Gerard McCarthy

dr. Gerard McCarthy

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am Assistant Professor of Social Policy and Development here at ISS. My work focuses on the politics of development and inequality in Southeast Asia. I am particularly interested in the politics of welfare regime change - the ways governments avoid or transfer social obligations (via social outsourcing) as well as the conditions in which welfare regimes change to become less precarious and more socially sustainable.

I have a special focus on Myanmar, where I have researched democracy, welfare capitalism and autocracy since 2013. My book, 'Outsourcing the Polity: Non-State Welfare, Inequality and Resistance in Myanmar' is out with Cornell University Press in 2023 (https://bit.ly/3FLIzwROpens external). It is based on extensive qualitative and survey research in provincial areas of Myanmar focusing on autocratic legacies of state social outsourcing and how these work to entrench precarity and inequality across political regimes (hybrid democratic and autocratic alike). I have also worked and conducted fieldwork in Singapore, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

If you are working on/interested in distributive politics, social policy, taxation, informality, platform capitalism and the gig-economy in developing or contested contexts I would love to hear from you. I'm available for MA and PhD supervision on these themes, with a special interest in projects using qualitative/mixed-method research or focusing especially on Asia.

Prior to joining ISS in 2023 I was a Research Fellow at National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute (2020-2023) and a Visiting Fellow at London School of Economics and Politics Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre (Sept-Dec 2022). Before that I was Associate Director, Myanmar Research Centre at Australian National University (ANU) (2016-2019) and Visiting Fellow at Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore (2018).

I enjoy working at the intersection of scholarship and praxis and I regularly advise and consult for a range of like-minded agencies including The Asia Foundation, Oxfam, Centre for Good Governance Myanmar, International Growth Centre Myanmar, United States Institute of Peace and The Carter Centre.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions