Dr Mónica Degen is Professor in Urban Cultural Sociology in the Political and Social Sciences Department at Brunel University London. She completed her ESRC funded PhD in 2001 within the Sociology Department at Lancaster University under the supervision of Prof John Urry and Prof Bulent Diken. She then worked with Prof S Whatmore and Prof S Hinchliffe on the project ‘Habitable Cities’ at the Open University, before joining Brunel in 2004. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious British Academy Fellowship to research 'Timescapes of Urban Change'. She has held positions as visiting professor at both Barcelona University and Gothenburg University.
Her research examines the politics of space in cities through the prism of experiential urbanism, and is grounded in ethnographic approaches. She is particularly interested in understanding how urban change affects our senses of place and our interactions with others. Related to this, she explores how urban life and politics are underpinned by sensory, temporal and emotional dimensions, and how these shape power relations in urban culture, planning and governance. Her work has shaped strategies for the spatial design of public spaces in London and Barcelona, and influenced curatorial practices and activity planning for the New Museum of London, the Cologne City Museum and London’s Charterhouse.
1) Researching the role that digital technologies play in reconfiguring our relationship to the city. The recently published book A New Urban Aesthetic: experiencing urban change digitally (Bloomsbury, 2022; co-authored with G. Rose, Oxford University) examines how digital visualisations, such as the imagery used on Instagram and other phone apps or CGI’s for proposed architectural projects, are reconfiguring sensory urban experiences in powerful and differentiated ways, and are thus deeply transforming our everyday engagements with the city.
2) In the context of the Museum of London’s move to West Smithfield market, Mónica is investigating the socio-spatial impact that cultural institutions have on their surroundings. This has included a collaboration with the Museum of London (in 2018-2019) to research the transforming place identity of Smithfield market – the new location for the Museum of London. The findings (which can be viewed in the report Sensory Smithfield) have shaped the New Museum of London Interpretation Plan. Building on this, in June 2021 she organised an international symposium Museums, Places, Cultural Power with the Museum of London and Urban Lab UCL that brought together an international group of museum curators, academics and architects to discuss the complex dynamics between cultural organisations and the urban environment they are located in.
3) Developing new methodological approaches to research qualitative sensory, temporal and emotional relations in the city such as sketching the senses, evocative interviews and social media analysis (as summarised in the Online Sensory Think-Kit ). Producing innovative online interactive dissemination to demonstrate sensory and temporal research findings (for example the Sensory Smithfield website).
- PhD Cultural Sociology, Lancaster University (PhD Erasmus exchange Barcelona University)
- MSc Cultural Studies, Birmingham University
- BA Hons Culture and Communication, Lancaster University
- Grundstudium (Media Studies, English Literature, Comparative Literature), LMU Munich
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Creative Industries Lead for College of Business, Arts and the Social Sciences
- Postgraduate Research Director SPS
- Employment Coordinator
Newest selected publications
Degen, M., Rose, G. and Basdas, B. (Forthcoming) 'Bodies and everyday practices in designed urban environments'. Science Studies, 23 (2).
Degen, M. (Accepted) 'Postcards from Barcelona', in Sheller, M. (ed.) Mobilities and Complexities: Reflections on post-carbon social science. Routledge.
Degen, M. and Rose, G. (2022) 'The New Urban Aesthetic: Digital Experiences of Urban Change'. Bloomsbury. ISSN 13: 9781350070837
Degen, M. and Ward, I. (2022) 'Future Urban Imaginaries: placemaking and digital visualisations', in Rose, G. (ed.) Seeing the City Digitally: Reconfiguring Temporalities, Spatialities and Collectivities. Amsterdam, NL : Amsterdam University Press. pp. 109 - 137. ISBN 10: 94-6372-703-5. ISBN 13: 978-94-6372-703-7. Open Access Link
Degen, M. and Barz, M. (2020) 'Mapping Urban Experience Digitally', in Ward, K. (ed.) Researching the City. SAGE Publications Ltd. , 2. pp. 181 - 201. ISBN 10: 1529700957. Open Access Link