USF Seminar Series: Spatial Reconfigurations of Work in Cities

University of Portsmouth, UK, 20/21 April 2017

Funded by the Urban Studies Foundation (USF)

Work is increasingly organized outside employer-employee systems, people hold multiple jobs and an increasingly mobile workforce works in multiple places including own homes, other people’s homes, co-working spaces, warehouses, virtual spaces, public spaces and ‘third-spaces’ (Daniel and Ellis-Chadwick 2016; Pink et al., 2015; Gough, 2012; Brennan-Horley, 2010; Felstead et al., 2005).

These new realities of practices and places of work emerging in cities, and the consequences for urban systems, are still patchy and poorly understood. As the first of three seminars exploring the spatial reconfiguration of economic practice in contemporary ‘developed economy’ cities, this 2-day seminar will focus on changing urban labour markets, commuting and work-patterns, new urban work sites and creative spaces. It aims to rethink existing concepts in urban research such as ‘the journey to work’, clustering, formal vs. informal work(spaces), private vs. public spaces and corporate vs. social spaces.

We seek contributions that will explore these and related questions:

  • How have the working rhythms of cities changed and what does this mean for urban systems in terms of infrastructure, urban design and planning?
  • Where is formal, informal and precarious work undertaken; in what urban sites, industries and places, and what spaces do these create?
  • What are the mechanisms and outcomes of activity clustering in cities? Or is ‘the cluster’ an outmoded concept?
  • What new urban workspaces/geographies are emerging around the ‘platform’economy?
  • What are the varying material outcomes of new working practices in contemporary cities in ‘developed’ economies?

Our aim is to bring together researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Confirmed speakers are: J. Hong and P. Thakuriah (UBDC, University of Glasgow) on ICT and commuting patterns of workers; B. Burchill (University of Cambridge) on the new diversity of fixed and mobile workplaces; M. Pallares Barbera (Autonomous Universty of Barcelona) and M. d’Ovidio (University of Bari) on live-work spaces; T. Virani (Queen Mary London) and R. Gill (City University), O. Ibert and S. Schmidt (IRS, Berlin), C. Lorne (University of Manchester) and J. Merkel (City University) on ‘new’ collaborative urban workspaces.

Key contributions will be published in a journal special issue. Some funding is available to support attendance for PhD students and some speakers. We will allocate these funds on the basis of paper abstracts. There is no seminar fee. The themes/discussions will be further developed at following seminars in Southampton (September 2017) and Athens (February 2018).

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Carol Ekinsmyth( by Monday 9th January 2017. Queries welcome.

The seminar is funded by the Urban Studies Foundation and jointly organized by Dr Carol Ekinsmyth (University of Portsmouth), Dr Darja Reuschke (University of Southampton) and Dr Maria Tsampra and Dr Alex Afouxenidis (EKKE, Athens).