Dr James Freeman

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

  • BS8 1TB

Personal profile

Research interests

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

My research explores the histories of neoliberalism and conservatism through studies of ideology, policy development, and political rhetoric.

My work 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 was 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: james.freeman@bristol.ac.uk


Research Supervision

I haved supevised doctoral work on the welfare state and insurance industries, 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 histories of Women's Liberation Movements and the Liberal Party.

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, data science for humanists, and the Digital Humanities. I run a third-year Special Subject, The Rise of Political Lying, which reexamines popular narratives about rhetoric and spin. I also co-ordinate Arts in the Age of Data - a mandatory unit on the Liberal Arts degree (which enables Liberal Arts students to engage with data science).



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