Natalie Langford is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at SPERI. She joined the University of Sheffield in January 2019. Prior to this she was a lecturer in the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester. Natalie completed her PhD thesis, entitled ‘The Emergence of Southern Social Standards in Emerging Markets’ at the University of Manchester in 2018. Her thesis explored the politics of governance within India’s tea industry through the case study of Trustea, a new private social standard for tea consumed domestically. Prior to that, she worked in the NGO sector on issues related to labour and global development.

Natalie leads SPERI’s Labour & Decent Work research theme with Genevieve LeBaron and Tom Hunt.

Research Interests

Natalie’s research focuses on the ways through which spatial and temporal shifts in the geographies of trade, production and consumption impact on the governance of labour standards. She is particularly concerned with how recent transformations under global capitalism have impacted on the rights and conditions of workers, and how a variety of different stakeholders shape new programmes and standards to govern labour standards within global, regional and domestic value chains. She is particularly interested in exploring intersections between the critical international political economy and global development literatures.

As part of this broader interest, Natalie’s current project investigates the impact of Brexit upon the UK food industry. The project explores the ways through which changes in trade, immigration and industrial policy affect British agriculture and food processing, and how business, state and civil society actors have sought to influence policy in anticipation of Brexit. This research has obvious implications for the future food security of the UK in an age of economic and political uncertainty.

Natalie’s previous research examined the politics shaping the development of new sustainability standards governing South-South trade. While her primary focus was on the case of Indian tea production, she has studied and written about the emergence of sustainability standards in other ‘Rising Power’ economies, including China.

Key Publications


  • Langford, N. (2019) The Governance of Social Standards in Emerging Markets: an exploration of actors and interests shaping Trustea as a Southern multi-stakeholder initiative. Geoforum