I have a Geography BA (1990) and PhD (1994) from the University of Birmingham, and have worked in the Departments of Geography at Gloucestershire University, Coventry University, and Loughborough University. From 2010 until 2017 I was in the inter-disciplinary School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Work at the University of Kent, serving as Head of School and Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
I am particularly interested in the city as a site of social conflict. My work draws on theories of the city developed in urban geography and urban sociology, and also engages with debates in socio-legal studies given my particular interests in the way urban 'disorder' is regulated. Empirically, this has been manifest in studies exploring how community opposition to particular ‘unwanted’ land uses – e.g. brothels, lap dance clubs, asylum holding facilities, student housing, empty shops – shapes governmental and regulatory responses. I am particularly known for setting international agendas in the study of the relationship between gender, sexuality and the city via research on the spatial governance of sex work (summarised in Cities and Sexualities, Routledge, 2013).
A major theme running through much of my work has been a focus on questions of displacement and spatial justice, something that is particularly relevant in the context of London's housing crises and the ongoing gentrification of much of the capital. This is evident in my ESRC-sponsored research on the impacts of estate renewal in London, as well as studies of the impacts of retail gentrification on working class communities (the latter summarised in my monograph The Battle for the High Street, Palgrave, 2017).