Photo of James Freeman

Dr James Freeman

BA(Exon.), MA(Exon.), PhD(Exon.)

  • BS8 1TB


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a historian of contemporary british politics, economics and society, with particular research interests in the histories of rhetoric, political concepts, neoliberalism, Thatcherism, and digital humanities methodologies.

My current research examines twentieth-century British political rhetoric at macro and micro scales using a methodology that combines close-readings of archival materials with rhetorical theory and quantitative techniques from corpus linguistics.

My doctoral thesis explored changes in, and the historical specificity of, the Conservative party’s emancipatory rhetoric between 1945-70. In so doing, it bifurcated the history of Tory freedom rhetoric from the history of ‘neoliberal’ influence within the party.

I am also Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded Thatcher's Pension Reform's Project which is using recently released materials to challenge existing interpretations of Thatcherism and the policy-making process.

Contact Details

Phone: 0117 954 6946

Twitter: @jgfreeman  Email:

Personal website:  Pensions Project website: /

Research Supervision

I am currently co-supervising doctoral work on Thatcher's pension reforms, neoliberal concepts of risk, and the relation of these to the acturial profession in the 1980s. I have previously supervised MPhil research on the the history of Women's Liberation Movements.

I also supervise a wide range of undergraduate dissertations and research projects covering both twentieth century british history and the digital humanities.

I welcome proposals from post-graduate students wishing to work on twentieth century British political, social or economic history. I would be especially interested in supervising contemporary party-political histories, histories relating to political languages and rhetoric, and proposals that seek to apply digital humanities methodologies to a historical topic. Please email to discuss your research plans.


I teach units on contemporary British history and the Digital Humanities. Decade of Discord, for example, examines the economic, political, social and cultural history of the 1970s. I blog with my students at I also run a third-year Special Subejct, The Rise of Political Lying, which reexamines popular narratives about rhetoric and spin. I also co-ordinate Arts Students Count unit on the Liberal Arts degree (which enables Arts students to engage with data science) and launched Introduction to Digital Humanities with Dr Leah Tether in 2016/17.


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TPR: The Thatcherite pension reforms

Davies, A. R., Freeman, J., Gould, T. J., Middleton, R. A. H. & Freeman, J.

Arts and Humanities Research Council


Project: Research

  • Research Output

    • 15 Conference Paper
    • 3 Article (Academic Journal)
    • 1 Chapter in a book

    The Rhetorical Lives and Afterlives of Political Pledges: A Quantitative Study of British Political Speech c. 1997-2015

    Freeman, J., 5 Aug 2020, Electoral Pledges since 1918: The Politics of Promises . Toye, R. & Thackeray, D. (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, p. 291-314 24 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

  • Decentring Thatcher's 'neoliberal revolution'

    Pemberton, H., Freeman, J. & Davies, A., 27 Oct 2018. 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper

    Open Access
  • 59 Downloads (Pure)

    Discovering ‘Thatcher’s children’: Labour’s youth problem in 1980s Britain

    Freeman, J. & Charnock, H., 13 Jun 2018.

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper

  • Prizes

    Faculty Competitive Research Leave (Extra TB).

    Freeman, James (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

  • Shortlisted Student Teaching Awards 2017

    Freeman, James (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: Other distinction


    • 2 Participation in conference
    • 2 Invited talk
    • 2 Participation in workshop, seminar, course

    Historical Association Invited Talk

    James Freeman (Participant)

    17 Jan 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesInvited talk

    Economic History Society Annual Conference 2017

    Aled Davies (Speaker), James Freeman (Participant) & Hugh Pemberton (Participant)

    1 Apr 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Tableau Data Visualisation Training Workshop

    James Freeman (Participant)

    13 Sep 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course