Dr Desiree Fields

Desiree Fields

Email: D.Fields@sheffield.ac.uk
Room number: F13
Telephone (internal): 27969
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7969
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7969


I am an urban and economic geographer. My work explores the financial technologies, market devices, and historical and geographic contingencies making it possible to treat housing as a financial asset, and how this process is contested at the urban scale. Beyond my appointment in the Department of Geography, I am also an Associate Fellow at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute and Visiting Researcher at the Sheffield Urban Institute.

I am a board member of the Urban Studies Foundation, member of the editorial advisory board of Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, and treasurer of the Urban Geography Research group of the Royal Geographical Society.

The U.S. National Science Foundation, the British Academy, and the Independent Social Research Foundation have supported my research, which has been published in journals including Urban Studies; Economic Geography; Housing, Theory, and Society; City; and International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.


Research interests

At the heart of my work is an interest in how economic—and increasingly, technological--transformations unevenly restructure urban space and social relations, with a particular concern for how urban struggles for justice coalesce around these changes. Within this broadly defined area, I grapple with two transformations as they relate to housing, a crucial vector of urban inequality and terrain of grassroots political contestation. First, the shift to a finance-oriented political economy; second, the growing global reach and power of digital platforms.

Over more than a decade of scholarship, I have established a track record of influential publications in leading journals in my field, developed an international network of colleagues and collaborators, worked effectively with grassroots organizers, and successfully pursued funding to support my research.

Current research

Automated Landlord: Digital Transformations of Renting

Digital platforms are reshaping multiple domains of urban life, including the provision, consumption, and management of rental housing. This research develops the concept of the ‘automated landlord’ to capture how the management of tenants and properties is increasingly not only mediated, but governed, by smartphones, digital platforms, and apps, and the data and analytics these devices and infrastructures gather and enable. Such digital technologies are inseparable from everyday life, which incorporates how we use and interact with urban space, and the power relations therein. I am currently working with Dr. Dallas Rogers of the University of Sydney on a project funded by the Sydney Policy Lab to explore how digital platforms may reshape power relations in the rental market. This work aims to foster more socially just urban futures by studying how to harness digital platforms toward public good and improve experiences of renting.


My undergraduate teaching interests include:

  • Urban geography and urban transformations
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Economic geography
  • Political economy

I am also interested in supervising graduate students on the above topics, as well as those with interests related to financialization, real estate, urban activism, digital platforms, and alternative housing models.


View full list of publications