Professor Martin Jones

Image of Martin Jones

Room number: C13a
Telephone (internal): 28377
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 8377
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 8377

Professor Martin Jones joined the Department of Geography in September 2013 as Director of the White Rose Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (WRDTC)—an ESRC-funded consortium between the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York—and as Professor of Urban and Regional Political Economy.

Martin previously held positions at Aberystwyth University: Chair in Human Geography (from 2004); Pro Vice-Chancellor (from 2009) with portfolio experience in research, enterprise, engagement, and the student experience; and Co-Director of the ESRC-Welsh Government-funded, Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). Before this, he was a Simon Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, after graduating from Manchester with a BA (1992) and PhD (1997) in Human Geography.

Martin is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and Academician, Academy of the Social Sciences (AcSS) – elected for his contributions to human geography and to policy debates on the economic development sector. He received an Honorary Professorial position (Docentship) in Oulu, Finland, in recognition for research on the ‘geography of regions’ and was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Geography, which is a mark of international scholarship and distinction. Martin is the originator and co-editor of the journal Territory, Politics, Governance, plays an active role in learned societies through the Regional Studies Association, has been a research associate of several policy organizations (CLES, LGIU, Unemployment Unit/CESI), and has given evidence to UK Government Select Committees on skills, business support, and regional development.

Martin is an interdisciplinary researcher, working in the broad area of society and space and specifically on the interface between economic and political geography. He is interested in the geographies of state and government intervention through economic and social policy in cities and regions, and subnational political economies therein.

Research Interests

Martin Jones has produced over 130 publications of all kinds—books, refereed journal publications and significant policy-relevant report. He has received research funding of over £2 million from a variety of sources (Economic and Social Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, JISC, Welsh Government) and has produced trans-disciplinary knowledge that is theoretically challenging, empirically grounded and philosophically critical. His research has reworked the role of political economy, re-conceptualized the complex interrelationships between state spatiality and political strategy within the social sciences, and brought policy relevance to human geography. He is best known for contributions to debates on:

  • Geographical political economy,
  • Urban and regional studies,
  • Advanced capitalism and neoliberalism,
  • Economic regulation and governance,
  • Local and regional economic and social development,
  • Labour market policy,
  • Qualitative data and methods.
Publication details at Google Scholar

Current Research

As part of the WISERD/Civil ESRC-funded Research Centre, Martin’s current research (2015-2017) is on:

Spaces of New Localism—Stakeholder Engagement and Economic Development in Wales and England

City-Region-based agglomerations are currently riding high on the political and policy agenda across the world. Their emergence is not accidental; they are being built in direct response to the deep ideological thinking exposed in key documents such as the World Bank’s Word Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography. This set in train a series of ‘new economic geography’ influenced arguments, which collectively claim that, firstly, urbanization is a global phenomenon to be embraced at all costs and within this, city-regions are the principal scale at which this happens and people experience lived reality. Secondly, somewhat provocatively, the economic basis of city-regions rests on concentration and specialization, which allows spatial agglomeration to take place. Thirdly, cosmopolitan policy management is required with a bold and confident voice, working with the grain of market logistics and new ‘spatial orderings’ (such as governance frameworks) to lubricate agglomeration and provide efficiency by lowering transaction costs and promoting proximity, and thereby liberating growth and allowing it to spread geographically.
In the UK, this motif is clearly evident in reports such as RSA City Growth Commission, which argued in October 2014 for the unleashing of metro growth, through a series of city-regions, or ‘metros’—defined as the “larger constellation of cities and towns that constitute a functional economy within build up areas”—as the main drivers of economic growth in an increasingly knowledge-driven, global economy.

This three-year project, being led by Martin Jones at the University of Sheffield, will probe on the missing socially and spatially disembedded sphere of these competitive relationships, equilibrating tendencies, and critically the vacuum around the policies and politics of Assembling City-Regions. In short, there is little research being undertaken on City-Region Building, i.e. which civil society stakeholders are involved and what the motives are for engagement or a lack of engagement, and within this, there is no critical assessment of whether and how marginalisation (by interest groups and by geographical location) and uneven development (the relationship between regions, cities and places) operates, and in turn whether this fuels, sustains, or destroys economic agglomeration, development, and growth.

Deploying case study research—based on two sites in Wales (Cardiff Capital Region and Swansea Bay City Region) and two sites in England (Sheffield City Region and Manchester City Region), and involving interviews with around 20-25 stakeholders in each location—the aim is to undertake a comparative study of stakeholder and civil society organizational involvement in the City-Region Building agenda. The project will specifically look at the City-Region Builders involved in Local Enterprise Partnerships, City Deals, Enterprise Zones and City-Region governance and development in general.

The following research questions will be asked: what policy, strategy, and institutional changes have taken place, and are currently taking place, in the landscape of economic development since 2010 in England and Wales? How do these changes affect and involve civil society organizations? What are the narratives of devolution and community engagement in the LEPs, EZs, City Deals and City Regions? How are these being worked into policies and procedures for stakeholder engagement? Who is involved in the new localism and how does this relate to forms of associational life and political engagement? What are the compositions of LEP, EZ, City Deal and City-Region boards, and their sub-groups and other structures of engagement? And, how successful are the City-Region Builders and the new localism in realizing the objectives of agglomeration, economic development and growth, and social empowerment?


Martin Jones has taught at all levels and in a wide range of formats including: lectures, tutorials, practicals, workshops, team project groups, and field classes. He was founder of several successful MA programmes at Aberystwyth University, and as Pro Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for learning and teaching, Martin provided an environment for innovations in technology-enhanced student experiences and learning spaces. With Rhys Jones and Mike Woods, Martin has co-authored the textbook An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics (Routledge). The second edition of this was published in late 2014 (with additional input from Deborah Dixon, Matthew Hannah, and Mark Whitehead). Martin currently has a senior management role in the University and is not, therefore, available to teach undergraduates. He is available to supervise postgraduates and welcomes applications in the areas of his research expertise.

Key Publications

  • Jones M, Jones R, Woods M, Whitehead M, Dixon D, and Hannah M (2015) An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics (second edition) (Routledge, London)
  • Goodwin M, Jones M and Jones R (2012) Rescaling the State: Devolution and the Geographies of Economic Governance (Manchester University Press, Manchester)
  • Whitehead M, Jones R and Jones M (2007) The Nature of the State: Excavating the Political Ecologies of the Modern State (Oxford University Press, Oxford)
  • Jones M, Jones R and Woods M (2004) An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics (Routledge, London)
  • Brenner N, Jessop B, Jones M and MacLeod G (2003) (Eds) State/Space: A Reader (Blackwell, Oxford)
  • Jones M (1999) New Institutional Spaces: TECs and the Remaking of Economic Governance (Routledge, London)
Edited Journal Special Issues

  • Jones M and Paasi A (2013) “Regional World(s): Advancing the geography of regions” Regional Studies 47, 1, 1-127
  • MacLeod G and Jones M (2011) “Renewing urban politics” Urban Studies 48, 12, 2443-2685
  • Jones M, Goodwin M, Jones R (2005) “Devolution and economic governance” Regional Studies 39, 4, 397-553
Journal Articles and Book Chapters Since 2008

  • Jones M (2014) "Kapoorian geographies of relationality: the Baroque, topological twists, phase space in action" Environment and Planning A, 46, 2585-2603
  • Jones M (2014) "Territory, politics, and relational autonomy" Territory, Politics, Governance 2, 109-114
  • Jones M and Woods M (2013) “New localities” Regional Studies 47, 29-42
  • Jones M and Paasi A (2013) “Regional world(s): advancing the geography of regions” Regional Studies 47, 1-5
  • Jones M (2013) “It’s like déjà vu, all over again” in M Ward and S Hardy (eds) Where Next for Local Enterprise Partnerships (Smith Institute, London)
  • Jones M (2013) “Polymorphic spatial politics: tales from a grassroots regional movement” in W Nicholls, J Beaumont and B Miller (eds) Spaces of Contention (Ashgate, Aldershot)
  • Merriman P, Jones M, Olsson G, Sheppard E, Thrift N, and Tuan Y-F (2012) “Space and spatiality in theory” Dialogues in Human Geography 2, 3-22
  • Heley J and Jones M (2012) “Devolution in Wales – fiddling with spatial governance while the economy burns” in M Ward and S Hardy (eds) Changing Gear – is Localism the New Regionalism? (Smith Institute, London)
  • Jessop B, Brenner N and Jones M (2012) “Theorizing sociospatial relations” in S Elden, TJ Barnes, M Batty, RJ Bennett, J Peck, N Thrift, and PA Longley (eds) Environment and Planning: Volume 4 (Sage, London)
  • MacLeod G and Jones M (2011) “Renewing urban politics” Urban Studies 48, 2443-2472
  • Etherington D and Jones M (2011) “City-regions: new geographies of uneven development and inequality” in M Neuman and A Hull (eds) The Futures of the City Region (Routledge, London)
  • Jones M (2011) “The local in the global” in A Leyshon, R Lee, L McDowell and P Sunley (eds) The Sage Handbook of Economic Geography (Sage, London)
  • Jones M and MacLeod G (2011) “Territorial/relational: conceptualizing spatial economic governance” in A Pike, A Rodrigues-Pose and J Tomaney (eds) Handbook of Local and Regional Development (Routledge, London)
  • Jones M and Jessop B (2010) “Thinking state/space incompossibly” Antipode 42, 1119-1149
  • Jones M (2010) “Impedimenta state: anatomies of neoliberal penality” Criminology and Criminal Justice 10, 391-402
  • Jones M (2010) “Limits to ‘thinking space relationally’” International Journal of Law in Context 6, 243-255
  • Jones M (2009) “Phase space: geography, relational thinking, and beyond” Progress in Human Geography 33, 487-506
  • Etherington D and Jones M (2009) “City-regions: new geographies of uneven development and inequality” Regional Studies 43, 247-265
  • Jones M and Etherington D (2009) “Governing the skills agenda: insights from the Sheffield city-region” Local Economy 24, 68-79
  • Jones M (2009) “Political Geography: State” in R Kitchin and N Thrift (eds) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Volume 10 (Elsevier, Oxford)
  • MacLeod G and Jones M (2009) “Territorial, scalar, networked, connected: In what sense a ‘regional world’?” in A Pike (ed) Whither Regional Studies? (Routledge, London)
  • Jessop B, Brenner N, and Jones M (2008) “Theorizing sociospatial relations” Environment and Planning D 26, 381-401
  • Jones M (2008) “Recovering a sense of political economy” Political Geography 27, 377-399
  • Watkin S and Jones M (2008) “21st Century employment and training in the countryside? The rural ‘New Deal’ experience” in M Woods (ed) New Labour’s Countryside: Rural Policy in Britain Since 1997 (Policy Press, Bristol)