My primary research focus explores the intersections between the cognitive and political sciences. I am particularly interested in how knowledge traverses fields of policy and practice, for example, how knowledge from the brain sciences comes to inform domestic and global policy agendas. My PhD thesis showed how behavioural science has influenced the design of development programmes delivered by NGOs and international organisations including the UN, European Commission and World Bank. Drawing on survey data as well as NGO and national policy reports, I showed how the use of behavioural science in development programmes has been limited to understanding the behaviours of recipients, while the behaviours of agency practitioners responsible for designing policy and delivering projects remain under-acknowledged and under-researched.
I have a second research interest in maritime security politics and governance. I worked as Research Associate (RA) for the British Academy-funded project SafeSeas, which brought academics together with practitioners and stakeholders involved in capacity building for maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean.
I have additional experience as RA for the action research project Maintaining Momentum, a collaboration between politics, law and socio-legal scholars supporting community activist groups in their pursuit of public funding for local energy projects.
- PhD Politics, University of Bristol
- MSc Social Science Research Methods (Politics), University of Bristol
- MSc Development and Security, University of Bristol
- BA Philosophy, University of Nottingham
- European International Studies Association
Areas of expertise
- Political Science
- International Relations
- Development and Security Studies
- Policy Studies
- Comparative Politics
- Political Theory
- Research Methodologies
Research and academic outputs
Alcock, R (2021) 'Somalia: experiments in knowing and doing capacity building.' In: Bueger, C, Edmunds, T and McCabe, R, eds. Capacity building for maritime security: the Western Indian Ocean experience. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp. 249-280. ISBN 9783030500634
Alcock, R (2015) Fragments of faith in futures [book review]. Resilience, 3 (2). pp. 145-148. ISSN 2169-3293
Editing and research contributions
Bueger, C. and Edmunds, T. (2018) Mastering maritime security: Reflexive capacity building and the Western Indian Ocean experience. Cardiff: SafeSeas. doi:10.5281/zenodo.115.7961.
News articles, blog posts and commentaries
Alcock, R. (2017) ‘What the mainstreaming of behavioural nudges reveals about neoliberal government’, The Conversation (online), 17 October 2017.
Alcock, R. (2015) ‘The politics and economics of attention’, ESRC Behaviour Change and Psychological Governance Seminar Series 2013-2015, Seminar commentary (online).
Conferences and invited presentations
European International Studies Association, Prague, Sept 2018 ‘Understanding capacity building as experimentation: The case of Somalia’s maritime’
Mindfulness on the Margins Conference-Retreat, Emerson College, Sussex, April 2016 ‘Mindfulness, ecology, technology: Towards a critical synthesis’
ESRC Behaviour Change and Psychological Governance, Aberystwyth, Sept 2015 ‘4E cognition and the archaeology of things: Tracing a power/critique convergence in contemporary cognitive politics’
Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, London, Aug 2013 ‘Politics of/or behaviour? Resilient objects of communication in UK public policy’
Grants and awards
UK Economic and Social Research Council +3 Studentship Award 2012 – Politics
UK Economic and Social Research Council +3 Studentship Award 2012 – Environment, Energy
and Resilience (declined)