Liam Swiss

Department Head

Research Interests
Political Sociology, International Development, Gender, Security, World Society, Research Methods
Contact Information
Ph: 709-864-4467
Office: A-4053
Curriculum vitae (CV)
Personal Profile

Liam Swiss researches the political sociology of foreign aid and international development from a comparative perspective using both quantitative and qualitative techniques.

His current SSHRC Insight Grant, "Developing Conformity: Foreign Aid and the Diffusion of Global Norms", examines how the flow of foreign aid and other forms of development finance from North to South contributes to the spread of common policies, institutions, and norms within developing societies.  He is also co-invesitgator on another SSHRC-funded project on "Canadian Development Cooperation and the new Politics of "Partnership" with several other aid researchers across Canada. 

He is also pursuing and collaborating on other research projects on (1) violence against aid workers, (2) women’s political representation in the developing world, and (3) urban/rural differences in gender ideologies.

He teaches courses in development sociology, political sociology, gender, and research methods.


2019-2020  President, Canadian Association for the Study of International Development

2016-2017  Senior Research Fellow, Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

2012-2013  President, Canadian Association for the Study of International Development


Swiss, Liam and Princess C. Ilonze (2021). "Taking Foreign Aid and Decoupling Seriously: A Framework for Research." Third World Quarterly. 1-20.

Henson, Spencer, John-Michael Davis and Liam Swiss (2021). "Understanding Public Support for Canadian Aid to Developing Countries and the Role of Information." Development Policy Review.

Swiss, Liam (2021). "The Globalisation of Foreign Aid: Global Influences and the Diffusion of Aid Priorities." pp. 113-25 in The Palgrave Handbook of Development Cooperation for Achieving the 2030 Agenda: Contested Collaboration, edited by S. Chaturvedi, H. Janus, S. Klingebiel, X. Li, A. d. Mello e Souza, E. Sidiropoulos and D. Wehrmann. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Wei, Qian and Liam Swiss (2020). "Filling Empty Promises? Foreign Aid and Human Rights Decoupling, 1981-2011." The Sociological Quarterly. 1-20.

Morton, Sam E., Judyannet Muchiri and Liam Swiss (2020). "Which Feminism(S)? For Whom? Intersectionality in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy." International Journal. 75(3):329-48. 

Tiessen, Rebecca, Heather Smith and Liam Swiss (2020). "Canada’s Evolving Feminist Foreign Policy: Lessons Learned from 2017 to 2020." International Journal. 75(3):294-97. 

Davis, John-Michael and Liam Swiss (2020). "Need, Merit, Self-Interest or Convenience? Exploring Aid Allocation Motives of Grassroots International NGOs." Journal of International Development. 32(8):1324-45.

Dawson, Andrew, and Liam Swiss (2020). "Foreign aid and the rule of law: Institutional diffusion versus legal reach" The British Journal of Sociology. 71(4): 761-784. 

Davis, John-Michael, Spencer Henson and Liam Swiss (2020). "In INGOs We Trust? How Individual Determinants and the Framing of Ingos Influences Public Trust" Development in Practice. 30(6):809-24. 

Banchani, Emmanuel, and Liam Swiss (2019). "The Impact of Foreign Aid on Maternal Mortality"  Politics & Governance. 7(2): 53-67.

Gulrajani, Nilima, and Liam Swiss (2019). "Donorship norms in a state of flux" In I. Olivié & A. Pérez (eds.), Aid Power and Politics (pp. 199-222). London: Routledge.

Gulrajani, Nilima, and Liam Swiss (2019).  "Donor proliferation to what ends? New donor countries and the search for legitimacy" Canadian Journal of Development Studies. 40(3): 348-368. 

Swiss, Liam (2018). The Globalization of Foreign Aid: Developing Consensus. London: Routledge.

Fallon, Kathleen M., Alissa Mazar, and Liam Swiss (2017). "The Development Benefits of Maternity Leave" World Development. 96: 102-118.

Swiss, Liam (2017). "Foreign Aid Allocation from a Network Perspective: The Effect of Global Ties" Social Science Research. 63: 111-123.

Swiss, Liam (2016). "World Society and the Global Foreign Aid Network" Sociology of Development. 2(4): 342-374.

Swiss, Liam (2016). "A Sociology of Foreign Aid and the World Society" Sociology Compass. 10(1): 65-73.

Swiss, Liam., and Wesley Longhofer (2015). "Membership has its privileges: Shared international organizational affiliation and foreign aid flows, 1978-2010" Social Forces. 94(4): 1769-1793.

Swiss, Liam (2015). "Space for Gender Equality in the Security and Development Agenda? Insights from Three Donors" pp. 188-211 in S. Brown & J. Grävingholt eds. The Securitization of Foreign Aid. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Swiss, Liam and Stephen Brown (2015). "The Aid Orphan Myth" Third World Quarterly. 36(2): 240-256.

Swiss, Liam (2014). "Mimicry and Motives: Canadian Aid Allocation in Longitudinal Perspective” pp. 101-124 in David Black, Stephen Brown and Molly den Heyer eds. Rethinking Canadian Aid: Foundations, Contradictions and Possibilities. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.

Jones, Robert C., and Liam Swiss (2014). "Gendered Leadership: The Effects of Female Development Agency Leaders on Foreign Aid Spending" Sociological Forum. 29(3): 571-586.

Anderson, Miriam J., and Liam Swiss (2014). "Peace Accords and the Adoption of Electoral Quotas for Women in the Developing World, 1990-2006" Politics and Gender. 10(1): 33-61.

Brown, Stephen, and Liam Swiss (2013). “The Hollow Ring of Donor Commitment: Country Concentration and the Decoupling of Aid Effectiveness Norms from Donor Practice” Development Policy Review. 31(6): 737-755.

Swiss, Liam, Kathleen M. Fallon, and Giovani Burgos. (2012). “Does Critical Mass Matter? Women's Political Representation and Child Health in Developing Countries” Social Forces. 91(2): 531-558.

Fallon, Kathleen M., Liam Swiss, and Jocelyn Viterna. (2012). “Resolving the Democracy Paradox: Democratization and Women’s Legislative Representation in Developing Nations, 1975-2009” American Sociological Review. 77(3): 380-408.

Other Contacts