Search site

School of Geography

Cities & Social Justice

Our key area of expertise is how to articulate and promote ways of living in cities that are more socially and ecologically just. We have a reputation for distinctive and cutting-edge work which draws on diverse theoretical perspectives but that also has a clear normative approach to what constitutes a more socially just city. Our work is both historical and contemporary; it is empirically grounded, drawing on action-oriented, engaged and participatory forms of research which aim to create knowledge in collaboration with those inside and outside the University. Our aim is to be politically engaged and policy relevant, and have a real impact on policy, and contemporary social issues and debates at a variety of scales. We believe that the city is an ongoing creation and an unfinished story in which interventions can be made to create more socially and ecologically just urban futures.

The cluster is involved in editing international journals such as City, Antipode and Acme.

Our work spans five main areas:

1. Understanding and challenging the neoliberal city

We are interested in critically evaluating how neoliberal policies have actively reshaped cities over the last few decades, and what progressive responses have emerged to challenge neoliberal urbanism and create more just cities. We have particular expertise in issues of territorial governance and regeneration policies at an urban and regional level, devolution, rescaling and contemporary power relations
in cities.

2. Everyday practices, public space and consumption in the city

We are interested in the significance of consumer cultures in cities and the changing daily experiences of urban life and lifestyles. We have particular expertise in the nightlife and hospitality sectors, food, the internet, the role of public space in cities, cultural policy, city living, and urban memory and landscape.

3. Cities, climate change and sustainable urban futures

Our focus in this area concerns the significant challenges that cities face in the future in terms of adapting to rapid climate change and energy scarcity. We have particular interests in issues of local food production, sustainable housing and alternative urban futures.

4. Activism and social movements in the city

We have established research interests and expertise in urban social movements and sub-cultures, both in the UK and internationally. We have expertise in many theoretical traditions ranging from Marxism, and (eco)socialism to anarchism, queer theory and post-structuralism, and have an active interest in ideas of enclosure and commons. Active areas include co-operativism, Latin American social movements and the Zapatistas, autonomous European movements, international trade unionism, climate change activism, and anti-gentrification struggles.

5. Scholar-activism and participatory action research

Methodologically, the cluster has expertise in engaged research and teaching which connects those inside and outside the university. We are particularly interested in publicly-engaged and participatory forms of action research which is aimed at critically influencing and shaping policy but also working with social movements and campaigners to work towards social change.