Rowland Atkinson



  • PhD (Greenwich)
  • BSc (Kingston)

Rowland Atkinson is Director of the Research Centre for the Social Sciences (ReCSS) and Reader in Urban Studies and Criminology. He is also Deputy Director of the Centre for URBan Research (Centre for URBan Research).

Following his doctorate (on gentrification and displacement in greater London) in 1997 Rowland started work as a research fellow at the Department of Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow in 1997 where he became a lecturer in 2004. While in Glasgow he developed a strong interest in the experience of poverty and social exclusion, and the response of policymakers and the public to these issues. While there he was involved in a wide range of research projects, including studies of poverty/area effects, gentrification and the rise of gated communities.

In 2005 he moved to Australia to become Director of the Housing and Community Research Unit at the University of Tasmania. It was here that he led national initiatives to raise the profile of urban affairs, and public housing more specifically. He started work at the University of York in 2009 where he has taken a more emphatic interest in questions of social harm, urban life and crime more generally. He is the author, co-author or editor of over 80 articles, chapters and reports.






Research interests:

  • The harms generated by inequality in cities
  • Informal social control, civility, public space and city vitality
  • Forms of social insulation and segregation in cities
  • Gentrification and neighbourhood change, urban regeneration and housing renewal
  • Extreme social conduct in virtual spaces (videogaming and pornography)

My work takes social problems as the focus and basis of my empirical, theoretical and applied research. Since my doctoral work on the displacement of households from gentrification in London I have been concerned with the lack of attention on these issues. My research has endeavoured to connect the choices of affluent and rich households with the traditional foci of much sociological and social geographical work which has tended to emphasise the poor, disorderly and excluded without seeing these issues as symptoms of the divisions and inequalities of many urban, housing and social systems. A central aim of my work has been to integrate high income groups into sociological and public debates about urban disorder, anti-social behaviour and inequalities of access to security and safety.

Today my work is primarily focused on the way that crime and disorder have shaped rich and middle-class life in the city; not least their consumption and relative ‘fortification’ of domestic spaces, and their inclination to seek the domestication of public spaces outside their front doors (often seen in both the control and privatisation of public space). My work with Sarah Blandy (School of Law, University of Leeds) on gated communities and fortress homes continues to question how and why better-off households move into such dwellings, and to challenge thinking around the inevitability or desirability of these patterns. My current project on the super-rich in London (with Roger Burrows, Goldsmiths University) is also a major step in beginning to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the city in the impacts of changes in the social structure and wealth over the past decade can be effectively charted.

Current projects

  • A year in the life of the Alpha-Territory (ESRC)
  • Patterns of wealth investment between London and Hong Kong (ESRC-HKRGC)
  • The Murder Box - Virtual spaces of social exception
  • Fortress homes and the defence of domesticity
  • No-go urban areas


Rowland is keen to work with research students with interests around the intersecting areas of urban, housing, political and criminological studies in line with his research experience to date.


Selected publications

  • Atkinson, R. and Winlow, S. (eds.) (2012) New Directions in Crime and Deviance, London: Routledge.

  • Atkinson, R. and Smith, O. (2012) An economy of false securities? An analysis of murders inside gated residential developments in the US, Crime Media Culture, 8, 2, pp. 162-173.

  • Atkinson, R. (2011) Ears have walls: The listening body in urban space, Aether: The Journal of Media Geography, 7, pp. 20-28.

  • Atkinson, R., Taylor, E. and Walter, M. (2010) Burying Indigeneity: The Spatial Construction of Reality and Aboriginal Australia, Social and Legal Studies, 19, 3, pp. 311-330.

  • Atkinson, R. and Beer, D. (2010) The Ivorine Tower in the City: Engaging urban studies after The Wire, CITY, 14, 5, pp. 529-544.

  • Atkinson, R. (2010) Prisoners by Choice, Le Monde Diplomatique
  • Atkinson, R. and Jacobs, K. (2010) Damned by Place, then by Politics: disadvantage and the housing policy-research interface, International Journal of Housing Policy , 10, 2, pp. 155-171.
  • Atkinson, R. and Jacobs, K. (2009) The social forces and politics of housing research: Reflections from within the academy, Housing, Theory and Society. 26, 4, pp. 233-247.
  • Atkinson, R. and Willis, P. (2009) Transparent cities: The re-shaping of urban experience through interactive video game simulations, CITY .
  • Atkinson, R. and Easthope, H. (2009) The Consequences of the Creative Class: The pursuit of creativity strategies in Australia’s cities, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research , 33, 1, pp. 64-79.
  • Atkinson, R. (2009): ‘The politics of knowing: spatial isolation, disconnection and social withdrawal’, Geografiska Annaler: Series B,  Human Geography 91 (4): 299–310.
  • Atkinson, R., McGuirk, P. and Dowling, R. (2009) Home/Neighbourhood/City+, for Environment and Planning: A (special issue introduction), 41, 12, pp. 2816-2822.
  • Atkinson, R. and Blandy, S. (2009) A Picture of the Floating World: Grounding the Secessionary Affluence of the Residential Cruise Liner, Antipode , 41, 1, pp. 92-110.
  • Atkinson, R., Picken, F. and Tranter, B. (2009) Home and away from home: the urban-regional dynamics of second home ownership in Australia , for Urban Research and Practice , 2, 1, pp. 1-17.
  • Atkinson, R. (2008) The great cut: Private modes of social evasion and their support by public policy in contemporary urban systems , Social Policy and Administration , 42, 6, pp. 593-610.
  • Atkinson, R. and Willis, P. (2007) Charting the Ludodrome: The mediation of urban and simulated space and rise of the ‘flâneur electronique’, Information, Communication and Society, 10, 6, pp. 818-845.
    Download proxy document (PDF  , 204kb)
  • Atkinson, R. (2006) Padding the bunker: Strategies of middle-class disaffiliation and colonisation in the city, Urban Studies. 43, 4, pp. 819-832.
    Download proxy document (PDF  , 185kb)
  • Atkinson, R. and Flint, J. (2004) Fortress UK? Gated communities, the spatial revolt of the elites and time-space trajectories of segregation, Housing Studies, 19, 6, pp. 875-892.
    Download proxy document (PDF  , 185kb)

Full publications list

  • Atkinson, R., Taylor, E. and Walter, M. (2010) Burying Indigeneity: The Spatial Construction of Reality and Aboriginal Australia, Social and Legal Studies, 19, 3, pp. 311-330.
  • Atkinson, R., Dowling, R. and McGuirk, P. (2010) Privatism, Privatisation and Social Distinction in Master-Planned Residential Estates, Urban Policy and Research. 28, 4, pp. 391-410.
  • Atkinson, R. and Beer, D. (2010) The Ivorine Tower in the City: Engaging urban studies after The Wire, CITY, 14, 5, pp.
    Atkinson, R. (2010) Ears have walls: The listening body in urban space, Aether: The Journal of Media Geography, 7, pp. 20-28.
  • Atkinson, R. and Bridge, G. (2010) The New Urban Colonialism: Gentrification in a Global Context, Chapter in Brown-Saracino, J. (Ed.) London: Routledge, pp. 51-70.
  • Atkinson, R. (2010) Community Within Inequality (Comment on Savage, M. The Politics of Elective Belonging), Housing, Theory and Society, 27, 2, pp. 143-145.
  • Atkinson, R.,  Wulff, M., Reynolds, M. and Spinney, A. (2010) Gentrification and displacement: The Household Impacts of Neighbourhood Change, Melbourne: AHURI.
  • Atkinson, R. (2008) Gentrification, Segregation and the Vocabulary of Affluent Residential Choice, Urban Studies, 45, 12, pp. 2626–2636.
  • Helms, G., Atkinson, R. and McLeod, G. (2007) Securing the City: Urban Renaissance, Policing and Social Regulation (Introduction to special issue), European Urban and Regional Studies, 14, 4, pp. 267-276.
  • Atkinson, R. and Blandy, S. (2007) Panic Rooms: The Rise of Defensive Homeownership, Housing Studies, 22, 4, pp. 443-458
  • Atkinson, R. and Helms, G. (eds.) (2007) Securing an urban renaissance? Crime, community and British urban policy, Bristol: Policy Press
  • Atkinson, R. (2007) Ecology of Sound: The Sonic Order of Urban Space , Urban Studies, 44, 10, pp. 1905-1917.
  • Thomson, H., Atkinson, R., Petticrew, M. and Kearns, A. (2006) Do urban regeneration programmes improve public health and reduce health inequalities? A synthesis of the evidence from UK policy and practice (1980-2004), Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60, pp. 108-115.
  • Atkinson, R., Thomson, H., Kearns, A. and Petticrew, M. (2006) Giving urban policy its ‘medical’: assessing the place of health in area-based regeneration , Policy and Politics, 34, 1, pp. 5-26.
  • Atkinson, R. and Blandy, S. (eds.) (2006) Gated Communities: International Perspectives, London: Taylor and Francis.
  • Atkinson, R., Blandy, S. Flint, J. and D. Lister (2005) Gated cities of today? Barricaded residential development in England, Town Planning Review, 76, 4, pp. 417-437.
  • Atkinson, R. and Bridge, G. (eds.) (2005) The New Urban Colonialism: Gentrification in a Global Context, London: Routledge.
  • 2005 Atkinson, R. and Fujitsuka, Y. ( Kochi University, Japan) Neighbourhood Management and Policing in Japan and the UK, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
  • Atkinson, R. and Flint, J. (2004) Order born of chaos? The capacity for informal social control in disempowered and ‘disorganised’ neighbourhoods, Policy and Politics, 32, 3, pp. 333-350.
  • Atkinson, R. and Kintrea, K. (2004) ‘Opportunities and despair, it’s all in there’: Practitioner Experiences and Explanations of Area Effects and Life Chances, Sociology, 38, 3, pp. 437-455.
  • 2003 Atkinson, R., Flint, J. and Blandy, S. ( Sheffield Hallam University) National Housing Strategy for Sex Offenders, Chartered Institute of Housing ( Scotland) and the Scottish Executive
  • 2003 Flint, J., Atkinson, R. and Scott, S. Consultation responses to the Anti-social behaviour bill , Scottish Executive

Contact details

Dr Rowland Atkinson
Department of Sociology
University of York
Wentworth College
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 434742