Professor David Robinson
Professor of Housing and Urban Studies
Room number: C6
Telephone (internal): 27947
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7947
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7947
I joined into the Department in 2019 having previously served as Head of Geography. My interest in the fields of urban studies and housing first emerged during my undergraduate degree in geography at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and was subsequently pursued through a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Following a post-doctoral research position at Loughborough University I moved to the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University. I served as Director of Centre prior to moving to the University of Sheffield in 2016.
I am a member of the management board of the Housing Studies journal and a trustee of the Housing Studies Charitable Trust. I have served as Managing Editor of the Housing Studies journal and was a founding editor of People, Place and Policy Online. I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.
My research practice is situated at the interface of planning, geography and social policy and focuses on exposing and understanding contemporary challenges in urban society and critically analysing the responses of policy and practice. Much of my career has been spent at the interface of knowledge and action. My work is dominated by an interest in questions of how inequality arises, the associated burdens and benefits, and issues of social justice.
Decent, secure housing provides more than just a roof over someone’s head. It is a place of safety and security. It can promote health and well-being and inform life chances. My work has sought to expose and understand inequalities in access to these benefits within the UK housing system; related processes of urban transformation; and associated consequences for people and places. Particular areas of interest include the politics and provision of social housing; discrimination in the housing system; and hidden and neglected experiences of particular groups.
The Politics of Community
This stream of work has focused on the new politics of community that has gained ascendency within public policy making. The focus has been on exploring and critiquing the processes through which particular places are increasingly portrayed as spatial containers of social failure, allowing social problems to be localised and thrown back at places to resolve themselves through the reinvigoration of community. It has included analysis of the shift in policy from tackling inequality and disadvantage toward correcting the behaviour of social groups / communities seen as deviant. A key concern within this strand of work has been on the community cohesion agenda. More recently, I have explored the application of resilience thinking to the social world, focusing on the concept of community resilience.
Since the 1990s, the flows of people between different locations across the globe have become larger in volume, more varied in form, and increasingly complex in nature as a result of various transformations in political, economic, and social structures. In the UK, these global trends have been manifest in a marked rise in the arrival of foreign nationals from a wide range of countries of origin, who have moved through a diversity of migration channels and been allocated different legal statuses. A new geography of settlement has emerged, with many new migrants moving beyond the locations that traditionally served as reception points for new arrivals into the UK, and settling in locations with little history of accommodating diversity and difference. The result is a situation of increasing social and demographic complexity that surpasses anything previously experienced in the UK. My research has sought to explore and understand this complexity and associated experiences and consequences for new arrivals and settled populations. A key feature of my contribution has been the insertion of an appreciation of place into analysis of migrant experiences, community relations and processes of integration.
Current and Recent Research Projects
My approach to teaching is rooted in a commitment to promoting positive change within society by bringing expertise and knowledge to bear on contemporary challenges facing public policy, whilst simultaneously engaging in philosophising about the way things are and might be. My teaching contributions centre on contemporary housing issues and challenges, including the problems that particular groups encounter negotiating a satisfactory residential settlement within the contemporary housing system.
I teach on the following modules:
I am Secondary Supervisor for the following research students: