Geoff Dow’s research has been in political economy. It examines the limits and possibilities of politics in the contemporary world. (A key concern is whether the globalization of economic activity necessarily, or only contingently, diminishes political or state capacities in capitalist countries).
The research is mainly comparative, starting from widespread empirical observations of the 1970s and 1980s that similar global processes (industrial restructuring, recession, financial sector influence over decision-making institutions) produced different economic outcomes (such as unemployment rates, inequalities and distributive conflicts) in different nations. It therefore contributes to a burgeoning institutionalist tradition in political economy which is not as pessimistic about ‘political possibilities’ and national autonomy as conventional political science has been.
It investigates the extent to which ‘new political institutions’ can be imagined to deal with the problems of affluent countries (lack of investment, increasing inequality, loss of security, declining participation and the underdeveloped or erosion of social capital). It also contributes to critical theories of the state, a long-standing concern of both political science and political economy.