Paul Watt

Paul Watt
Birkbeck, University of London · Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies

PhD
My Professorial Inaugural Lecture: https://birkbeck.cloud.panopto.eu/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=b5afc294-303f-46a6-95

About

100
Publications
21,989
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2,131
Citations
Citations since 2017
34 Research Items
1195 Citations
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Introduction
Paul Watt is Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Geography, Birkbeck, University of London. I research social/public housing, regeneration, homelessness, displacement, gentrification and social class. My latest book 'Estate Regeneration and Its Discontents: Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London' was published by Policy Press in 2021. https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/estate-regeneration-and-its-discontents Email - p.watt@bbk.ac.uk Twitter - @PaulWatt1232
Additional affiliations
May 2007 - present
Birkbeck, University of London
Position
  • Professor
September 2006 - May 2007
University of Wolverhampton
Position
  • Reader in Social Policy
March 2000 - August 2006
Buckinghamshire New University
Position
  • Reader in Urban Sociology

Publications

Publications (100)
Book
This edited book addresses the question of whether increasing spatial mobilities (residential, work and leisure) mean that neighbourhoods as places are less significant for people's sense of belonging. The chapters are based on neighbourhood case studies drawn from original research undertaken in the cities and suburbs of Europe, North America and...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the much-hyped 2012 Olympic Games ‘legacy’ in relation to the displacement experiences of lower-income East Londoners. The paper begins by outlining the overall context of housing-related regeneration including the reduced role for social housing, especially council (public) housing in London. It then sets out a framework for un...
Article
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This article is based on a cross-national qualitative study of homeless and street-involved youth living within Olympic host cities. Synthesizing a Lefebvrian spatial analysis with Debord’s concept of ‘the spectacle’, the article analyses the spatial experiences of homeless young people in Vancouver (host to the 2010 Winter Olympics) and draws some...
Article
This article examines housing stock transfers from local authorities to registered social landlords in relation to regeneration and state-led gentrification in London. The article traces the inter-linkages between social rental housing provision, gentrification and neoliberalism. These inter-linkages are illustrated via an examination of the contes...
Article
This paper aims to address the oft-mentioned dearth of research on the suburbs by examining processes of sociospatial segregation and middle-class disaffiliation in London’s eastern suburban periphery. By drawing upon aspects of Bourdieu’s theoretical framework, the paper shows how the home-owning, middle-class, largely white residents of the ‘Wood...
Article
Full-text available
This paper takes a long view perspective on estate regeneration with reference to Clapham Park, a large social housing estate in London. This estate was one of 39 areas in England included in the Labour Government’s New Deal for Communities (NDC) flagship regeneration programme which ran for ten years during the 2000s. This programme is an exemplar...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on residents’ displacement experiences, both before and after physical relocation. It begins by providing an overview of dispossession with reference to social cleansing. It then analyses displacement among social tenants, the tenure with the greatest rehousing rights, including the right to return, and examines the displacemen...
Chapter
This chapter examines the beginnings of regeneration including consultation. It briefly reviews the impetus for regeneration, and then goes on to analyse two examples of early-stage regeneration: the first is the long-running Canning Town/Custom House scheme in Newham, and the second is Northwold estate in Hackney. The consultation process is then...
Chapter
This chapter examines the aftermaths of regeneration at three estates – West Hendon, Woodberry Down and Carpenters – and analyses what kinds of new places and inequalities are being produced. Regeneration has been going on for 15–20 years at these estates. Not only is this timescale much longer than the 1990s’ CEI and SRB schemes (Chapter 3), but t...
Chapter
As Goetz (2016) argues, there is limited research on social housing tenants’ resistance to redevelopment and this chapter contributes towards addressing that deficit. It begins by analysing housing activism with reference to council housing, and situates the recent crop of estate-based anti-demolition campaigns in relation to earlier anti-stock-tra...
Chapter
This chapter illustrates five ways that estates have become devalued places to live in residents’ eyes, beginning with the domestic scale in relation to overcrowding and un-homing. Second, it examines the crucial impact of landlord neglect in relation to repairs and maintenance. Third, the RTB is revisited with reference to its acceleration of popu...
Chapter
Since the 1970s, social housing estates within Western capitalist cities have been linked to marginalisation processes in relation to poverty and deprivation. This chapter examines marginalisation at London's estates with reference to three analytical frameworks: residualisation, social exclusion and socio-tenurial polarisation. While acknowledging...
Chapter
This chapter reviews the various urban policy programmes which have attempted to renew and regenerate London's deprived estates. The chapter begins with a brief overview of ‘old’ urban renewal in its post-war slum clearance form, and its ‘new urban renewal’ form as estate regeneration. It then traces the development of estate-based programmes from...
Chapter
The research and resulting book is informed by my ethical and political commitment to the social value of public housing. Since my youth, I have believed that public housing is an extremely positive feature of contemporary society which should be both preserved and expanded. This dates to when my family moved to a council estate on the outskirts of...
Chapter
This chapter examines what happens once regeneration-as-demolition begins in earnest. In stark contrast to the official regeneration rationale – creating better places and lives – it argues that residents experience physical, social, symbolic and psychosocial degeneration. If regeneration involves spatially targeted reinvestment in and revitalisati...
Chapter
The research focused on seven London boroughs – referred to as the ‘main research boroughs’ – while less extensive research was undertaken in four ‘supplementary boroughs’ (Figure 4.1). Six of the main boroughs – Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets – have been among the most deprived local authority areas in England for...
Chapter
This chapter assesses how and why residents came to value their estates as places to live. It begins by considering their attachment to their dwellings as homes. The importance of place belonging is then analysed at the spatial scale of the estate in relation to neighbourliness and community. This leads on to an examination of the intermediate scal...
Chapter
Having outlined the multiple discontents that estate regeneration involving demolition gives rise to, I hope that the question raised in the Introduction – ‘why do London estate residents pray that regeneration won't be coming to their neighbourhood anytime soon?’ – has been answered. This concluding chapter summarises the key findings and makes va...
Chapter
“I’m praying to god, ‘don't regenerate my estate’ because regeneration has become a nasty word” (Social housing tenant, at a meeting held to discuss regeneration in the Tottenham area of north London, 2016). This statement, made by an anxious tenant, encapsulates the main theme of this book. Regeneration refers to an urban policy involving spatiall...
Chapter
This chapter outlines the rise and fall of public housing in London with reference to national and local housing policy. Two historical periods are identified: an expansionary period that covers the first 80 years of the 20th century, followed by a contractionary period from the 1980s until the 2010s. This periodisation is theoretically located wit...
Article
Full-text available
Urban scholars have traditionally associated displacement in cities of the global North with gentrification, generally understood as a class-based process of neighbourhood change. This article expands this scalar focus and adopts the larger scale of the local authority district (in this case the London borough) as its epistemological starting point...
Book
This book provides a theoretically informed, empirically rich account of the development, causes and consequences of public housing (council/local authority/social) estate regeneration within the context of London’s housing crisis and widening social inequality. It focuses on regeneration schemes involving comprehensive redevelopment – the demoliti...
Article
The forced relocation—displacement—of social housing residents resulting from estate regeneration involving demolition has been the subject of considerable academic and policy debate. While some scholars and policy makers regard such displacement as having harmful outcomes in relation to loss of homes and community relations, others argue that resi...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines youth homelessness, precarity and poverty via a critical account of ‘Generation Rent’ – that young people are living in the private rental sector (PRS) in perpetuity having been locked out of both homeownership and social renting. The paper examines precarity in relation to employment (non-standard contracts) and housing (insecu...
Article
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This article offers a critical assessment of Loic Wacquant’s influential advanced marginality framework with reference to research undertaken on a London public/social housing estate. Following Wacquant, it has become the orthodoxy that one of the major vectors of advanced marginality is territorial stigmatisation and that this particularly affects...
Article
This paper provides an empirically-grounded, sociological reworking of Saskia Sassen’s ‘logics of expulsion’ with reference to London’s housing crisis and burgeoning homeless population. It does so by drawing on in-depth research on evictions and displacement undertaken with residents of temporary accommodation at three locations in and around Lond...
Article
Full-text available
This article reflects on an occupation led by single mothers to contest the destruction of social housing in post-Olympics East London. In the process, it argues for a more gendered theorisation of the urban commons. Drawing on auto-ethnography, participant observation and qualitative interviews, the article argues three central points: First, that...
Chapter
Book synopsis: This book brings together a body of new research which looks both backwards and forwards to consider how far the London 2012 Olympic legacy has been delivered and how far it has been a hollow promise. Cohen and Watt consider the lessons that can be learnt from the London experience and aptly apply them other host cities, specifically...
Chapter
Book synopsis: This book brings together a body of new research which looks both backwards and forwards to consider how far the London 2012 Olympic legacy has been delivered and how far it has been a hollow promise. Cohen and Watt consider the lessons that can be learnt from the London experience and aptly apply them other host cities, specifically...
Chapter
Book synopsis: This book brings together a body of new research which looks both backwards and forwards to consider how far the London 2012 Olympic legacy has been delivered and how far it has been a hollow promise. Cohen and Watt consider the lessons that can be learnt from the London experience and aptly apply them other host cities, specifically...
Book
This book brings together a body of new research which looks both backwards and forwards to consider how far the London 2012 Olympic legacy has been delivered and how far it has been a hollow promise. Cohen and Watt consider the lessons that can be learnt from the London experience and aptly apply them other host cities, specifically Rio 2016 and T...
Book
This book offers a cross-national perspective on contemporary urban renewal in relation to social rental housing. Social housing estates – as developed either by governments (public housing) or not-for-profit agencies – became a prominent feature of the 20th century urban landscape in Northern European cities, but also in North America and Australi...
Chapter
Book synopsis: This book offers a cross-national perspective on contemporary urban renewal in relation to social rental housing. Social housing estates – as developed either by governments (public housing) or not-for-profit agencies – became a prominent feature of the 20th century urban landscape in Northern European cities, but also in North Ameri...
Chapter
Watt and Bernstock examine the post–2012 Olympic Games’ housing legacy in the six East London Host Boroughs. Using quantitative, documentary and ethnographic data, this chapter builds upon previous research the authors have conducted in the period leading up to the Games. It examines a range of issues such as rents and house prices, provision of ne...
Chapter
Book synopsis: This book offers a cross-national perspective on contemporary urban renewal in relation to social rental housing. Social housing estates – as developed either by governments (public housing) or not-for-profit agencies – became a prominent feature of the 20th century urban landscape in Northern European cities, but also in North Ameri...
Article
This paper builds upon Colin McFarlane's 2011 call in City for an ‘assemblage urbanism’ to supplement critical urbanism. It does so by mapping the spatio-political contours of London's 21st-century housing crisis through the geophilosophical framework of Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus ([1980] 2013, London: Bloomsbury] and Hardt and Negr...
Chapter
Essex, a county to the east of London, has long been a place of destination for Londoners, especially East Enders (‘Cockneys’), either as a site for day trips and holidays or for more permanent relocations. In this paper, we explore the mutating Essex ‘ethnoscape’ (Appadurai, 1996) with reference to those residential, work, leisure and family-relat...
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Book synopsis: Contemporary city and suburban dwellers are constantly on the move. Does this mean they lack a sense of belonging to their neighbourhoods, or does enhanced mobility co-exist with feelings of community and belonging? This collection examines these questions through a unique series of neighbourhood-based global case studies.
Chapter
Book synopsis: Contemporary city and suburban dwellers are constantly on the move. Does this mean they lack a sense of belonging to their neighbourhoods, or does enhanced mobility co-exist with feelings of community and belonging? This collection examines these questions through a unique series of neighbourhood-based global case studies.
Article
Full-text available
In contrast to Olympic organizers' claims about the London 2012 Games as a celebration for all, we recount the experiences of low-income and marginally housed young people as experiencing exclusion from the benefits of the Games being held in their neighbourhood. Drawing on qualitative methods with young people living in the ethnically diverse and...
Chapter
This essay provides an overview of the topic of gentrification with an emphasis on displacement. According to the urban geographer Tom Slater (2009: 294), gentrification means “the transformation of a working-class or vacant area of a city into middle-class residential and/or commercial use.” Incoming high-income groups therefore colonize (gentrify...
Article
This paper introduces the themed section of Critical Social Policy on social housing, privatization and neoliberalism. In tracing the key elements in the development of privatization and residualization since 1979, it argues that these can only be fully understood as part of a wider neoliberalizing agenda, an agenda that is driven by a particular c...
Data
Full-text available
This paper examines the impact of the 2012 London Summer Olympics on low-income and marginally housed young people living in the London borough of Newham – one of six east London ‘Olympic boroughs’. Drawing on photo-journals created by the youth the summer before the Olympic Games were scheduled to begin (July 2011), the research makes use of photo...
Article
This article examines the employment histories and future prospects of immigrants employed in main-grade and supervisory positions at a unionized hotel in Toronto. Using interview and observational data, the article examines the employment careers and experiences of the hotel's multiethnic workforce, who were disproportionately located in back-of-h...
Conference Paper
This paper examines notions of place belonging in urban and suburban neighbourhoods with reference to research undertaken in London. It does so by drawing upon and extending the work of Mike Savage et al. (2005) in Globalization and Belonging. By providing a spatial revision to Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical framework of habitus and field, Savage an...
Article
Mike Savage’s empirically rich and theoretically insightful paper expands upon the earlier formulation of the concept of “elective belonging” in Globalization and Belonging (Savage, Bagnall & Longhurst 2005). As he says in the paper, this narrative of belonging to place was one of two he and colleagues identified in four middle‐class areas in Great...
Article
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In his thought-provoking paper ‘New contexts, new challenges: revisiting equal opportunities, particularism and ethnic relations’, Malcolm Harrison has sketched out how one can move beyond certain aspects of what one can term the ‘equal opportunities’ agenda in the quest for a more socially just notion of welfare. I found much to agree with in the...
Article
The local neighbourhood has an enduring significance for British urban, working-class youth in relation to their transitions, cultures and leisure practices. This paper examines these interrelated issues by drawing upon ethnographic research undertaken in ‘Manor’, a deprived, multi-ethnic East London neighbourhood. It explores the transitions taken...
Article
As the author states in her introduction, Space, the City and Social Theory is not intended to be read as an overview of either urban sociology or urban studies, but is instead concerned with providing an account of how social theory has encountered and illuminated the city. It takes its cue from two main bodies of literature. The first is the Chic...
Article
In his thought-provoking paper ‘New contexts, new challenges: revisiting equal opportunities, particularism and ethnic relations’, Malcolm Harrison has sketched out how one can move beyond certain aspects of what one can term the ‘equal opportunities’ agenda in the quest for a more socially just notion of welfare. I found much to agree with in the...
Article
A formal citizenship curriculum has recently been introduced into schools in England following the publication of the Crick Report in1998. This initiative has received considerable academic and political attention as its implementation is researched and evaluated. However, citizenship education is not restricted to schools and in recent years there...
Chapter
Book synopsis: Regenerating London explores latest thinking on urban regeneration in one of the fastest changing world cities. Engaging with social, economic, and political structures of cities, it highlights paradoxes and contradictions in urban policy and offers an evaluation of the contemporary forms of urban redevelopment.
Article
This paper employs critical discourse analysis to examine discourses of council (public) housing tenants. It focuses upon one example of housing activism, a local campaign that mobilized in opposition to a proposed stock transfer of council housing in South East England. The hegemonic societal-wide discourse regarding council tenants is that they c...
Article
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Synopsis: This monograph showcases themes relating to the diverse experiences of the modern student cohort including: single parents, international students, school leavers and those balancing education and employment.
Chapter
Book synopsis: The Thames Gateway plan is the largest and most complex project of urban regeneration ever undertaken in the United Kingdom. This book provides a comprehensive overview and critique of the Thames Gateway plan, but at the same time it uses the plan as a lens through which to look at a series of important questions of social theory, ur...
Article
This essay argues that Tom Slater's article makes several important points regarding what he rightly suggests is the disappearance of a critical edge from much of the recent gentrification literature. It explores one of these points in greater depth, i.e. the notion that the working class occupy a ‘backstage’ role vis-à-vis the analysis of gentrifi...
Article
Full-text available
This paper discusses interactive service employment within the hospitality industry. Using research undertaken at a downtown hotel in a Canadian city, the paper examines front-line customer service workers engaged in guest interaction. It employs the concept of 'emotional labour', as developed by Hochschild, to illuminate not only managerial discou...
Book
Moving beyond the traditional dichotomies of social theory, Understanding Social Inequality brings the study of social stratification and inequality into the 21st century. Starting with the widely agreed "fact" that the world is becoming more unequal, this book pulls together the "identity of displacement" in sociology and the "spaces of flow" of g...
Chapter
Dirt - and our rituals to eradicate it - is as much a part of our everyday lives as eating, breathing and sleeping. Yet this very fact means that we seldom stop to question what we mean by dirt. What do our attitudes to dirt and cleanliness tell us about ourselves and the societies we live in? Exploring a wide variety of settings - domestic, urban,...
Article
Housing has come to play an important role in demarcating the contours of social polarization in inner London, notably via the widening socio-spatial divide between an impoverished working class located in council housing estates and affluent home-owning gentrifiers. In mass media and policy discourses, the former are routinely represented as an un...
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Full-text available
Since the Crick Report, active citizenship has been promoted as a vehicle for enhancing community involvement and political literacy among school and higher education students. This ostensibly progressive educational and social goal is beset with a number of tensions and contradictions, notably around the nature of participation and between enhanci...
Article
This paper contributes towards understanding the dynamics of employment and housing among the middle classes with reference to a study of ‘marginal professionals’ living in London council housing. Using employment and housing history data drawn from interviews with professionals who rented flats from Camden Council in inner London, it is argued tha...
Article
This paper examines the changing employment circumstances of local authority tenants in the inner London borough of Camden within the context of the radical labour market restructuring which occurred in London during the last third of the 20th century. It draws upon survey data from the 1960s and 1990s in order to assess the scale and impact of emp...
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Considerable debate has occurred over whether ‘global cities’ are witnessing polarization of their labour forces into highly paid professionals and low paid personal service workers. This paper offers evidence on paid domestic labour in London, some of which occurs in the informal sector, and considers its potential significance for the polarizatio...
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This paper provides a discursive analysis of the UK Government's Social Exclusion Unit report Bringing Britain together: a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal (SEU, 1998a). The methodology makes use of the three-fold categorization of discourses of social exclusion developed by Levitas (1998) with reference to contemporary British politics...
Article
Writers from within the Foucauldian govern mentality school have characterised recent governmental trends, associated with neo-liberal political rationalities, as manifestations of the death of the collectivist and universalist character of the 'social'. However, the unfolding of these developments varies both between and within nation-states. Draw...
Article
In this paper I present findings from research on 'out-of-town' leisure destinations and activities by young people from different ethnic backgrounds living in a medium-sized town located in the Home Counties of the South East of England. The predominant way in which the spatialisation of 'race' is discussed in Britain is via the discourse of the '...
Article
This paper examines the extent to which housing tenure constitutes an enduring aspect of social inequality in relation to theories of re-stratification and the supposed decline of social class divisions. It uses an analysis of housing mobility based upon a survey of council tenants carried out in the inner London Borough of Camden and it looks at t...
Chapter
The relationship between the labour market and housing market has emerged in the last decade as an area of considerable research interest (e.g. Thorns, 1982; Hamnett, 1984; Allen and Hamnett, 1990). Although this subject seems initially esoteric and highly specialised, it has important implications for understanding contemporary patterns of social...
Article
This paper argues that in order to assess whether consumption sectors form meaningful social collectivities it is essential to consider patterns of housing mobility. Just as Goldthorpe has argued that a process of `class formation' occurs when individuals tend to belong to the same class as their parents, so we argue that it is important to examine...
Article
This paper discusses Pinch and Clark's recent article on the strategies of market pitchers for managing local economic reasoning. We suggest that their research is illustrative of the lack of seriousness and relevance to social issues of a small proportion of sociological studies. In developing this argument, the paper considers the methodology, et...
Article
Full-text available
Citizenship education is not restricted to schools and there have been a number of publicly funded initiatives to develop citizenship education in UK universities and higher education colleges. This paper contributes to the developing literature in this area with reference to evaluation research undertaken in relation to one module, 'Citizenship an...
Article
A published version of this paper ('Living in an oasis: middle-class disaffiliation and selective belonging in an English suburb') is forthcoming in Environment and Planning A -please contact author for a copy. Abstract This paper examines processes of socio-spatial segregation and middle-class disaffiliation (Atkinson, 2006) in London's eastern su...
Article
This paper discusses interactive service employment within the hospitality industry. Using research undertaken at a downtown hotel in a Canadian city, the paper examines front-line customer service workers engaged in guest interaction. It employs the concept of 'emotional labour', as developed by Hochschild, to illuminate not only managerial discou...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
This project deals with social housing and renewal in low-income neighbourhoods. It also includes social mixing that includes different income groups and ethnic groups.