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Dr Monica Degen

Marie Jahoda 149

Research area(s)

  • Cities, space and urban culture
  • Urban regeneration
  • time and space
  • The senses and embodiment
  • Material cultures
  • Sociology of everyday life

I welcome applications from potential PhD students in any of the above areas.

Research Interests

As a cultural sociologist my research is interdisciplinary. My key areas of research are urban life and culture with a specific emphasis on spatial politics; the senses and embodiment with a focus on the relationship between material environment and experience, the politics of the senses and time and the organization of urban life; sociology of everyday life; and material cultures focusing on design and architecture and the diverse entanglements between human non-human relations. I am particularly interested in the ways in which sensory experiences mediate and are shaped by urban space and life.

Previous research projects have explored these themes from various perspectives. I completed an ESRC-funded project Urban Aesthetics with Prof Gillian Rose from the Open University in 2009 in which we explored new methods to research how people experience two very different towncentres: Milton Keynes and Bedford (ESRC grant number RES-062-23-0223).

In 2011 Prof Gillian Rose and Dr Clare Melhuish started the project 'Architectural atmospheres, branding and the social: the role of digital visualizing technologies in contemporary architectural practice' (ESRC grant number RES-062-23-3305) which was a two-year ethnographic study of erchitectural studios exploring how digital visualization processes and technologies are working as part of architecture and urban design, shaping new kinds of architectural work practices, as well as envisioning particular forms of social life. As part of the project we curated a two week exhibition in August 2013 at the Building Centre, London as well as an international workshop: Visualising Atmospheres.

In 2015 I started with Dr Astrid Swenson a two year AHRC Research Networking grant: "Sensory Cities: researching, representing and curating sensory-emotional landscapes of urban environments" in which we are bringing together diverse urban professionals, museum curators and academics in a series of workshops across Europe (London, Cologne and Barcelona) to discuss how to research, represent and curate sensory experience (AHRC grant number AH/M006379/1).

In 2015 I also started a one year research project with Prof. Sue Buckingham on street sexworkers in Tower Hamlets. The research was commissioned by the charity UTurn Women's Centre who wanted to find out more about the everyday lives and needs of women who street sex work and to find out how the third sector can provide appropriate services and facilities, you can access the report here: 

In 2016 I was a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow examining “Timescapes of Urban Change” (BA grant number MD140041). I will be examining how different perceptions of time converge or conflict in urban regeneration processes across the structural and experiential level to produce a particular sense of place. Drawing on long term fieldwork of an urban regeneration process in el Raval, Barcelona, this research explores temporal features as a crucial dimension in shaping power relations in regeneration processes. Please access the research here:

My latest work (funded by Brunel Research Development and in collaboration of The Museum of London) emerged from the "Sensory Cities" and "Timescapes of Urban Change" projects and is examining the links between diverse temporal relations and qualities of place and the sensory landscape of the Smithfield Market area as it becomes transformed through the City of London latest regeneration project the 'Culture Mile'. So far we have developed a series of evocative maps that aim to capture the sensory and temporal identities of this area, see:

Research grants and projects


Timescapes of Urban Change
Funder: British Academy
Duration: January 2016 - December 2016
Women involved in street sex work in the UK: an analysis of service need and provision
Funder: U-Turn Women's Centre
Duration: June 2015 - May 2016

Commissioned research study and report

Visiting Researcher Grant
Funder: AGAUR (Agencia de Gestiio de Ajuts Universitaris i Recerca - Catalan Government)
Duration: December 2011 - April 2012

Grant by the Catalan Government to be a vsisting professor at Barcelona University

Urban Aesthetics: a comparison of experiences in Milton Keynes and Bedford town centres
Funder: Economic and Social Research Council
Duration: September 2007 - April 2009
Market Research: Public Art in Milton Keynes
Funder: Geography Department, Open University
Duration: March 2004 - October 2004

Project details

Brunel Research Development Fund "Sensory Explorations of West Smithfield’s Market" in collaboration with the Museum Of London £4,960 April 2017 - October 2017 (PI)


British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship “Timescapes of Urban Change”£ 127.000January 2016- January 2017  (PI):

Co- investigator with Prof. S. Buckingham “Women involved in street sex work in the UK: An analysis of service need and provision”£72,525 Funded by UTurn Women’s Centre. June 2015 – May 2016Report:

AHRC Research Networking Grant“Sensory Cities: researching, representing and curating sensory-emotional landscapes of urban Environments”£45,248.00April 2015 – April 2017Monica Degen (PI):

ESRCArchitectural Atmospheres:The impact of digital technologies on architectural design practice'£231,832October 2011 - September 2013Monica Degen (CI)

AGAUR (Agencia de Gestio d’Ajuts Universitaris i Recerca), Catalan GovernmentEvaluating the social politics of urban regeneration in el Raval, Barcelona5,840 EurosJanuary 2012 – January 2013Monica Degen (PI)

ESRCUrban Aesthetics: a comparison of experiences in Milton Keynes and Bedford town centres.£178,501Sept 2007 – April 2009Monica Degen ( CI)