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          Professor Paul Watt

          Professor of Urban Studies

          BA Hons. Sociology (Leeds)
          MSc Social Research (Surrey)
          MPhil. Sociology (London School of Economics)
          PhD Geography (King’s College, London)
          Certificate in Education (CNAA)
          Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


          • Paul joined Birkbeck in 2007. Prior to joining Birkbeck, he was a Reader at the Policy Research Institute, University of Wolverhampton. Previously Paul has taught at the University of East London and Buckinghamshire New University. He is on the editorial boards of ‘City’ and ‘Community, Work and Family’.

          Research and Teaching

            Research Interests

            I am an urbanist whose research interests span geography, sociology and social policy. My over-arching research focus is the inter-relationship between social inequalities, space and place, especially in global cities and their hinterlands. This includes the following themes:

            • Social housing and urban regeneration.
            • Neighbourhoods and communities.
            • The 2012 London Olympics and the regeneration of East London.
            • Suburbanisation and the suburbs (British Academy, Small Research Grant, 2012, SG112360: Residential Mobility, Housing and Belonging in the London Suburbs).

            Research Roles

            • Department of GEDS seminar series, Birkbeck – Convenor.
            • Birkbeck Institute for Social Research – Steering Committee.
            • Birkbeck Research in Representations of Kinship and Community – Steering Committee.
            • Living Maps – Steering Committee.
            • Highbury Group on Housing Delivery, University of Westminster – Member.


            I convene the following undergraduate modules:

            • Cities and Urban Inequalities (level 6)
            • Research Project (level 6)
            • Literature Review (level 6)
            • Environment, Economy and Society in Europe (level 5)
            • Human Geography: Space and Place in the Contemporary World (level 4)

            PhD/MPhil. Supervision

            I currently supervise the following students:

            • Eric Carlin: ‘Resilience in Teenagers at Risk of Social Exclusion in a Deprived Edinburgh Neighbourhood’.
            • Piero Corcillo: ‘Olympic Games Housing and the Athletes Village Redevelopment: A Comparison between London and Turin’.
            • David Tross: ‘Happiness and Well-being in England’.

            Previous PhD students include:

            • Peter Fussey: ‘Installing CCTV: A Study of the Networks of Surveillance Policy’.
            • Anthony Gunter: ‘Can’t Blame the Youth: An Ethnographic Account of Black Youth in an East London Neighbourhood’.
            • Keelin Howard: ‘Welfare as Control: Contradiction, Dilemma and Compromise in the Everyday Support of Asylum Seekers in the UK after the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act’.
            • Ruth Rogers: ‘The Ethical Techniques of the Self and the Social Security Discourse of the Jobseeker’.

            I am interested in supervising projects in the following areas:

            • social housing and urban regeneration
            • cities and socio-spatial inequality
            • neighbourhoods, place and community
            • suburbanisation and suburbia
            • social class
            • housing activism
            • 2012 London Olympics and the regeneration of East London



            Journals – Editorship of Special Issues

            • Watt, P. and Minton, A. (2016) ‘Special Feature: London’s Housing Crisis and its Activisms’, City 20(2): 204-341.
            • Smets, P. and Watt, P. (2013) Exclusion and Belonging in Urban Public and Quasi-Public Space, The Open Urban Studies Journal 6(1): 27-74.
            • Hodkinson, S., Watt, P. and Mooney, G. (2013) Social Housing, Privatisation and Neoliberalism, Critical Social Policy 33(1): 3-77.

            Journal Articles (since 2000)

            • Watt, P. (2018) ‘Gendering the right to housing in the city: Homeless female lone parents in post-Olympics, austerity East London’, Cities 76: 43-51. //www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275116302165
            • Watt, P. (2018) ‘“This pain of moving, moving, moving”: Evictions, displacement and logics of expulsion in London’, L’Annee sociologique 68(1): 67-100.
            • Hardy, K., Gillespie, T. and Watt, P. (2018) ‘Austerity urbanism and Olympic counter-legacies: Gendering, defending and expanding the urban commons in East London’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. //journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0263775817753844
            • Watt, P. and Minton, A. (2016) ‘London’s housing crisis and its activisms’, City 20(2): 204-221. //www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13604813.2016.1151707
            • Watt, P. (2016) ‘A nomadic war machine in the metropolis: En/countering London’s 21st century housing crisis with Focus E15’, City 20(2): 297-320. //www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13604813.2016.1153919
            • Watt, P. (2013) ‘It’s not for us’: regeneration, the 2012 Olympics and the gentrification of East London’, City 17(1): 99-118. //www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13604813.2012.754190?src=recsys#.VJMBVU1ya70
            • Kennelly, J. and Watt, P. (2013) Restricting the public in public space: the London 2012 Olympic Games, hyper-securitization and marginalized youth, Sociological Research Online 18(2). //www.socresonline.org.uk/18/2/19.html
            • Hodkinson, S., Watt, P. and Mooney, G. (2013) Neoliberal housing policy - time for a critical re-appraisal, Critical Social Policy 33(1): 3-16. //csp.sagepub.com/content/33/1/3.abstract
            • Smets, P. and Watt, P. (2013) Editorial: Exclusion and Belonging in Urban Public and Quasi-Public Space, The Open Urban Studies Journal (TOUSJ) 6(1): 27-29. //benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/TOUSJ/TOUSJ-6-27.pdf
            • Butcher, S., Frediani, A. and Watt, P. (2013) Well-being and regeneration: reflections from Carpenters Estate, Urban Pamphleteer 2: 13-16. //www.ucl.ac.uk/urbanlab/research/urban-pamphleteer
            • Kennelly, J. and Watt, P. (2012) Seeing Olympic effects through the eyes of marginally housed youth: changing places and the gentrification of East London, Visual Studies 27(2): 151-160. //www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1472586X.2012.677496#.VJMBKE1ya70
            • Watt, P. (2011) Work-life mobility and stability: the employment histories of immigrant workers at a unionized Toronto hotel, Hospitality & Society 1(2): 117-136.
            • Kennelly, J. and Watt, P. (2011) Sanitizing public space in Olympic host cities: the spatial experiences of marginalized youth in 2010 Vancouver and 2012 London, Sociology 45(5): 765-781.
            • Watt, P. (2011) Selective belonging: fear and avoidance in urban and suburban neighbourhoods, Lo Squaderno: Explorations in Space and Society, 21: 55-57. //www.losquaderno.professionaldreamers.net/?cat=154
            • Watt, P. (2010) Unravelling the narratives and politics of belonging to place, Housing, Theory and Society 27(2): 153-159.
            • Watt, P. (2009) Living in an oasis: middle-class disaffiliation and selective belonging in an English suburb, Environment & Planning A 41(12): 2874-2892.
            • Watt, P. (2009) ‘Are you local?’ A reply to Malcolm Harrison on the dilemmas of localist particularism, People, Place and Policy Online 3(3): 147-150. //extra.shu.ac.uk/ppp-online/comments-on-new-contexts-new-challenges-revisiting-equal-opportunities-particularism-and-ethnic-relations-by-malcolm-harrison/
            • Watt, P., Gifford, C., Koster, S. and Clark, W. (2009) ‘I felt really inspired by it, it was really interesting to interact with the pupils’: active citizenship in the British undergraduate social science curriculum, Social Science Tribune 14(55): 153-173.
            • Watt, P. (2009) Housing stock transfers, regeneration and state-led gentrification in London, Urban Policy and Research 27(3): 229-242.
            • Gunter, A. and Watt, P. (2009) Grafting, going to college and working on road: youth transitions and cultures in an East London neighbourhood, Journal of Youth Studies 12(5): 515-529.
            • Watt, P. (2008) ‘Underclass’ and ‘ordinary people’ discourses: representing/re-presenting council tenants in a housing campaign, Critical Discourse Studies 5(3): 345-357.
            • Watt, P. (2008) The only class in town? Gentrification and the middle-class colonization of the city and the urban imagination, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 32(1): 206-211.
            • Watt, P. (2007) ‘I need people that are happy, always smiling’: guest interaction and emotional labour in a Canadian downtown hotel, Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society 10: 45-59. //www.justlabour.yorku.ca/index.php?page=toc&volume=10
            • Watt, P. (2006) Respectability, roughness and ‘race’: neighbourhood place images and the making of working-class social distinctions in London, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 30(4): 776-797.
            • Watt, P. (2005) Housing histories and fragmented middle-class careers: the case of marginal professionals in London council housing, Housing Studies 20(3): 359-381.
            • Gifford, C., Watt, P., Clark, W. and Koster, S. (2005) Negotiating participation and power in a school setting: the implementation of active citizenship within the undergraduate sociology curriculum, LATISS - Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences 2(3): 175-190.
            • Watt, P. (2003) Urban marginality and economic restructuring: local authority tenants and employment in an inner London Borough, Urban Studies 40(9): 1769-1789.
            • Cox, R. and Watt, P. (2002) Globalization, polarization and the informal sector: the case of paid domestic workers in London, Area 34(1): 39-47.
            • Watt, P. and Jacobs, K. (2000) Discourses of social exclusion: an analysis of ‘Bringing Britain together: a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal’, Housing, Theory and Society 17(1): 14-26.

            Book Chapters (recent)

            • Watt, P. (2018 forthcoming) ‘Social housing not social cleansing: Contemporary housing struggles in London’, in N. Gray (Ed.), A Century of Housing Struggles: From the 1915 Rent Strikes to Contemporary Housing Activisms. Rowman & Littlefield.
            • Watt, P. (2017) ‘Social housing and urban renewal: An introduction’, in P. Watt and P. Smets, P. (Eds.) Social Housing and Urban Renewal: A Cross-National Perspective. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 1-36, available to download: //books.emeraldinsight.com/page/detail/Social-Housing-and-Urban-Renewal/?k=9781787141254
            • Watt, P. and Bernstock, P. (2017) ‘Legacy for whom? Housing in Post-Olympic East London’, in P. Cohen and P. Watt (Eds.) London 2012 and the Post-Olympics City: A Hollow Legacy? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 91-138.
            • Cohen, P. and Watt, P. (2017) ‘The Rio Dossier: The exclusion Games’, in P. Cohen and P. Watt (Eds.) London 2012 and the Post-Olympics City: A Hollow Legacy? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 385-405.
            • Watt, P. (2017) ‘Suburbanization’, in D. Richardson (ed.) International Encyclopedia of Geography:People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell and the Association of American Geographers.
            • Watt, P., Millington, G. and Huq, R. (2014) ‘East London mobilities: the Cockney Diaspora and the remaking of the Essex ethnoscape’, in: P. Watt and P. Smets (eds.) Mobilities and Neighbourhood Belonging in Cities and Suburbs. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
            • Watt, P. and Smets, P. (2014) ‘Introduction’ and ‘Conclusion’ in: P. Watt and P. Smets (eds.), Mobilities and Neighbourhood Belonging in Cities and Suburbs. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
            • Watt, P. and Wallace, A. (2014) ‘Why can’t we have them posh houses? Housing redevelopment and community tensions in London and Salford’, in A. Deboulet and C. Lelévrier (eds.) Rénovation Urbaine en Europe. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
            • Watt, P. (2013) 'Community and belonging in a London suburb: a study of incomers’ in: M. Kusenbach and K.E. Paulsen (eds.) Home: International Perspectives on Culture, Identity and Belonging. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
            • Watt, P. (2013) ‘Underclass and ordinary people discourses: representing/re-presenting council tenants in a housing campaign’, in J.E. Richardson et al. (eds.), Advances in Critical Discourse Studies. London: Routledge.
            • Watt, P. (2013) ‘Gentrification and displacement’, in: I. Ness (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of Global Human Migration. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
            • Watt, P. and Kennelly, J. (2012) ‘Seeing Stratford and the 2012 Olympics through the eyes of homeless young people’, in: H. Powell and I. Marrero (eds.) The Art of Dissent: London’s Olympic State. London: Marshgate Press.
            • Gunter, A. and Watt, P. (2010) ‘Grafting, going to college and working on road: youth transitions and cultures in an East London neighbourhood’, in: R. MacDonald, T. Shildrick and S. Blackman (eds.) Young People, Class and Place. London: Routledge.
            • Watt, P. (2009) Social housing and regeneration in London, in: R. Imrie, L. Lees and M. Raco (Eds.), Regenerating London. London: Routledge.
            • Watt, P., Gifford, C. and Koster, S. (2008) Working with schools: active citizenship for undergraduate social science students, in University Life Uncovered: Making Sense of the Student Experience. Southampton: Higher Education Academy SWAP, University of Southampton.
            • Watt, P. (2008) Moving to a better place? Geographies of aspiration and anxiety in the Thames Gateway, in: P. Cohen and M.J. Rustin (Eds.), London’s Turning: The Making of Thames Gateway. Aldershot: Ashgate.
            • Watt, P. (2007) From the dirty city to the spoiled suburb, in: B. Campkin and R. Cox (Eds.), Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination. London: I.B. Tauris.

            Recent Invited Presentations

            • 'What happens after the Olympic Games leave town? Housing, homelessness and the right to the city in Post-Olympics London', Evénement pour la célébration des 50 ans du droit à la ville, Université Paris-Nanterre, May 24th 2018.
            • ‘A Tale of Two Doors: Housing Mobilities, Outgoers and Incomers in Post-Olympics East London’, Science Po, Paris, 16 May 2018.
            • ‘Social housing and housing activism in London’, at East End Film Festival, Rich Mix, 14th April 2018, //www.eastendfilmfestival.com/programme-archive/action-housing-talks-screenings/
            • ‘Memory Block’ discussant, BIMI Urban Change Film Series, Birkbeck, 8 December 2017.
            • ‘This Pain of Moving, Moving, Moving: Displacement, Homelessness and Logics of Expulsion in London’, Shelter, London, 14 November 2017.
            • ‘Social Housing and Urban Renewal: A Cross-National Perspective’, CREC, University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, 7 November 2017.
            • ‘Regeneration in London’, The London Society, 4 November 2017, //www.londonsociety.org.uk/report-saturday-morning-planning-school-3-regeneration-london/
            • ‘Social/Affordable Housing in London’, The London Society, 28 October 2017, //thelondonsociety.wildapricot.org/event-2677509
            • 'Social Housing and Urban Renewal', Karakusevic Carson Architects, London, 28 September. 2017.
            • ‘Estate Regeneration’, Demolition Watch London fringe event, Labour Party Conference, Brighton, 26 September 2017.
            • ‘What is the Architect's Role in the Housing Crisis'?, Cressingham Gardens Estate, Tulse Hill, London, 28 June 2017, //www.brixtonbuzz.com/event/what-is-the-architects-role-in-the-housing-crisis/
            • ‘Luxury Housing Developments and Homelessness in East London: Who’s Benefiting from the 2012 Olympic Games Housing Legacy?’, HafenCity University, Hamburg, 22 June 2017. //www.ud.hcu-hamburg.de/projects/lectures/uxury-housing-developments-and-homelessness-in-east-london-whos-benefiting-from-the-2012-olympic-games-housing-legacy
            • ‘Where’s the Housing Legacy? Capital Flows and Moving People in Post-Olympics, Austerity East London’, at London, Rio, Tokyo Olympics Symposium, Goldsmiths, University of London, 8-10 June 2017.
            • ‘The Role of the Local State in London’s State-Led Gentrification’, LOOK/17: Here/There/Now – Housing in Chinese and UK Cities, Tate Liverpool, 8 April 2017.
            • ‘Housing Precarity in London Today: Action Research and Creating Change’, QMUL GradFest 2017, 20 February 2017.
            • ‘London’s Housing Crisis’, Islington Pensioners Forum, Islington Town Hall, 19 Jan. 2017.
            • ‘Struggles over Home in a Time of Crisis Conference’, University of Leeds, 13-14 December 2016.
            • ‘The Housing Crisis: How did we get here?’, at Art Practices & the Housing Crisis Conference, Salford, 18 November 2016.
            • ‘The Life and Death of London’s Council Estates: Social Rental Housing and Urban Regeneration in a Global City’, CLERSE, University of Lille, 10 November 2016.
            • ‘The Housing Crisis – How Did We Get Here?’, Housing First Conference, University of East London, Student Employability Society, 25 October 2016.
            • ‘Housing, Homelessness and Health in Post-Olympic East London’, Peoples Health Assembly, London, 8 October 2016.
            • Royal Academy of Arts debate on ‘Forgotten Estates: how Britain’s post-war housing estates have become a battleground of differing political and architectural ideologies’, 26 September 2016, //www.facebook.com/royalacademy/videos/10154252185482415/.
            • ‘London’s Housing Crisis and its Activisms Conference’, Birkbeck & UEL, 23 April 2016, //www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hw4QNwa7hI
            • COES Annual Conference: Urban and Territorial conflicts: Contesting Social Cohesion, Santiago, Chile, 17-20 November 2015.
            • ‘The Post Olympic Legacy: Dream or Reality?’, London’s Turning, UEL, 24 October 2015, //www.livingmaps.org.uk/wordpress/?event=symposium-londons-turning
            • ‘London’s Social Housing Transformation and the London Housing Crisis’, BISR colloquium on the London Housing Crisis, 22 May 2015.

          Professional Membership

            • International Sociological Association
            • Research Committee 21, Sociology of Urban and Regional Development, ISA
            • Fellow of Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers
            • British Sociological Association


          Contact details:


          Phone: 0203 073 8371


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