My research spans the fields of political economy, contemporary Chinese studies, economic sociology, and international relations, and has two broad themes.

My first broad interest is in questions surrounding the role of financial systems in the emergence of particular trajectories of economic growth and social development. Unresolved debates continue to swirl around the global economy as to the relationships between the financial and the real economy, between the state and market, and between economic growth and social inequality. I examine these questions so by emphasising the significance of risk and uncertainty in the construction of mechanisms of governance and regulation that overlap and weave together the institutions of state and market, and the logics of public and private interests.

The second theme of my research focuses specifically on the way in which China’s politico-economic development is influencing the evolution of these mechanisms of governance and regulation within the global political economy. China is an emerging power that combines rapid and capital-intensive economic growth with a highly cohesive and competent authoritarian political system. It is a combination that is of considerable scholarly and policy significance as China comes for the first time in 150 years to assert a significant presence in the global political economy. Through my research I investigate how China is not simply ‘emerging’ or ‘integrating’ into the global economy, but how it is reshaping many of the foundational aspects and features of a system that is in a state of deep flux and uncertainty.


Both of these themes are addressed within my current research agenda. The allocation of capital through a financial sector under the authority of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has played a foundational role in China’s developmental trajectory and emergence into the global political economy. My doctoral research focuses upon the political economy of this role since 1978. I examine the role of the CCP as a core institution that has enabled China’s market-led integration into the global economy to spur economic growth without threatening the resilience of authoritarian rule. I argue that the financial system, centered on the state-owned banking sector, embodies a unique duality of purpose. It exists as the primary set of tools not only for controlling the micro-dimensions of sectoral- and firm-specific development and growth, but also for implementing decisive macroeconomic monetary policy. On the basis of in-depth interviews and historical research, I trace how this duality constitutes the socio-economic foundation for CCP control over the domestic trajectory of economic growth and development, as well as China’s engagement with the global economy and the international monetary system. It is a duality that has provided strong foundations for China’s rapid pace of economic growth under an authoritarian political regime, however it has also produced an unsustainable symbiotic relationship between political legitimacy and economic accumulation.


From October 2011 until January 2012 I was a visiting doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Köln, Germany. From May 2012 until September 2013 I was based primarily in Beijing. During this time I held positions as a visiting researcher at the School of Government at Peking University, as well as a visiting scholar at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. I am currently based in Oxford, and my research is funded by the Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation.

I am currently working on a number of projects, related to China’s role in global economic governance, the politics of the international monetary system, and the political economy of reform in contemporary China.


DPhil Dissertation Title

Communists Constructing Capitalism: State, Market, and Party in China’s Financial System, 1992-2012

Research interests

  1. 1.Contemporary Chinese political economy

  2. 2.The evolution of global finance and financial capitalism(s)

  3. 3.Global financial governance and China’s financial internationalization

  4. 4.The political economy of the international monetary system

  5. 5.The concept of rationality in contemporary social theory

Book Chapters

  1. 1. Gruin, Julian. “The Pragmatic Pursuit of What? China and the Evolving Global Financial Order” (2015) in Toohey, Lisa, Colin Picker, and Jonathan Greenacre (eds.) China in the International Economic Order: New Directions and Changing Paradigms. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Academic Articles - Peer Reviewed

  1. 1.Gruin, Julian. “Asset or Liability? The Role of the Financial System in the Political Economy of China’s Rebalancing” (2013) 42:4 Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, in a special issue on Rebalancing China’s Political Economy.

  2. 2.Gruin, Julian. “‘Freedom’ Through Repression: Epistemic Closure in Agricultural Trade Negotiations” (2011) 37:5 Review of International Studies 2465-2490

  3. 3.Gruin, Julian. “The Rule of Law, Adjudication and Hard Cases: The Effect of Alternative Dispute Resolution on the Doctrine of Precedent” (2008) 19:3 Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal 20

Non-Peer Reviewed

  1. 1. Blagden, David, Julian Gruin and Jiajun Xu. “International Financial Institutions in an Age of Crisis” (2011) 7:1 St Antony’s International Review 3-11

  2. 2. Gruin, Julian. “Review: A World of Polities: Essays on Global Politics” (2011) 9:2 Political Studies Review 244-245

  3. 3. Gruin, Julian. "Review: Global Political Economy: A Marxist Critique" (2010) 8:2 Political Studies Review 256

  4. 4.Gruin, Julian. “Liberty and Security: Boumediene v Bush” (2008) 30 Hearsay

Current Articles/projects

  1. 1.“Enabling Restrained Experimentalism: The Banking System in China’s Financial Internationalization”. Panel and Paper submitted in conjunction with Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies (MERICS) for presentation at International Studies Association Annual Conference 2015

  2. 2.“Contesting the Liberal Order: China’s Rise, Global Finance, and a System in Flux”. Panel and Paper submitted for presentation at International Studies Association Annual Conference 2015

  3. 3.“Chinese Pragmatism in Global Economic Governance: Constraints and Potentials”. A collaborative project with Dr Huang Wei at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and in connection to the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford.

  4. 4.“Just how Capitalist is China’s Financial System? Actors, Interests, and Discourses in China’s Financial Reform”. A collaborative article with Prof Tobias ten Brink at the University of Frankfurt.

Invited Presentations

  1. 1.“The Financial System in the Broader Context of China’s Reform and Rebalancing”

            China in Focus Seminar, Warwick, UK, 27 November 2013

Conference and Seminar Paper Presentations

  1. 1.“The Social Order of Chinese Capitalism: Uncertainty and the Financial Foundations of Communist Party Authority”

           Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) Annual Conference, Sheffield, UK, 30 June-1 July 2014

            Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, 10-12 July 2014;

  1. 2.“Fused Institutions = (Con)Fused Rationalities? A Framework for Analyzing Financial Governance in China”

            Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics Annual Conference, Cambridge, MA, 28-30 June 2012;

            5th International Forum for Contemporary Chinese Studies, Beijing, 8-9 August 2012.

  1. 3.“Continuing to Contest the Liberal Imaginary: China’s Rise and the Internationalization of the RMB”

            International Studies Association Annual Conference, San Diego, 1 - 5 April 2012;

            European Consortium for Political Research Conference, Bremen, 4-6 June 2012;

            5th International Forum for Contemporary Chinese Studies, Beijing, 8-9 August 2012.

  1. 4.“The Embeddedness of the Chinese Financial Sector in the Reform Period 1978-2010”

            4th International Forum for Contemporary Chinese Studies, Nottingham, 11-13 September 2011.

  1. 5.“Having It Both Ways: The Role of the State in the Critical Analysis of Global Politics” 

            International Studies Association Annual Conference, Montreal, 15 - 19 March 2011;

            British International Studies Association Annual Conference, Manchester, 27-29 April 2011;

            World International Studies Committee Annual Conference, Porto, 17-20 August 2011.

  1. 6.“The Normative Paradoxes of Strategic Trade Coalitions: A Critical Discourse Analysis”

            International Studies Association Annual Conference, Montreal, 15-19 March 2011 

  1. 7.“Agonism and Deliberation: A Critical Reading in the Context of Global Economic Governance”

            Political Studies Association Graduate Conference, Oxford, 6 -7 December 2010