Department of Political Science


Dr George Boss

George wears glasses, has a beard and smiles into the camera
Research Fellow
2.03, 36-38 Tavistock Square
Email: g.boss@ucl.ac.uk


I am a Research Fellow in UCL’s Department of Political Science, as part of the ESRC’s Postdoctoral Fellowship programme. I joined UCL having completed my PhD at the University of Bristol. Prior to that, I studied at the University of Oxford (MA PPE) and Birkbeck College, London (MRes Politics). My doctoral research has been awarded two prizes: Bristol’s Hilary Hartley Prize for the best dissertation submitted at the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies each year; and the Political Studies Association’s Sir Ernest Barker Prize for the best dissertation in political theory. I am currently working on a book manuscript based on my research.


My research explores the political theory of needs, the contemporary politics of need, and the work of Karl Marx, as well as applied topics like poverty, climate change and the future of work. 

Whilst our politics is full of talk about needs, my research argues that theorists and practitioners have problematically tended to conceptualise needs extra-politically: that is, as independent standards that lie beyond the political to-and-fro, and which can be used to judge it. My work argues that this view is both ubiquitous and untenable. I then respond by developing a political conception of need through an unorthodox reading of the work of Karl Marx. My most significant departure is the use of performativity – derived from the philosophy of Judith Butler, and given a Marxian spin – as an alternative social ontology for needs. This shifts from viewing needs as static realities rooted in human nature and/or arbitrary cultural norms, to political realities created, named, and claimed in our everyday social and political practices.


Journal articles