Postgraduate Researcher

Postgraduate Researchers, Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC), Work and Employment Relations
Thesis Title: The Politics of Service-Production: Experiences of Low-Waged Hospitality Work in Twenty-First Century Britain

Grants Awarded

Erasmus+ Grant for Research and International Workshop at University of Padua (2017)

Leeds University Business School Studentship for PhD (2014-2017)

Lipman-Miliband Foundation Grant For Novara Media (2013)

University at Buffalo Honors Research Grant for Thesis (2008)

Professional Academic Associations

(2015 - present) Coordinator for Political Economy of Work Group International Initiative for the Promotion of Political Economy [IIPPE]

(2014 - present) Member British Universities Industrial Relations Association [BUIRA]

Other Research Experience 

(2017 - present) Research Associate, Autonomy Institute, London.Workers’ think tank and research group. Commissioned and edited reports on the political economy of automation, precarity, social reproduction, and the crisis of work.

(2016 - present) Manuscript Reviewer, Bloomsbury Publishing. London. Reviewed manuscripts on philosophy, Marxism, and social theory.

(02 - 03/2016) Research Assistant, Union Learn Fund, University of Leeds. The TUC commissioned CERIC to conduct an evaluation of the Union Learning Fund (ULF). This work has contributed to an impact case study for the Research Evaluation Framework.


Thesis title

The Politics of Service-Production: Experiences of Low-Waged Hospitality Work in Twenty-First Century Britain


David Spencer, Mark StuartKate Hardy

My research addresses the question: “How do labour processes shape the experience of work in UK hotels?” It develops an account of the politics of service production through directly engaging with workers themselves. Hospitality remains an under-researched areas in the labour process tradition. Hotels are the empirical focus of this study because they represent a microcosm of the variety of occupations that comprise the hospitality industry. There is a strong public interest in researching the experiences of work in hospitality. Hospitality is Britain’s fastest growing industry and currently the fourth largest industry by employment. However, it also has a higher rate of low-paid work than any other UK industry. 

To understand the nature of work in hospitality industry, the study uses an ethnographic and qualitative approach. Workplace ethnographies are an established method of data collection in this field and are essential for studying certain aspects of work. This approach can reveal nuances and complex social phenomenon, such as worker resistance, which conventional survey techniques and formal interviews typically fail to uncover. Through a detailed analysis of the labour process, I make novel empirical and theoretical contributions to the literature, while connecting the politics and experiences of work to wider socio-economic dynamics of capitalism in the UK. 

In addition to my Phd, my academic interests include theories of the labour process, the political economy of service work, automation, and social reproduction.



Cole, M.R., 2017. ‘Automation’, Autonomy Institute, Available at:

Book Chapters

Cole, M.R., 2018. Exploitation, in: The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx. Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

Book Reviews

Cole, M.R., 2015a. Book review: Jennifer M Silva, Coming up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty. Work, Employment and Society 29, 525–526. doi:10.1177/0950017015572332

Cole, M.R., 2015b. The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It. Review of Political Economy 27, 679–682. doi:10.1080/09538259.2015.1080469

Other Publications

Cole, M.R., (forthcoming). ‘Platform and Value-Form’. Salvage Quarterly. London. Available at:

Cole, M.R., 2017. Why so-called “Barista Visas” won’t help UK Hospitality Workers. Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change [CERIC] Blog. University of Leeds. Available at:

Cole, M.R. 2016. ‘How to Study for Knowledge When the World Wants You to Study for Money’ Vice Magazine. Available at:

Cole, M.R., 2015. ‘7 Ways the Home Office’s Prevent Strategy is Turning Everyday People into Police’. Novara Media. London. Available at:

Cole, M.R., 2014. ‘Farewell to the middle classes’. Open Democracy. London. Available at:

Selected Conference Presentations

Cole, M.R., 2016. 'Experiences of Low-Waged Hospitality Work in the Circuits of Capital’. International Labour Process Conference. Berlin, Germany.

Cole, M.R., 2015. Notes toward a Political Economy of UK Hotels'. CERIC-Karlstad Conference. Karlstad, Sweden.

Cole, M.R., 2014a. 'Dynamics of Financialised Proletarianisation'. Historical Materialism London Conference. London.

Cole, M.R., 2014b. 'Lumpen-Proletarianisation: Class Polarisation and the Production of Surplus Populations'. Royal Geographical Society Conference. London.

Cole, M.R. 2013a. 'Against Representation: Capitalist Crisis and the State-Form’. London Conference in Critical Thought. Royal Holloway University.

Cole, M.R. 2013b. 'Crisis, Proletarianisation, and Real Subsumption: the Limits of Biopower. Crisis and Critique of the State: Goldsmiths Graduate Conference. London.

Cole, M.R., 2012. 'On Militancy: Preliminary Materials for “The Possibility of the Impossible…”’. The Society for European Philosophy and Forum for European Philosophy Joint Annual Conference. Manchester.Invited Talks

Cole, M.R., 2017. ‘Experiential Commodities, Experiential Labour’. International Workshop on ‘The Labour of Hospitality: Migration, Production and Political Economy’. University of Padua, Italy.

Conference Organisation

(2017) Political Economy of Work Stream. International Initiative for the Promotion of Political Economy [IIPPE], Berlin Germany.

(2017) International Symposium: The Labour of Hospitality: Migration, Production and Political Economy. University of Padua, Italy.

(2016) Special Panel on Value. Work Employment and Society Conference, University of Leeds, UK.

(2016)  Political Economy of Work Stream. International Initiative for the Promotion of Political Economy [IIPPE]. Lisbon, Portugal.

(2015) Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change [CERIC] Doctoral Conference. University of Leeds, UK.

(2012) London Conference in Critical Thought, Birkbeck, University of London, UK.

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