Dr Stuart Hodkinson


Dr Stuart Hodkinson is a Lecturer in Critical Urban Geography. His main research focus is on the 'new urban enclosures' with a specific interest in the politics, policies and day-to-day realities of housing privatisation, urban regeneration and state-led gentrification in the UK. His most recent research was an ESRC-funded project exploring residents' experiences of public housing / estate regeneration in England under the controversial Private Finance Initiative (PFI). He is also leading an EPSRC-funded pilot project on Digital Welfare exploring the implications of austerity-led welfare reform policies for different communities in Leeds.

Since completing my PhD in 2004, I have been employed in the School of Geography as a Research Fellow on the ESRC Autonomous Geographies project (Universities of Leeds and Leicester), a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow and am now a Lecturer in Critical Urban Geography. I have many research interests and am interesting in supervising PhD students on any of the following topics:

  • Neoliberal urbanism
  • Urban enclosures and commons
  • Housing and urban regeneration policy
  • Power and counter-power in cities
  • Privatisation and biopolitical control of public space
  • Gentrification and displacement
  • Public-Private-Partnerships and the Private Finance Initiative 
  • Citizen auditing of public bodies and private companies
  • Asylum, immigration and border controls
  • Activism, social movements and autonomous politics

I am currently co-supervising 5 PhD students whose work spans the following subjects: the socio-spatial implications of social housing financialisation in norther England; the politics of the rent gap in driving gentrification in London and Chile; the transformation of the Mayan Solar in Yucutan, Mexico; culture-led regeneration policies in Taipei City, Taiwan; and the limits and potential of UK Information Laws to open up Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to greater democratic oversight and control.  

Exploring Digital Transformations of Community, Culture and Welfare in Austere Times: the Case of Leeds, 2014-2015

Our pilot project’s central focus is on the variegated impact and implications for culture and community of a digitally transformed UK welfare system for three specific communities of interest – public administrators of welfare support, frontline welfare law advisors and those receiving or needing welfare support. The empirical research focuses on Leeds Local Authority District and is examining data from 2008 to the present. We are working in partnership with a small Advisory Team comprised of members from Leeds City Council, Leeds Citizens Advice Bureau, and Leeds ACTS!. The project is analysing three local digital data sets that offer potential insights into the transformations being unleashed by austerity, welfare reform and digitalisation: data about all housing benefit claimants in Leeds; data about social housing tenants in Leeds affected by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’; and data about clients of Advice Leeds services.

Public housing regeneration under the Private Finance Initiative: a study about people, place and local governance - 2011-2014

The main aim of this ESRC-funded study (RES-061-25-0536) is to gain an in-depth understanding of council housing tenants' and leaseholders' experiences of regeneration schemes in England that use the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). I am particularly interested in finding out how residents feel about the changes to their homes, communities and environments, whether they welcome or oppose them, and their experience of services provided. I also want to look at how neighbourhoods are physically restructured and what this might mean for both the provision of affordable housing and the social mix of people living there. For more information, see http://www.housingpfi.org.uk/

Precarious lives: asylum seekers and refugees? experiences of forced labour - 2011-2012

This ESRC-funded study (RES-062-23-2895) run jointly by academics at the University of Leeds and University of Salford aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of forced and exploitative labour among asylum seekers and refugees living in England. People seeking asylum are normally prohibited from working. However, limited or non-existent welfare entitlements and pressures to earn money to pay off debts or support family may push asylum seekers into the shadow economy. Refugees who may have had long periods out of work while their asylum case was considered are also vulnerable to labour exploitation. Our research aims to provide the first systematic study on this problem. For more information, see http://www.precariouslives.org.uk/

Previous projects

New enclosures: finance capital and the privatisation of housing privatisation in britain - 2007-2011

Funded by the British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship scheme, this research set out to discover whether housing privatisation and urban regeneration can be theorized as both representing and driving an historic wave of 'new enclosures' sweeping Britain. My project revisited both the 'old enclosures' that accompanied the shift from feudalism to industrial capitalism, and the past 30 years of housing and urban policies to understand the connections and unpack the motivations, mechanisms and consequences of contemporary privatisation and regeneration policies.

Autonomous geographies - 2005-2007

Two-year action research project with Dr Paul Chatterton (Leeds) and Dr Jenny Pickerill (Leicester, now Sheffield) critically exploring and supporting the ideas, struggles and practices of autonomous social movements in the UK. Funded by the ESRC.

I teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

I co-founded the MA in Activism and Social Change and am currently Acting Programme Manager for the new MA Global Urban Justice starting in September 2015. 

I teach on the following modules:

  • GEOG 2035: Geographies of Economies
  • GEOG 3085: Contested Cities (Module Manager)
  • GEOG 3250: Workplace Co-operative Project
  • GEOG 5310M: Researching for Social Change (Module Manager)
  • GEOG 5260M: Cities and Social Justice
  • GEOG 5690M: Masters Work-based Project

I also supervise BA and MA students undertaking human geography dissertations.

Current post

  • Lecturer in Critical Urban Geography

Previous posts

  • 2007-2011 British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • 2005-2007 ESRC Research Fellow on ESRC Autonomous Geographies: Activism and Everyday Life in the City, based in the Schools of Geography at the Universities of Leeds and Leicester.
  • 2003-2005 Associate Editor, Red Pepper magazine

Qualifications & education

  • 2004 PhD, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds
  • 1999 MA International Political Economy, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds
  • 1998 BA Economics and Politics, University of Leeds

Other details

Other posts

  • 2004 Web-project advisor, the Lipman-Miliband Socialist Education Trust
  • 2003 Researcher for Hilary Wainwright's book, Reclaim the State: Adventures in Popular Democracy
  • Hodkinson, S, Gillespie, T, Pusey, A (2011) 'Thinking Creatively About Anti-Capitalism: Producing the Urban Commons', presented at Goldsmiths College, University of London as part of the 'Designing Economic Cultures' seminar series, 23 November
  • Hodkinson, S. (2011), 'The ConDem's Housing Assault', Colloquium on 'The Housing Crisis: Experience, Analysis, and Response', Birkbeck, University of London, 18 November
  • Hodkinson, S. (2011), 'Occupation or reclaiming the urban commons? Neoliberal urbanism and the new enclosures', presented to 1-day workshop on 'Occupation: Confronting the Private Law of Protest' at Kent Law School, 4 November
  • Hodkinson, S, Gillespie, T, Pusey, A (2011), 'Commonising the City: Ten Theses on Producing Urban Commons', Presentation to the International Critical Geography Conference, Frankfurt, 16-12 August
  • Hodkinson, S, Watt, P, and Robbins, G (2011), 'Locating the Housing Crisis in Britain', Presentation to the International Critical Geography Conference, Frankfurt, 16-12 August
  • Hodkinson, S. (2010) 'The 'helping' role of academics in resisting demolition and displacement. Towards a normative framework of scholar activism?, Presentation to Session 'Geographers helping'? Undertaking fieldwork through a participatory role in the 'helping' professions, RGS-IBG Annual Conference, London, 1-3 September
  • Workshop Leader on the Private Finance Initiative, Defend Council Housing National Conference, Friday 19 March 2010 at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Headquarters
  • Speaker at Roundhouse Conference, 'Critical Theory and Education', 23 March 2010, University of Leeds
  • 2008 ‘The New Enclosures: Public Housing, Privatization and Resistance in Contemporary Britain’ Paper to International Conference ‘Justice et Injustice Spatiales’, University of Paris X, Nanterre, March 2008
  • 2007 (with Jenny Pickerill) ‘Making strategic interventions? The messy world of academic activism and action research. Or, the road to hell is paved with good intentions’, Paper to PYGWG session ‘Giving Back? Ideas for Mutually Beneficial Research’, Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference September 2007
  • 2006 co-convenor (with Chatterton and Pickerill) of  PYGWG Session ‘Making Autonomous Geographies: Inspiring and participating in social change from inside and outside the academy’ at Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference September 2006
  • 2003 ‘No Seat at the Table, No Street-Cred: A Decade of Retreat & Retrenchment for the International Trade Unions’, BISA Conference, Panel on ‘Neo-liberal Restructuring and Resistance to Globalisation: What Role for Labour?’, University of Birmingham, December
  • 2002 ‘Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose’: Comprendre la mondialisation et le nouvel internationalisme ouvrier’, Paper presented to specially-organised seminar at the Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES), Paris, France, September
  • 2002 ‘Globalisation & the International Trade Union Fightback: A Case of the Forward March of Labour [Standards] Halted?’, ECPR Joint Sessions, Workshop on ‘Globalisation and Labour Movements’, Turin, Italy, March
  • 2001 ‘Problems@Labour: Towards a Net-Internationalism?’, Global Studies Association Conference, Panel on ‘International Labour (and other) Networking’, Manchester, July
  • 2001 ‘Reviving Trade Unionism: Globalisation, Internationalism & the Internet’, ECPR Joint Sessions, March, Workshop on ‘Electronic Democracy: Mobilisation, Organisation and Participation via new ICTs’, Grenoble, France, April
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship