The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Student Profiles

Graham Thrower

Project title: The marketisation of infrastructure: The enmeshment of the qualitative state and variegated capital

This thesis, conducted through CURDS and iBUILD, examines contemporary financialised infrastructure markets, and how they disclose the evolution of previously defined roles for public and private actors. Empirical research is based on engagement with public and private institutional investors that challenges orthodox public-private binaries, and presents a more nuanced and geographically promiscuous reality.

It builds on O’Neill’s (2004) proposition of the qualitative state as an engaged and active multi-faceted actor, and critical market maker; but importantly, takes this concept further by examining emergent state-related actors such as government Agencies, Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs), Public Sector Pension Funds (PSPFs), and Multilateral Financial Institutions (MFIs) as co-investors with private institutional capital.

This research also takes a nuanced approach to the many forms of international institutional capital; engaging closely with private equity, and listed and unlisted infrastructure funds; an investor segment with strong echoes of Peck and Theodore’s (2007) ‘variegated capitalism’.

So the research focus is the uniquely problematic asset class that is financialised infrastructure, and how the marketisation of everyday utility services and the construction of the human revenue stream (Meek, 2012) represents a crystalising point where the qualitative state meets variegated capital. Utilising perspectives of economic sociology and international political economy I examine the construction of these public-private markets, the fragmenting of the moral obligation of the state to provide, market driven issues of fiscal value leakage, and the potential for geographic and territorial arbitrage suggested by insurgent public sector actors and a hegemonic Public Private Partnership (PPP) investment model.


GEO 2099 Economic Geography

GEO 3114 Local and Regional Development


Masters in Local & Regional Development (Distinction), 2014


The financialisation of essentiality: implications for UK markets, institutions, individuals, and the geographies of infrastructure (2014)

Infrastructure ‘Business Models’: An Analytical Framework (2014)

Refined Infrastructure Business Model - based on OECD Model (2014)

These publications are avaiable on Graham's ResearchGate profile.