentuated the shifts in the nature of work reflected through short-term contracts and independent contractors. While the shifts in the labour market have been reflected upon I am interested in the process of regulation, discipline, and construction of worker subjectivities in the new economy by engaging in debates on labour process theory. The second project I have been working on concerns political participation in India. As a part of Electoral Integrity Project directed by Pippa Norris, I was involved in examining the quality of elections and role of election observation missions. I am part the sub-national perceptions of electoral integrity in India collaborating with Ferran Martinez-i-coma and Max Groemping towards an evaluation of the quality of sub-national assembly elections and examining the variations in electoral participation.

A future research agenda that I am developing for funding is the political economy of health based on a sub-national comparison of Indian states. The project will be tentatively titled Political economy of health: politics, ideology and power in health intervention and will take a critical, approach to health policy variation across sub-national states focusing on the expenditure and nature of health investment as the dependent variable. The project will use health policy as an entry point into debates on democracy, state-market relationship and institutional legacies. 



Presidency University,
86/1 College Street, Kolkata - 700073,
West Bengal, India

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Email: zaad.polsc at
alternate E-mail: mahmood.zaad at

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Presidency University
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86/1 College Street
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(2nd Campus)

Plot No. DG/02/02,
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New Town
(Near Biswa Bangla Convention Centre)
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