Portrait of Dr Balihar Sanghera

Dr Balihar Sanghera

Senior Lecturer in Sociology
Co-Divisional Director of Graduate Studies and Postgraduate Student Experience


Dr Sanghera has contributed to debates on the nature of agency, morality and capitalism, and has explored several important concepts (including reflexivity, lay morality and rentierism) through qualitative research projects.

Prior to joining the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Policy in 2004, Dr Sanghera worked at the American University – Central Asia, Novosibirsk State University and the University of Central England in Birmingham. He studied for a BA (Hons) in Economics from the University of Lancaster and an MSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Oxford, before earning his PhD in Sociology from the University of Lancaster. 

Research interests

Research interest highlights: Moral economy; political economy; Central Asia; charitable sector; rentierism; social movements; social justice; lay morality; class.

Dr Sanghera’s main interests are political economy, social theory and ethics. He is currently writing up two research projects:

  • Global capitalism and social movements in Central Asia (with Dr Elmira Satybaldieva, started in September 2017) – examines how the US, Russia and China construe Central Asia to secure capital accumulation, and the social movements they spawn.
  • Social justice and philanthropy in the UK (with Dr Kate Bradley, started in January 2011) – explores how philanthropic foundations pursue social justice and change, drawing upon cultural and moral resources to make their judgements.

Dr Sanghera has completed other research projects:

  • Rentier activities and morality in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (with Dr Elmira Satybaldieva, completed in August 2021) – examined the moral claims of banks, property developers and transnational corporations for extracting wealth, and their damaging effects on society
  • Justice, property and informal settlements in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (completed in January 2020) – investigated how the judiciary, state officials and poor groups morally construed and evaluated land and property
  • The moral economy of charitable giving and volunteering in the UK (completed in June 2018) - examined how working and middle class groups morally framed their donations and volunteering, and the implications for understanding class and morality
  • Family morality, emotions and poverty in Kyrgyzstan (with Mehrigiul Ablezova and Aisalkyn Botoeva, completed in December 2008) – investigated how poverty, emotions and morality shaped family responsibilities and household practices
  • Professional ethics in Kyrgyzstan (with Aibek Ilyasov, completed in May 2006) – explored the nature of professional practices, identity and ethics after the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • Kyrgyzstan’s political and moral economy (with Elmira Satybaldieva, completed in December 2004) – examined how people negotiated the shifting demands of the market, family, community and the state as they strived to achieve a dignified existence

Prior to Dr Sanghera’s interests in post-communism and philanthropy, his research focused on the social embeddedness of economic institutions. He completed his doctoral thesis on fruit and vegetable marketplaces in the West Midlands. After his PhD, Dr Sanghera investigated ethnic minority restaurant businesses in Birmingham. 


Dr Sanghera normally convenes:

  • SOCI3450 Sociological Perspectives and Concepts
  • SOCI3460 Social Practices and Institutions
  • SOCI5560 Social Ethics
  • SOCI7130 Politics and Power
  • SOCI8230 Political Economy of Development

Sometimes teaches a few lectures on:

  • SOCI6470 Doing Qualitative Research
  • SOCI8860 Contemporary Social Theory 


Dr Sanghera is interested in PhD candidates who are interested in moral economy, political economy, post-socialism, post-Soviet space, rentierism, charitable sector, social justice, lay morality, social movements, class inequalities, resistance, and economic development.



  • British Sociological Association


  • Editorial Board, Sociology
  • Editorial Board, Social Sciences

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