Ayca Zayim, Sociology

Photo of Ayca Zayim

Name: Ayca Zayim

Title:  Assistant Professor of Sociology

Department: Sociology

Areas of study: Economic sociology, globalization, development, sociology of finance, political sociology, research methods

Research interests: My research lies at the intersection of economic and political sociology, and the sociology of globalization and development. My broad research program focuses on how the rise of finance in the last few decades contributes to social and global inequalities. Based on extensive field research in South Africa, Turkey and the U.K., my doctoral work examined how central banks in emerging economies conducted monetary policy under the constraints imposed by the power of global finance. I also work on the question of how and to what extent developing countries can expand their policy space under financial globalization.

What drew me to this field: I studied economics and sociology as an undergraduate and have since then been interested in questions about power, how it works in society, its sources and consequences. I was a graduate student at the height of the 2008 financial crisis and all newspapers talked about the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. I knew that the questions about power were central to the politics of central banking but often black-boxed in sociological debates. As a native of Turkey, I became intellectually curious in how central banks operated in developing countries, what kinds of ties they had with the financial community, and the implications for global inequality.

Why Mount Holyoke: I am thrilled by the opportunity to teach a diverse, engaged body of students and to meet new colleagues at Mount Holyoke. I look forward to new possibilities of collaboration on such a welcoming, supportive campus.

About teaching: Earning my college and post-graduate degrees in three different countries has been a defining experience for me. I have not only had the chance to observe and appreciate different cultures but have also personally confronted the challenges of feeling like an outsider at times. As a teacher, it is gratifying to facilitate an inclusive, multicultural learning environment where students connect with each other and discover new perspectives, especially when they leave the classroom, thinking, “I had never thought about it that way!”

Proudest accomplishments, academic or other: In addition to completing my doctorate, I am proud for having studied and conducted research in different parts of the world. These experiences have allowed me to flourish as a person and scholar.

Favorite things about the campus and region: I am new to the area but I have heard great things. The incredible fall foliage, mountains, lakes and parks. I can’t wait to discover the northeast.

Favorite class as an undergraduate: I had several classes I enjoyed, including political anthropology and sociological theory. However, a class on the history of economic thought was particularly eye-opening for me. As an economics major, this course showed me how the economy was not something out there with its universal laws and mechanics, but rather it was built on changing social norms, relations of power and institutions — something sociologists pointed out long ago!

When not working: I like to spend time with my family outdoors and watch detective movies.

Favorite book, TV: I enjoy reading poetry, mostly in Turkish. As far as TV shows go, I like thriller/crime/detective shows, such as “Luther,” “The Killing,” and “Wire in the Blood.”

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