Dr Nicki Lisa Cole

BA (Pomona, USA), MA/PhD (UCSB, USA)

  • Research Support Officer in Social Policy



Areas of Expertise

  • Global political economy
  • Consumer culture and behaviour
  • Ethical and sustainable production and consumption
  • Production and consumption of consumer electronics
  • Qualitative and investigative research methods

Academic Biography

I joined the University of York in April 2017 to support Dr. Kevin Farnsworth’s Corporate Welfare Watch project. From 2014‒16 I was a funded Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society in Graz, Austria where I worked on a multifaceted research project focused on the popularity and hidden costs of Apple products. Prior to that, I worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the department of sociology at Pomona College, located in Claremont, California, USA.

I hold a BA in sociology from Pomona College and an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I have published extensively in a variety of outlets on consumer culture, fair trade and ethical sourcing systems, and labour and environmental issues within global electronics supply chains.

A public sociologist, most of my written work is published in publicly accessible digital outlets, including Contexts, Sociological Images, Truthout, and Alternet. In addition, I am a social science writer for ThoughtCo, the largest educational resource on the web.

Professional activities

Member of GoodElectronics research network and volunteer researcher for Electronics Watch.

Recent Publications


Cole, N.L. (2016). iPhone or iExploit? More than a Decade of Rampant Labor Violations in Apple's Supply Chain. Truthout, [online]. Available at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37363-iphone-or-iexploit-rampant-labor-violations-in-apple-s-supply-chain.

Cole, N.L. (2016). What I Learned From the Mining Community That Produced My Engagement Ring. Truthout, [online]. Available at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36221-what-i-learned-from-the-mining-community-that-produced-my-engagement-ring.

Cole, N.L. (2015). Can the Electronics Industry Provide a Living Wage? Not While Corporations Set the Rules. Truthout, [online]. Available at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33462-can-the-electronics-industry-provide-a-living-wage-not-while-corporations-set-the-rules.

Cole, N.L. (2015). CO2 Emissions Growth Takes a Bite Out of Apple’s Sustainability Claims. Truthout, [online]. Available at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30346-co2-emissions-growth-takes-a-bite-out-of-apple-s-sustainability-claims.

Cole, N.L. and K. Brown. (2014). The Problem with Fair Trade Coffee. Contexts, 13(1), pp. 50‒55.

Cole, N.L. (2014). Coffee’s Promise For a Better World: Ethical Consumption in the Global Age. In. N. Mathur, ed. Consumer Culture, Modernity, and Identity, 1st ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 318‒344.

Current Research Interests and Projects

Research Interests

My primary research interests include:

  • Corporate practices and power in the global context;
  • Labour conditions and rights in global supply chains;
  • Environmental footprints and sustainability within global supply chains;
  • Voluntary and compulsory modes of regulating corporate behaviour and practices in a global context.

With Dr. Kevin Farnsworth I am researching issues related to corporate welfare in the UK. In addition, I am completing a project focused on the brand power and consumer appeal of Apple products, as well as the hidden human, economic, and environmental costs of producing them.

Substantial research project public output



Nicki Cole

Contact details

Dr Nicki Lisa Cole
Research Support Officer in Social Policy

Tel: 01904 32 1259 Skype - nickilisacole